Ages 7-9 [Lower Key Stage 2] 2018

More reviews added November 2nd 2018

When Planet Earth was New.  (A Short History of Our Planet's Long Journey)

by James Gladstone Illustrated by Katherine Diemert. Wayland Publishers ISBN 9781526308986  £12.99

This book introduces a very complex subject in a way that gives children a good, simple explanation of the sheer vastness of the earth's history and how the earth has evolved over billions of years. It uses bold language and artwork to grab the young reader. The book demonstrates how the planet evolves from one with no life through a timeline with a straightforward explanation. The excellent illustrations by Katherine Diemart help a child's imagination to develop an understanding of what the earth was like during its evolution. The 'Look Again Section' reproduces 18 illustrations in miniature with excellent short descriptions containing additional details. A glossary and website list also are good additions, allowing children of all abilities to develop their knowledge. Suitable for classrooms and libraries at upper KS1 and KS2, the book works on two levels; one for the younger child using very good illustrations to increase their learning, and the other for the older child with greater reading ability who can use the text and extra sources to develop their understanding.

 

Paul Baker

 

The Wonderful World of Clothes by Emma Damon Otter-Barry Books  ISBN9781910959176 £12.99

A charming book that explores the wonderful world of clothes all around the world. Each page is a delight. Themes include hot and cold, off to school, sports, leisure wear, travel and shopping. I particularly liked the sections on clothes for special jobs such as a firefighter and an astronaut, the six great religions, special occasions and festivals. The pictures that show how to wear a kimono and a sari are fascinating. There are detailed sections on hats and headware, shoes, buttons, jewellery and decorations, belts and wraps, and fabulous fabrics. The story of making a pair of jeans is intriguing. Did you know an average pair of jeans takes only 15 minutes to make in a factory, using 15 individual pieces of cloth? I enjoyed the pages on recycling, 3D printing and fabrics of the space age. The book ends with an invitation to design clothes. Highly recommended for readers of 7 upwards because it is entertaining, and presents the cultural diversity of clothing all over the world with a light touch, and superb illustrations.

 

Brenda Marshall

 

The Butterfly House by Katy Flint Illustrated by Alice Pattullo & Frances Lincoln Quarto  ISBN 9781786039743  £12.99


A most attractive book. The cover shows a beautiful butterfly cage outlined in gold. Then we enter the magical world of the butterfly house and meet many of the major butterfly and moth families in the world. Did you know that there are over 180,000 species of butterflies and moths, and that they make up 7% of all the life forms on earth and have been alive since the time of the dinosaurs? The illustrations are glorious and information is presented in bite-sized accessible portions. We learn about the similarities and differences between butterflies and moths, their life cycle, behaviours, and classification of different species. At the end of the book there are pages with butterflies to be identified by the reader. Highly recommended as a book to inspire young entomologists, both in school and at home.

My London Activity Clipboard by Eryl Nash Illustrated by Clair Rossiter Walker Books (www.walker.co.uk )        ISBN 9781406387582   £9.99


This is a lovely way to learn about London and its most famous landmarks. All the activities come presented in a hardback clipboard, which children will love to use as they tour the sights and sounds of London. A lot of care has gone into making the activities both appealing and informative, with beautiful illustrations adorning each challenge. It would be a great task to get children to recreate their own activity set for their home-town, following the format and ideas within this set, (and supporting the curriculum strands of geography, literacy, art and design). I certainly learnt a lot about London that I didn’t know just from reading it, and can see that it would be well loved across much of the primary age phase.

 

Laura Davies

 

Outdoor Science: Habitats by Sonya NewlandWayland   ISBN         9781526309426  £12.99

 

Habitats is one of the perennial topics that are taught as part of the curriculum and which need to be kept up to date because of changing circumstances, new research and changes in policies around the world.  This title, part of the ‘Outdoor Science’ series is new for 2019 and should have mentions of the latest concerns that are being discussed.  Because this is aimed at KS1 and Lower KS2 there is not a great deal of space to cover every area, so there is a sense that this is just skimming the surface in some areas.

