Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] 2012

All About the Olympics, Nick Hunter

Raintree  ISBN 9781406228793  £7.99

A bright and colourful non-fiction book packed with informative and interesting facts about the Olympics.  It is the perfect starting point for any Olympic based work with Years 2 and 3 and especially relevant for Summer 2012.  The photos are large and of excellent quality. The glossary and index are small and simple; they are easy to use.  This non-fiction book is suitable for young children to conduct independent research.

Laura Fallowfield   Online review 2012

Dotty Inventions by Roger McGough and illustrated by Holly Swain

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN9781847803320 £6.99

This book catalogues a delightful mixture of fantasy and real-life inventions as Professor Dotty Dabble and sidekick Digby the robot discuss which of her inventions she should enter for a National Science Museum competition. Along the way children learn, among other things, how Ladislo Biro invented the first ball-point pen, and how George de Mestral got his idea for Velcro after taking his dog for a walk in the countryside. However, although Dotty claims these inventions as her own, Digby is not at all convinced and is keen to discover more about the original inventor. Holly Swain’s illustrations match the text brilliantly in style and sentiment. Roger McGough intersperses the real inventions with some rather dubious ones from Dotty (such as digital deckchairs or thermal dentures) in a quirky and humorous way which will excite children across the primary school age range to design their own. This book could be used in the classroom and is an excellent choice for the school library as an independent reader.
Pippa Shon, Early Years Specialist and Prep School teacher, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2012

Hue Boy, Rita Phillips Mitchell, illustrated by Caroline Binch

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847803030 £6.99

It’s time to upgrade that old, dog-eared copy of the picture book Hue Boy, thanks to the re-issue of this multicultural classic. It has always been a popular read, rightly gaining a Smarties Silver Award and being Highly Commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Hue Boy suffers from an anxiety common to many children, that of being smaller than his friends. His mother and others try all they can to help him – so he tries eating fruit and vegetables, doing stretching exercises – but nothing works. The wisest man in the village and even the doctor are no help, so Hue Boy is taken to Miss Frangipani the healer who chants a magic rhyme and gives Hue Boy herbs to put in his bath. Still no good. Then one day his father comes home from sea and Hue Boy walks tall beside him through the village, feeling comfortable and content with himself. After that, Hue Boy begins to grow and is the happiest boy in the village.

Many young readers will empathise with Hue Boy in this gentle tale. The message of strong family ties also comes to the fore. A delightful story, beautifully illustrated. Age-range: 5-8
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2012

Just Right, Birdie Black, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Nosy Crown   ISBN 9780857630308   £9.99

Warm red Christmassy end papers invite us into this sharing story set in that indeterminate past of folk and fairytales when the king might well have ‘strolled round the market’ on Christmas Eve.  From the large roll of red cloth that he buys to have made into a cloak for his daughter the princess, some scraps are left over and discarded, only to be found by a kitchen maid who uses most of it to make a jacket for her mother.  She too discards a smaller piece of left-over cloth which is found by Bertie Badger, and so the story continues. This is a delightful version of a story well-known in the oral tradition, having been retold by Eve Bearne, Mary Medlicott, Duncan Williamson and no doubt countless others, with each retelling taking on its own special characteristics.  This version takes us from the highest in the land down to one of the lowliest creatures- a mouse with each character feeling pleased and happy at receiving their Christmas present made from smaller and smaller pieces of cloth.  A heart-warming Christmas story that can be learned and passed on for others to enjoy – just like the cloth itself!

Pam Dowson   Online review 2012

Magic Toyshop: My Magical Teddy, Jessie Little, illustrated by Penny Dann

Faber and Faber ISBN 9780571294596 £3.99

Magic Toyshop: My Magical Teddy is part of the Hoozles series and has been reissued by Faber and Faber. Willow and Freddie cannot wait to see what adventures await them on their seaside summer holiday visit to Summertown to stay with eccentric Auntie Suzy at her Magic Toyshop. It is not long before Willow and Freddie learn that Hoozles are no ordinary toys; quite the opposite in fact! A special friend is all a Hoozle needs to bring them to life and lead to lots of fun adventures. In this story, Wobbly Lion Hoozle needs help finding his lost pocket heart, which has been stolen by Croc the Crocodile Hoozle. This delightful story explores some truly unique characters and situations which will ignite the imagination of young readers. Line drawings by Penny Dann help to support young readers navigating and understanding the text independently. I would recommend this story for independent readers aged between five and seven years old who enjoy reading stories about magical toys with their own secret lives.
Mary Bennett-Hartley, Initial Teacher Education Lecturer
Online review 2012

