Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] 2016

Claude: Going for Gold, Alex T. Smith

Hodder Children’s Books  ISBN 9781444919622  £5.99

Claude is a small, chubby dog who wears a red sweater and matching beret and can’t wait to take part in a Very Exciting Sports Competition! After waking up with ants in his pants, Claude and his dear friend Sir Bobblysock head out for an exciting adventure. After a head on collision with a marching band, Claude meets the formidable Ivanna Hurlit-Farr. Despite not having any snazzy knickers, Claude finds himself agreeing to take part in a stonking, big sports day. What follows is a day of mayhem, thieves, glitzy trophies, exciting races and sheer bravery. Will Claude, the tea-sipping, garibaldi eating dog, save the sports day from a pair of shifty robbers who are intent on stealing the gold cup or will these devilish crooks escape? This book is perfect for newly developing readers and is strikingly illustrated with humour and panache. Claude is a wonderful creation – adventurous, silly, warm and just a little bit offbeat. Children will enjoy the quirkiness and charm evident throughout the story.

Ian Eagleton, primary school teacher and consultant with JustImagine

Dog on Wheels, written and illustrated by Gillian McClure

Troika Books  ISBN 9781909991361  £6.99

A simple KS1 picture book telling the story of two dog friends, Dubbin and Todd, one of whom happens to go skateboarding rather than just for a walk. Todd struggles to keep up with his freewheeling friend especially as he is lugging around a bone. The story takes a sinister twist when Todd returns to his buried bone to find it stolen away by a dog who has been lurking in the shadows the whole journey. I must admit to not having noticed him on first reading but eagle eyed children may spot him hiding behind the bin, hidden in the bunting etc. It’s a bit like the sixth sense of books - you can’t believe you didn’t spot the signs. But every story needs a hero and in this one it’s Dubbin who rescues the bone and his friend ‘whirling along ,faster than feet down the street, nothing can beat Dubbin .… Dog on Wheels.’  The story is told in rhyme and features a growing list of places that they pass including ‘down the street, under the bridge, through the gate’ making it a link to simple geography and mapping skills or a study of a local area. The illustrations appear simple but are captivating with lots of extra detail to spot.

Jane Macleod

Emily Davison (Fact Cat), Izzi Howell

Wayland Books ISBN 9780750297707 £11.99

Emily Davison brings to life the world of the suffragettes and the fight of some women to get the vote. It is, in effect, a brief biography of Emily, presented in an engaging way. Language is accessible, there are big pictures on each page, and often questions that need researching in order to find the answers as well as 'Fact Cat' facts. From a history point of view the whole book is disappointing - the whole story is far too simplistic. Accessible does not have to mean over simplified. There is, for instance, no mention of the suffragists who were perhaps more responsible for women getting the vote, or of how men felt about the issue. [They were as divided as women.] The 'Cat and Mouse' Act and force-feeding in prison are ignored, and of course not all poor women worked as maids. In fact, in my opinion, a lot of the excitement and turmoil of the topic are missing, making it a simple and simplistic story. Young people deserve better than this.
Alf Wilkinson, The Historical Association

The Great Flytrap Disaster (Pocket Pirates 3), Chris Mould

Hodder Children’s Books  ISBN 9781444923704  £5.99

Pocket Pirates is a fun tale of a miniature band of pirates doing their best to survive in a world of human proportions. Like the much loved ‘The Borrowers’ but for a new audience and with a contemporary pirate twist, the madcap adventures of Captain Crabsticks and his crew will delight young readers and have them howling with laughter. Children will enjoy identifying the many familiar household items used for new swashbuckling purposes – the cotton wheel as a dining seat, the needle as a fierce sword, and it is a great stimulus for creative thinking about other everyday items that could be used. This particular story is hung on escaping the clutches of the dastardly Mr Dregby, the resident spider. With the perfect balance of gruesome imagery (the Venus flytrap ‘eats living creatures’) and tantalising escape plans (‘it was obvious he could eat his way out, just like the spider eats his web’) this book manages to incorporate lots of interesting facts about the real and equally amazing world of nature. Science facts are embedded into a fun and engaging caper. Sketches throughout help bring the story to life and make this a perfect chapter book, bridging the gap between picture books and first novels. The book contains some brilliant ideas for incorporating into the curriculum, engaging children with topics on nature and using art and design to build a miniature pirate world of their own.

Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

Happy Eid al-Fitr, the Sweet Festival, Joyce Bentley

Wayland books ISBN 9780750295673 £11.99

This beautifully designed little book perfectly captures the colour, content, concept and faith intertwined with the festival of Eid. Delightfully illustrated, the straightforward text makes it an ideal book to have in the library and on the teacher’s desk at the junior level. I hope the publisher deals with other aspects of Religious Education.
Paul Jackson, Director of Education, SATIPS

Hello, Mr Moon, Laura Gutierrez, illustrated by Laura Watkins

QED Publishing  ISBN 9781784935528  £9.99

Full of starry, indigo skies and a shimmering silver moon, this most beautifully illustrated hardback picture book helps to teach younger children about the presence and importance of the moon.  Told in rhyming verse, the nocturnal creatures lead us through the lunar phases and we learn their correct terminology such as the gibbous and the crescent.  The final page provides further information and discussion points about orbits and a lunar eclipse.  It will, hopefully, provide a springboard for children to gaze skywards in awe and wonder and discover more about the moon and its effects and also learn about nocturnal animals.

Elisabeth Jackson, former Deputy Head of Spratton Hall Pre Prep School

Journey Through Nature, John Haslam and Steve Parker

QED Publishing ISBN 978784934491 £9.99

This beautifully presented, interesting and informative book takes the reader on a safari through all the major animal habitats of the world, from the Poles to the deserts and rainforests to under the sea and ground. Each double page contains simple, well-laid out text with a short paragraph identifying the brightly illustrated creatures. This is perfect for KS1 children to dip into and enjoy. Added extras include two quiz pages and the loose leaf cover opens into a full sized wall poster.
Paul Jackson, Director of Education, SATIPS

Love You Hoo, Rachel Bright

Orchard books ISBN 9781408331705  £6.99

Celebrating the unconditional love of a parent for their offspring, this glossy paperback tells of the joyful relationship between mother owl and her newly–hatched owlet. With rhyming couplets and large, fun and amusing illustrations on a variety of vivid backgrounds, the story affirms the truth that life is more wonderful with the little one. Mother Owl wants to shout out ‘so it fills the starry skies’ that she will always be there to love her baby no matter what. A book to share with young readers to promote feelings of warmth and security.

Elisabeth Jackson, former Deputy Head of Spratton Hall Pre Prep School

Medusa’s Curse (Myth Raiders), A.J. Hunter

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ISBN 9780349124360 £5.99

A start of a new series of tales that uncover historical mysteries and add a traditional story. This book will be a fantastic addition to the bookshelf for budding young readers. There is often a gap for those children who are intellectually ready for stories but may find the mechanics of reading tricky. This tale bridges that gap. I was intrigued by the way in which the author was able to transport the modern world into Ancient Greece. I think it will be a great for teaching about the ancient world and will give a new insight into this historical period.
Matthew Wilson, key stage 2 teacher, St Paul’s CIW Primary, Cardiff

My Senses (Our Special World), Liz Lennon

Franklin Watts ISBN 9781445148908 £10.99

This series in Book Band level 6 aims to help children find out about diversity in the world around them and promote speaking and listening skills. Beautifully presented, with vibrant photographs, this edition describes simply each of our five senses and poses questions about how we use them. Children will easily relate to the situations and illustrations and there is much to initiate discussion. The Seasons, My Body, Keeping Safe, Family and Friends complete the series. Elisabeth Jackson, Former Deputy Head Of Spratton Hall Pre Prep School

The Orange House, Nahid Kazemi

Tiny Owl Books ISBN9781910328118 £12.99

This is a delightful picture book from newly emerging children’s publishers Tiny Owl Books. Tiny Owl is a purveyor of Global Children’s Literature, and The Orange House is translated from its original Persian publication by illustrator and author Nahid Kazemi. Kazemi used to make her books as a child with her own hands and painted them – and this tactile and authentic feel is evident in this beautifully designed picture book. The pictures are almost childlike in their imagery, which would make them particularly appealing to a young audience and a great stimulus for art and geography lessons. A tale of change and the passing of time, this story follows the journey of the small Orange House which ‘stands at the end of the alley, feeling sad and left out as all the nearby tall buildings admire another new building being built’. It is a lyrically told and sympathetic portrayal of new versus old and how we can incorporate and remain sympathetic to our cultural heritage whilst keeping up with the needs of a fast-paced and growing world. A wonderful introduction to children’s literature from outside the UK, this book could be used across the age phases. With early years it is a great and unique addition to a theme on ‘homes’ or ‘towns and cities’, yet with older years it could be used as the basis for a philosophy for children stimulus or circle time – delving deeper into the more subtle themes within the book, such as friendship, generational change and a sense of belonging. I recommend this book as an excellent purchase for any school library.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

