NEW TITLES

This month's picture book reviews include fun stories for younger children as well as picture books for older children that help introduce ideas around friendship and never giving up, as well as covering sensitive issues such as bereavement.

National Trust Busy Little Bees: Sunflower Shoots and Muddy Boots - A Child's Guide to Gardening
Grace Easton

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788004046

This charming book, printed in collaboration with the National trust, is full of ideas, facts and activities to get children interested in gardening. The book starts with the 'top ten plants' for children and a glossary of some important words to understand before you get out into the garden. From planting beans to making magical gardens and growing food to eat, this book is full of wonderful ideas for how to get children actively involved in the garden. In-between the activity idea pages are various 'fact' pages: plants that are good for encouraging bees, butterflies and birds; trees that are good for the environment; and tips to help children stay safe in the garden, for example. The book is hardback, with thick pages that feel as if they'd wipe clean - perfect for a book that could potentially be around a lot of soil! Each page has lovely illustrations and the text, although relatively small, is easily digestible. This book would make a great gift for children who have shown some interest in the outdoors, or for encouraging others to get outside and get involved in plants. Some of the lovely ideas would translate well to the classroom, perhaps for use in forest school sessions or by a school gardening club. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

National Trust Busy Little Bees: Sunflower Shoots and Muddy Boots - A Child's Guide to Gardening
Fruits
Valerie Bloom

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780333653128

Fruits - recently republished by Macmillan Children's Books - would certainly be a useful text resource when covering many topics in primary school. Obviously, the direct link to food would make this a great book to share when covering different fruits - particularly when wanting to introduce children to new and unusual ones. Luckily, the book also includes a helpful glossary at the back that explains the new fruits to the reader. This book would be useful when studying other countries and cultures as this is a traditional Caribbean poem. I could imagine setting up a Caribbean day in the classroom and introducing children to these fruits through reading the book. The story itself revolves around a young girl. Over the course of the day, the girl manages to consume rather a lot of fruit. Whilst she does so, she counts up to ten and introduces us to these new Caribbean fruits. As I read this, I felt children would make connections to 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', which would allow for good discussions in the classroom. The language used is also traditional to the Caribbean, meaning you find yourself having to read it in your own Caribbean accent. Something that I found quite off putting at first - this is certainly not a book that you would be able to pick up and read at the last minute. It is one that requires some preparation before hand. Another useful addition to school libraries and topic cycles. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Fruits
Dinosaur Farm!
Ms. Penny Dale

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788001816

Dinosaur Farm - as the title suggests - features 'farmer dinosaurs' doing various jobs around their farm. The inside front cover informs the reader of the names of the different dinosaurs featured, and the rear inside cover features the different machinery used on the farm - both great educational tools for the reader. The pages each have a simple sentence explaining what the dinosaurs are doing, using farm specific vocabulary, along with a repeated phrase. & There isn't a linear story as such, but this book would be of interest to children who enjoy dinosaurs, farms or both! The basic, repetitive structure means its more suited to younger readers, who would need an adult to help explain some of the specific vocabulary. This would be a good book to share in an early years setting for this reason. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

Dinosaur Farm!
Mini Rabbit Not Lost (Mini Rabbit)
John Bond

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008264840

Mini Rabbit and his one track mind...cake, cake, cake. Mini Rabbit is helping Mother Rabbit bake a berry cake, but there are no more berries in the jar. Mini Rabbit sets off on an adventure to find more berries for the cake. He reaches some far away places in his quest - dark woods, a lighthouse and a snow capped cliff edge and a scary cave - all before he realizes he is lost. Luckily Mini Rabbit has an excellent sense of smell to help him get home... This is a wonderful debut featuring beautiful, striking illustrations and a happy ending. I would certainly use it to get children talking and thinking about journeys - perhaps even planning their own perilous journey and creating a map from it, or using Mini Rabbit's journey as a plan for a map. This is one to be shared again and again. I hope Mini Rabbit goes on more adventures that we can read and share together. 32 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Erin Foote, teacher.

Mini Rabbit Not Lost (Mini Rabbit)
Little Bear's Spring
Elli Woollard

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509807901

Little Bear's Spring is a gorgeous reminder of changing seasons and how spring will see the world brought back to life again. Little Bear wakes up from hibernation and wanders off on his own, meeting birds, hares and wolves on his journey. He carries a little stone with him to keep him company which, eventually, hatches with a little chick. This is a lovely story to share with young children aged 3+, its lovely rhyming verse and gentle, colourful pictures are full of adventure and, as spring really blossoms, joy. Children can be encouraged to spot the changing temperatures on each page as the snow begins to melt, until the final glorious spreads of colour as spring finally arrives in earnest. There are also animals to explore - birds building nests (Little Bear has a go too), hares leaping through the snow, and wolves - looking for food! This can be used alongside lessons on the seasons and hibernation, or just as a delightful story to share with young children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green.