The O'Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales and Legends, Una Leavy and Susan Field

O’Brien Press  ISBN 9781847173133  £10.99

There is something about the Irish fairytale that offers its own brand of magic – maybe a lack of familiarity for non-Irish readers, maybe the exotic names and traditions found inside (with a helpful pronunciation guide and notes at the back of the book) – and this O’Brien compendium certainly adds something special to the well-known fairytale canon.  Beautifully illustrated, the collection would work just as well to share in the classroom as for more confident readers, and children are sure to enjoy tales such as that of the king and the leprechaun in The Magic Shoes and the wicked stepmother and swan-children of The Children of Lir.  I personally loved the ‘history’ of how the Giant’s Causeway came to be.  A lovely edition of some classic tales. Recommended for children aged four to eight.

Online review 2012

Queen Elizabeth II, Vic Parker

Raintree  ISBN 9781406246179  £7.99

A bright and colourful non-fiction book packed with informative and interesting facts about Queen Elizabeth II.  This book contains a fairly comprehensive over view of Queen Elizabeth’s life from the moment she was born until the modern day.  It covers all the major events in her life and it clearly explains what role she fulfils.  The photos are large and of excellent quality. The glossary and index are small and simple; they are easy to use. There is a well set out family tree at the back of the book.  This non-fiction book is suitable for young children to conduct independent research.

Laura Fallowfield   Online review 2012

The Snake Who Came to Stay, Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Hannah Shaw

Barrington Stoke (www.barringtonstoke.co.uk) ISBN 9781781120088 £5.99

When animal lover Polly opens her house as a ‘holiday home for pets’, she begins to share her life with guinea pigs, a singing mynah bird, goldfish, and, most importantly, Doris the snake. The author of The Gruffalo and the Children’s Laureate presents a gently amusing story with a cast of intriguing characters, both human and animal. The danger of Doris escaping presents a problem to solve and all the animal characters are carefully linked to the twists of the plot. Without wasting words, the relationship between Polly and her mother is cleverly revealed, with the strength of their love and understanding of each others’ quirks coming through their encounters. Donaldson also takes the opportunity to sprinkle the tale with relevant animal facts. We learn about the feeding habits, habitats and distinctive features of Polly’s guests and although the story centres on Doris, each creature has its time in the spotlight. This book is a lovely reading experience for young readers; even the blurb and biographical details are written with children in mind. Other thoughtful touches include the fact that children were involved in the editing process and this edition also claims to be helpful for readers with dyslexia. Recommended for key stage 1.
Fiona Dunne, teacher, Shirley Junior School, Southampton
Online review 2012

The Usborne Story of London Sticker Book, Rob Lloyd Jones

Usborne (www.usborne.com) ISBN 9781409532958 £6.99

This is a terrific book. There are over 120 stickers and 15 double page spreads. It is an excellent introduction to the history of the city including events like the Great Fire of London, the Great Plague, and the Blitz. The book also includes information about the city's historic landmarks such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London as well as more recent sites like the Shard, and the Gherkin. The stickers are good quality. I offered the book to some eight years olds who love stickers and some eleven year olds were very keen to join in the fun and learn. I was impressed by the way the stickers blend to form a very attractive, up-to-date guide to central London. There are also some useful internet links. Highly recommended as an attractive and informative sticker book for the 4 to 11 age range.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2012

When Dad was Away, Liz Weir and Karin Littlewood

Frances Lincoln ISABN 9781845079130 £11.99

In considering the major issues that impact children’s lives, I would have thought that the imprisonment of a parent was fairly unusual, but according to the press release accompanying the book, the number of children with a parent in prison has reached 200,000 in 2012.So bravo to the authors and to Frances Lincoln for tackling such a difficult subject in respect of primary age children. When Dad was Away tells the story of Milly, who only finds out that her dad is in prison when her classmates start to tease her, and struggles to accept her father’s absence from her daily life. Accompanied by some beautiful artwork from Karin Littlewood, Liz Weir explores this difficult subject with sensitivity and grace, offering a helping hand to children experiencing this for themselves, and for teachers and parents needing advice on handling the subject with children themselves. A thought-provoking book. Recommended age: 4-7
Kristina West, Children's Literature PhD student, University of Reading
Online review 2012

 

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