The book is well laid out with the contents page glossary and index that you would expect from an information book, however I feel that the index could have been slightly larger and have included terms such as ‘plastic’. Each of the books in this series is divided into thirteen double page spreads and the information is laid out in easy to follow and digest chunks.  There is also information about where you can go for further reading if you are interested, which is important because of the size of this book.  The illustrations are bright, clear and clearly explain the text.  The photos appear to be current, rather than versions of ones that have been around for years.  Overall this will be a welcome addition to the classroom and school library.

 

Margaret Pemberton

 

Black Music Greats: 40 inspiring icons by Olivier Cachin  Illustrated by Jerome Masi Wide Eyed Editions ISBN9781786034700  £9.99

 

There has been a tremendous development in the number of biographical collections that are available over the last few years. There has also been a greater emphasis on diversity in all its forms.  This book is part of a series by the forward thinking publisher Wide Eyed Editions and combines both of these elements.  It looks at a range of black musicians dating from the 1930s to the modern day and luckily I have heard of most of them; however the intended audience will have a much better understanding of the most current musicians.  The artists are known for different types of music, but with an underlying feel for the ‘Blues’, which can almost be defined as the core for so many modern interpretations.

The layout of the book is very straightforward, with each artist being given a double page spread, all of which are in the same format.  The information is clear and the author is not afraid of showing the characters ‘warts and all’; many of them had difficult upbringings and this obviously impacted on their behaviour and also their lifestyles.  The book itself is laid out with quite large text and would be suitable from Lower KS2; it will also be a great read for those more reluctant readers further up the school.  This is definitely a welcome addition to the school library.

 

Margaret Pemberton

 

Sonam and the Silence by Eddie Ayers. Illustrated by Ronak Taher Allen and Unwin   ISBN 9781760634872  £11.99

The sombre tone and theme of the story are married effectively with the deep colours, textures and layers of the powerful illustrations. Based on fact, it tells of a time when music of any kind was banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Sonam is a young girl from Kabul who earns money by selling chewing gum on the city streets. The sounds in Sonam’s world are of metal beaters and food sellers which make a “storm in her head.” But one day in her joyless, music less world she hears a whispering tune which she follows to the home of an old man. He teaches her that music is everywhere in the trees and the wind and in a heartbeat if only she listens for it. They meet every day as he teaches her to play her own rubab which she does until her brother finds out and takes it from her. Without the music in her life Sonam becomes “withdrawn, her spirit dull and tired” War strikes and the storm in her head worsens with the angry sounds. The end of the story gives Sonam a sense of hope. The author encourages empathy by inviting readers to imagine life in other countries and think about the struggles of other people. Age range 7 – 11.

Jane Macleod

Asterix and the Chariot Race, Jean-Yves Ferri, illustrated by Didier Conrad, translated by Adriana Hunter

Orion Children's Books ISBN 9781510105003 £7.99

I am quite new to Asterix, though I read a few as a child, so I was pleased to be asked to write this review. Like all good stories, it works on many levels and I certainly enjoyed all the jokey names – Lactus Bifidus, Outinthastix, Zerogluten & Betacaroten, and especially the Kushite princesses, Nefersaynefer and Queenlatifer who reminded me of the tennis-playing Williams twins. The story is about the Transitalic Race and there are lots of opportunities for some national stereo-typing. I thought the ‘backwards’ lettering of the Russian team was a clever touch and was amused by the truly awful puns when accusations abound about whether someone had spilt olive oil on the road – ‘well, if you asked me cold, if I’m pressed, verging on that – yes!!!’ The Romans are cheating like mad but when Asterix and Obelix predictably win the race, Caesar, speaking as ever in the third person, awards them the cup. At the end, there are prizes all round, perhaps in a show of European unity. The story is beautifully illustrated and there is a mass of detail in every frame as well as a lot of Classical references for those who can recognise them. I’m sure that this book will be a popular choice in a school library – some children will enjoy spotting the references, others will chortle at the jokes and as for the rest, they will just go along for the chariot ride. Age range: 6 to 11.
Janet Taylor, Head of Classics at The King's School, Canterbury