Little Bear's Spring
Superkitty
Hannah Whitty, illus Paula Bowles

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471175091

Bright, colourful and good fun to read. Superkitty jumps off the shelf and children will squeal with delight at the adventures of Superkitty. Superkitty works in the office of the 'Sensational Superhero Agency', but she is always just stuck answering the phones and never gets to be involved in the crime fighting unlike the 'crime fighting kitten I was born to be'. The Sensational Superheroes are six crime fighting heroes who state that chasing bad guys is no job for a cute little kitten. Suddenly the phone rings with the news that a terrible villain is on the loose and Superkitty decides it's time to fight some bad guys. Along the way one by one the Sensational Superheroes get distracted - the bakery, the hairdressers, swimming - leaving just Superkitty to capture 'Nefarious Norman'. Surprising everyone, Superkitty overcomes her fears and becomes famous across the land. Delightfully funny and engaging, this tale will quickly become a firm favourite with young children. With bright, colourful and large illustrations this tale is good fun to read as you spot all the little details included with the characters. This story teaches young children to believe in themselves and anyone can achieve their dreams if they put their mind to it, as well as an important 'girl power' vibe running throughout. From a cute little kitty to 'Superkitty', my children have loved this story from beginning to end. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

Superkitty
Cats and Robbers
Russell Ayto

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408876503

Just when you think an empty house, with a crate was an easy target for three robbers - think again, especially if that house is run by cats! Three unsuspecting robbers spot an empty house ready for robbing, they have their list of things they need to steal, which turns out to be a safe, that is it. They think the mission is going to be an easy one, but little do they know that they are being watched by two sneaky spy cats. As the robbers make their way through the house, they are met by the cats, traps of spring-loaded cat claws and litter trays! Just as they get to the safe, they are carted away by the cats and taken to the police. All in time for the little old lady to return home to her beloved pet cats. And that's when we discover what is inside the safe...! I really enjoyed this picture book; the illustrations are very clever at revealing little clues to the story and adding in the humour. It is a fun, silly story to enjoy with children and even for adults to enjoy too! What will the cats get up to next?! Picture Book/ Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Cats and Robbers
Along Came a Different
Tom McLaughlin

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408888940

Along Came A Different is a brilliant story about friendships and how to make them. The story begins with the reds, they only play with the other reds because anything red is the best thing ever! The yellows only play the yellows because they only like yellow. The yellows don't like the reds because red music was too loud and red apples are too round! So, the red and yellows end up fighting. Then, along came a different and it was blue that would only play with other blues. The blues, reds and yellows all disliked each other, they fought, and things got worse and worse. They tried to make it better and that only worked for a little while. But then came ANOTHER different and another and another. Until a very, very different arrived, the multi-coloured star. He liked red and yellow and blue and then suddenly everyone realised that being different was okay and they all started to like each other. I think this story is absolutely brilliant! I think it would be used effectively in schools, with classes, small groups or even individuals. The story is simple to follow for children, for all ages, sparks lots of insightful questions and makes children think about friendships and how others might feel to not be included. Through the use of shapes and colour rather than people, the story isn't explicitly about children so it could be for anyone, of any age! I would thoroughly recommend this to other teachers, SENCOs and even parents that have children/classes with friendship issues. Other titles on this theme include Mixed (Arree Chung) and All Are Welcome (Alexandra Penfold, Suzanne Kaufman) Picture Book/ Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Along Came a Different
The Sea Saw
Tom Percival

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471172434

The Sea Saw is a beautiful tale of never giving up hope on something you have lost. Tom Percival has created a story that will certainly withstand the test of time and that I believe should become a firm favourite across all classrooms. The story begins with the introduction of Sofia and her old, tatty and very well loved teddy bear. From the illustrations, it is clear to see that this text is not set in the modern era. This could be explored further with older primary school children as they use the pictures to investigate what time period the story is set and investigate the main similarities and differences with the world they have grown up in. The story then takes us on a journey of Sofia's amazing day out with her father....a day at the seaside. This element was great to share with my class as they were able to share their own experiences of their days out at the beach. It also would make a great link with some of the history topics in KS1 - particularly The Victorian Seaside. The words Tom Percival uses throughout are beautifully written and allow for some wonderful discussions, especially during guided reading sessions. The story flows wonderfully and I felt myself completely immersed in what I was reading - sharing every emotion with Sofia. The way the sea is also personified adds an extra dimension to this story and you generally believe that the sea is a real person, almost a guardian angel to Sofia. I was so engrossed in the story that I did not foresee the ending, it was a pleasant surprise that make me sigh with relief out loud. I very much enjoyed this book and it has certainly been one of the best I have read recently. I have recommended it to many fellow teachers and librarians. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers

The Sea Saw
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
Verna Aardema

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780333351642

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (newly reissued by Macmillan Children's Books) is a beautiful rhyming story inspired by a folktale from Kenya. Ki-Pat is a young herd boy who must find a way to end the dreadful drought that has come to plain. Ending the drought is the only way to save the animals that live there. The text is wonderfully written and the rhyming couplets allow the story to flow effortlessly. I found myself easily reading along with the rhythm of the text and this made it easy to read aloud to my class, who in turn were able to join in with many of the rhymes I instantly found myself thinking that this text would be perfect to use in school. It would be a fantastic resource to use when studying topics around Kenya or stories from other cultures. Speaking from my own experiences, I know that this will come in handy in forthcoming topic cycles. Verna Aardema, a highly acclaimed storyteller and author of many African folktales, has written this tale well enough that it is accessible to children and can prompt many discussions between peers. The story is accompanied by Beatriz Vidal's illustrations. These are superb in the way that they truly depict the story throughout and are very traditional. I could easily see some artwork stemming from this book as well as work surrounding Kenya and Poetry. A lovely addition to any school library. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
Fantastically Great Women Who Worked Wonders
Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408899274

This is a lovely book about some crucial women who have made history. It has a double page spread about each woman giving details of their life and achievements, leading to why they are so important - including the London Matchgirls, disabled suffragette campaigner Rosa May Billinghurst and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Each page is set out beautifully with illustrations to bring the information to life and little chunks of text. As there is so much information, each page is quite busy which may mean it is overwhelming for less confident readers but it would be a great text to look at as a class or at home with parents, too. Any children who are keen to learn about historical people or have any topical links in school will find this a very useful and user-friendly place to start. Each page is covered in colour and illustrations to bring the stories to life and the text is split into handy sections. Speech bubbles and different fonts are used to attract attention to the most important bits of information. At the back of the book, there is a section to explain any difficult words that they may come across. It also ends with a lovely double page spread of them all, asking 'How will you work wonders?' 31 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, Teacher

Fantastically Great Women Who Worked Wonders
Let's Talk About When Someone Dies
Molly Potter

Featherstone

ISBN 9781472955340

Molly Potter and Sarah Jennings bravely and boldly take on a subject that we would all feel apprehensive about reading to young children. This is a picture book written in a non-fiction style on starting conversations with children about death and bereavement. Potter and Jennings seem to have thought of everything or as best as anyone can with regards to this topic. Potter talks directly to children using clear, easy-to-understand language to answer complex questions about death and how a child might feel when someone dies. Children are at the heart of this book and you can clearly see that Potter is passionate about getting this right, being honest with the reader whilst remaining sensitive. This book is well thought out and, in my opinion, pitched just right for its audience. The engaging illustrations and gentle guidance/explanations make this book one that can be read and understood alone or shared with a supportive adult. Each double page spread explores a different question a child might have about death. Outlining the facts and exploring how children might feel or react to this. Most pages also include an 'It's important to know' bulletin with additional information addressing any misconceptions or puzzling thoughts children might have at this point in the book. The diverse characters on each page are relatable with detail to facial expressions that children will resonate with irrespective of the text. I like how this book has been broken down into manageable chunks and follows a meaningful chronological order to support children making sense of the process. Initially I was taken aback with Potters overt use of the words 'dead people' as, as adults, we tend to avoid such blunt wording but as you move on through the book there is a perfect example of how Potter seems to have thought of everything as she introduces 'different words for death' as a subject heading. When you get to this page in the book, you are put more at ease as you begin to understand Potters reasons for her chosen language and her dedication to keeping the information true and manageable for children. The final pages of the book provide guidance for parents and carers in order to get the most out of the book. I would advise both teachers and parents to read any such book like this themselves first to ensure you are comfortable with its content and it is suitable for the children you are sharing it with. I would highly recommend this book to all ages who have been bereaved to read as the content is brilliantly supportive and tender. 32 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher

Let's Talk About When Someone Dies
If All the World Were...
Joseph Coelho

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786036513

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...