NEW TITLES

Being true to oneself, friendship and teamwork are some of the themes tackled in this month's selection of picture book. Some of these can also be used to help children understand issues such as discrimination and being happy with what we have. The books are reviewed by teachers and librarians.

What Does An Anteater Eat?
Ross Collins

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788002646

A confused and hungry anteater has forgotten what it eats so off it goes searching for a likely source of food. Along the way he encounters various animals who he politely asks what he should be eating. The animals are either far too busy doing something else or they don't want to help the anteater, so he has to work this out; maybe the ants can help him find out...? I loved the full colour pages and illustrations. It's a humorous read for children and adults alike. The repetition allows children to quickly become part of the storytelling by joining in with similar phrases the anteater says. It takes little explanation, even for younger children, and is a great conversation starter. Children relish in the idea that an anteater asks ants what he eats and enjoy the options the other animals suggest to him along the way. My four year old nephew loves this book and enjoys looking at the pictures and retelling the parts that he remembers. I'd use this to create a similar story with my school children as it is a simple storyline and it would be easy to adapt using different characters or settings to think up a similar story when exploring fiction-writing. The politeness of the anteater 'Sorry to bother you' is sweet and could be used within a PSHE lesson with how to communicate with others and why it's important to ask politely etc. The different sentence types can be used as examples of questions and statements and there are many examples of direct speech which could be used and adapted when exploring how to use speech marks. From a teaching point of view I'd definitely consider using it within class and for enjoyment children would read it again and again, taking in the beautiful pictures and enjoying the funny story. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Sian Rankin, teacher.

What Does An Anteater Eat?
Vera Jewel is Late for School
Nicola Kent

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509852345

Another adventure by the fantastic author/illustrator who brought us The Strongest Mum. This story is about a little girl who, no matter how hard she tries, struggles to get to school on time; Vera jewel is always late! However, she is very resilient in her efforts and finds other ingenious and funny ways to make it to school: on Tuesday she rides her space hopper but lands in a splash; on Wednesday, she builds a special travel tool to propel her to school but bounces straight back again; and on Thursday, her champion mule dashed a little too fast and crashes! What bad luck! We discover see that Vera Jewel is one determined little girl who is not quite ready to give up. What will she think of next? This is a charming story with the same bright, jewel-like colours used to create eye-catching illustrations alike those we see in The Strongest Mum. The images provide lots for children to explore and the little snippets of speech make each image more relatable for the children. This is a good book to read with children to discuss the meanings of new vocabulary as there were quite a few tricky words for younger children to digest such as 'forlorn', 'mule', 'transit' and 'plight'. I will be reading this book in assembly to the whole school as the start of the new term begins to enrich discussion about resilience going into a new year, and encourage determination and creativity. This could also be taken back into class for the children to design their own invention for getting into school on time, or look at maps of their journey to school in geography and plan out the best route to take, with careful consideration of transport which could be used. This picture book has some great double page spreads of maps of the town to use a stimulus for the children to create their own, or a story map. A delightfully funny, rhyming text that is sure to amuse young minds. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Vera Jewel is Late for School
The Space Train
Maudie Powell-Tuck

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848699458

The Space Train revolves around a small boy called Jakob who lives on a space station with his Granny and Derek - his robot chicken. One day Jakob discovers something hidden away in Hanger 19 of the space station.....a huge, abandoned spaceship. It turns out that this spaceship is actually the Space Train - a rocket that criss-crossed the universe on stardust tracks, visiting station after station after station. Unfortunately, it had become abandoned and derelict over the years. After hearing stories of the places it visited and the passengers it collected, Jakob becomes determined to bring it back to life. With the help of Granny and Derek (as well as Toolbot), he manages to do just that. This text is full of fun and out of this world illustrations that certainly help create the illusion that you are many thousands of light years away. The added bonus of lift the flaps and peek through pages will engage younger children as they join Jakob on his intergalactic adventure. Younger children with vivid imaginations could certainly create many wonderful places the space train could visit and invent brand new aliens to pick up on the way - the possibilities really are endless. An enjoyable text for younger readers, I did, however, find it hard to get my teeth into and read with much flow. Certainly fun for younger audiences though. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Space Train
Cock-a-doodle-poo!
Steve Smallman