Captain Rosalie, Timothee de Fombelle, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Walker Books ISBN 9781406377101 £8.99

What a delightful book. This is the story of 5-year-old Rosalie and her struggle to learn to read. More importantly, it is a story of how war, in this case World War One, impacts on the lives of those left behind – at school, at work, and as mothers. Rosalie’s mother tries to protect her both from the realities of war and her father’s death by pretending to read her father’s letters, but in reality inventing jolly episodes and talking about going fishing and swimming when he returns. In the end, sitting quietly at the back of the classroom, being child-minded by the one-armed schoolteacher, she teaches herself to read and discovers the truth. The illustrations are beautiful and, combined with the text, make this a story that KS2 children will love to read.
Alf Wilkinson, The Historical Association

Children’s Wildlife Atlas, John Farndon

QED ISBN 9781784939687 £12.99

A comprehensive atlas that looks at different habitats round the world, and the relationships between animals and their environments. There are sections on tropical grasslands, tropical rainforests, deserts, temperate woodlands, temperate grasslands, taiga and tundra, wetlands, mountains and polar regions, and animal classification. Farnon celebrates the variety of life, and provides an overview, describing animal behaviour and the survival strategies adopted, migration, seasonal change, adaptation and the complex web of inter-relationships between animals. More than 1,000 animals are featured. We are warned that more and more species fall victim to ‘rampaging human activity’. Over 11,800 species are at serious risk. Farnon believes, ‘The more we know and understand the reasons for the massacre, the better equipped we will be to prevent it.’ A detailed introduction to wildlife that will inform and inspire KS2 children, with over 500 illustrations, eye-catching photos, maps and plenty of facts.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’, SATIPS Council’

A Christmas Story, written and illustrated by Brian Wildsmith

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192768728 £7.99

Originally written in 1989, this new small format hardback edition is a delight. The nativity story is told from the perspective of a little donkey whose mother carries Mary to Bethlehem with Joseph. The little donkey is sad to be left alone and so Rebecca, the young girl charged with his care, decides they should follow the travellers. Eventually their journey is over when they find a bright star over an innkeeper’s stable and young readers witness the Christmas story through the eyes of Rebecca and the little donkey. Other elements of the well-known story are suggested through illustration and text, for example the departure of parents and baby to Egypt to avoid Herod’s men, providing possible starting points for conversations about the book. The artwork from master illustrator Brian Wildsmith is stunning, and the use of gold within the book and on the cover makes this an extra special volume. This book would make a striking addition to a Christmas book display. The small size and amount of detail in the illustration suggest it would be particularly suitable for sharing and discussing with small groups of children. Age range: 6 to 9.
Sue McGonigle, Independent Consultant and Co Creator of www.lovemybooks.co.uk

Explorers: BUGS, Nick Forshaw, illustrated by William Exley

What on Earth Publishing ISBN 9780995576605 £9.99

This is the first of a new series of books, written in conjunction with the Natural History Museum and aimed at the 7+ age group. Whilst this is a look at mini beast’ there is an element of adventure and exploration involved; it is narrated by Agent Eagle who has been asked to find out everything he can about bugs. This is not a straightforward description of each type of bug; rather it is a look at the history of the creatures, ecology, famous bug scientists and bugs’ relationship with the world. The illustrations for the book are drawn by William Exley and they are beautiful representations of the creatures they are talking about. The layout of the pages is clear and concise, but ranging from the formal to the very fluid. Stylistically they are reminiscent of the lino print pictures that were so prevalent from the 1920s onwards and which are seeing a revival today because of their clarity and design. As you would expect with any information book we are provided with a simple contents page, (including illustrations), a glossary and a subject index. There is also a quiz at the end of the book which would be useful as a basis for class work and, finally, there is a 1.8 metre long timeline at the rear of the book and which can be removed and then placed on a wall. All of this makes it a great addition to the resources available for KS2 when looking at bugs.
Margaret Pemberton, School Library Adviser

