NEW TITLES

The latest selection of picture books for years 3-6 years covers a range of subjects and themes, exploring friendship, feelings and identity.

B Is for Baby
Atinuke

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371086

What a gorgeous picture book this is, from the creator of another of my favourites, Baby Goes to Market. As well as its vibrant images and simple, energetic storytelling, this is a wonderful text for encouraging phonemic awareness among young children. The story begins, 'B is for Baby' and moves on through 'B is for Banana' and 'B is for Breakfast', at which point we see Baby falling into a basket of bananas and being taken off on the back of Brother's Bicycle, to see Baba. Of course, Brother hasn't realised he has a stowaway as he cycles past the Big Baobab on the Bumpy road. The images are vibrant and a delight, imbued with African landscapes, people and animals - Africa breathes off the pages. I'll definitely be sharing this with children - probably alongside Baby Goes to Market, when we're learning about numbers! Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alison Wilson.

B Is for Baby
Matisse's Magical Trail
Tim Hopgood

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192767264

Matisse is a small, shy snail who spends much of his time trying not to get squashed under the feet of people. The world outside his shell seems big and scary to him. But when the night comes and world seems quiet, Matisse is able to do what he loves most.....draw Using any backdrop he can find for a canvas, Matisse creates wonderful pieces of art. Unfortunately for Matisse, these masterpieces go unnoticed for some time. That is until a small ball finds one of them on a pebble. Soon all his friends know about the snail who can draw! However, Matisse is a shy snail and it takes some coaxing for him to finally reveal him self as the master artist. Before long, the children he has befriended have filled his drawings with colour, creating a world that is bright and beautiful once more. So much so that people all over stop, stare and smile together. Tim Hopgood has created a feel-good book that delivers the message that everyone can shine, no matter how small. The text is easy to follow and accessible to all children, particularly children within an EYFS setting. Schools could certainly develop artwork around this book to utilize for more than just a story time read. The illustrations by Sam Boughton are wonderful and the use of watercolour (or the effect of) really connects with the story. I think Sam's work is a true strength to this book. I would certainly read this to a group of young children but it didn't hook me enough to establish itself as a new favourite. Certainly worth a read during a story time though to allow children to make their own judgement....after all, they are the true audience. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Matisse's Magical Trail
One Springy Day (A Percy the Park Keeper Story)
Nick Butterworth

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008279868

A beloved character owned by millions; Percy the Park Keeper is back for more wonderful adventures with his animal friends. As relevant today as it was in first publication 30 years ago, Percy the Park Keeper is back to teach new generations of children to love, care for and take in interest in the natural world around them and to care for all animals. One Spring Day tells the tale of Fox who is playing a game of Hide and Seek. However, the Fox soon gets himself into a sticky situation when he falls into a pot of super sticky glue and lots of things get stuck to poor old fox. Percy and the other animals find this really funny, but Fox doesn't find it as amusing and runs away. Through following the trail of things dropping off Foxes sticky body, they soon find Fox, but this time he is stuck inside a hollow tree. The animals work together with Percy to free poor old fox and Percy takes him home to give him a nice warm bath. Reminiscent of my own childhood, being read Percy the Park Keeper by my Mum and Dad, I was so excited to share and read another tale but this time with my own children. They were as delighted with this tale as I remember being. What a joy to share your own childhood favourites with your own children. With classic yet beautifully crafted illustrations, every young child will become enchanted with the attention to detail on every page. One of our delightful surprises was the big pull out picture in the middle of the book when Fox is pulled out of the hollow tree. The animals all have unique expressions to reflect their emotions which can be a lovely talking point with a child. Whether you purchase this for your home or your classroom, there is certainly plenty to educate and share with young children. I cannot recommend this picture book enough; it is an absolute must for every young book shelf. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher

One Springy Day (A Percy the Park Keeper Story)
Tad
Benji Davies

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008212797

As a fan of Benji Davies' work, I was really excited to receive this to read. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. Tad is the smallest tadpole in the pond. She is so small that she has to wriggle her tail twice as fast as her brothers and sisters just to keep up with them. The 'almost frogs' are more than happy with life in the pond - as long as they avoid the darker depths at the bottom. This is because of Big Blub. Big Blub was as old as the mud and would wait until the sun went in before gliding out of his hiding place to snack on unexpected tadpoles. Despite the stories, Tad decides that she does not believe in Big Blub - but still takes every action to avoid any chance run ins with him! Day by day, the tadpoles grow and begin to change - although Tad remains left behind in his growth. As well as changing physically, Tad begins to notice that the number of tadpoles is changing too....but not in a good way. His brothers and sisters seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate.....could do it be the mysterious Big Blub? Tad is a vibrant and heartwarming story about the big steps we take, no matter how small we are. Benji Davies has created a beautiful story which he has supported with glorious illustrations that certainly fit into his recognisable style. I really enjoyed reading this to my KS1 class and we were all surprised by the ending. It would work perfectly as a supportive text around the teaching of 'changes over time' or 'life cycles' and I found myself wanting to go out to the school pond instantly to find our very own Tad to watch grow. I will be sharing this text with all my colleagues who work in EYFS and KS1. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.

Tad
Fly Flies
Ziggy Hanaor

Cicada Books Limited

ISBN 9781908714619

A simple but lovely book, Fly enjoys...flying! The only issue is that everyone she meets thinks she's doing it wrongly, but when she tries it their way, it doesn't work. This book is easy to follow, with simple black and white cartoon pictures which give it a vintage feel. Each page has short sentences which, combined with the repetitive structure of the story, make it accessible for younger readers. This would be a nice story to share in a class setting as part of a minibeast topic or perhaps a PSHE session as there's a nice moral about doing your own thing, and a lovely example of how being nice to someone can change their mood and outlook at the end. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Lizi Backhouse, teacher

Fly Flies
Ducktective Quack and the Cake Crime Wave
Claire Freedman

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509882403

This is a fabulous introduction to detectives and mysteries, with plenty of laughs along the way... Meet Ducktective Quack, who has a puzzling crime wave to crack; who is stealing all the town's cakes? Ducktective Quack sets off, following the clues through the pages and speaking with all the suspects. There are plenty of details to note at each 'crime scene' - whichever is the latest to lose their cakes - and lots of humour, too. I loved all the names: Mr Gummy the dentist is a crocodile (with a special message ' "I never eat cakes, they are bad for your teeth"!), and there's Constable Crackling (a pig) and Miss Sweet - a buffalo who runs Cream Puffs cake shop. The clues are on each page - there are paw prints and deductions can be made - although the pages are busy enough that children will need to look hard for the clues. Readers are given extra directions and clues through the 'post it notes' on each spread, making this a nicely interactive read. Needless to say it all ends well, and with a nice message that too much cake just isn't good for our health. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Alison Wilson.

Ducktective Quack and the Cake Crime Wave
Mira's Curly Hair
Maryam Al Serkal

Lantana Publishing

ISBN 9781911373612

Mira's Curly Hair is a book about differences and the wish to be like somebody else or have something someone else has. It gives us a brief insight in Mira, a beautiful, happy young girl who has all the joy and innocence of youth but with one desire; that is to have hair like her Mum who she respects and admires. But with all the will in the world she cannot straighten her curly hair, and why would she, as one day - to her surprise - she discovers her mum has amazingly long curly hair too. We all aspire to be like the person we respect and admire but this story is a celebration of difference and acceptance and ultimately, an appreciation of the beauty of ones uniqueness. Maryam Al Serkal brings to life a story through simple narrative and eye catching illustrations as we bounce alongside Mira in her journey. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher

Mira's Curly Hair
When Sadness Comes to Call
Eva Eland

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783447183

What do you do when sadness calls? Do you try and hide it away? Ignore it? Hope that it will disappear without you? Well, have you ever tried welcoming it? Eva Eland has created a short, simple but poignant text about how sadness doesn't have to be something to be worried about. Many children struggle with grasping a hold of their emotions, with sadness being a huge emotion to wrestle and become in tune with. What Eva has done well is to personify the emotion and to almost display it as an imaginary friend, a being that only you can see. With this, it is easy to become connected with the main character as you start to visualise what your 'sadness' might look like. Even as an adult, I began to take the themes to heart and think about how I should deal with my emotions - such is the simplistic but powerful message shared by Eva. Her illustrations are equally as impressive as they do deliver the message in a simple yet effective way. This is a text I shall be sharing with my colleagues at school as a good resource for circle times and PHSE lessons concerning emotions. A fine piece of work and one that could easily be the start of a series of books. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

