Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] 2020

reviews added March 2020

What Can You See: On the Farm? By Kate Ware Illustrated by Maria Peters Little Tiger ISBN 9781912756409 £7.99

An excellent book in the spot and count series. There are pages with peep holes and layered landscapes that invite the reader to explore the farm. Text is dotted round each page including facts and questions such as “Can you find five ladybirds?” This interactive approach encourages children to look more closely at the illustrations, which repay closer study and inspire curiosity. We move from the farm shop to sheep in the field, pigs in the orchard, swans and ducks on the pond, a wheat field with a combine harvester to cows and chickens in the barn. There is much to explore, learn and discuss. The design is superb, and the book is robust and good value for money. Highly recommended

Brenda Marshall


The Story Puppy by Holly Webb   Stripes   ISBN 9781788952200 £5.99

Holly Webb is a very popular writer. This book tells the story of Jack. He does not find reading easy and is unhappy at school. Mattie, his sister, tells him about Daisy, a new puppy in the shelter who had been dumped by the side of the road. Daisy is nervous and unhappy. She doesn’t like people touching her. When Jack and his sister visit the animal centre. Jack meets Daisy and decides to do everything he can to help her. He practises his reading, sitting next to her. He continues to visit the centre and their relationship grows. Daisy becomes more confident. Then another family start to notice her. Jack worries that they will adopt her, and that he will lose his friend. I recommend this book because children can relate to several aspects of the story. There are opportunities to consider happiness at school, the way the adults approach Jack’s reading problems, the need to express your feelings and not expect others to guess what you think, and how past experiences impact on character. A thought-provoking read for children aged 6-8.

Brenda Marshall


The World of Whales Get to Know the Giants of the Ocean by Darcy Dobell Illustrated by Becky Thorns Little Gestalten ISBN 9783899558302 £16.95

A most attractive book that teaches children about whales and their world. The table of contents is illustrated, and the opening of the book sets the engaging tone – “A little Pwhooowhh-wup!! That is the sound of a whale taking a breath as it breaks through the waves.”  We are told the story of the evolution of the whale, with a timeline, and an explanation of how whales are suited to spending their lives in water.  Next we meet a variety of aquatic creatures and learn about their appearance and character, such as Fin Whale, the greyhound of the sea, and the Humpback Whale, the big performer.  Specific species are featured with useful measuring sticks, divers and buses to give an idea of comparative size. I love the fold out segment of the blue whale. Illustrations give a sense of the environment including details such as seaweed and fish. Short paragraphs contain interesting information, presented in an accessible way. There are “Did you know?” facts such as “Did you know that nine out of ten of the living creatures on our planet are found in the sea?” We learn about whale sounds; whale research; whales and people; the oceans, threats to whales and how we can help their conservation. Highly recommended as a fun, informative introduction for children aged 5 upwards that will encourage an appreciation of the world of whales.

Brenda Marshall


Ella May Does It Her Way by Mick Jackson  Illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier  Words and Pictures ISBN: 9781786039040 £11.99

Ella and her mum live on a houseboat. Her mum introduces her to some new food, and tells her daughter “It’s good to try new things.” Ella embraces this idea with gusto and we see her in a variety of scenarios such as walking backwards, and reading a book backwards. The illustrations are a delight and enhance the text.  The story concludes with the words, “It’s good to try new things!” and this is the spirit that the book celebrates. There is much to discuss, and to enjoy. Ella May is a charming, bright, resourceful, independent feisty, inventive girl who “likes to do things her way” and I hope there will be more books about her. Ideal for children aged 4 – 6.

Brenda Marshall


Rabbit and Bear, A Bite in the Night by Julian Gough Illustrated by Jim Field  Hachette Children’s ISBN 9781444921748   £5.99

Fourth in the Rabbit and Bear series, this traditional style tale sees the friends discovering that some of their favourite trees have gone, appearing to have been eaten.  They find the culprit is not the monster they feared, but the newly arrived Beaver, doing what beavers do.  As beavers are being reintroduced to many areas, it was a little worrying to read of the apparent destruction happening here, but it turns out that the action of beavers does benefit most of their environment. It’s not good news for creatures who live underground however...such as a rabbit. In the end friendship prevails and the woodland creatures work together for a happy solution.

There’s humour to carry the story along and the retro-coloured illustrations work well. No less than Eoin Colfer and Neil Gaiman give high praise to previous titles in the series, so this is obviously well worth a read, especially for encouraging series readers. Age range 3 – 6.