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History, written and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408878903 £6.99

A beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the achievements of great women. Some are well-known, such as Boudicca, Pocahontas, Harriet Tubman and Mary Shelley, but others are less familiar, like Valentina Tereshkova, Elizabeth Blackwell, Ada Lovelace, Mary Wollstonecraft, Josephine Baker, Hatshepsut, Flora Drummond, Sayyida al-Hurra, Qiu Jin and Noor Inayat Khan. The illustrations are engaging and contemporary. The book is fun to read because the facts are presented in an accessible, attractive way. The final double page spread shows the Bookshelf of Brilliance and asks the reader, ‘How will you make History?’ At the end of the book there is an interesting glossary of ‘fantastically great words’. An inspirational book for both boys and girls. Highly recommended for KS2.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’

Just Plain Weird, Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Chris Mould

Barrington Stoke ISBN 9781781127919 £6.99

This is a warm and funny story about Pinchton Primm, whose exceptionally clean, healthy and regimented world is turned on its head when he makes friends with the Weird family next door. The Weirds are wild, shambolic and interesting: Otterly is a ‘creative dresser’ and mum wrestles sharks. But best of all, they are a welcoming bunch who don’t blink an eye at the Primms’ strange habits. Not only do the Weirds include Pinchton in their daily lives and adventures, they also offer friendship, acceptance and a barbecue invitation to his uptight and judgmental parents, although his dad is a bit of a dark horse. Chris Mould presents the Weird characters at the beginning of the book and his wonderful illustrations continue to add atmosphere and humour throughout. From the Weirds, Pinchton picks up a love of books, unhealthy eating habits and, most importantly, some wonderful friendships. Age range: 7–10.
Emma Andrew, teacher, Law Primary School, North Berwick and SCEL Associate

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, abridged by Juliet Stanley, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Palazzo ISBN 9781786750457 £12.99

This story is so deeply embedded in our culture, that Alice’s dream-like adventure of falling down a rabbit hole, changing size repeatedly and meeting such characters as the White Rabbit, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and Red Queen are widely known. It has been published in many editions and made into several films, but the abiding images most readers possess come from Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations from his early collaborations with the author. It is images which last, because this story is highly visual, packed as it is with creatures and characters of all kinds along with some bizarre activities. This edition has been very cleverly abridged for lower KS2 pupils to read independently or hear read aloud. Juliet Stanley has produced a pacy narrative which echoes the fantastical quality of the original, while emphasising the humorous, quirkiness of it all. Children, as with previous generations, will love its non-moralistic, non-educational themes. The real achievement, however, is Ingpen’s imagery: dreamy illustrations which both pay homage to the Tenniel originals and provide new delights in their brilliant details, particularly the black and white sketches. Facial expression, gesture and body attitude contribute subtly to the narrative, helping to ground the sometimes dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish nature of it all, while having a chestnut-haired Alice somehow convinces us she can hold her own! The endpapers are stunning, and the textured cover help make this into an ideal gift or prize to be pored over. A delight.
Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Magical Kingdom of Birds – The Sleepy Hummingbirds, Anne Booth, illustrated by Rosie Butcher

