NEW TITLES

Picture books looking at bereavement, discrimination and the environment head up this month's selection of books for readers aged 5-7 years, with young fiction, non-fiction and poetry also reviewed for us by teachers and librarians.

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
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
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
Daddy Hairdo
Francis Martin

ISBN 9781471147876

I knew even from page one that this was a book to love. The characters' expressions, as Amy's hair grows and grows whilst dad loses his, are a treat - parents and teachers will find this book as funny as children will. As Amy's hair grows ever longer and wilder, dad steps up to the plate with some fantastic hairdos to save the day. Personal favourite? The Rings of Saturn. It's nice to see a dad in the foreground for a change, with no mention of mum. The illustrations are vibrant and stimulating and have lots of those small extra details that kids love to spot on second and third read-throughs. I want to live in Amy's world! This is a book you can return to time and again, that shines with wit, warmth and humour. Highly recommended. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Carol Carter.

Daddy Hairdo
I Really Want That Unicorn
Fabi Santiago

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408336908

Ever wanted to win a big, sparkly, Mellow Yellow Unicorn? Chloe Crocodile does, desperately! The only way she can do this is to win Miss Twinkletoes' talent competition. All Chloe has to do is bake a rainbow cake, make a magic castle, design a unicorn fairy costume and give her best performance! Easy right? She just has to beat her biggest competition, Veronica the Elephant. Chloe and Veronica are both very good at lots of things and try their hardest. Every time Chloe does well, Veronica does better. But, it isn't down to them to decide who wins, it's Miss Twinkletoes' decision. Although neither of them win, they become friends and agree that that is much more important. This tale was sweet and funny and was brilliantly put together by Fabi Santiago who both wrote and illustrated the book. It's a sweet tale of not giving up and trying your hardest, even if you don't succeed, and most importantly a tale of friendship. This would be a lovely book to use in Circle Times or PSHE lessons or even just to recognise and value different friendships and how they can form in the most unlikely of cases! Picture Book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher.

I Really Want That Unicorn
Hansel and Gretel
Bethan Woollvin

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509842698

In this adaption of the famous traditional tale, Willow the witch becomes the main character. From the start, we are introduced to her as a good witch with kind intentions. As the story develops, we find that she has to battle with two rude and ungrateful children called Hansel and Gretel. These two children have begun to eat her home and all food before stealing her magic and shoving her in the oven. Despite all of this, Willow continues to try and find the good within them - excusing their behaviour. Eventually, though, Willow can take no more and the children meet an untimely end. Filled with beautifully quirky pictures, Bethan Woollvin has created a wonderful innovation of the story that share with the children the importance of treating others as you would wish to be treated. Those familiar with the story will enjoy seeing how events unfold from a fresh point of view and that itself can prompt thoughtful discussions. I really enjoyed how the emotion of the witch is explored throughout the book and how we learn that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Hansel and Gretel
If All the World Were...
Joseph Coelho

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030597

Death is topic that you would not expect to come face to face with when reading a children's book and is certainly an area that needs to be addressed and delivered in the correct way. Joseph Coelho has done this in a sensitive and beautiful way through If all the world were... During this poetic picture book, we learn about the special bond between a granddaughter and her grandfather and how, through memories, love can live on forever. The story takes us through the seasons and we see how the little girl has made a million fantastic memories with her grandad and we learn through the words, 'If the world were', just how she'd keep making those memories if she could. Reading the first half of this book, you can't help feeling warm inside as you relate to the little girl and the relationship she has with her grandad. This emotional connection then takes a turn as the realisation that Grandad has died hits home. The words 'ut some tales are silent' are minimal but certainly hit hard in your stomach. As the book continues, you begin to see the little girl cope with her grief in her own special way - through her memories. She finds a notebook, a final gift from her beloved grandad, and this is where she writes and draws all her memories because even though he is gone, she can still hold his giant hand and explore. I would certainly use this book in school to address the topic of death and grief and I think it would be a useful tool to use with any children who are coming to terms with the death of a loved one. I shall be recommending this to all the schools I network with. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

If All the World Were...
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
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
Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game
Tom Knight