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848698284

Laugh out loud funny! Even had daddy giggling his head off. I am not normally a fan of all the new books including 'poo humour' and that seems to be all the rage, but I did really find myself enjoying this one, much to my surprise. Rooster is down on the farm 'dodging bits of doo-doo flying all around!' He's had enough and wishes he could be flying high 'where the air is clear'. So, Rooster hatches a plan to do just that. We all know roosters can't fly but with a bit of innovation and a big pair of knickers, Rooster manages to achieve his dream and just in time too as someone's up to no good! If you don't want to hear 'Poop Attack!' repeated one hundred times throughout the day I wouldn't read this to young children but on the other hand, who could deny the small people in their life this hilarious delight? The illustrations in this book are colourful and full of action and the rhyming verse makes it nearly impossible not to laugh at (especially doo-doo!). I feel the story line has more to it than the cover and title give it justice for as we find out that the story is much more about ingenious creativity and an unlikely hero. Picture Book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Cock-a-doodle-poo!
Octopants
Suzy Senior

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848699359

Octopus needs pants! He's all too bare, down there. The problem is nowhere sells pants for someone with eight legs, not even the 'Under-Sea Emporium' and shopping online was a waste of time. Octopus gets quite upset and doesn't understand why everyone else has a pair to suit them but he still cannot find octopants. Until he realises he's been looking at it all wrongly - maybe he doesn't need pants like everyone else after all. Jam packed with underwater underwear, this bright, colourful read will engage any young mind. Who doesn't love a story about pants? Children will enjoy designing and making their own solution for Octopus's problem. This could be followed up by using adjectives to describe their new garment. This book would also lend itself to a focus on information texts, researching and writing a fact file about octopuses. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Octopants
You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger
Patricia Cleveland-Peck

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408879146

What's not to love about a book that's first page features a pile of elephant dung? This is an author that knows how to keep her target audience happy! From polar bears cutting hair and kangaroos in the loo to a skunk in the bunk, kids will laugh out loud at the mischief these animals are getting up to. Adults will appreciate the complex rhymes that roll easily off the tongue and the varied cast of characters. The illustrations are full of life and manage to imbue each animal with its own character in just a few simple lines. My particular favourite is the wolf who reminds me very clearly of a rather grumpy old lady I used to know! A great read-aloud book for storytime with ages 3-6. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Carol Carter, school librarian.

You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Digger
I Really Want That Unicorn
Fabi Santiago

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408336908

You know how children sometimes really, really want a particular toy and no other toy will do? Well, Chloe Crocodile really, REALLY wants a unicorn - that 'Big Sparkly Mellow Yellow Unicorn' - but the only way to get it is to win the talent competition... For that, she must back a rainbow cake, make a magic castle, design a unicorn fairy costume and give a performance; all things that Chloe Crocodile is very good at. The only problem is, Veronica the elephant is very good at those things too and manages to outshine Chloe at each task until the very last moment....when the story has an unexpected twist. This picture book really builds the tension and you can see children will be rooting for Chloe; I loved all the expressions on the young animals' faces (there is also a hippo, zebra, a cow - and even a fish!). Fabi Santiago, the author and illustrator, brings across so much character through their expressions and reactions. The pages are packed with detail and funny moments so there is also lots of humour - especially in the completely over-the-top talent competition. This is a wonderful picture book to share with a group - as well as individually - because of the block colour so the images really stand out. And I loved its message - that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can't win everything; but you CAN keep on trying! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Sue Chamber.

I Really Want That Unicorn
Something Fishy
Polly Dunbar

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509837991

Polly Dunbar has created a funny and charming take on the arrival of a new sibling into a family. The story centres around a couple and their pet cat. The text is written from the point of view of the cat and his love of fish. He introduces his family and declares that they give him lots of fish, all he needs to do is ask. However, this time he doesn't receive the fish he so desires... The beautiful illustrations that accompany the text really help the story to develop and give the reader clues to what is going to ultimately happen in the end of the book. As a reader, you really connect with the cat and how his anxiety grows over time. By the end of the story though, we see how the cat adapts to the new addition and despite not being the centre of attention, he is now part of a bigger, loving family. I think this book is great to use in class circle times but would be perfect for any families who have younger children and are expecting a new arrival soon. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Something Fishy
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece
Tracey Corderoy

