Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] 2013

Christmas Books
Christmas Fairy Things to Make and Do, Rebecca Gilpin et al.
Dressing Up Sticker Book Nativity Play, Felicity Brooks and Kay Widdowson

 

Alex and the Watermelon Boat, Chris McKimmie, illustrated by Chris McKimmie

Allen and Unwin ISBN 9781743310076 £11.99

Inspired by the Brisbane floods of 2011, this story of Alex’s experiences gives us an idea of the devastation such an event can cause. Alex’s Rabbit has floated away, so he can’t stop to help the people he passes as he searches for his treasured toy. There is a suggestion of a return to normality as the book ends, with Alex looking forward to the birds returning when his newly-planted tree has grown. The naïve and often busy illustrative style will not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly provides opportunity for discussion, as will the post-modern font usage and page design. Age-range: 5-8
Online review 2013

Arabel’s Raven, Joan Aiken, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847804648 £4.99

When an injured raven is rescued from a late night hit and run by Mr Jones, he is taken home and quickly becomes a family pet. He is adored four–year–old Arabel, who declares ‘His name is Mortimer’. Arabel becomes Mortimer’s protector and companion until the day of the flyjack in which Mortimer vanishes along with a priceless brooch and a criminal squirrel. Fortunately, Mortimer plays a crucial role in bringing the criminals to justice and Arabel and Mortimer are reunited in time for tea. This is the first witty and quirky tale about Arabel and Mortimer, full of humour and the unexpected. It is a wonderful read aloud story, suitable for children aged between 5 and 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Bear's Best Friend, Lucy Coats, illustrated by Sarah Dyer

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408827260  £5.99

A quirky and gentle story about a search for friendship, the delightful illustrations ensure that Bear has our sympathy from the start.  Bear has lots of friends but he longs for the companionship of a best friend.  Squirrel has Mole, Rabbit has Frog, and Deer has Hedgehog, but without a special friend himself bear makes tree pictures, pondering on his predicament as he clippety-clips.  Through his favourite pastime of topiary, bear creates life-like images of the other animals in the forest that keep him busy but when night descends bear is lonely and sad again.  As his tears fall bear hears a whisper that comes from a special bear, a bear with hair, and all his dreams come true.  In this original tale, much of the magic is in the detailed illustrations which give the characters depth and personality which will be enjoyed as much by adults as children.  A lovely book for sharing with 4-6 year olds.

Jo Kilpatrick, Reception Class Teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff

Online review 2013

The Castle In The Field, Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Faye Hanson

Barrington Stoke ISBN 9781781122877 £5.99

Chris, Lisa and Tom know they are not supposed to go there but one day during the middle of a torrential downpour, they take shelter in an old army guard post, the pill-box. Soon fondly named ‘The Castle’ the shelter becomes a second home to the children, a magical secret second home. With logs for seats and an oil lamp for heat they enjoy World War Two relics such as a soldier’s helmet they have uncovered. But the Castle is on Old Rafferty’s land and he would be furious if he knew that it was being used as a secret hideaway. It is local boy Jimmy who takes delight in spoiling the fun but no doubt memories created of special times in the Castle will last a lifetime. One in the ‘Little Gems’ series, written on high quality cream paper, in a special easy to read font, the book is a manageable size for small hands. This book would be a lovely early paperback experience for the young reader, with a maze puzzle inside the front cover and a Countryside Code quiz at the back of the book. Reading age of 6 and an interest range of 5 – 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace, A. A. Milne, illustrated by E.H. Shepard

Egmont Press ISBN 9781405268639 £12.99

When something is familiar to us, there’s always a danger that we begin to take it for granted. And the works of A. A. Milne could fall into that category. So used are we to his prose and verse, that we might forget that generations below us have yet to discover the delights that Milne holds. It may be hard to recall, but we all once came new to Winnie the Pooh. There was once a time in all our lives when we’d never heard about Alice watching them change the guard at Buckingham Palace; hadn’t known that John had great big waterproof boots on or know of the three little foxes who didn’t wear stockings and didn’t wear sockses. So if you are in the fortunate position of being the one who can open to door to newcomers to the world of A. A. Milne and his illustrator E. H. Shepard, then this little collection of a selecti0on of his beautifully crafted rhythmic verse is for you.