A Rainbow in My Pocket, Ali Seidabadi, translated by Azita Rassi, illustrated by Hoda Haddadi

Tiny Owl Books ISBN 9781910328125 £12.99

This is a wonderful book which is an elegant introduction to the beauty of poetic verse in literature. The author is both writer and poet for children and this is evident from the lyrical prose and the abstract but encompassing nature of the piece. On reading this book I felt immediately drawn back to my childhood, with thoughts and questions about the world around jumping and dancing from one to another. The use of repetition and the sometimes unusual framing of the text is a great way to open a dialogue with children about breaking the constraints of ‘everyday’ writing, and would perhaps give those less able writers the confidence to have a go – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of delivering a story. The illustrations are beautifully simplistic in style, punctuated softly with flashes of primary colour and full of character. They complement and enhance the moods created within the writing and the sense of childhood innocence and being carefree.

The way that the book is written and illustrated gives a fantastic insight into the curiosity of childhood, and the excitement of the new in the everyday. There would be plenty of opportunity to use this book within a creative writing or art lesson, but also as a stimulus for a Philosophy for Children enquiry – questions around perception, truth and even mindfulness. Tiny Owl publications, specialise in translating children’s books from Persian and illustrated by outstanding Iranian artists. It would be a fantastic addition to a school library and could be used with both Foundation Phase/KS1 and KS2.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

The Secret Railway: Full Steam Ahead for a Magical Adventure! Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Sam Usher

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192745545 £5.99

What fun! When does the next one come out? This book took me back to my own childhood; back to Narnia, His Dark Materials and Enid Blyton. Weave together a combination of magical lands, creative, mystical characters and a strong sibling bond and you get The Secret Railway. Quirky illustrations appear sporadically in the book. Because there are only a few pictures, the descriptions in the book allow the reader to be imaginative. Perfect for a young reader with a big imagination – I would happily read this to a year 2-3 class at school. The book leaves the door open, ready for the sequel. In the mean time, writing a sequel would be the perfect activity for a year 3 class.
Lauren M Freedman, KS2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge

The Secret Seven: Adventure on the Way Home, Enid Blyton, illustrated by Tony Ross

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444927641 £5.99

One in a series of Enid Blyton’s short stories about The Secret Seven, Adventure on the Way Home would be perfect for the younger or less-confident reader from key stage 1 onwards. At 78 pages and with chapters, it feels like a ‘proper book,’ whilst the numerous full-page illustrations and large print make it easily readable; this book is an obvious stepping stone on the way to Blyton’s full-length novels. Tony Ross’s illustrations give the tale an up-to-date feeling, reminding children of stories which they may already know and love, in particular Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry. The simple tale of how the group of friends mistakenly believe they have witnessed a scene of violence and possibly murder, only to discover they have in fact stumbled upon a play rehearsal, is nonetheless exciting and entertaining. Adventure on the Way Home exemplifies Blyton’s timeless gift for telling stories which children love to read.
Rachel Cordon, key stage 2 teacher

Shadow Warriors – to fail is to die, Chris Bradford, illustrated by David Wyatt

Conkers (Barrington Stoke) ISBN 9781781125519 £5.99

This attractive book, illustrated with evocative and generously sized black and white drawings with just enough Manga to draw in the pre-teen reader, opens in Japan in 1580. It is told in the present tense from the point of view of Taka, a trainee ninja, and follows his training regime with the trusted Grandmaster and the increasingly challenging tasks and tests he has to perform. Then the story gets more personal: a bully, a father’s honour, the mother’s involvement, a strong female friend (whose own story is shared later), real danger and a clan to save from an evil lord; these are all (except the final one, perhaps) recognisable elements for most readers despite the historic setting.