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857639752

Having met Tracey Corderoy and Steve Lenton a couple of years ago during a school visit, I was very excited to receive the latest adventure in the Shifty series. This time, the detective dog duo have packed up their pans and are in Paris to bake a huge gingerbread tower for a fancy art gallery opening. But to their horror, the prize masterpiece has been stolen. Will Shifty and Sam be able to track down the thief and return the artwork before the opening? Well of course they will and they manage to do so through the wonderful rhyming text and beautiful illustrations. The combination of text and picture really transport the reader to Paris and you feel immersed in the French culture - at times you cannot help but read the text with a French accent! A really enjoyable read and a favourite amongst my class of year 1 children. This prompted them to not only pick out the rhyming words but also introduced many conversations around the city of Paris and French foods - which left us all feeling rather peckish by the end of the book. All in all, a great read. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece
The Pirates of Scurvy Sands
Jonny Duddle

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783704095

It's good to see the characters from The Pirates Next Door make another appearance, and this time Matilda gets to experience some pirate life - and we discover that pirates have just as many reservations about 'lubbers' as land lubbers have about pirates! So the story is a perfect companion to The Pirates Next Door - and has all the accomplishment of the original picture book. It's summer in Dull-on-Sea and Matilda gets a message in a bottle from her pirate friend, Jim Lad, telling her to prepare for a 'special pirate trip'! They sail for three days before arriving at Survy Sands - a holiday centre for pirates, headed up by 'Cap'n Ollie Day'. They can do all sorts of pirate activities, such as searching for Mad Jack's missing gold which is buried somewhere on the island. But Matilda is soon the object of consternation from the pirate holidaymakers. She has table manners, her teeth are shiny and her hair is clean! 'I ain't seen nothin' like it. That little girl is WEIRD', declares Old Man Grumps. But while they all focus on what why Matilda wouldn't 'pass the pirate test', Matilda gets on with quietly attempting to solve the mystery of the missing gold. Her pirate talents turn out to be better than all of them! As well as its inclusive message, there is plenty to enjoy in the detail of this lovely picture book, from the humour in the names to the gorgeous scene-setting and brilliant characterisation. It is a must if you're doing topics around pirates, can be used to support map reading and work around mirror writing (I don't want to give too much away in the story!). Jonny Duddle is also a master at using images to tell the story and, given how packed the pages are with detail, there are lots of opportunities to explore the text and images. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Gail Lenton.

The Pirates of Scurvy Sands
It All Began When I Said Yes
Simon Philip

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471164590

A funny and entertaining book all about the adventures you can have when you start to say 'yes' more often! This story is told from a little girl's point of view. Like many other small children, she often says 'no' when asked to do something by her parents - eating broccoli and brushing her hair being just a few examples! She promises to start saying 'yes' more often when she is asked to do things, but this results in some interesting consequences when a gorilla named Gideon knocks on the door... The adventures between the little girl and gorilla provide entertainment for the reader and the story is filled with colourful, inviting illustrations which bring the story to life. There is also an important moral to the story which provides a good discussion stimulus with slightly older children about saying 'yes' more often around the house with simple requests from parents - but also thinking carefully about agreeing to do things that sometimes may be less sensible or safe. Picture Book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher

It All Began When I Said Yes
Mixed
Arree Chung

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509871346

Who is the best? Reds? Blues? Yellows? Mixed is a refreshing take on the importance of respecting and valuing everyone, regardless of colour. The story begins with three colours (red, blue and yellow) and their own personalities. All live in harmony until, one day, the reds decide to declare they are the best. This leads to the segregation of the colours within the city, However, a yellow and a blue soon grow close together and fall in love. This leads to them going against their families and mixing to create green. The prejudice towards their friendship soon subsides once people see the beautiful colour that has been made. Before too long, the colours see past their differences and mix together in many ways, creating even more colours in the process. This book is a wonderful introduction to diversity and togetherness and touches upon the sensitive issue of racism. The children in my year 1 class really enjoyed the story as well as the fun and engaging pictures. I think that this book could be used across the primary age range and even used in whole school assemblies. Children will soon make the link between the colours in the book and the colour of people's skin in the real world. Arree Chung has created not only a wonderful story, but also a great teaching aid for schools. Thoroughly recommend all primary schools owning a copy. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Mixed
How to be a Lion
Ed Vere