OUP ISBN 9780 192766212 £5.99

The Magical Kingdom of Birds – The Sleepy Hummingbirds, is Anne Booth’s (Refuge,The Lucy series) first book in a new series. The protagonist, Maya, is a solitary soul who has something of an obsession with birds. So, when sister Lauren, who is about to depart for university, gives her a colouring book and states that Maya is now its ‘keeper’, Maya is elated. What makes the book extra special is that it was given to Lauren to pass on by their late mum when Maya was still a baby. However, this is no ordinary book: Maya starts colouring and the magpie who, a moment ago, was tapping on the pane of her window is magically brought to life. And so begins an enchanting adventure of good v evil, of fairy princesses and evil lords. While the veteran (adult?) reader knows that good will ultimately defeat evil and that we don’t really need to fret about the life chances of the garden full of seemingly dying hummingbirds, Booth successfully draws in her reader to suspend that disbelief. This book subtly addresses issues of inclusion with Maya stating to her fairy friends that…‘I don’t have my chair or my stick, and my legs don’t work very well, so it’s a bit difficult to get up’. Yet this is not an issue that is ever foregrounded or an integral part of the narrative, it’s just there and not interfering with the awesome Maya’s ability to have amazing adventures. Throughout, Rosie Butcher’s fantastical illustrations – with opportunities for children to colour them in themselves – enthral and the book concludes with pages of bird facts and activities for those as engrossed by our feathered friends as Maya.

Laura Manison Shore, Senior Lecturer in Early Years & Primary Education, UWE, Bristol
Publication date June 2018 Age range KS2

Ottoline and the Purple Fox, Chris Riddell.

Macmillan ISBN 9781509881550 £6.99

The fourth Ottoline book is now available in paperback. Ottoline’s parents continue to travel the world seeking new items for their collection. Ottoline decides to hold a dinner party. One of the guests is the suave Purple Fox, who takes Ottoline and her best friend, Mr Munroe, on a night time urban safari. The fox shows them all the hidden animals in the city, and Ottoline records them in her field notebook. During their journey, Mr Munroe finds some anonymous poems stuck on lampposts. He and Ottoline search for the secret poet, with surprising results. As with the other Ottoline books, Chris Riddell’s beautifully detailed illustrations are beguiling. The story is entertaining, funny and reminds us that we need to care for others. A charming book for readers of 6 to 8.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’

Raise the Flag, Clive Gifford, illustrated by Tim Bradford

QED ISBN 9781784932152 £10.99

Flags are important. At the time of writing this review Donald Trump is under criticism for not flying the White House flag at half-mast for long enough after the death of John McCain. This book is a treasure trove of information about flags. It is wide-ranging, including fascinating sections such as the origin of flags, and how to communicate in flags. I also enjoyed great moments in flag history, and the section on flags used by organizations. There is information about the flags of different countries. Text and illustration are perfectly matched. At the back of the book there is a flag quiz, and the reader is told how to design their own flag. Bright, attractive, interactive, and thought-provoking, the book is excellent value and is sure to be popular with KS2.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Riding a Donkey Backwards – Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin, Sean Taylor and Khayaal Theatre, illustrated by Shirin Adl

Otter-Barry Books ISBN 9781910959305 £12.99

This would be a welcome addition to any classroom or library bookshelf. It is a compilation of 21 short stories featuring Mulla Nasruddin, a wise and funny trickster famed in Muslim culture. The humour would be enjoyed by children aged 5 to10 and the deeper messages, riddles and wisdom would prove thought provoking for 7 to 11s. The bright colourful collaged illustrations add to the charm and fun of the book. I am looking forward to sharing it with my class and may well use the stories as the basis of stimulating school assemblies.
Jane Macleod, Primary Teacher, Fairfield Primary, Penarth

The Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull, Pamela Butchart

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444941531 £6.99

and

The Secret Seven Brain Games

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444944631 £5.99

Award-winning author Pamela Butchart has taken up Enid Blyton’s mantle and has produced a new Secret Seven story. Peter finds a skull hidden in his bedroom and calls a meeting of the Secret Seven. The gang investigate and notice the new American owners of a hotel are digging a huge hole in the garden. What is going on? The Secret Seven are determined to solve the mystery. The book is exciting and fast-paced. The characters are well drawn and children will identify with them. Tony Ross’ illustrations enhance the story. Highly recommended, as is The Secret Seven Brain Games, a book of 100 puzzles where you can pit your wits against Peter, Janet, George, Jack, Pam, Barbara, Colin, and Scamper the dog. There are quizzes, codes, treasure maps and many other brainteasers. Age range: 7 to 9.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