Alongside well-loved perennials such as The King’s Breakfast, are some lesser known works taken from When we were very young, and Now we are six. All are waiting to delight readers old and new. This would be a good addition to any young (or not-so-young) person’s bookshelf or would be a long-cherished gift. Age-range: 5-9
Pam Dowson, retired Primary Teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2013

Christmas Fairy Things To Make And Do, Rebecca Gilpin, illustrated by Katrina Fearn, Josephine Thompson, Antonia Miller & Non Figg

Usborne . ISBN 9781409569633 £4.99

This activity book contains a host of fairy related activities that will engage young enthusiasts throughout the festive period. Each double page contains details of a new magical project, from ‘Snowflake fairies’, ‘Fairy tree decorations’, ‘Sparkly star wand’, ‘Glittery fairy bookmark’ to ‘Fairy castle Advent calendar’ to name but a few. There are clearly numbered instructions with accompanying, child-friendly pictures and photographs for each new fairy challenge. Two pages of pretty, pink stickers could be used on pictures, cards and presents. Suitable for children aged 5 – 8.
Jo Kilpatrick Online review, 2013

Don’t Play Dirty, Gertie Be Fair, Sarah Eason

Wayland ISBN 9780750267250 £6.99

Gertie, like many children, doesn’t always play fairly. As she faces different tricky situations we are asked to choose what she should do to be fair. On Sports Day when Gertie’s friends are in another team, should she trip up her team-mates, be friendly with her team and have fun racing or stand with her friends and ignore her own team? When a new girl at school looks lonely should Gertie ignore the new girl, pull faces at the new girl until she cries or ask the new girl to join in the game she is playing? Gertie’s dilemmas are illustrated with bright and appealing pictures and will help to encourage children to think about the choices Gertie might make and the consequences of those decisions. A double page of suggestions about how adults could use the book provides advice on maximising discussion about right and wrong decisions in different social situations. A great book to support personal and social development for children aged 5 – 7.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

The Dream of the Thylacine, Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks

Allen & Unwin (www.allenandunwin.com) ISBN 9781742373836 £11.99

The Dream of the Thylacine is a haunting and compelling read, a lament for a lost species. The Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger is now believed to be extinct but this stunning picture book contains some images of the last known Thylacine in a concrete cage. Throughout the images of a trapped and ailing creature, yearning to be free are contrasted with the same animal dreaming of a wild and free existence, enjoying the beauty of its natural environment. This is a very powerful picture book which stayed with me a long time after reading - intense, poetic and tragic. The Dream of the Thylacine would make an excellent stimulus for discussion about keeping animals in captivity and could be used with children from age 6.
Jo Kilpatrick, Reception Class Teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Dressing Up Sticker Book Nativity Play, Felicity Brooks, illustrated by Kay Widdowson

Usborne ISBN 9781409551850 £4.99

This book is a lovely combination of re-telling the Christmas story through a play, with a practical dressing up nativity sticker book. Some children and their friends are putting on a Nativity play and the reader is invited to use the stickers to help them dress in their costumes. The language is simple and direct and includes a narrative as well as character speaking parts. Adding the sticker costumes to the characters really brings the Christmas story to life and there are plentiful opportunities for discussion throughout. Suitable for children aged 4 – 7.

Jo Kilpatrick Online review, 2013

Enormouse, Angie Morgan

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847804488 £11.99

Enormouse is a very large mouse who makes the surprising discovery that he isn’t a mouse at all. Poor Enormouse is a rat, who once his true identity is revealed, feels rejected by his mouse-friends and decides to find kin with the rats. Unfortunately for Enormouse the rats do not meet his hygiene standards and he leaves their untidy nest feeling more shunned than ever. The mice in the meantime have realised how much they miss Enormouse and set off on a perilous journey to find him. It isn’t long before they are all lost and scared wishing that their sizeable friend were there to rescue them and low and behold he suddenly appears! A heart-warming tale that encourages the acceptance of being different within a cosy community of friends. An ideal book to use as part of a circle time or PSHE lesson to open up discussions about difference, kinship and individuality suitable for children aged 4 – 7.
Katherine Shean, Head of Early Years at All Hallows Prep School
Online review 2013

