Ages 5-7 [Key Stage 1] Archive

Jake the Good Bad Dog / Jake in Action, Annette and Nick Butterworth

Catnip Books ISBN 9781905117680 / 9781905117697   £4.99

Published simultaneously, these two books are a product of the husband-and-wife team, Nick and Annette Butterworth. Inspired by their own dogs, Jake and Sheppy, they are reprints of books which were originally published over ten years ago, this time with detailed, full colour illustrations on every other page. They tell the story of Jake, a big-hearted dog with an even bigger personality, who constantly gets himself into scrapes.

In Jake, the Good Bad Dog, Jake has a variety of adventures whilst pursuing his dream to go to Crufts. He loves chasing ducks and squirrels and his football skills become legendary, but it isn’t until he saves his friend Sam from attackers that he finally makes it to Crufts, to receive an award for exceptional bravery. True to character, he disgraces himself even at Crufts, when he relieves himself on one of the flower displays.

His taste for adventure continues in Jake in Action, when his local park is threatened by property developers. Whilst following his natural instinct to dig things up if he likes the smell, Jake helps the townspeople find an ancient charter which prevents the corrupt Mayor from selling the park.

These books would delight any child who loves stories about dogs, especially those who get into mischief. The illustrations are vintage Butterworth which sensitively support the text. The books would suit independent readers aged 7 – 9, both boys and girls alike.

Gill Robins 2011

Johnny's Bad Day, Edward Ardizzone

Jane Nissen Books    ISBN 9781903252307    £6.99

Johnny's Bad Day is a picture book with no accompanying text. Its simple line drawings, with little colour and prominent cross-hatching, relate a day in the life of Johnny as he falls foul of his family and becomes increasingly muddy. Eventually he makes amends for his misadventures by presenting his mother with a bunch of flowers that earn him a redemptive hug.

The book could be used with a variety of children, including those with little English. The story is quite predictable and the pictures offer opportunities for hypothesis and prediction and the identification of cause and effect. However, perhaps because of their unfamiliar style and limited colour, some children do not immediately engage with the pictures.

Shirley Gornall, English 4-11 Number 40, Autumn 2010

The Perfect Prince, Paul Harrison and Sue Mason

Zero to Ten   ISBN 9781840895378   £10.99

From its predictable fairy-tale opening, of Isabella's hunt for a Perfect Prince in order to fulfil parental marriage expectations, this story takes an unprecedented twist. Frustrated by a crowd of undesirable suitors, a sulky Isabella goes for a walk, meeting and kissing a frog in the hope that the fairy story turns out to be true. Slowly but surely, the reader witnesses her turning into a frog, being evicted from the Palace by parent who fail to recognise their daughter and falling in love with the frog that she kissed. She lives happily ever after with their three thousand children.

This bold, colourful book is designed with cartoon characters drawn onto collage-type backgrounds, which provides a rich variety of patterns and textures. There is plenty of detail to discuss, including sentient sheep and incongruous toy Triang bike lying abandoned in the castle moat. It would be suitable from aged 3 and throughout KS1, when children would appreciate the humour of the inter-textual reference and a post-modern Princess who defies the fairy-tale convention and determines her own future with such glee. 

Gill Robins, English 4-11 Number 38, Summer 2010


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