The register is quite formal, the pace measured and the language resonant of traditional Japanese ninja and natural images. The text is well-spaced for less confident readers, the font is clear and the language accessible. Many sentences are short and the longer ones are clearly structured. The narrative is strong. There are two short quizzes at the end, which I thought were unnecessary, but will add to the sense of achievement of completing the book. I thought this was a fascinating subject, appropriately handled, for readers in Years 5 to 8 and a valuable addition to a class library.
Debra Holmes, English teacher, Sexey’s School, Bruton, Somerset

The Shrew that Flew (A Harry & Lil Story), Julia Copus, illustrated by Eunyoung Seo

Faber & Faber ISBN 9780571325306 £6.99

In this third adventure Harry, Lil and the other animals of Piggyback Wood are preparing for Badger’s birthday party. All party guests have been asked to arrive ‘with a hat on their head’ – but poor Lil loses hers in a gust of wind and has to retrieve it from the chimney on top of her house! This delightful tale follows Lil as she has to fly in order to get her hat back, all with the support of her cheery friend Harry the Hog. Young children will love this story of friendship and determination and the author’s poetic verse provides a beautiful and whimsical. The illustrations depict the warm and muted tones of late spring and summer and help create a wonderfully real backdrop to the lives of those at Piggyback Wood. Readers will enjoy guessing at each stage what Lil might use to reach her hat at great heights, and there is lots of opportunity for follow-on activities which could incorporate science and geography and would be ideal in a Forest School or outdoor setting. The story would also make a good stimulus for philosophy for children or circle time, looking at persistence, patience and friendship. This picture book series would be a great addition to a home or school collection for key stage 1.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

Vet (Here to help), James Nixon

Franklin Watts ISBN 9781445140179 £11.99

As a teacher, I have rarely met a child who does not relish the idea of spending time with animals large and small and perhaps even dreaming of becoming a vet. This beautifully presented hard-back book leads us through a day in the life of Nafisa, a busy vet. With photographs of her and her team, the clear, bold text is perfect for KS1 and the contents, glossary and index aid easy reference. Other titles in the Here to Help series of twelve books include Police Officer, Optician and Bus Driver.
Elisabeth Jackson, former Deputy Head Of Spratton Hall Pre Prep School

Would You Rather Dine with a Dung Beetle or Lunch with a Maggot? Camilla de la Bédoyère, illustrated by Mel Howells

QED Publishing ISBN 9781784931971 £5.99

What a winning formula this is. Children love the ‘Would you rather...’ format and the more ludicrous or gross the juxtaposition in the question the better! De la Bédoyère has capitalised on this very successfully in a series of non-fiction books about animals and in this case, insects, beetles and spiders. The questions posed on the double page spreads seem innocuous enough: ‘Would you rather live with a snail, a family of termites, a bookworm or a tick?’ and each is gloriously and comically illustrated by Mel Howells, who has cleverly scaled each creature to human proportions. Whilst no answers are given, the additional information on the spread following the questions can certainly show these creatures in a different light and encourage the young reader to think very carefully about their response! Additional bug information and further activity suggestions at the end of the book would all encourage plenty of classroom discussion and lead easily to children making up their own questions. An ideal addition to KS 1 classrooms and any topic on mini-beasts.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at CCCU

Zim Zam Zoom Zappy Poems to Read Out Loud, James Carter, illustrated by Nicola Colton

Otter-Barry ISBN 9781910959541 £11.99

There are fewer writers more sensitive to 'hooking' young children into poetry than James Carter. His vast experience of visiting and working with youngsters in schools enables him to pitch his writing for his audience perfectly. This collection of some old and new verse is ideal for reading out loud, for learning, for adding to and just simply for enjoying the rhymes the rhythms and the sheer fun of language, both in school or at home. There are shape poems, kennings, raps, lots of onomatopoeia, half-rhymes and plenty of imagery and that's without the colourful and often comical double-page spreads of charming illustrations from Nicola Colton. I can see plenty of Reception classes doing their own Lets Invent a Monster, or identifying the nursery rhymes in Hey Let's Go. They'll be making funny faces, they'll love Pirate Pete and his FOUR parrots, but they'll also be able to consider things from a different perspective in TeddyAfraid. Carter does exuberance and humour really well, but he can also be quietly reflective. If you're not sure about teaching poetry, then look at his website and just dive into a collection like this to enjoy with your children.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at CCCU

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