The First Third Wish, written and illustrated by Ian Beck

Barrington Stoke ISBN 9781781122457 £5.99

When Cobweb the fairy loses the third of her wishes Miss Dandelion is devastated as a wild and lost wish has no limits and in the wrong hands it could wreak havoc. Unaware that he has found the magical missing wish, Dickon Barleycorn, off to seek his way in the world, keeps mysteriously having his wishes granted. Soon there is fairy sparkle dust all over the place. Will Cobweb be able to put things right? Will Dickon and Princess Isabella with their shared love for the stars and planets, find happiness? Full of humour and suspense, the detailed illustrations make this a riveting read. Another in the ‘Little Gems’ series, written on high quality cream paper, in a special easy to read font, the book is a manageable size for small hands. This book would be a lovely early paperback experience for the young reader, with a star challenge inside the front cover and a lost wish maze at the back of the book. Reading age of 6 and an interest range of 5 – 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, Emma Thompson, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

Warne ISBN 9780723267102 £12.99

When Emma Thompson received a parcel in the post containing some nibbled radish tops and a letter from Peter Rabbit inviting her to write a new tale, she was unable to refuse. Such a package is in keeping with the universal appeal of the Beatrix Potter stories and the quaint simplicity in which the characters dwell. One might think that to tread in the footsteps of Miss Potter is not only a tall order, but also a dangerous one for lovers of the originals might not take kindly to an ‘imposter’. However, in my opinion Emma Thompson does a fine job and Peter Rabbit is just as mischievous and charming as ever and you would not know the illustrations weren’t by Beatrix Potter herself.

In the story, Peter breaks free from Mr McGregor’s garden and is transported, via a picnic basket, to Scotland where he meets a distant, giant relative, Finlay McBurney. His capers in Scotland include some Highland Games and ‘an unusually large radish.’ There is a hint on the final page that perhaps this is the just the first book from Emma Thompson as Benjamin Bunny requests of Peter that ‘next time you need a change of scene, can I come?’

The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit appeals to all ages and, I’m sure, will become a treasured story on many a child’s bookshelf. In a fast-paced modern world, it brings a glimpse of the timeless appeal of the simple things in life; gentle tales of naughty bunnies being one of them.
Hannah Skottowe, key stage 2 and 3 teacher
Online review 2013

Gracie Grumposaurus, Brian Moses and Mike Gordon

Wayland ISBN 9780750271141   £10.99

Gracie Grumposaurus is having a really bad day!  Her mum tries everything to try to cheer her up but nothing makes any difference to Gracie’s grumpy mood - not even a pteradactyl’s egg, a carton of root juice or a trip to the Dinostore.  At last, in despair, Gracie’s mum makes a suggestion that even Gracie can’t resist.  One in a series of books about emotions and dealing with difficult feelings, Gracie Grumposaurus would be a great platform for exploring grumpiness with younger children.  Two pages of notes at the end of the story offer a host of extension ideas for exploring grumpiness further, both in ourselves and in others.  An engaging story for sharing with children in the Foundation Phase, Gracie Grumposaurus would enhance a topic about dinosaurs as well as the personal and social curriculum.  Suitable for children from the age of 4 to 7.

Jo Kilpatrick, Reception Class Teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff

The Goggle-Eyed Goats, Stephen Davis and Christopher Corr

Andersen Press ISBN 9781849392938 £10.99
Old Ali Haji Amadu has five extremely naughty goggle-eyed goats. His three wives complain so he decides to sell the goats at Mopti market, despite protestations from his seven children. After the long walk from Timbuktu, Ali Haji Amadu is surprised to find his children have followed him and they plead with him not to sell the goggle-eyed goats. Their father cries ‘Enough of this Hullabaloo! Your mothers don’t like the goggle-eyed goats, so the goats have to go!’ But the mothers have had a change of heart and they too have followed Ali to the market. So the whole family walk back home, followed by the goats – although there is a surprise in store on the final page, when they end up with far more goats than they bargained for!