Puffin

ISBN 9780141376363

Although not a thrilling and exciting story, How to be a Lion still delivers an important message to children about always being yourself, despite what others say. It encourages following your own path and not the path that others believe you should take. I feel that this is a very important message for children to learn, especially in today's social media age where everyone feels judged for not being like others. Leonard is the lion in question in our story, which begins with the lesson that there is only one way to be a lion - you have to be fierce, you have crunch, you have to chomp and you cannot be gentle. But then we meet Leonard - a lion who loves nothing more than walks in the sun, humming and thinking up poems. Leonard is not like any other lion. Soon enough, Leonard meets a new friend in the form of Marianne the duck, she too enjoys many of the things that Leonard does and together they become the best of friends. This does not go down well with the other lions who tell Leonard he must chomp the duck to be like a real lion. Saddened by this prospect, Leonard retires to his thinking hill and, once joined by Marianne, conjures up a plan to prove the other lions wrong. This story works brilliantly on all levels and the illustrations are simple yet beautiful. I can see myself using this text in the classroom environment and would recommend to others who work with children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

How to be a Lion
Blue Monster Wants It All!
Jeanne Willis

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781848698321

Blue monster wants it all. He wants a new pram, a new teddy, a new hat too and when he is old enough to get it himself, he sets about making sure he gets all the new things he wants. Blue Monster doesn't like any old things at all, brand new things are what make him happy! Just like his brand-new submarine to watch his new whales in. With all of these luxuries will Blue Monster ever realise that there are some things money just can't buy and maybe our old ones are just as good? This story has a loveable, relatable character that the children will enjoy getting to know. I'm sure there will be lots of laughs in the classroom sharing this one together! Blue Monster's selfish ways will have children giggling but will also spark deep discussion about rights and wrongs. This is a wonderfully positive book that will teach children the value of family and friendship and their worth in comparison to material possessions that make us happy for just a short while. There are lots of ways this book could be used to stimulate writing in the classroom. Blue Monster's bad behaviour could be a focus for the children to write their own sequel or an alternative ending to his tale. Children could be asked to write about and describe their own utopia filled with all the weird and wonderful things they would have there if they could have all the new things they wished for. I would also invite the children to write a letter to Blue monster explaining their thoughts on his behaviour and maybe what he should learn from it all. A great addition to any book shelf both in and out of the classroom. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

Blue Monster Wants It All!
Cyril and Pat
Emily Gravett

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509857272

This is a lovely story about friendship, and difference, brought to life by two animals. The story follows the adventures of Cyril and Pat. Cyril the squirrel finds a friend in Pat, who he believes is also a squirrel. However the reader - and the other animals in the book - realised that Pat is actually a rat! Pat and Cyril play games together and roam through the park having fun. Many animals try and tell Cyril about his friend being different but they are having too much fun to listen properly. Eventually, however, the other animals send Pat away and Cyril doesn't stop them. Now he is left to play alone which he realises is no fun! He also ends up in lots of trouble - will his friend be around to save him? This story demonstrates the importance of difference and explores friendships between those with different qualities. It also has some beautiful illustrations! There is a rhyming pattern in the book which children will really enjoy spotting and trying to guess which words are coming next, once they have spotted the pattern - my class love doing this during whole class story time with rhyming books! Picture Book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher

Cyril and Pat
The Cook and the King
Julia Donaldson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509813773

The newest release from the fantastically funny duo Julia Donaldson and David Roberts. There was once a hungry king who needed a new cook. Although there was an abundance of applicants, none of them could live up to the King's high expectations and make a dish that was just right. They were all 'too hot! Too cold! Too sour! Or too smelly!' The hungry king thought he would never meet a chef that was just right for him. That is, until in came Wobbly Bob. A shy, frightful cook who would love to have the job of cooking for the king if only he dared. He was a wimp! Afraid of everything. Our hungry noble King offers to help the cook, not realising 'he is actually doing ALL the work' - as my young daughter shrewdly observed. This beautiful picture book includes all of our favourite things that we would expect to see from Julia Donaldson and Roberts alike; well-paced rhythmic rhyming text, repetition, it's timeless and witty with stunning illustrations. The illustrations and text are well placed within a large white background on each page making them really stand out and the text easy to read as it was in short manageable chunks for young readers to enjoy and linked directly to the images on the page. If you are a big fan of Donaldson and Roberts' collaborations, keep your eye out for a fantastic treat within the first few pages. My daughter was ridiculously excited that she had spotted a character we had met in a previous story. We don't want to give too much away but we immediately got out the book and explored the illustrator's clever links. There is lots to explore in this book in terms of food and cooking, and this text could be used in the classroom as a stimulus/starting point to get children thinking about where food comes from as the king tells the cook 'It's time to dig' when he wants chips. Children could be invited to design a dish they think the king would love and then actually cook it themselves (sandwiches maybe?). As the story ended we were left with lots of questions about how the King and cook's partnership would work and I'm sure the children would generate some of their own too. Being so scared of cooking anything alone, it might be an idea to have children writing some cooking instructions for the chef to follow based on their chosen dish. This is a fun story that I'm sure will be asked for again and again. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

