NEW TITLES

This month's picture book selection explores themes around jealousy, loss and friendship to explore. Our reviewers also highlight some great young fiction with witches, vampires and zombie teddies perfectly timed for Halloween!

The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the Fiddle
David Litchfield

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847809179

This is the heart-warming story of Hector and Hugo and their love of music. Hector was a fiddle player, and his act was great, until a piano playing bear came along and he had to retire. Hector's dream of playing to thousands one day was shattered so he put away his fiddle forever. Until one night he heard Hugo, his dog, playing his fiddle to the neighbourhood and they loved it! Even the piano playing bear heard Hugo and asked him to join his band. Unfortunately, Hector and Hugo fell out over Hugo's success and Hector said some things he shouldn't have. It wasn't until Hector saw him play that he realised how amazing he was and their friendship is restored, with a duet on stage to thousands! When I heard there was sequel to The Bear and the Piano I was delighted as I was such a big fan of the first book. The illustrations and the detail is brilliant and brings the story to life. This is such a gorgeous book that celebrates friendship and the ideas of forgiveness. It could also explore dreams and how they can come true, even if they take a long time. It would be fantastic to use in class or one to one with a child. Good friendship, just like good music, lasts a lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and to my class. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the Fiddle
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
Dave the Lonely Monster
Anna Kemp, illus Sara Ogilvy

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471143687

Dave is a lonely monster who was once the terror of the town, until banished to Echo Rock. Now Dave is old and lonely, with only his bass guitar for friendship and sock knitting for fun. Knights come and poke fun of him but he is no longer interested. Until one day a very small and brave knight called Percival meets Dave. They become friends and Dave is lonely no more. When the village becomes bored, they try to capture and bait Dave, Percival stands up for him in front of the village. With his bass guitar Dave plays the best Monster Rave for the bored villagers and they all become friends! The story is vibrant and fun and the illustrations lend massively to the story. The idea of having a rhyming story helps with the flow and engages readers, trying to guess what the words might be. I thought Dave the Lonely Monster was a hilarious book with lots of hidden jokes for the adults in the illustrations. It has something for everyone and explores lots of different themes. But while it is certainly a fun story to share, Dave the Lonely Monster also gives young children a gentle introduction to the idea of difference and loneliness, and making sure that everyone is looked after when they need help. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher.

Dave the Lonely Monster
How Does My Home Work?
Chris Butterworth

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406379525

The clever title of this book caught my eye, it's part of a series that also covers how we get the food in our lunch boxes and where your clothes come from. Although it begins in quite a simple way, looking at the 'magic' of water from taps, cold drinks from the fridge and light at the touch of switch, the pages quickly move on to simple but detailed explanations for how these different forms of energy get to our houses via the pipes and wires that lay behind the walls. There are spreads showing how electricity from the power station reaches our home; where gas comes from; and how water from the rivers reaches our taps, plus how it takes away things we don't want like sewage. The illustrations are well laid out and informative; this would be a really useful book to support topics around electricity and how we use energy, and there are some website links to explore the topic further plus tips on saving energy. The book doesn't have a contents page but there is an index that can be used to introduce children to how to use non-fiction texts. Having seen this book, I'll definitely look out for the others on food and clothes. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alison Brown.

How Does My Home Work?
National Trust: How to Help a Hedgehog and Protect a Polar Bear
Jess French

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788002578

A pupil in my class, who is an animal nut, absolutely ADORED this book! The presentation and organisation of the book engages readers well making it easy to navigate, with short paragraphs of information. Character illustrations are representative and inclusive making them relatable to readers from a range of settings. Information is memorable, so much so that it has continued to be repeated back to me by pupils weeks after initially reading the book. The illustrations are gorgeous and it's a beautiful book to have out on display. The positive environmental themes spark interest and discussion from readers. The book can easily be included across the curriculum as part of PSHE or topic, and extracts can be used as a whole class or small group guided reading text. 64 pages / Ages 5-9 years / Reviewed by M Hardy, teacher.

National Trust: How to Help a Hedgehog and Protect a Polar Bear
Caterpillar and Bean: A Science Storybook about Growing
Martin Jenkins

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406355161

Caterpillar and Bean is a beautifully-presented book that takes a slightly different look at metamorphosis from other picture books by showing a caterpillar's changing stages against the backdrop of a bean plant. First we see the bean plant starting to grow roots and leaves, then an egg appears on a leaf and from that grows the caterpillar and we are shown it growing through its various changes. We also watch the seasons change with them, from spring to summer and then through winter, the chrysalis hangs while the beans fall to the ground, ready to grow in the spring as the butterfly emerges. The text is chatty and informal, prompting lots of questions and if you're sharing this with a group of young children, they will be eager to guess what is coming. There is also some supporting non-fiction text that give additional facts; the caterpillar grows out of its skin three times, for example. Each spread of the picture book is clearly illustrated, showing in detail each stage of the plant and caterpillar's growth, so it would support work around metamorphosis and plant growth, as well as the seasons. Distinctive and informative, I would happily recommend this 'science storybook'. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Alison Brown.

