NEW TITLES

As well as picture books that explore themes of identity, friendship and feelings, this month sees a range of quality early readers published to support readers developing in confidence.

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
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
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
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 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
Jasper and Scruff
Nicola Colton

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788950695

We've probably all experienced those times in life when what we have just doesn't seem enough. We seek to elevate ourselves higher and join the ranks of the social elite. No? Well, Jasper the cat has. He may look like he has it all: a fancy apartment, a bookcase full of books arranged by colour and the largest collect of bow ties a cat could ever wish for, but Jasper is missing the right kinds of friends. He is desperate to join the most purr-fect group of cats in town, the Sophisticats! Jasper, would ordinarily be considered by everyone as one fancy cat; but books, bow ties and ballrooms are not all he craves. He desires the society of truly exceptional felines and Jasper has a very refined plan to make that happen. Membership into the most exclusive club in town doesn't come without careful planning and Jasper proposes to wow the sophisticated cats with his culinary skills at a spectacular dinner party, what could possibly go wrong? The invitations are sent, the replies received and the menu is decided, all Jasper needs to do now is the food shopping. However, whilst searching in the food emporium for the perfect cheeses, fish and baked goods Jasper happens upon the sloppiest, scruffiest puppy one could wish to meet and he just can't seem to shake him off. Scruff, the mangy mutt follows Jasper back to his pristine apartment and the setting of the evening's grand dinner party. Refusing to leave, Jasper has no choice but to entertain the little pup whilst preparing for the most important social event in his calendar, the one all his hopes of joining the Sophisticats are pinned on. As you might expect, the dinner party is a disaster. As it turns out, sophisticated cats are rude and Jasper is run ragged by their dietary demands. That, and the fact that Scruff just keeps getting in the way, makes the evening a failure and Jasper's perfect evening becomes a complete cat-astrophe of cake, candles and chandeliers. Jasper comes to realise that he doesn't want to be a sophisticat after this calamitous evening. But he does learn an invaluable lesson about who the right kinds of friends are. This adorable book is a complete delight. A story that teaches an important lesson about surrounding ourselves with the right kinds of people and who the right kinds of people are. Nicola Colton's fabulous story is mirrored with gorgeous illustrations on each page, making this a book that will appeal to newly independent and reluctant readers. The bright, whimsical illustrations in a simplified colour palette catch the eye and draw the reader in and through the story. Her strong characters are gorgeously illustrated and easily identified with. There are 'ooh' and 'ah' moments throughout, making this a wonderful story to read aloud and share enthusiastically with others. 96 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian

Jasper and Scruff
Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express
Laura James

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408889343

Fabio, the world's greatest flamingo detective, is back and he has another mystery to solve. Fabio may live in a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee in Africa, but his private eye skills are often put to the test. With a canny ability to detect and unravel mysteries and with his friend and associate, Gilbert, by his side, no crime is too big for Fabio and his shrewd detective agency. At the beginning of this story Fabio and Gilbert have decided to take a holiday to the Coconut Palm resort, traveling on the Ostrich Express. Before they leave they have a few errands to run, one of which is at Alfonso's Jeweller's. Whilst there, they bump into the sophisticated desert fox Zazie, who picks up a rather special package from Alfonso. When Zazie leaves, Alfonzo appears helpful but distracted. He seems to be in need of Fabio & Gilbert's services but with an important train to catch, our private eye heroes have little time to spare to be of any assistance. The world's greatest flamingo detective has to take a holiday sometimes. Once Fabio and Gilbert board the majestic Ostrich Express it seems as though they can finally relax. But can the world's best private investigators ever really rest from their super sleuthing and take a proper break? No, it isn't long before things take a terrible turn for the worse. It appears that Zazie, the desert fox, is on board their train and she is wearing the famous Laloozee diamond. A treasure of that value is too much of a temptation for local bandits and the infamous leopard Janice the Claw. The Lazoozee diamond may be destined for a charity auction but that doesn't stop mastermind criminals from doing all they can to steal it. Thank goodness Fabio and his trusty sidekick Gilbert are on the case! Though Gilbert never can match Fabio's quick thinking and bumbles along at his side, his endearing ineptitude always seems to be well timed and he often inadvertently helps to catch the bad guys. All ends well, as it always does when Fabio is in charge. Laura James & Emily Fox's bright and appealing detective stories balance pace and good humour. This particular edition is florescent pink and orange and really jumps out on the bookshelf. As with the other books in this series, readers will enjoy the short chapters and will wish to read more of the mysteries in Fabio's case load after the plot is revealed. Emily Fox's illustrations are full of character and really help the reader to interpret and predict how the mystery unfolds, bringing the story to life. Many readers will chose to pick up this books simply because the illustrations are so engaging. And they'll be glad they did, because it is another clever, must read mystery, from this brilliant story writing team. The perfect read for newly independent readers, with a vibrant plot that will catch the eye of even the most reluctant readers. 128 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, librarian

Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery on the Ostrich Express
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Aliens Are Coming!
Tracey Corderoy

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788001526

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are back in The Aliens are Coming. Another three story series from Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton about two baker dogs who like to solve mysteries and bake cakes! The three stories encompass friendship, fun and a little mystery and are what makes reading for children so fun. Each story has a dilemma or mystery that Shifty and Sam need to solve, with a little help of their animal friends can they save the day? In the first story there is an Alien invasion in town, which doesn't quite add up. In 'Ice Cream Time' there is a cheating red panda on the loose, but only Sam and Shifty can expose them for what they really are. Finally, Miss Peachy-Pie's pamper cafe threatens to close down Shifty and Sam's bakery, but is it all that it seems?! This book is perfect for children just starting their reading journey with small chapter books. The language used is brilliant and allows children to access the stories easily. I like that in each story there is the theme of a life lesson and an act of friendship which runs throughout. The two friends also rely on help from others to solve problems which is important to show children. 124 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lauren Maidman, teacher

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Aliens Are Coming!
Super Cats
Gwyneth Rees

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408894194

Tagg, the handsome young tabby cat, believes he has been born into a normal family, adventurous but ordinary. The day his mother reveals that the family has super feline powers, his life is thrown into crime fighting chaos. Tagg's mother Melody has super claws, his father has super strength and his uncle, Wild Bill, has super sharp teeth; but Tagg himself has yet to discover what his super ability will be. Just one kitten in very litter is gifted and young Tagg is eager to experience some of the crime fighting capers of his parents' younger days. When super cat Glamour arrives at Tagg's home, with her young kitten Sugarfoot in tow, desperate for help, Tagg's family leap into action. Tagg is curious and eager to investigate the mysterious goings on; if there are super cats, there must also be super villains. Tagg learns that once upon a time the super cats were organised and sent on missions but those days have passed and now super cats are going missing. Together, Tagg and Sugarfoot team up and follow their parents as they try to determine who might be responsible for the latest series of crimes. This super-powered adventure takes Tagg and Sugarfoot to kitty concerts, feline gangster dens and finally into the lair of Nemesissy Lilac Masquerade, the most powerful of the super cats. Facing up to ruthless and dangerous super villains may be just a stretch too far for the young kittens, whose super powers have yet to emerge, but when your family is in trouble, there's nothing Tagg and Sugarfoot won't do to help keep them safe. Super Cats is a fast paced super kitty adventure. Everyone loves a super hero origin story and this clever tale is purr-fect for kitty cat lovers. An engaging plot and clever characters will hold readers' attention and pull them through the story. High quality illustrations by Becka Moor bring the story to life, adding humour and a depth of understanding for character action and behaviour. The strong superhero story line will be loved, not only by fans of animal stories, but by young superhero fans. 176 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, librarian

Super Cats
The Bolds Go Wild
Julian Clary

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783448043

I am often wary about children's fiction written by celebrities or retired sports stars, so this was a first for me. The Bolds go Wild, written by actor and comedian Julian Clary and illustrated by David Roberts, is the fifth in the series and proved to be a very amusing read. The Bolds are a family of hyenas who live, disguised as humans in Teddington, England. Mr Bold writes cracker jokes, Mrs Bold designs and makes extravagant hats and their twin children, Betty and Bobby, attend the local primary school. When Mr Bold's mother, Imamu, turns up out of the blue to visit her long lost son, she immediately finds his new way of life difficult to accept. Imamu's wild behaviour comes close to exposing the Bolds' secret, but with the help of their friends; Nigel McNumpty, Miranda, Minnie, and most surprisingly, the twins' Headteacher, Mrs Dobson, they not only manage to keep their secret but also help a long suffering teen in the process. I found The Bolds Go Wild entertaining and well written. I particularly liked the way the author writes as two narrators; the first tells the main story and the second, lesser used voice, chips in 'talking directly' to the reader. This would be a great example of the complexity of narrator for use in the primary classroom. Although written for the 7-9 age group, this book will appeal to both old and young, and would be a great book to share either at home or in the classroom. As a child's independent read, the fun, quirky illustrations throughout the story will no doubt help motivate a young reader who may still be lacking confidence. If you're looking for a laugh or can't get enough of corny cracker jokes, then The Bolds Go Wild is most definitely the book for you. 304 pages / Ages 7-10 years / Reviewed by Sam Phillips, teacher

The Bolds Go Wild