The Shelter Puppy, Holly Webb, illustrated by Sophy Williams

Stripes Publishing ISBN 9781847159230 £5.99

Caitlin’s school is having a community week and Caitlin’s class is giving presentations on a charities they might support. She visits a local animal shelter and meets various animals including Winston, a charming whippet cross. Caitlin is attracted to the puppy who stars in her presentation. The class, and then the school vote to support the shelter. James, a boy from school, wants to give Winston a new home. This prompts Caitlin to realise how much she would like Winston for herself. The book offers plenty to discuss, such as how to cope with nerves when you are giving a presentation, Caitlin’s relationship with her brother, how to support local charities, how to hold an effective table sale, why pets are abandoned, the responsibilities of being a pet owner, the need for pets to be compatible, and the way you don’t realise what you want until you almost lose it. It is a good read for 6 to 8-year-olds.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Shiny Pippin and the Monkey Burglars, Harry Heape, illustrated by Rebecca Bagley

Faber and Faber ISBN 9780571332175 £6.99

Pippin is a young girl who is ‘shiny’ - able to communicate with animals after being sprinkled with stardust. She is part of ‘The Good Team’ a group of crime fighters, alongside her Granny and Mungo a love-struck geologist. They are hired by Lady Elliott to recover her son’s chameleon stolen by the evil Dr Blowfart, who also has shiny powers but uses them for evil ends. Second in the series from Harry Heape this is a funny if chaotic story with a host of characters and lots of word play in this ‘funusual badventure’. The theme of using powers for good or ill is evident; contrasting ‘good shining’ communicating with animals with love and trust with ‘dark shining’ taking things from animals. A complicated plot, with echoes of Dr Dolittle and Robin Hood, is helped with asides from the narrator and a quick round up of loose ends in the final chapter. The amusing illustrations are a good match for the story. This is a book which may well be a useful addition to a classroom collection and appeal to children 7+ gaining independence in reading who enjoy humorous, super hero style adventures.
Sue McGonigle, Independent Consultant and Co Creator of www.lovemybooks.co.uk

Spot the Mistake: Journeys of Discovery, Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley, illustrated by Frances Castle

Wide Eyed Editions ISBN 9781786031297 £12.99

A fascinating book about explorers. The reader is challenged to find 20 mistakes in every scene. Some are very obvious but others demand more reflection. Turn over the page and there are lists of the errors together with additional, detailed information. It is a most effective way of engaging the reader’s attention and curiosity – ‘Would I Lie To You?’ in pictures. The explorers featured are Marco Polo, Zheng He, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Captain James Cook, Alexander von Humboldt, Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark, Captain Robin Scott, Hillary and Norgay and Aldrin and Armstrong. Highly recommended for browsing, studying and fun in KS2 and above, the book is perfect for collaborative reading. Age range: KS2
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories, Angela McAllister, illustrated by Alice Lindstrom

Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781786031143 £12.99

A colourfully illustrated anthology of twelve of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, this lavish hardback offers an accessible introduction to the works of the Bard including Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and the Tempest. The story synopses cover the key elements of each plot, familiarising us with the main characters, all of whom are usefully listed at the start of each tale. Readers will recognise some of Shakespeare’s most well-known quotes and paraphrases of others, simplified for a young audience. Each story is ideal for reading aloud in one sitting, opening up many discussion possibilities and providing a springboard for further study. At a time when much of what is heavily promoted for children in our high street bookshops falls into the humour category, this book comes as a welcome change. It has high but realistic expectations of young readers providing the opportunity for them to engage with more serious literature in an enjoyable way. There are brief notes at the back about Shakespeare and a full list of his plays along with a brief summary of each play included in the book. An ideal addition to the KS2 library.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE

Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me, Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi

Tiny Owl ISBN 9781910328330 £9.99

This unusual book tells the tale of Thinker the Dog and puppy poet and his relationship with his new family and, in particular, his young master and friend Jace. The story is told through a series of poems either by Jace or by Thinker. The quirky but detailed collage illustrations feature an African-American family and their new and talented pet puppy. The artwork enhances the poems and clearly show love, family life, tenderness, fun and belonging. The story reaches its conclusion with a celebration of being yourself and being proud of yourself and of others for their individuality. The final poem of the book is Thinker’s Rap which will appeal to many children who can join in and perform with friends adding actions and movesand they may also provide inspiration and stimulus for writing their own poetry. Age range: KS2.
Jane Macleod, Primary Teacher, Fairfield Primary, Penarth

This Book is Not Rubbish, Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Alex Patterson

Wren and Rook, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group ISBN 9781526361530 £6.99

This book is not rubbish, but shows the reader 50 ways to deuce rubbish, ditch plastic and to save the world. This very apt 2018 paperback publication will inspire and empower children to get involved in environmental issues. It is also a book that would allow whole families and schools to educate children through coverage of many of todays and future environmental problems. Covering issues such as plastic, pollution, global warming and endangered animals, it allows the reader to become an eco-warrior. The book gives ideas such as ditching straws, banning glitter and becoming an art activist as well as ideas for collecting rubbish, ditching the School run, (parents please note), reading the label on food products and many other ideas for saving our planet. At a time when everything is doom and gloom about our planet, this refreshing approach to how children can help is an important addition to the bookshelf. It is well illustrated and I would say a very good £6.99 to spend to allow the reader to become an eco-warrior instead of an eco-worrier. Age range: KS2.
Paul Baker, Chartered Geographer, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Treasure Hunt House, Kate Davies, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

Lincoln Children's Books ISBN 9781847809575 £14.99

This is a sumptuous picture book for older readers. It takes the form of a treasure hunt and centres around two children when they go to visit their great-aunt Martha for a holiday. She is not there, but her housekeeper, Jo, tells them about what has been planned. The idea is that they search the house for clues and eventually they will find the ‘treasure’. We then follow the children on their journey of discovery with each double page covering the contents of a room. Every room has a clue as to where you can find the next clue, so the children have to really look carefully at all the objects which have a ‘lift-the-flap’ element. The illustrations are definitely the star in this book. They are meant to represent a large and old fashioned house, with a very American feel; think of something from the Victorian gothic style. The rooms are full of fascinating objects and the reader can spend hours poring over the images. You could almost say that the house is a museum in its own right and I know that it is the sort of place that invites us to be curious. Physically this is a very strong and well-constructed book and will survive heavy usage in the classroom, but, above all, it is a fascinating starting place to find out about so many fantastic objects and places. Definitely a book that I can keep coming back to. It is wonderful to just browse all the amazing images. Age range: 7 to 11.
Margaret Pemberton, School Library Adviser

Uncle Gobb and the Plot Plot, Michael Rosen, illustrated by Neal Layton

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408873946 £10.99

The cover of this book reproduces and excerpt from a Guardian review describing Uncle Gobb and the Plot Plot as ‘story telling anarchy’ and I really couldn’t put it better myself! This hilarious, often irreverent tale of Malcolm, his friends and the dreadful Uncle Gobb is the third in the Uncle Gobb series and presents an ultimately predictable good defeats bad ending, but what a journey we go on to get there. Rosen’s carefully crafted language jumps off the page as readers join him on this fantastical tale which again intertwines everyday classroom debates and dilemmas with appearances of a body-building genie and a ‘dread shed’ doubling as a rival school where IMPORTANT FACTS (not my capitalisation!) are taught. Within the highly humorous plot Rosen also skilfully gets in a plug for the Sure Start initiative ‘now closed’ and a poke in the ribs of the National Curriculum’s preoccupation with conjunctions… And all this is punctuated by a pair of bemused weasels. As I read, and guffawed at, this book my mental image was of Michael Rosen’s highly flexible face reading the text - with its mixed fonts and textual variance – out loud. Rosen has again presented a language-rich, laugh-out-loud tour de force which continues to ‘save his place’ amongst the forerunners of contemporary children’s writers. Recommended forY2 upwards both as an independent read and as a treat for teachers who enjoy a good read-aloud Rosen at the end of the day!
Laura Manison Shore, Senior Lecturer in Early Years & Primary Education, UWE, Bristol