Pam Dowson


Adventure Duck vs the Armadillo Army by Steve Cole Illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff Orchard Books ISBN 978140835 6852 £5.99

A meteorite strike causes strange mutations in the animal world creating super-powered creatures; some good and some evil. In Mexico Power Pug is busy seeking world domination, using his mind controlling powers to destroy the rainforest and all chocolate factories with the help of an army of armadillos. His aim is to become ‘master of all chocolate and master of the world.’ Luckily there are several other super powered creatures to thwart his plans. Unlikely heroes Adventure Duck, Neon Zebra and Senorita Spitfire team up and pool their resources, eventually overcoming the armadillo threat, dispensing with the evil pug and restoring the rainforest so its terrified inhabitants can return.

This is a lively, zany, fast paced adventure story. With lots of humour in the word play and illustrations and a comic style approach, this book is likely to prove popular as an independent read in years 3 or 4.  Children who enjoy Adventure Duck’s first exploits can look forward to more in the series.

Sue McGonigle


The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright.   Illustrated by Chris Chatterton Orchard Books  ISBN: 978140356135  £12.99

We all know a Worrysaurus: a child or adult who tends to overthink things and worry about what might happen instead of living in and enjoying the moment. Such is the theme of this charming tale which begins on a beautiful day when little Worrysaurus wakes to the lovely plans he has made for the day ahead. Soon, however, doubts about whether he has packed enough food and drink for his picnic grow into fears about getting lost before becoming a real butterfly of nerves in his tummy when a lizard warns of an impending storm. From his dark place of gloomy thoughts, Worrysaurus first remembers his mother’s advice to, ‘Chase that butterfly away!’  and then he looks through and draws comfort from the contents of his happy tin. His fears and little butterfly fly away leaving him to enjoy his picnic with his new lizard friend.


Brightly illustrated double page spreads, rhyming text with key words in a larger font (although “gotten” to aid scansion seemed a pity) all make this an easy book to use in shared reading with Yr R/1. Opportunities to make their own happy tins and to discuss their worries will arise naturally. I particularly identified with “Worrysaurus liked it when he knew what lay ahead”. Anyone else?

Sue Barrett


The Mystery Kitten by Holly Webb Illustrated by Sophy Williams  Stripes ISBN 9781788952194 £5.99

Elsa is moving house. It is an exciting but scary time. Elsa will get her own room, which is good, but she might find it odd sleeping without Sara every night. At night she is troubled by strange noises at night. Eventually she finds the cause - a little black kitten living in the attic.  She calls him Pepper. Initially she conceals him from her sister and father. She is keen to adopt her new friend, but the family have to find out who Pepper belongs to and why he has been left. The story deals with situations that will resonate with children – moving home, leaving and making friends, going to primary school alone when your sister has started at secondary school, concealing and revealing secrets. Pepper’s story comes as a surprise and there are good messages about jumping to the wrong conclusions. Charming illustrations enhance the text. Highly recommended for 5 – 8 year olds.

Brenda Marshall


Jasper and Scruff Hunt for the Golden Bone by Nicola Colton Stripes ISBN 9781788950534 £5.99

Jasper and Scruff are in their new bookshop when they receive delivery of a rare book, written by the famous Black Whiskers. In it is a treasure map, and the two embark on a mission to find the golden bone. There is plenty of fun along the way, deciphering clues, visiting the seaside and the theatre, and outwitting the dastardly deeds of the Sophistocats. This is an ideal book for emergent readers who will enjoy the fast pace of the story, the illustrations, the dialogue and the fun with language, such as Snootington-on-Sea and Alvis Pawsley .  Great fun for age 5-7. Publication date  October 2019  Age range 5-7

Brenda Marshall


Ivanhoe Swift Left Home At Six by Jane Godwin Illustrated by:  A.Yi Allen and Unwin   ISBN 978-1911631170    £11.99

This is another story about a child’s limitless imagination.  Ivanhoe wants to see the world beyond the garden gate – he has clearly been cherished, read to and had songs sung to him by his parents, and now he wants to experience some of the things he has seen in books and heard in song for himself.  He packs a suitcase with a map, a kite and some binoculars, as well as more practical items such as toothbrush and toothpaste, clean socks and pants and a jumper.  Did his parents go along with this play and suggest items to pack?  Or is this what Ivanhoe thinks he would take with him if he left home?  The song resonating in his head as he leaves for the Tall Tree is one sung to him by his mother, and is full love and security and encouragement of imagination:  Go well as you travel my little love, over the world as you roam….But if you grow weary and tire of your journey, then let the sea bring you home. As Ivanhoe’s world expands he will meet a range of friendly and less friendly children, as in this story.  And in the end, yes, he decides he has seen enough and wants the safety and security of home and his parents.  The illustrations deliver the range of emotions a young child experiences and are full of movement and action.  Did he actually get further than the garden gate or was it an afternoon with a friend, playing imaginative games?  Discuss. Publication date  June 2019   Age range 3 - 7

Elizabeth Broad

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