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781783708123

What happens after you save the kingdom from a rampaging dragon with the aid of a stink bomb? You become the school hero, that's what! Instant popularity and fame is the reward. However, handling that fame can bring a whole new set of problems. At least that's what Berkley Paggle discovers in Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game. It can be even harder when you are the not-so-popular friends of a school legend. When Berkley is catapulted into the 'It' crowd, his cousin Godwin and best friend Warrick get left behind. They are simply not cool enough to hang around with 'Berk the Berserker', as his new friends call him. Berkley finds himself in the centre of the inter-school bladder ball match and way out of his comfort zone. His neglected friends have troubles of their own too. Warrick Pitchkettle is experimenting with dark magic and Godwin Paggle is a little lost without his cousin by his side. Berkley is in way over his head but by a stroke of luck Warrick interferes with the bladder ball match, making Berkley appear the hero again. Warrick's intentions are not completely altruistic, he is in need of a collection of heroes and magically transports them all to the doorway of the magical porthole between this world and the world of the Horde (dragons, undead skeletons, that sort of thing). The big questions are - will Berkley and Godwin finally put aside their jealousy and become friends? Will Warrick find out what happened to his father and sister Willow? And will the magical portal be closed? Only reading this action packed book will provide the answers. Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game is the sequel to the picture book Good Knight, Bad Knight and continues the story of chivalry between the cousins Godwin & Berkley Paggle. Clever and funny, this book will be enjoyed by lovers of heroic quests and daring deeds. A great book to read for guided reading with a fantastic medieval glossary at the back, full of words such as: fauntkins, meaning children; squiggle, a waste of time; and privy, the medieval word for toilet! 160 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian.

Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game
Older Not Wiser (Bad Nana)
Sophy Henn

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008268053

Bad Nana, Older Not Wiser, tells the tale of seven year old Jeanie's rather unusual Grandmother. As a primary school teacher, I often find myself biting my lip trying hard not to laugh at something a child might have said or done. However, Bad Nana doesn't seem to have the same 'limit switch' most adults have, and this leads to all sorts of outrageous behaviour and adventures for Bad Nana and Jeanie. Cheeky and sometimes rude, Bad Nana's behaviour usually results in 'BIG TROUBLE&'; she should know better but she doesn't and Jeanie regularly finds herself hoping that her Nana will not do anything to embarrass her. So, when Bad Nana offers to help on a school trip to the local museum, there's a good chance that she will be up to her usual fun and games and Jeanie can't do anything to stop it. Bad Nana always dresses in black, from the top of her head to the tip of her shoes and on super-special occasions she adds a sparkly pink turban. This is reflected in the book's bright pink and black print. This book is absolutely perfect for able young readers (6-8 years) looking for their first step into longer chapter books. Each chapter reads as a short standalone adventure of Nana's mischievous behaviour; perfect for children starting to read on their own, or as a class shared read or bedtime story to chuckle over. 152 pages / Ages 6-8 / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher.

Older Not Wiser (Bad Nana)
Wish for a Witch
Kaye Umansky

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471160936

This is the second in a series by Kaye Umansky whose stories are greatly loved by many a young reader. The first book (Witch for a Week) introduced us to Elsie Pickles of Pickles Emporium, Magenta Sharp (the neighbourhood witch) and the tower, a self-maintaining residence that moves around and makes cake. At the end of the first book, Elsie returned to her family with the ability to perform three spells and a desire to learn more. At the start of this second book, Elsie is bored at Pickles Emporium so, when Magenta engages her to sort out her administrative backlog of delayed orders for potions, Elsie jumps at the chance and reacquaints herself with all the characters introduced in the first book. Though not strictly necessary to have read Book 1 before starting Book 2, readers would get a better sense of the characters and their interactions if they did. Corbett the raven and the Howlers, Joey and Sylphine, all feature in the second book but are introduced to the reader in the first. The plentiful illustrations by Ashley King and the clear text make these books ideal for newly independent young readers looking to stretch their reading stamina. The humour and the engaging characters will instantly appeal to young readers who will be keen to read the entire series. 224 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Wish for a Witch
I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree - A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year: National Trust
Frann Preston-Gannon

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857637703

Wow! This didn't so much slide through my letter box as arrive with a hefty thump. There's something very special about meeting the occasional book of this size and I think that children will be delighted by the book both in terms of content and but also as an artefact. I Am the Seed that Grew the Tree is published by Nosy Crow, in association with The National Trust. The poem from which the collection takes its title is 'Windsong' (p.234): 'I am the seed / that grew the tree / that gave the wood / to make the page / to fill the book / with poetry'. //. Fiona Waters has made an admirable selection of nature poems - one for every day of the year - and, unlike other recently published anthologies that claim to provide a poem for every day of the year, this is unified by its theme which makes it a much more coherent offering. She has also resisted the need to provide any kind of written commentary attached to the poems: indeed, you could argue that Frann Preston-Gannon's beautiful illustrations provide their own visual commentary. Look at 'Birch Trees' and 'Stopping by Woods' (p.14 and 15) - both set white print against a black background offsetting the silhouetted trees; a turn of the page takes us to a bleached out double page spread of snowy poems. Then move to the rich autumnal colours of a September landscape inhabited by Emily Dickinson's apt 'The Morns are Meeker than Ever' (p.237): 'The morns are meeker than they were, / The nuts are getting brown; / The berry's cheek is plumper, / The rose is out of town. / The anthology is commendable for the curation of such range of poems and the ease with which they sit alongside each other. Sara Coleridge's well known 'The Garden Year' (p.12) provides a fitting preface for all that follows. I received this on one of the hottest days of this summer and turned to the poems for August where I was instantly refreshed by the seascapes (p.190-191) and then the cooling 'Lake Isle of Innisfree' (p.192). Swallows pitch across a hot sun to accompany 'August Heat' (p. 196): 'In August when the days are hot, / I like to find a shady spot, / And hardly move a single bit -/ And sit - / And sit - / And sit - / And sit!//. And then how lovely to turn the page again, this time for refreshing rain with a Tigua Song and Grace Nichols' 'I am the rain' (p.199). Schools will, of course, make their own minds up about how best to position this very special anthology in their book collection. My hunch is that it is, perhaps, a book for the library which classes will choose to borrow from time to time. It's a hugely rich resource, not just in terms of the range of poems and poets but also the cross-curricular opportunities offered as it wends its steady, beautiful way through the seasons. 336 pages / Ages 6-11 years / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant

I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree - A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year: National Trust

ISBN 9780711239265

The latest instalment from this popular duo, (The Stick Book, The Beach Book, The Wild Weather Book) is, as expected, packed full of creative, fun and practical ideas for kids to get stuck into the great outdoors. With 15 or so activities for each season, there is plenty to get children outside and keep them busy throughout the year. From a Wild World Book day, to New Year's Day challenges, and from baking bread over a fire, to blindfold leaf games, there is a vast range of activities, such that any child will surely find something to their tastes, even if not everything suits everyone. The compact format means the book can be popped in a backpack on an outing, and bullet points and small amounts of text present one activity per page, accompanied by plenty of colour photos for explanation and inspiration. Some activities could be carried out spontaneously or by children alone, while others require some preparation and adult supervision; helpful safety guidelines are included at the back of the book. Whilst many of the activities would be easier for those with ready access to 'the great outdoors' there are also plenty for urban dwellers which could be done in a park or garden with a bit of thought or adaptation. For families and readers of 8+ (although many of the activities are suitable for children of any age).

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure: Book 1
Alex T. Smith

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444932072

I have a very enthusiastic army of Claude fans at my school so I anticipate great excitement about the arrival in the library of Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure. They are sure to be drawn in by the highly appealing look of this book with its orange, black and white colour palette and the delightful opening illustrations. I can guarantee that by the time they meet Mr Penguin himself, sporting an arrow-pierced adventurer's hat and carrying a satchel that contains his snack of choice: a fish finger sandwich, they will be well and truly hooked. In this, the first of Mr Penguin's adventures (now available in paperback), he and trusty sidekick Colin (a kung fu expert and spider) are called upon to track down the missing artefacts from the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. There is excitement and peril along with plenty of laughs as we follow our heroes through this delightful adventure. A more demanding and lengthy read than the Claude series, this book still has short chapters and a format that will be reassuring to the independent reader needing to bridge the gap to longer texts. I can't wait to find out where Mr Penguin and Colin will find themselves next! 203 pages / Ages 7-9 / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure: Book 1
The Great Big Green Book
Mary Hoffman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786030955