The Cook and the King
Once Upon a Raindrop: The Story of Water
James Carter

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848577145

Once Upon A Star is a poetic journey through space written by James Carter and wonderfully illustrated by Mar Hernandez. The text allows learning about space and the history of the solar system to be covered in a fun and engaging way. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and really help deliver the information well. The poetic text allows the book to flow and you feel like you are drifting through the pages easily. With very few words, it would be easy for James Carter to focus only on the scientific language but he manages to convey the information in a mix of technical and creative vocabulary. This book would be great to use in EYFS and KS1 classes when beginning to learn about space and the solar system but also as a good introduction to 'The Big Bang'. Work can be focused not only on the science of space but also on the rhyming vocabulary used throughout. Once Upon a Raindrop follows suit by taking a poetic approach to teaching an area of science. This time, we learn about the origins of water and how our water cycle works. James Carter's narrative takes the reader on a wonderful journey across the skies, lands and seas and is superbly accompanied by Nomoco's striking, dynamic and beautiful watercolour illustrations. This text fully supports the curriculum subject of water, and also showcases playful, rhythmic poetry. This book, just like Once upon a Star, is perfect to read aloud to a group of children. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Once Upon a Raindrop: The Story of Water
If All the World Were...
Joseph Coelho

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030597

If All The World Were... Not to be read without tissues to hand! This heart-warming picture book, so poetically written, is a must to share with any young reader and in particular those coping with the loss of a grandparent or someone close. You can't help but be touched by this beautiful message. Although the concept of bereavement is so very deep for young children to comprehend, this book subtly uses its vibrant illustrations to explain more than what's actually said. The focus of this story is the happy memories a young girl and her grandad shared, rather than the harsh facts. The young girl reminisces about the times she'd spent with her grandad and the different activities they had enjoyed throughout the seasons. When finding a new notebook 'made with spring-petal paper' and 'bound with a length of Indian string' made and left to her from her grandad, she then paints pictures to bring to life fond memories she has of them both. The illustrations in this book are bright, vibrant and uplifting. Our favourite page was the 'kaleidoscope of memories'. Immediately my youngest daughter wanted to recreate her own version of this image and we thought it would make a great printing activity that could be completed with KS1 children in school. The KS1 history curriculum focuses on changes within living memory, children could compile a bank of images close/important to them that depict their memories of the past and use these to create a similar kaleidoscope image. This story is a gentle text that can also be used to explain to children that drawing and writing our thoughts and feelings down can often be a powerful tool when trying to process our emotions following a traumatic event. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

If All the World Were...
The Garden of Hope
Isabel Otter

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848577138

The Garden of Hope is the story of a little girl who finds courage and purpose as she transforms an overgrown and neglected garden into a place of hope. Isobel Otier, with the help from the beautiful illustrations of Katie Rewse, has created a story that shares a powerful message. A message of hope for when times seem at their toughest. The text tackles the sometimes difficult topics of sadness, anxiety and of loss but does so in a thoughtful and delicate manner. As you read the book, you can feel yourself connecting with Maya as she comes to terms with how life is different now that mum has gone. You also connect with her dad as he too struggles with the adjustment in his life as well as staying strong for his young daughter. The Garden of Hope carefully and gently explores the heart-warming relationship between father and daughter, something that is often not seen in other texts. Dad takes it upon himself to do something to combat Maya's worries. He tells her stories of how her mum would tend to and care for the garden when she felt worried and how a growing plant could help wave worries goodbye. Before too long, Maya channels these worries into creating a beautiful and colourful garden, one which her mum would be proud. This book is a perfect way to address anxiety, worries, sadness and loss with small children. Anyone working in a setting with young children could find this text very helpful in unlocking children's feelings who may be experiencing something similar in their lives. I will be recommending this text to our Family Support team but it would work in all primary schools. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

The Garden of Hope