Caterpillar and Bean: A Science Storybook about Growing
Secret World of Butterflies
Courtney Sina Meredith

Allen & Unwin Children's Books

ISBN 9781760635305

This beautiful non fiction picture book, which was written to accompany the exhibition by the same name in the Auckland Museum in New Zealand, is packed full of vivid illustrations to capture any child's attention. It is full of the most amazing facts like the colour of their first poo (perfect for the five year old in everyone) and one species that drinks crocodile tears! For the more advanced and inquisitive readers, the back of the book is filled with more detailed information on the facts it has discussed which makes it really good to use in Early Years for mini beasts topics. Picture book / Ages 3-6 years / Reviewed by Fiona Dalu-Chandu

Secret World of Butterflies
Power to the Princess: 15 Favourite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power
Vita Murrow

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786032027

Well where do I start with this book? What an empowering and beautiful depiction of an array of timeless classics such as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and many more. All with a feminine twist but not singling out male readers. I love the sense of fulfilment and belonging each story gives its readers. Gone are the days where women can only work in certain jobs and it's so fascinating to be able to explain to your niece's that if they want to be an astronaut they could be because girls can be whatever they want to be - just as boys can be. With many schools now opting to focus on 'Famous Females who changed the world' and many other books centred around that idea, it's refreshing to read something a little more light-hearted but equally as powerful as the non-fiction books heaped in historical facts. From my experience, young girls can relate more to stories and this book allows just that to happen. I've read a few of them to my class and would choose them for PSHE purposes when thinking about what we want to be when we grow up, addressing barriers in confidence and also enabling children to focus on key attributes of the characters that they would like to be like one day. I would also use this in literacy to develop vocabulary and the notion of what a character description should be and should include. Very few books have clear cut and vivid imagery at the forefront of their character descriptions and, as someone who teaches children to write them, I've had to find or make my own resources when I haven't been scrabbling around for readymade ones. However, the first story in this book - Belle the Brave - allowed me to highlight key adjectives to pinpoint a character's appearance and personality. This is a very well written book with stunning colour pictures. There are many ways this book can be used but it can definitely be used to embed literacy skills and to gain knowledge and understanding of the wider world through fiction; something that I feel benefits younger children and enables them to develop their imaginations. I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to review this book and I look forward to using it within my own teaching in the future - a definite credit to have one of these in your book collection. 96 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Sian S Rankin, teacher.

Power to the Princess: 15 Favourite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power
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
Midnight Fright
Anna Wilson

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159571

Have you ever felt like you didn't quite fit in? Well, young Vlad, son of Drax and Mortemia Impaler and distinctly unenthusiastic vampire-in-training, certainly knows what this feels like. He is afraid of the dark, terrified of graveyards and try as he might, he cannot seem to master the skill of flying in bat form which he needs to achieve in order to pass his 'Bat Licence Test'. To make matters worse, his irritatingly confident and multi-talented cousin Lupus Fang has just arrived at Misery Manor, all the way from Transylvania, and he appears to excel in just about every vampiric skill which poor Vlad lacks. The ensuing gently comic adventure, charmingly illustrated by Kathryn Durst, is sure to appeal to newly independent readers and at this time of year in particular, a spooky theme always proves popular. Nervous readers can be reassured that there is little to scare them in this story, which touches on themes of acceptance, courage, bullying and family relationships in an accessible and gentle way. We all have a bit of Vlad in us, and this is a charming and lighthearted adventure that encourages young readers to embrace challenge and stick up for our friends whilst reminding us that appearances can be deceptive. 156 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, School Librarian

Midnight Fright
Iguana Boy vs. The 30 Second Thief: Book 2
James Bishop

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444939408

The second installment in the Iguana Boy series, doesn't disappoint. Dylan, a boy whose superpower is the ability to talk to iguanas, has now joined the Superhero Collective and is starting his first day at HQ. Dylan, along with his team of trusty iguanas, Paul, Pauline, Smelly Paul and Red eye Paul, get tasked with leading the CITD (Cats in Trees Department). However, Dylan wants to be where the action is and capture Repeat Offender, a super villain who had the ability to rewind time by 30 seconds. In this hilarious, fun filled mission, Dylan and his superhero friends try to stop Repeat Offender from his crime spree of stealing bank notes from Britain's banks. I really enjoyed this book. It is amusing, entertaining and full of silly events that leave you chuckling! I particularly laughed at the Superhero Collective's new acronym (POOP) and the funny traits of the characters in the story. As well as being a hilarious read, Rikin Parekh's illustrations complement the story perfectly, by providing added humour, as well as making the story more accessible to struggling readers, through the use of different text types such as comic strips and ID cards. I think this book would appeal to children age 7 plus. I look forward to reading further adventures of Iguana Boy and his superhero friends from POOP! 256 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Leia Sands, teacher.

Iguana Boy vs. The 30 Second Thief: Book 2
Night of the Living Ted
Barry Hutchison

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159564

Night of the Living Ted is the first title in a new series by award-winning author Barry Hutchinson. The title sets the scene for a perfect Halloween fright, with its hilarious humour and quirky fun-loving characters who try to save themselves - and the world - from being stuffed. When Lisa-Maria and stepbrother Vernon take a shopping trip to find the perfect present for their dad's birthday, little did they know that they would end up with a bear who thinks that he is Elvis reincarnated and an evil teddy bear who wants to rule the world. The siblings are drawn to a sign on a well-known shop that is advertising 'Free Halloween Stuff'. Lisa-Marie is familiar with the Create-a-Ted shop, but she does not recognise the new owner Josh who convinces her and Vernon to take a Halloween bear each, as well as their dad's birthday present. As midnight strikes, something strange happens; the bears come to life and a battle between good and evil commences. With their parents zapped by a witch and contained in a jar, Vernon and Lisa-Marie are left to defend the world against Grizz, the demonic bear and his evil army. This fast-paced adventure is jam packed with humour as the battle unfolds and Lisa-Marie and Vernon, along with Bearvis the bear, try to find a way to save humankind. Eventually, Lisa-Marie finds a way to restore normality, but at the cost of losing a true friend and hero. There are many underlying themes within this book that could support the Key Stage 2 curriculum, especially within English. The genre, Lisa-Marie's obsession with vocabulary, the setting and the characters will inspire pupils within their writing as well as their reading. It is a wonderfully illustrated book that will engage the children and enthuse their reading further. 188 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher.

Night of the Living Ted