Both text and illustrations are lively and engaging. Children will enjoy getting their tongues around the lists of family names and farm animals and seeing what they can spot in the bright accompanying pictures. I suspect their sympathies will be entirely with the children, so they will be very pleased at the eventual outcome of the story. The book could be a stimulus for some delightful art work. For children aged five to seven.

Pam Dowson  Online review 2012

Here come the Creatures! Wes Magee

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847803672 £6.99

An enjoyable collection of poems from well-known children’s poet Wes Magee, not all the poems are actually about creatures at all, so the title is a little misleading. There are poems to do with families, friends and having fun as well as a variety of animals. Poems included in the collection range from simple rhythmic verses, reminiscent of skipping rhymes and a next step up from nursery rhymes, to longer poems with more to think and talk about. Some deal sympathetically with common childhood fears whilst to contrast there is a section of Christmas verses. The rhythms are infectious and children will enjoy joining in with many of the choruses. A handy addition to your Wes Magee collection. Age-range 5-9
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2013

Herman’s letter, written and illustrated by Tom Percival

Bloomsbury (www.bloomsbury.com) ISBN 9781408836750 £6.99

Herman the bear and Henry the raccoon promise to stay best friends forever when Henry has to move away. So Henry writes his friend letters. Yes! Real, actual, lift-the-flap letters! Not e-mails, not texts, but good, old-fashioned letters. These may come as something of a revelation to today’s young readers! The joy of receiving them soon palls however, as Herman becomes jealous of Henry’s new life and new friends. So jealous in fact that he can’t bring himself to reply. Until one day a letter arrives with the message ‘I haven’t received any of your letters. There must be a problem with the post or something. I miss you so much…’ But Herman can’t post his reply as his local postal service has closed down for the winter, so he sets off to deliver it personally. He has quite a traumatic journey, with an unexpected (but of course happy) ending. A delightful story which will engage young readers, and let them know there’s more than one way to communicate across the miles! Age range: 5 to 8 years old.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2013

It’s Not Fairy, Ros Asquith

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847802361 £11.99

Guardian cartoonist Ros Asquith’s latest book for KS1 children is a delight of whinging, complaining and cross faces as Mary and Billy’s parents threaten them with the child-eating It’s Not Fairy every time they moan about the vagaries of life. But when the parents fall into the same habit themselves, the It’s Not Fairy (available to hunt for on every page) arrives to wreak her vengeance on the family. With its fabulous illustrations and grotesqueries that will please every fan of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, Asquith’s It’s Not Fairy will appeal to boys and girls – and to the adults who have to listen to their repeated cries of ‘it’s not fair’ all day! And there’s even a cake recipe at the end – what’s not to like? Recommended age: 5-7
Kristina West, Children's Literature PhD student, University of Reading
Online review 2013

I Want a Pet (Mini Edition), Lauren Child

Frances Lincoln Picture Books ISBN 9781847803344 £4.99

I Want a Pet by Lauren Child, who has brought us many stories including the incredibly popular Charlie and Lola series, has been re-printed 15 years after it was first released. The story follows the classic dilemma of a child desperate for a pet while all the grown-ups are giving reasons why various animals are unsuitable. Of course, this is a Lauren Child book with her distinctive illustrative style and fun dialogue. As the book has been printed in miniature hardback, which is perfect for little hands, it makes it rather difficult to recommend for classroom use due to the fact that small books are difficult to share with groups of children. The story is engaging and would be useful for a ‘Pets’ or ‘Animals’ based topic, perhaps as part of a story sack including puppets. An enjoyable little story, suitable for children aged 4 – 7.
Katherine Shean, Head of Early Years at All Hallows Prep School
Online review 2013

