NEW TITLES

This month's selection of picture books, reviewed by our teacher and librarian reviewers, looks especially at change - whether in the world or in ourselves - and being brave. There are also picture books that celebrate books, libraries and the joy of reading!

When a Dragon Comes to Stay
Caryl Hart

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788001977

What a charming book! This simple, rhyming story explains the good manners that little dragons should have. The book is easy to understand and details the behaviour that is less satisfactory in a dragon, before explaining the polite way that a little dragon actually behaves. The rhyme scheme is easy to follow and keeps the book engaging, without becoming tedious and the language is easy to understand. This picture book is a great way of talking to younger children about good manners without explicitly chastising less-desirable behaviour, but instead focusing on positive behaviour. The illustrations match the content on each page perfectly and this book could be read at home with your own children, or would be a great PSHE lesson in a class or nursery setting with younger children. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse.

When a Dragon Comes to Stay
Leap Frog
Jane Clarke

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788003117

What's that noise? All of the noises in the jungle are making Felix the tree frog a little jumpy! The story follows Felix through the jungle until he finds his Dad and the perfect place to sleep. The story is simply written, with direct address to the reader that will help keep younger readers involved in the story. Some pages ask for interaction (such as 'clap and scare away the snake!') and others prompt with questions that add opportunities for children to take a closer look at the page ('Count the branches on the tree!'). The story explores lots of different animals in the jungle and briefly teaches the reader about their behaviours. Each page is bright and engaging, with plenty to look at and discuss. This book is easy to follow and would work well as a story read on a 1:1 basis or with a whole class where it would fit well into topics about jungles or animals. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher.

Leap Frog
What's Next?
Timothy Knapman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406376876

This is a gorgeous picture book that plays with children's unwavering interest in 'what comes next', as well as exploring how different the world can look in the day and night times, and which creatures inhabit each of those worlds. When Baby Badger is big enough, Daddy badger takes him to the surface to discover the world above ground, showing him the softest moss to roll in, where to find bluebell bulbs and the perfect place to see the moon and the stars. When he realises that 'day' comes next after night, the little badger decides he has to see it - and in doing so dscovers a 'whole different forest' bursting with colour and life. But when he gets tired, there is no one around to answer 'what's next' - until Daddy Badger emerges at his side and brings him back to the burrow, and bed. This is a reassuring and gentle text and the desire to discover what is next, together with the beautiful illustrations by Jane McGuiness that will have children demanding to turn the next page. The pages where the little badger discovers daytime really burst out in glorious colour, after the monotones of night time. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Elena Byrne

What's Next?
Little Bear's Spring
Elli Woollard

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509807901

The cover of Little Bear's Spring is really enticing and this story leads children page by page through the changes that tell us spring is on the way - until we turn to the final spreads and the colours burst through; spring has arrived! Bear wakes up and leaves his cave to discover that snow still covers the ground - but, the animals tell him, spring is on its way. Bear doesn't understand what spring is, and feels alone. He finds a small, warm 'stone' that he takes with him on his journey of discovery, finding birds and then hares - before climbing a tree to avoid some hungry wolves. It isn't until Bear wakes the next morning to discover the glorious colours of spring that he realises what spring actually is - which is also when the small stone he has been carrying hatches and a young chick appears. The rhyming text reflects the energy and excitement of the creatures at the approaching thaw, and the muted colours of the beginning gradually become lighter and greener as the days get warmer. This is a good picture book to use to show how the seasons change and how we can recognise each of the seasons, winter and spring, as well as for discussions about how different animals survive winter by hibernating or migrating. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Elena Byrne

