Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] 2010

I See the Moon, Jacqueline Mitton, illustrated by Erika Pal

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781845076337 £11.99

This picture book for younger children is an interesting mix of both fact and fiction.
Different night time animals are written about in story language. While children who want to find things out will be fascinated by the detailed facts given about the Moon at different stages of its cycle, they will be learning without realising it. The simplicity of the language is appealing. It is written in the present tense and children can identify with the wealth of adjectives and descriptive phrases used to portray the animal settings and the Moon. There are plenty of opportunities to ask and answer questions on the text. Why does the moon change colour? Why is it sometimes called a harvest moon? It doesn’t matter where in the world the animals are; they are shown to be aware of the moonlight. The Moon is also compared with Planet Earth as seen from the surface of the Moon.

The book culminates in two pages of information and facts. It provides the answers to many of the questions raised in the text. It is good that children can read the information for themselves without having to find another book. The text is also ideal for boys, as the language is short and precise. Younger children will enjoy the illustrations. This is a good non-fiction book with a story element to it.
Nicky Bull, English Manager, Padnell Infant School, Cowplain, Hampshire
Online review 2010

The Sticky Doll Trap, Jessica Souhami

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847800176 £11.99

 This is a retelling of the famous Uncle Remus’ tale, Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, itself a retelling of traditional African folk tales. The story centres on the Hare and his ‘tricksy’ ways and how he annoys and upsets his fellow animals. This is a great text to use in key stage 1 as it ties in perfectly with the Stories from other Cultures unit of work. It provides a great framework that could easily be used and adapted by the children to create their own stories in a similar vein. This book could also be used to great effect in RE and PSHCE lessons with the potential to stimulate conversations about right and wrong, revenge or getting on and falling out.

Colourful images inspired by African folk art help to engage the reader and make it easy to visualise the setting, again providing a great talking point. ‘The pictures are really sunny and colourful, I liked looking at them,’ said Sam aged 6. This is an enjoyable and funny book that children will find charming.

Lauren Rogers, English 4-11 No. 42, Summer 2011

Trixie the Witch's Cat, Nick Butterworth

Puffin    ISBN 9780141326801   £6.99

Trixie the Witch’s Cat is a delightful picture book.  It is an ideal story for older key stage 1 children - they can immediately identify with this mischievous animal who feels she is different from all the other cats because of her white paw.  A witch’s cat should be black all over.  There are ample opportunities throughout the story for the children to suggest how Trixie could solve her problem and then that wonderful moment when they can guess what is going to happen.  The children relate well to the dialogue and thought provoking language in the text.  Do animals as well as children have temper tantrums?  Would they hide a part of their own body they don’t like, especially when there is nothing wrong with it? 

The language in the story acts as a wonderful stimulus for the children’s own writing.  The humour is conveyed through well drawn illustrations and repetitive phrases and as in all good stories, everything turns out all right in the end.  The very clear message that it is alright to be different makes it an ideal book for discussion and PSHE work.  The emotions and feelings that the cat displays throughout the story are very child-like and children relate well to them.  They don’t even notice that the witch herself doesn’t appear at all.
This inviting book keeps children spellbound.  Can they create their own wonderful spells and if they can, how will they use them?

Nicky Bull, English 4-11 Number 41, Spring 2011

When Daddy’s Truck Picks Me, Jana Novotny Hunter, illustrated by Carol Thompson

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847800923 £11.99

This is a story about a little boy, waiting with growing excitement for his Daddy to pick him up from school; a story about a little boy whose Daddy is away a lot. It is refreshing to read a children’s story that is not representing a stereotypical family unit but something a bit more recognisable for many children in today’s society. While the story is aimed at younger children (the main character is nursery aged himself) the illustrations provide the father’s story, a point that older children are more likely to pick up on. After reading this book, it would be possible to challenge children to think about their families and how they differ from other people’s families. There would also be the opportunity for children to put themselves in their parents’ shoes, thinking about what parents do whilst they are at school, etc.
Hunter uses rhythm and rhyme effectively to help the story move along but it is, after all, only a story about a little boy waiting for his Daddy to pick him up from school and the boy’s mounting excitement never quite reaches the reader.
Lauren Rogers
Online review 2010

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