Jenny, Calvin Innes

My Little Big Town ISBN9781907746178 £4.99

Jenny is a quirky, spooky, scary, story about a brave little girl and some big scary werewolves. Jenny is not like all the other girls, she doesn’t wear dresses or have long flowing curls. Jenny is made from a different mould . . .she’s a werewolf hunting eight year old! Jenny is prepared to fight any werewolf in any city or town but one day she meets a werewolf who is bigger and meaner than any she had met before. Jenny’s back-flipping, forthright approach means that she gains a victory over the mean werewolf beast whose head becomes lodged in the cat-flap. Innes story is told through compulsive, page-turning rhyme and our allegiance is with the unconventional heroine. The black and white illustrations in ‘Jenny’ are as quirky as the heroine herself and as entertaining and humorous. Jenny is a story in the ‘Tiny Twisted Tales’ series and would be suitable for children aged 5 - 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Justin’s Rhyme Time, Justin’s Chuckle Time, Justin Fletcher

Faber & Faber (www.faber.co.uk) ISBN 9780571303557 & 9780571303533 £5.99 each

Justin’s Rhyme Time: many young children will know Justin Fletcher from their TV watching, so will relate to his personal involvement in taking them on a journey through many traditional nursery rhymes. Sadly, it seems that many children come to school not knowing the rhymes that were once an intrinsic part of childhood, so this book could help to remedy that. The familiar face could be just the catalyst to encourage parents and children to enjoy the rhymes together, and as research has shown that children with a sound knowledge of nursery rhymes generally go on to do well in reading, this can only be a good thing.

Justin’s Chuckle Time: children love telling jokes, even if often they’re the only ones who find them funny, so joke books are always popular, often paving the way into reading for some young people. Organised in themes such as animals, fairy tales, elephants, food, knock knock and doctor doctor jokes, this book has jokes old and new to make children giggle. To ‘get’ a joke often requires particular knowledge that very young children don’t have, so the book could appeal to a fairly wide age range. For example, compare ‘Who flies through the air in his underwear?’ – Peter Pants, with ‘What do you call a donkey with three legs?’ – a wonkey. There’s fun here that will be much enjoyed. Age-range: 3 to 9 years old.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2013

Languages of the World: Vietnamese, Charlotte Guillain

Raintree ISBN 9781406220506 £7.99

The problem with trying to teach a language as complex as Vietnamese from a book is that of pronunciation. And while this book does have a stab at trying to explain the sounds of the most basic words, I am sure that most Vietnamese people would be utterly perplexed at my attempts to pronounce them, which does call into question the whole premise of the book. That’s not to say it doesn’t have value: it is full of bright and interesting photos, and lots of information about Vietnamese schools, food and drink, and family life that would be interesting to many children; I just think that more guide on pronunciation would have been enormously helpful. Recommended age: 3-7
Kristina West, Children's Literature PhD student, University of Reading
Online review 2013

Moon Forest, Patricia MacCarthy

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847802835 £11.99

Moon Forest takes the reader on an enchanting journey into the forest at night, in all its wonder. The great white eye of the moon shines down and sees the nocturnal forest inhabitants in their glory; it sees their need for freedom and their need for survival. The fox must find food for its young. Despite the frightened deer herd stampeding deep into the forest, the hare that bolts with racing feet and heart and the water vole that pedals to the river bank, eventually the hungry fox seizes upon his chance to find a meal for his cubs when he spots a flock of geese. The atmospheric, almost magical illustrations work in harmony with the brief caption, lyrical text. A lovely introduction to forest life for 4 – 8 year olds.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

My Family Celebrates Easter, Cath Senker, with photography by Howard Davies

Franklin Watts ISBN 9781445119342 £7.99

Part of the series My Family Celebrates this highly informative, non-fiction book looks at the celebrations and traditions of a Christian family at Easter. Through the eyes of seven-year-old Freddie, we learn about how his family celebrate Easter. Each page looks at a different aspect of the celebrations from Pancake Day and Lent, Palm Sunday, Easter Bonnets, Good Friday, Easter Eggs and Easter foods. It is the skilful way in which the information in this book is presented which really makes it stand out, with just the right balance of large, bright and lively photographs and print. We learn how Freddie’s family celebrates the Christian festival of Easter, both at home and at the local church. We also find out about other ways that Easter is celebrated around the world. The book has a contents page, an index and words that appear in bold text are explained in the glossary. There is also a useful page at the end of the book for further learning and links to websites. A great book for children 5 – 7, although it could be used with older children who were able to read independently.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