Little Bear's Spring
Tad
Benji Davies

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008212797

Tad, as any Benji Davies fan would expect, is an effortless, engaging read with a warm message that speaks directly to young children, this time about change and courage. Tad - the smallest of small tadpoles - watches her tadbrothers and tadsisters grow and change and, one by one, disappear. Tad is the last of the tadpoles to grow legs and lose her tail, and eventually is the only tadpole to be left behind in the pond. Tad wonders if the monster fish at the bottom of the pond, Big Blub, is behind her siblings' disappearances...then she makes a brave leap into the unknown, and a joyful discovery. This is a wonderful picture book to introduce young children to - or familiarise them with - the life cycle of a frog and, as the story really engages with the changes that tadpoles go through, it would work well alongside this topic, especially if you have tadpoles in class. The underlying messages, though, are powerful ones for young children. Tad's experiences tell them not to worry about not being the same as everyone else, and also shows that while change can seem frightening, once you embrace the changes - Tad literally leaps out from her old life into the new - life can be exciting and fun. Tad, who is small, frightened and alone, ends up discovering a world of colour and filled with frogs like her, and this change is reflected in the colours that Benji Davies uses - the muted, watery waterscapes of the first part of the book are replaced, in the final spread, by a glorious flash of colour and movement. There is lots to look out for and discuss on these pages and the large, bold illustrations and clear text and storyline make it a great picture book to share with groups. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Elena Byrne

Tad
Ollie's Magic Bunny
Nicola Killen

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471167966

What a delight Ollie's Magic Bunny is, young children will love this story of magic and adventure between a young girl and her favourite toy bunny. Ollie, as children will soon guess from the pictures, loves rabbits but best of her is her favourite toy bunny. One day, when the rain finally stops, she takes bunny out to play but a magical breeze turns her toy into a real bunny and lots of adventures follow - trying to find bunny, rescuing bunny from a very large puddle, and finally being whisked into the clouds with bunny on another magical breeze... While there are lots of adventures in this story, the text and gorgeous, monotone illustrations are gentle and reassuring enough for young children. The story, about a favourite toy coming to life, also has lots of appeal - added to by the cute cut-outs that add an extra dimension to Ollie's adventures. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green

Ollie's Magic Bunny
The Queen's Lift-Off
Steve Antony

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444934229

The Queen's Lift-Off - now available in paperback - is the latest in Steve Antony's series of books revolving around the adventures of the head of our royal family. Being a fan of the other books in the series, I was excited to read and review this text. The story begins with The Queen helping the Prince and Princess build a rocker in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. I think many readers will make the connection to Prince George and Princess Charlotte and imagine that our Queen has just as much fun as the one in the story. Soon, the three royals are flying into space and going on a journey around the solar system. Following in the footsteps of the other books, this involves visiting many locations that are well known and using high quality language to describe how she moved between these locations. Despite this being a book with very little text, the language used is of high enough quality to inspire and engage the reader throughout. As a reader, I truly visualised the queen zooming, zipping and soaring around the planets. The illustrations that accompany the book are of an equally high standard. Steve Antony has created pictures that fit in perfectly with the language and really take you on a visual journey with each page turned. One of the fun elements to the book are all the hidden characters and items to find on the pages, such as the alien waiter hidden on each page. There are also lots of throwbacks to the other books in the series as well as other Steve Antony publications. Having used The Queen's Handbag as the basis of a KS1 learning topic about the UK and landmarks, I would happily use this book in a similar way when learning about space and the solar system. I can envision children being engaged fully in the topic, especially with the planet names being used correctly throughout the book. A fun and engaging read, perfect for children in both EYFS and KS1 settings. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers

The Queen's Lift-Off
The Light in the Night
Marie Voigt

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471173264

A story within a story. A delightful tale full of hidden meaning, love and a shared loved of reading - and most importantly, bravery. With so much to see on each page and with a delightfully engaging narrative, children will ask for this story again and again. Betty, a gorgeous and brave little girl, loves the night time, because with the night comes "the most magical stories". But not everyone is in love with the night, as Betty leads the reader through a story of Cosmo the bear who lives inside one of her books, and Cosmo who is scared of the dark. Betty makes it her mission to show Cosmo that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark as "we need the dark, to see the light" and the dark enables us to see shadows. The tale reveals all the beautiful things that can be found in the dark. However, Betty must also be brave when they find themselves deep in a cave and the lights switched off; the result - a magical universe of twinkling lights. The illustrations are simply magical to accompany the storyline of magic and wonder. Embossed throughout the tale are silver lights and night creatures leading Betty and Cosmo on their adventure. I found myself completely absorbed in the illustrations and these create great talking points for younger children. This picture book will stand out on book shelves and has already become a firm favourite in our house. Full of hidden messages and reassurance, this is an excellent tale for young children, particularly those who have a fear of the dark. My children found pure delight in all the wonderful illustrations and most importantly, they demanded we switch off the lights to play in the dark. Congratulations Marie Voigt on a delightful tale and helping my children find the magic in the dark! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher

The Light in the Night
The Book Without a Story
Carolina Rabei

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405288484

Dusty is a book which has never been borrowed from the library. He is desperate to know what kind of book he is and to experience all the exciting things that the other books have, from riding on a bus to being splashed with soup. Stuck up on his high shelf it seems as if he will never be noticed, until the other library books decide to lend a hand. They think they know the perfect reader for Dusty - Sophie - but it isn't Sophie who opens him but her little brother, Jake. Jake normally just draws but when he discovers pictures of dinosaurs, which he loves, he has to keep reading. So Dusty's wish to be borrowed and have adventures, the first of many, comes true in this delightful tale celebrating libraries and the magic of sharing books. Everything about the book reflects the diversity of libraries, from the range of books to be found on the shelves, to the children eager to borrow and read them. The front endpapers show books without readers and the end the myriad ways in which they can be enjoyed. Having shared this with groups of children in my school library, I know that it is a book they enjoy. A title I would highly recommend adding to a collection about books, libraries and the joy of reading, something most librarians I know have. Picture books / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian

The Book Without a Story

ISBN 9781680101348

Bella is busy reading and does not want to be disturbed; she's just reached the amazing bit, right near the end where ... Then a cavalcade of characters try to tempt Bella away from her book, with a range of exciting invitations from piratical adventures to putting on a show and defending Earth from alien invasion. But with a book even more amazing than all these combined, Bella just wants some peace and quiet to finish her reading. When she finally reaches the end of her book, everybody else is busy reading! A wonderfully joyous celebration of the power of imagination and the joy of reading, featuring colourful pictures with lots of detail to spot and talk about. This is another ideal addition to a growing list of books which should be part of every primary school librarian's or book-loving teacher's toolkit to promote the pleasure of reading. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian

The Astro Naughty Naughty Baddies
Mark Sperring

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408897782

This is a fun, energetic picture book - but be warned, its main characters are very bad indeed as you've probably already guessed from its title, The Astro Naughty Naughty Baddies. Children will love being introduced to this foursome, as they plot to disguise themselves as aliens in order to win a fantastic amount of toys. It doesn't all go to plan, however, and the naughty naughty baddies soon get their comeuppance - although they do have one more act of naughtiness up their sleeves! This is a refreshingly different picture book that will have a lot of appeal to children. The slightly anarchic illustrations by Mr Gum illustrator David Tazzyman match the text beautifully. As the story moves quite quickly it is best shared with older children of four or five years plus and could also be used to help inspire their own crazy stories about children being bad! Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green

The Astro Naughty Naughty Baddies
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
Terry and the Brilliant Book
Nicola Kent

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509852291

I am a fan of Nicola Kent's picture books (Vera Jewel is Late for School / The Strongest Mum) so I was looking forward to reading this one. Nicola addresses everyday problems for children and gives them an unexpected twist, and in this picture book, she looks at friendship and what happens when friends develop different interests. Terry and Sue have been friends forever and every year, they give each other a ball for their birthdays. They love playing ball together, so when Sue gives Terry a book one year instead of a ball, he is very confused - what can you do with a book? Then, he starts to read...and soon he would much rather be reading than playing ball. Sue misses him but, when he finally finishes his book, she starts to read...and then it is Terry who feels left out. Eventually the friends learn to love balls AND books, and to realise that they can be good friends whether they are playing ball or reading together. This is a gorgeous picture book with Nicola's trademark bright, jewel-like colours and funny details to hunt for on the pages. These children are very recognisably children, and readers will have no problem in empathising with them and the situations they find themselves in. Above all, it is wonderful to have a picture books that is such a celebration of reading, and especially shared reading! Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green

Terry and the Brilliant Book