The Waggiest Tails: Poems written by dogs, with help from Brian Moses and Roger Stevens, illustrated by Ed Boxall

Otter-Barry Books ISBN 9781910959893 £6.99

This is a delightful collection of poems from two masters of words and creative approaches, Brian Moses and Roger Stevens. They are clearly dog-owners and dog-lovers, with real insight into the vast array of characters, traits and eccentricities that is Man’s Best Friend. My daughter read Rescue Dog out loud to the family, and there was a collective lump in the throat; we laughed at the superiority of the Welsh Collie and loved the dog-logic of Stick:

It might seem obvious to you humans
But it puzzles me every day
If you want the stick so badly
Why do you throw it away?

Many of the poems provide an excellent springboard into discussion on attitudes to pets: Princess Zyara, for example, is a very superior chihuahua who is carried everywhere and clearly feels superior to common dogs who have to walk. Others mirror behaviours we would recognise: the dog that ‘fights’ the vacuum cleaner or hosepipe and the list of The Things a Dog Has To Do. With What I Am providing an excellent introduction to kennings, this is a slim volume of 53 poems with endless possibilities.
Elizabeth Broad, former Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton and UKLA National Council

What on Earth? Robots, Jenny Fretland VanVoorst, iIllustrated by Paulina Morgan

QED ISBN 9781784935603 £9.99

This is a most impressive book. It opens with robot poetry, and children are invited to write their own robot poems. The Robots in history section reminds us that robots have been around for thousands of years. There is an explanation of what a robot is, and we learn about robot parts, mechanics and how robots follow instructions and carry out tasks. A range of activities is included such as making a robotic hand, acting like a robot, using sound and touch clues to gather information, running a simple program using a group of friends, and making a planetary rover out of pasta. Complex ideas are expressed in a way that is easy to understand. We learn about technology, artificial intelligence and where we find robots in our world including our homes, workplaces, hospitals and in space. Bright, colourful art work enhances the text. An excellent introduction that will inform and inspire KS2 children.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

What on Earth? Trees, Kevin Warwick, illustrated by Paulina Morgan

QED ISBN 9781784939311 £7.99

I am a big fan of this series and this volume does not disappoint. First we meet trees and read two poems. Next a labelled diagram of a tree explains the special parts and the jobs they do. Then leaves are examined and we are shown how to start a leaf collection and how to make a leaf tree. The uses of some leaves and the cycle from seed to tree is explored. There are investigations, experiments and creative tasks, which are fun to do and which deepen a child’s understanding of trees. We read a fable about the Douglas Fir and receive instructions for predicting weather using a pine cone. The height and age of trees is examined, as are some of the animals and plants that live in trees. Then we meet some special trees from around the world. Global warming and the contribution of trees is discussed, along with consideration of the many products we get from trees. Attractive illustrations accompany the text. Children are encouraged to explore, investigate and connect with trees. The book is practical, informative and engaging. At only £7.99 it is excellent value. Age range: KS2.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’

The Wizards of Once Book 2 Twice Magic, Cressida Cowell

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 97814444941401 £12.99

This is the second book in the award winning The Wizards of Once series. At the start of the book Xar is in the prison Gormincrag, and Wish is in Queen Sychorax’s castle, which is now behind a huge wall that was created to protect people from witches. Once again Xar and Wish, who had been taught since birth to hate each other like poison, have to work together to find the ingredients of an Evil Spell that has broken free. This involves entering the dangerous territory of the Druid’s Castle. There are witches, wizards, warriors and mythical creatures in this magical world. Cressida Cowell is a natural storyteller and the story moves at an exciting pace. Her illustrations are stunning and repay close observation. A must for KS2 readers.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

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