My Friend is a Gris-Kwok, Malorie Blackman, illustrated by Andy Rowland

Barrington Stoke ISBN 9781781122440 £5.99

When Mike goes to spend the morning with Alex he has no idea that his friend is half Gris-kwok – someone who can turn into any animal he chooses. And that Alex’s naughty little sister Polly is also half Gris-kwok. Alex and Mike are left in charge of babysitting young Polly who is full of mischief and tricks, making it a day to remember for Mike. This story is full of charm and comedy and the quality black and white illustrations are supportive of the narrative. Another in the ‘Little Gems’ series, written on high quality cream paper, in a special easy to read font, the book is a manageable size for small hands. This book would be a lovely early paperback experience for the young reader, with a jokes page inside the front cover and spot the difference at the back of the book. Reading age of 6 and an interest range of 5 – 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Paddy the Puppy (Fairy Animals of Misty Wood), Lily Small

Egmont ISBN 9781405260367 £4.99

This is a charming small book about Paddy the Puppy. It is his birthday and he has woken early. He looks for his present and manages to wake up his family. Then he flies round the wood, flicking pollen to make the flowers grow. He meets a range of creatures including woodpecker, Hattie the Hedgehog,, Sammy the Stardust Squirrel and Magnifico the Moss Mouse and invites them to his birthday party. When Paddy arrives home he has the best birthday party ever, including a special surprise. The print is large and well spaced and there are attractive black and white pictures so children make headway quickly. At the back of the book there are activities like word searches and join-the-dots that children enjoy. There are other Fairy Animal books in the series – Chloe the Kitten, Bella the Bunny and Mia the Mouse - and they are highly recommended for Years 2 and 3.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2013

P is For Poland, Agnieszka Mrowczynska Photographs by Prodeepta Das

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  ISBN 9781847803528  £6.99

This paperback book, part of the World Alphabet series, is an illustrated alphabet of Poland written by a Polish woman. It is an enchanting and informative book. By the time the reader reaches the final page s/he will know at least twenty six diverse (and some quite quirky) facts about Poland. The photographs are clear, high quality and colourful. There are plenty of pictures of local foodstuffs - always likely to appeal to children – and there is an attractive coloured border on each page. The five or six lines of text on each page are factual yet friendly in tone. The phonetic pronunciations of Polish words are given. I found myself returning to this book to look again at certain pages. This would be a lovely book for project work or, with others in the series (Russia, Turkey, Jamaica), useful to keep in the reading corner to enhance global awareness or for students who prefer to read non-fiction.
Debra Holmes, English teacher, Sexey’s School, Bruton, Somerset
Online review 2013

Pugwash In The Pacific, John Ryan

Paperback with accompanying audiobook read by Jim Broadbent
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (www.franceslincoln.com) ISBN 9781847802910 £6.99

Pugwash In The Pacific will be popular with young and old alike. After a good year pirating on his ship the Black Pig, Captain Pugwash finds himself being chased by the British Navy. Sitting on a tropical beach surrounded by his loot, Pugwash sees a ship in the distance. In haste to escape, he and the gang of pirates flee, leaving all the treasure behind. Instead of the Navy, the chasing ship is actually Cut Throat Jake, Pugwash’s worst enemy who seizes the loot and buries it. All this is watched by Tom the cabin boy who notices that the British Navy is also approaching the island. In a sneaky raid, the clever lad paints over the name on Cut Throat Jake’s ship with the Black Pig. This makes the Navy think that Jake is Pugwash so it sinks the ship, arrests all the pirates and takes them back to London and jail. All the time Pugwash and his crew are hiding in the jungle. It is the clever and wily Tom who, with his careful observation and quick witted response, saves the supposedly hardened pirates to set sail another day. The full colour illustrations in this classic tale will delight readers while Jim Broadbent’s accompanying audio book, complete with music and other sound effects, is bound to keep children enthralled. Suitable for children aged 5 to 7.
Jo Kilpatrick, Reception Class teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Song Of The Golden Hare, Jackie Morris

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847804501 £12.99

The Song Of The Golden Hare is a magical tale of mystery, love and loyalty. The seldom seen hares live out their lives in the half-lights of dawn and dusk whilst a boy has been waiting all his life to hear the hare’s song. The boy and his family are special, not only because they search for the leverets orphaned by the hunt and keep them safe but also because they also hold the secret of the song of the golden hare. When the hares begin to move across the land the boy and his sister follow. The boy thinks that his heart may break when he hears the beauty of each hare’s wild song, as the children wait for the time when the old queen will leave and her child will reign. But it is a small, ragged, runt hare, raised by their grandfather, who finally wins the heart of the queen hare with the beauty of his hare-song. Meanwhile a hunter and his two hounds are searching for the golden queen, hoping to get a good price for her golden fur. How can the two children, on their own, keep the golden queen safe? A beautiful picture book, suitable for sharing with children aged 4 – 8 years.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Snug, Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Faye Hanson

Barrington Stoke (www.barringtonstoke.co.uk) ISBN 9781781122860 £5.99

Snug is Lisa’s cat and it has always been that way. Wherever Lisa goes Snug follows, but does anyone ever really own a cat? Despite their strong bond, as Snug grows up he spends more time away from home and one night he arrives with his head hung down, badly hurt after being in a fight. Lisa tries to nurse Snug back to good health but he suddenly bolts for the door. When dad returns with the sad news that Snug has been run over Lisa is devastated but then events takes a turn that no-one could have predicted. Michael Morpurgo deals with the contrasting and mixed emotions surrounding the death of a family pet with frankness and honesty. One in the Little Gems series, written on high quality cream paper, in a special easy to read font, the book is a manageable size for small hands. This book would be a lovely early paperback experience for a young reader, with a cat quiz inside the front cover and a Snug maze at the back of the book. Reading age of 6 and an interest range of 5 – 8.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Star Girl, Karin Littlewood

Frances Lincoln ISBN 97818478014 £11.99

Star girl Gracie delights at the special star that shines for her every night and longs for her beautiful star as dawn breaks and the star fades from the sky. One night Gracie climbs to the top of the tallest tree and gently takes her beautiful shining star out of the sky so that she can have it with her all the time. But sadly when Gracie takes the star from her pocket it doesn’t shine brightly and although she surrounds the star with things that glisten and glow and puts on her special starry dress and shiny shoes the star does not twinkle. Gracie tries taking the star to a place where fireflies flitter and laying it in a rock-pool but nothing she does seems to make any difference. Suddenly Gracie knows what she needs to do and at last her star shines more brightly than ever before. The beautiful illustrations add to the magical adventure in this gentle story. Suitable for children aged 5 – 7.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Tiger Thief, Michaela Clarke

Nosy Crow ISBN 9780857631374 £6.99

An exciting adventure story about an animal set in an exotic location in India. Sharat works in a curcus has a magnificent white tiger, Emira. They perform in the City of Jewels but Emira disappears through a ring of fire. Sharat is devastated and is desperate to find her. He embarks on a dangerous quest. Soon it becomes a journey of self-discovery involving spiritual and physical combat with magic, demons and even mechanical bees. Woven through the colourful narrative is the need to protect the environment. The book has an attractive cover and the designs and patterns on the pages appeal to children in Years 5 and 6. It is a most impressive debut novel.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2013