From the partnership that brought us The Great Big Book of Families and The Great Big Book of Feelings . The Great Big Green Book is an information book unlike many others. This book is jam packed with fun facts well presented for young minds. Hoffman and Asquith have opted for a much more positive approach to sharing difficult information with young children. The book begins by introducing children to our wonderful world and the unique characteristics of our planet and how it sustains us. We are then lead gently into some of the key issues affecting our Earth and given some simple ideas/short spurts of information as to how we can change this or at least help. The 'go green' information is presented in an eye-catching way, each double page spread is dedicated to a different topic- the headings on each page are light-hearted and catchy for children, surrounded by colour and imagery. I think this will make a massive difference to children wanting to tackle the information on the page as so often we see non-fiction books presenting information in a stark formal manner, using (rightly so) technical vocabulary but often far too much that it becomes inaccessible for children to understand. The book is full of colourful cartoon-like characters that we see participating in and discussing the range of issues such as 'Save water, save energy' and 'Make it new'. Lots of speech bubbles have been used to make the information relatable to the children and in child-friendly language. This book deserves five stars for the number of diverse characters it has managed to incorporate. I found that in itself was interesting to see; lots of different children and adults from various cultural backgrounds as well as a number of children with different physical disabilities included throughout. On the back pages there is a handy glossary and websites for children and teachers to access to discover more. My favourite page is the double page spread titled Ask Questions. The NC requirements for Geography in both KS1 and KS2 states that children should be able to ask and respond to geographical questions. This page is full of great examples of children doing this, I would show this page to my class to encourage them to do the same. This book is light-hearted and talks directly to children.

The Great Big Green Book
A Kid in My Class: Poems by
Rachel Rooney

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959879

What a lovely collaboration between two acclaimed figures in the field of children's literature this is! CLIPPA prize-winner, Rachel Rooney, brings a whole school classroom to life (and I don't just mean its pupils), beautifully complemented by former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell's witty and sympathetic illustrations. The collection gets off to a flying start (literally - Riddell pictures her on Pegasus) with 'First' (p.10). This is the annoying child who is always first. Enjoy the laugh-out-loud ending: 'Were she a poem, you'd know where to look: / she'd push her way past to the start of the book.//' New arrivals in school in school should be alerted to 'Tips for the New Boy' (p.14): 'On Fridays, we always bring in a box of Gummy Bears / to share with our friends./'. Endings are everything for Rooney, and here there's a challenge for the reader: that incites re-reading 'Don't believe everything you've been told. / Only one of these statements is true.// Everyone is here: the 'Teaching Assistant' (p.80), the 'Substitute Teacher' (p.78) and a 'Job Share' (p.76) which Rooney uses as a powerful vehicle to take a side-swipe at teaching styles: with Mr Rote the days are 'Got it all wrong days. Rotten and long days. / Days when I feel like I'm failing some test. // On the other hand, when Miss Muse takes over these are 'Soar in the sky days. Bursting with pride days. / Being alive days. Those days are best.'//. As well as the many rhyming poems, there are other forms too. Take 'Fidget' (p.26) which takes the form of a kenning: 'Nose fiddler. Desk drummer. / Tune hummer. Pencil twiddler./' Whilst much of the tone is humorous, the anthology is shot through with tenderness and empathy. 'Seeker' (p.32) is a touching, simply expressed poem about the experience of a refugee child: 'Eyes as wide as continents brim with the water between. / Seeks a different further. Looks back on what has been. /. 'Talking Hand's (p.62) is a dialogue between a non-hearing and hearing child: She cups her hand to her ear / as if holding an empty seashell against it. / I say Listen //, whilst 'Inscrutable' (p.50) is about a child is an elective mute. The poems would stand proudly on their own but the addition of Riddell's illustrations adds another rich dimension. Each poem includes a black and white mug-shot of the protagonist (and these also feature on the end-pages). These are expressive, sensitive portraits. Just look at the sideways glance the child in 'Dishonest' (p.74) is giving the reader, or the eye-popping child bursting to answer every question in 'The Questioner' (p.70). Alongside these, there's an illustration, often sprawling across the pages, in subtle shades of blue and grey. Some are realistic (look at the simplicity of the listening shell on p.63) and add a counterpoint to the poem: in 'Tough Kid' (p.57) the illustration has an imposing shadow of dad over the crouched child (even the hamster is cowed). Others feature the fabulous imaginative creatures who characterise so much of Riddell's work. The poor 'Substitute Teacher' (p.78) is confronted by a class of weird, not completely benign creatures - a not very subtle but suitably hilarious reminder of just how scary supply work can be! And then there's the hamster... without offering a spoiler, look out for the class hamster's escape in 'Accident Prone' (p.18) and his appearances thereafter. It is only right and proper that it's the hamster who has the final word: 'The Hamster Speaks' (p.82). 88 pages / Ages 7-11 years / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

A Kid in My Class: Poems by