NEW TITLES

From forests to families, clothes to adventures, this month's selection of reviews by teachers and librarians includes some brilliant picture books and non fiction that will help children aged 5+ to learn about themselves, and the world around them.

The Suitcase
Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788004480

When a strange-looking creature arrives one day, carrying a large suitcase, the other animals are naturally curious. When they ask about the suitcase and its contents, they are puzzled by the stranger's answers and after he falls asleep, they break into the case. What they find there causes them to question their actions and seek to make the stranger welcome. This is a beautiful picture book about empathy and compassion which challenges us to think about how we respond to others. The Suitcase is perfectly pitched to encourage discussions with even the youngest children about the importance of welcoming others with friendship and care rather than hostility and suspicion. Although a poignant story about a refugee which is sadly so relevant to our times, The Suitcase could be related to welcoming a new child to class, encouraging empathy and understanding in familiar situations as well. The contents of the stranger's case and the animals' reaction to them also offers the possibility for discussion and reflection. Should the animals have intruded into the stranger's personal belongings? Why did these items hold such significance for him? Why does he have so few possessions with him? What might your suitcase contain? Throughout the story, the new arrival is referred to as the 'stranger', an emotive word which can have very negative connotations. Are all 'strange' things a threat? Perhaps we should consider the Greek's use of the word 'xenos' which gives us 'xenophobia'- a fear of strangers. Yet, this word can also be used for an ally, friend or guest. Why must all 'strange' things be treated with suspicion? A wonderful book, The Suitcase is a simple story with a profound and moving message for us all. Picture book / Any age / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

The Suitcase
A Walk Through Nature: A Clover Robin Peek-Through Book
Clover Robin

Caterpillar Books Ltd

ISBN 9781848578036

Celebrate the wonders of the natural world with this fascinating book, jam packed with facts about natures habitats, creatures and seasonal changes. This beautiful book encourages an enthusiasm about the natural world. Each double page spread with interactive gatefolds focuses on a different topic, as diverse as migration, baby animals and the emergence of plant life. The prose is made up of a perfect mix of captivating poetry and manageable snippets of factual information for young, curious minds to digest. There is an abundance of subject specific vocabulary for children to explore in this book. It is no surprise to us in today's world that children are experiencing less and less interactions with the great outdoors. With children opting for video games, iPads and You tubing over the opportunity for woodland walks and countryside rambles. This is a great stimulus to use to re-engage children with nature. Powerful words such as mollusks, chrysalis, dense flocks, plough and toil can be found on every page, words that children in today's society no longer hear or are introduced to, words that are being lost from children's expressive vocabulary. This is a peek through book which creates an immersive experience for children. Clover Robins's intricate collages are truly beautiful. Each page is a sweeping landscape, followed by an underneath/behind the scenes layer that provides children with a different outlook and fuller understanding of the world around us. On the fold-outs, each stunning picture is captioned throughout, making the information relatable for the children and giving a clear focus to the text. Children will learn that beavers are semi-aquatic animals; key leaf shapes such as Oak and Maple; that Hermit crabs use abandoned shells to protect from predators; and that groups of eggs are called a clutch. The information in this book is diverse, and therefore a great text to use in a learning setting. It is an introduction to nature poetry and comprehensive in its coverage. The nature-filled collage artwork would make for a fantastic art project across school age ranges - a good opportunity for a whole school natural world focus (Science based learning) with lots of cross curricular links. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher

A Walk Through Nature: A Clover Robin Peek-Through Book
The One-Stop Story Shop
Tracey Corderoy

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781788811002

The One-Stop Story shop is the tale of a fearless knight who goes hunting for a dragon to slay, although, it seems this particular time his story becomes 'stuck'; his predictable nemesis,'The Terrible Dragon' is not there to fight! He's gone on holiday! When this happens there seems only one thing to do and that is to visit the One-stop Story Shop for a new dragon. This magical store is stuffed to the brim with tales, props and characters galore. Although when the frustrated knight insists to the shopkeeper, he needs the feistiest dragon he's got, it's the one thing he's all out of and instead he's offered a fearsome ferret! Not quite what he's looking for. With some changes to the character, maybe some changes in setting are needed too, and the helpful shopkeeper makes some interesting suggestions for the knight such as the wild west, exploring the jungle, or a deep space adventure facing the 'Space Ferret of Doom!', none of which seem to be the happy ending our knight is looking for. As we follow along with this hilarious romp of an adventure, we learn that maybe the best stories are sometimes the ones we least expect, and friendships can flourish in even the most unconventional pairings. This is a perfect book to share with a class of enthusiastic writers, to teach children about setting and character description. It's also a great read to work alongside learning about mixed up fairy tales and key features of particular genres. Children will be encouraged to let their imaginations run wild with this story to see what new adventures they can come up with for the knight, who in fact decided that he no longer wants to battle a beastly dragon in ready-made tales and that there is a whole world of stories just waiting for him (and ferret of course!) to explore. The illustrations in this book are side-splitting, bright and bold and action packed with so much detail it is certain you will find something new almost every time you read it. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.