The Terrible Tale of the Lambton Worm, Heather Harrison

Monkey King's Party, Debjani Chatterjee

Both books illustrated by Simon and James Walmsley

Poggle Press ISBN 9780957350168 & ISBN:9780957350120  £8.95

These are two titles from a new, largely online, literacy resource. Eleven beautifully produced small picture books, containing substantial adventure stories or tales which combine myth and legend are the 'springboard' not only for literacy activities, but for a whole range of cross-curricular work. These resources, including those for whiteboards, which encompass comprehension, Talk for Writing, critical thinking, not to mention maths, science or even music, are available for an annual subscription. There is also a monthly magazine full of teaching ideas for busy classroom practitioners. The Lambton Worm tells the story of the hapless young son of a lord near Sunderland who caught a terrifying worm while fishing. Flinging into the castle well before it bites him, he then goes off to join the army. On his return, he is told that his Worm has become ‘a stalking, cow-eating, sheep-snaffling, child-terrrorising monster!’ Does he have the courage and ability to save his father's people? Monkey King's Party recounts Monkey King's adventurous journey to taste the fruit of Heavenly Land. There he finds the Jade Emperor somewhat reluctant to oblige until the Empress suggests employing Monkey as the Keeper of the Heavenly Orchard. Will all the fruits, except the peaches, prove sufficient payment for Monkey? Will he ever enjoy partying with his friends at home again? Beautifully written, there is much to enjoy in the language of these tales from Y2-6. Description, vivid action verbs or key moments are often highlighted within the text in a larger size print and in colour, which really attracts attention and interest. I also saw the storytelling prompt cards to enable retellings which have key words and phrases alongside the large colour pictures from the texts. With all the resources online, I now understand why more was not made of these with questions, drama ideas or further activities.

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Titchy Witch and the Teacher-Charming Spell
Titchy Witch and the Scary Haircut, Rose Impey, illustrated by Katharine McEwen

Orchard Books ISBN 9781408307182/978148307175 £4.99 each

The everyday things that happen to all children happen to Titchy Witch. But she has magic to help her out of tricky situations. No doubt many young people wish they could solve problems by using magic, and Titchy Witch is no exception. She’s pretty good at it too – but often her spells are often a little too successful, so she has to do more magic to reverse their effects, experiencing some tension and discomfort along the way. There’s always a satisfactory resolution to these short, colourfully illustrated tales which are perfect for newly independent readers which are also available as e-books. Age-range: 5-7
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2013

Troll Wood, Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Paul Hess

Frances Lincoln Children's Books ISBN 9781847802385 £11.99

Troll Wood tells the story of a family which needs a new home. Its members venture into the mysterious ‘Troll Wood’ where they find long lost treasures - hidden paths, trees with apples and plums, a hill with wild flowers, a bridge and an old house. The Trolls hiding in Troll Wood look as though they have been waiting for company for a long time . . . . but will the family join them in Troll Wood? This enchanting picture book takes those brave enough to go, on a visit to Troll Wood, where no one goes. Troll Wood shows how it is possible to deal with change and overcome obstacles. This enchanting tale is suitable for reading to 5 – 8 year olds.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle, Squiglet Pig, Joyce Dunbar and Tim Hopgood

Egmont Press 9781405257558 £10.99

Twinkle, Twinkle, Squiglet Pig is an underwater adventure featuring some very unusual sea creatures who live right at the bottom of the ocean. Piglet Squid is our hero who lives so deep under the sea that it is always dark and rather miserable, yet he is a happy little soul who always smiles much to the annoyance of the other woebegone fish. He floats away one day reaching towards the surface to find something to cheer up the grumpy fish who won’t smile back at him. He meets a swallower fish, with rather obvious consequences and ends up being coughed into the sky by a whale. It is there that he first sees and becomes entranced by the moon and stars, quickly hurrying back to tell the other fish, who all smile at the story. The illustrations are stunning, with clever use of colour and texture. I was interested to discover that Piglet Squid is based on a real sea creature with a skin pigmentation that looks like a drawn on smile. This story would be useful with a sea themed topic suitable for children aged 4 to 7.
Online review 2013

What’s The Time Mr Wolf, Debi Gliori

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408819418 £6.99

This original and humorous tale takes us through Mr Wolf’s day from 7 o’clock in the morning through to Mr Wolf’s bedtime, with an hourly refrain echoing the playground game ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ Mr Wolf’s friends seem to be acting a little strangely, with four and twenty blackbirds tweeting a morning chorus and the three little pigs leaving work and slamming their doors on departure. Mr Wolf, who certainly does not seem to be as bad as his reputation, suggests he trims the hairs on his chinny-chin-chin and then tends to his cupboard which is completely bare as even dish has run away with spoon. Throughout the day Mr Wolf meets nursery rhyme character favourites until finally he understands the best answer to the question ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?!’ My reception class loved this wonderfully illustrated picture book and joined in heartily with familiar refrain. We made clock faces and the children turned the hands to show the times in the story and we talked about sequencing our day. A delightful book, suitable for sharing with children aged 4 – 6.
Jo Kilpatrick, teacher, Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
Online review 2013

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