When Sadness Comes to Call
The Lost Book
Margarita Surnaite

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783446841

What happens if you discover a lost book? Henry is a resident of Rabbit Town. A town where books are everywhere and where everyone loves books....that is, everyone except for Henry. Henry spends time wondering what all the fuss is about, especially when it is far more fun to go on real adventures and play real games. It isn't too long until Henry begins to have second thoughts about books. Upon discovering a lost book, Henry notices that it isn't one from Rabbit Town. Curiosity gets the better of Henry and he begins to search for where it might have come from through a nearby tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, Henry finds himself somewhere new. He notices that the creatures (people, to us) that roam around don't seem to care or even want to meet him. Instead they are transfixed by the small devices held in their hands. Clutching the lost book tightly, Henry soon begins to feel lost. He is all set to give up hope and return to Rabbit Town when something within him persuades him to begin reading the book. Henry's true journey soon begins and along the way he is joined by an unexpected companion. The duo share an adventure, an adventure so exciting it could have been in a book. This story certainly connected with me as a teacher of younger children. It made me think of those children within my class who don't connect with stories or who regard reading as boring. It made me realise that all a child needs is that one book. That book that opens their minds to the endless possibilities stories can bring. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

The Lost Book
The Big Beyond: The Story of Space Travel
Aaron Cushley

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848577978

The Big Beyond is an enjoyable picture book which provides a great introduction into the history of space exploration for young children. It is a beautiful book, full of informative and interesting facts about space missions, the moon landing and rocket travel. What makes this book special is the way in which the information is conveyed. It is written in a beautiful, poetic, rhythmic style that children will find appealing. Children will enjoy the usage of rhyme in the text. Aaron Cushley's illustrations are bold and attractive. I love the attention to detail in the International Space station picture, along with the mixture of handwritten and typed fonts. Key space-related vocabulary is presented in a larger, handwritten font which provides a useful discussion point when sharing the book with a child. This book would be perfect to use in a KS1 classroom with children aged 5-7 years. The questions at the beginning of the book would be an excellent starting point to a space themed topic and the acrostic at the back of the book would be a brilliant example/prompt for young children's writing. 24 Pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Leia Sands, teacher

The Big Beyond: The Story of Space Travel
Lubna and Pebble
Wendy Meddour

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192771940

Lubna and Pebble is a story that really shows off the power of friendship and how having one person in your life who cares is really all you need. From the inside cover illustration, it is clear to see that this text is going to deliver a powerful message. Daniel Egneus has created a set of illustrations that perfectly compliment and reflect the emotion of each page. They really allow the connection between reader and character to develop strongly. This text takes the unfamiliar approach of being set within a refugee camp - or the 'World of Tents' as Lubna so innocently describes it. Lubna and her father have arrived during the night to a place where her father tells her that she will be safe. As a grown up, you soon begin to infer that they have escaped a war torn country yet have lost family along the way. All they are seeking is a peaceful home and future. Upon their arrival on the beach, Lubna found herself a pebble. This smooth, grey pebble became her friend. A friend to whom she could tell all her worries, all her fears and all her stories too without the worry of judgement, as Lubna knew that Pebble would always smile back at her. Regardless of the season or weather, Pebble is always there for her and she is always thinking of Pebble. One day, a little boy arrives. A boy who is lost and alone in this new world, away from what he knows as home. Lubna soon builds a friendship with him, with a little help from Pebble. The new friends play and bond until one day Lubna's dad announces the news that they have found a new home. This leaves the friends devastated at the thought of not seeing each other. That is until Lubna comes up with a plan that will always keep them connected. This story is a truly heartwarming tale that will leave you feeling emotionally connected with the characters but also a sense of not taking what you have for granted. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Lubna and Pebble
The Phoenix of Persia
Sally Pomme Clayton

Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781910328439

The Phoenix of Persia is based on a story from the Shahnameh, an Iranian poem and one of the great epics of world literature. It is a story reminiscent of Snow White where a King awaits the birth of his son, only to banish him to the forest when the child is born with white hair. We are then taken on a magical journey where myth and culture weave their magic and where the boys salvation lies in the grace of a Phoenix adorned with flashes of red and gold fluttering wings. This is a folk story about family and forgiveness, rich both in its storytelling qualities and beautiful vivid illustrations. Tiny Owl publications are dedicated in pairing authors and illustrators from different countries and cultures together to produce culturally diverse stories such as this. This is a book that everyone should read, children and adults alike will not help to be captivated but its message of forgiveness and celebration of difference. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Louise Gahan, teacher

The Phoenix of Persia