The One-Stop Story Shop
The Tide
Clare Helen Welsh

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781788810852

A little girl muses about her Grandfather as his memories now ebb and flow like the tide. She remembers their trip to the beach where they played so happily in spite of Grandad burying the sandwiches. Although she admits to being cross sometimes when he forgets things, she recalls times when she has forgotten things and has needed help and support from others. The story ends with the comforting thought that even if Grandad doesn't remember things as he used to 'I love him as much as I always have. And I know that he loves me.' This is such a beautiful and reassuring book which gently explores the complex emotions experienced by those facing dementia in a loved one. As the little girl thinks about her grandfather, she deals with her feelings towards him and considers all her worries, making this a perfect book to share with those in a similar situation. The reassuring message the story gives about love is poignant and beautiful. Full of delightful illustrations showing lovely scenes of family life and fun, the pictures are also cleverly used to emphasise what is happening in the text. For example, at one point, the little girl wonders whether her Granddad might forget her and the picture shows her standing alone on a rock, a long shadow behind her. A heart warming story on such an important subject, The Tide is an essential book for everyone to share. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

The Tide
The Wonderful World of Clothes
Emma Damon

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959176

The Wonderful World of Clothes is a gorgeous book with detailed illustrations about clothes, why we wear them and how they might change depending on where we live or what activities we are doing; the Contents provides a clear and useful outline of what is in the book. Any child with an interest in dressing up will pour over this, and it can be used across a number of topics from the jobs we do (and what we need to wear to do them) to religion (how what you wear can show your religion) and the environment (recycling clothes). The images are detailed and colourful, with short paragraphs of text that can be easily shared, or read by confident younger readers. There is also information on where fabrics come from, and a useful glossary at the back explaining words like cocoon and synthetic. In short, an entertaining and useful look at a subject that children aged 5-8 will enjoy. 40 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Emily Green

The Wonderful World of Clothes
Cinnamon
Neil Gaiman, illus Divya Srinivasan

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408879221

Cinnamon is a princess in a faraway country in a faraway time. She is blessed with great beauty but she is blind and does not speak. Her parents, desperate to hear her voice, offer great riches (a field of mango trees, a parrot and a portrait of the princess's aunt) to anyone who can get her to talk. People come and try but leave disappointed. Then a tiger turns up, announcing he can get the princess to speak, and the girl's parents agree that this self-confessed man-eater should try. The tiger introduces her to pain and fear but it is only when he introduces love that the princess speaks. Her parents are delighted, her grumpy aunt is eaten by the tiger and she and the tiger leave the palace to live in the jungle, possibly happy ever after, possibly not. This is a story written by Neil Gaiman some 20 or so years ago, inspired by a sculpture of a girl riding a tiger. It is a short story married up with Divya Srinivasan's striking illustrations to form an exquisite picture book. The colours zing off the page and it is a visual treat. The tiger is dominant on every page on which he appears, baring his teeth, roaring fit to shake the palace walls and the story is suitably scary in places. The fate of the aunt, who drinks her tea 'disapprovingly' and offers uncalled for advice at every opportunity, is a little jarring - the Rajah pleads for someone to stop her talking and the tiger happily obliges. Younger readers will be entranced by the illustrations and there is much for older readers to discuss (why does the princess feel she has nothing to say, why does love give her voice while pain and fear do not, do elderly opinionated women warrant shutting up?) in this intriguing and beautiful book. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

Cinnamon
Wilfred & Olbert's Epic Prehistoric Adventure
Lomp

Little Tiger Press

ISBN 9781788810890

Another brilliant adventure, puzzle book with Wilfred and Olbert! This book is set out in a very similar way to Wilfred and Olbert's Totally Wild Chase, however, instead of visiting different environments around the world, this time the characters venture back through thousands of years of history to discover different prehistoric species. As the characters travel together, they manage to avoid a variety of disasters and so make progress on their journey. Each page has a path to follow with speech bubbles to show what the characters are thinking. It also includes challenges for children to complete as they are reading such as finding lost baby dinosaurs and locating creatures with yellow stripes. This is a brilliant book filled with enticing illustrations and packed with puzzles to keep young readers interested. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher

Wilfred & Olbert's Epic Prehistoric Adventure
In Focus: Forests
Libby Walden

360 Degrees

ISBN 9781848578074

In Focus: Forests is part of the In Focus series, which includes the In Focus: Cities book, taking us through the different cultural, social and historical identities of ten world-famous cities. In the latest book, we step out of urban areas into the depths of our natural world and its forests, not just the Black Forest and Amazon Forest, but more surprising spreads on Kelp Forests and Mangrove Forests. These very different ecosystems are described and explored, including the kinds of creatures that you might find there and how humans are impacting on these ecosystems. There are facts dotted through the lushly-illustrated spreads (each is created by a different illustrator), such as the difference between a jungle and a rainforest (rainforests are taller with denser canopy), or that it was the Romans who named the Black Forest. There are also sections on 'The Anatomy of Trees', 'National Parks' and even 'Forest Mythology'. Within these sections are historical notes and also information on who lives in these areas. It's a fascinating and visually attractive book that would be useful in exploring ecosystems and habitats and if you're looking at where our food comes from, as well as environmental topics. The short sections of text make it lovely for dipping into, and the sturdy, fold-out pages also mean it is useful for table-top displays. 28 pages / Ages 7-9 / Reviewed by Emily Green

In Focus: Forests
How to Be a Butterfly
Catell Ronca

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781786038838

This is a stunning book that takes a fresh look at butterflies - asking what makes a creature a butterfly in a friendly, conversational style that will draw young readers. The book begins by reminding us how to identify a butterfly by its wings, antennae etc, then considers if butterflies should be big or small, have dazzling colours or delicate colours, smooth winged or wiggly shapes? As you turn the pages, you learn simple facts about butterflies, which can be easily followed by a child - how butterflies feed and camouflage themselves, and then turn into a pupa - but you are also introduced to a dazzling array of butterflies from around the world, each different and distinct, and with its Latin name. While younger children will struggle with these, it is an interesting way to introduce the idea of 'proper' scientific names - and hopefully it will inspire older children to learn more about these beautiful creatures. This is a lovely book to use alongside topics on mini beasts and life cycles and metamorphosis, and its gorgeous painterly illustrations will lend itself to displays and art lessons. Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Lucy Giles

How to Be a Butterfly
The Sea: Exploring our blue planet
Miranda Krestovnikoff

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408889893

For fans of Nicola Davies, Yuval Zommer, Laura Knowles and Vicky Woodgate, The Sea: Exploring Our Blue Planet is a vibrant investigation of underwater habitats across the world. Packed with information about environments - from marshes and shipwrecks to the deep ocean - Miranda Krestovnikoff's passion for wildlife is evident and Jill Calder's illustrations are colourful and varied. Presented almost in two distinct halves, the book begins by showcasing a plethora of watery habitats before focusing on the animals that dwell within them. The final page of The Sea features an informative section on the human impact on the seas, particularly through the waste of plastic, and the measures being taken by scientists and the government to find greener, cleaner alternatives. Useful in supporting curriculum topics, this book is also a timely reminder of our duty to protect our planet. The dense text and small font size make this book more appropriate for older readers ages 7 and above and, if you are looking for scientifically accurate depictions of animals in nature, this is not the book for you. However, The Sea will inspire, inform and delight in equal measure. 64 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, school librarian

The Sea: Exploring our blue planet

ISBN 9781786031808

What a fantastic book! The Great Big Book of Life includes different sections of information on each stage of life from being a baby to dying. Each section has incredible detail include covering how babies clap their hands, blow bubbles and chuckle with pleasure before turning into children who are able to go to school to learn and make friends. It then moves onto being an adult who goes to work (explaining that some people are luckier than others and really enjoy their jobs!) which then turns into people who are classed as old age. Finally, the book gives information about death - a fantastic, child-friendly way of talking about a difficult topic. It explains how all bodies wear out eventually and people die because there wouldn't be space in the world for new babies if old people didn't die eventually. This book is packed with information about human development throughout each stage of life in great detail. It would make a brilliant read for children of all ages but also a really good teaching book for parents or schools, to open up a conversation with young children about topics which are notoriously difficult to talk about - including where babies come from and how to deal with the death of people we care about. A really informative and interesting book with an appropriately informal tone. 32 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher