Ages 7-9 [Lower Key Stage 2] 2020

reviews added January 2020

The Great Outdoors Woodland  Explore Nature with Facts and Activities by Lisa Regan Wayland ISBN 9781523610682 £12.99

This charming book is part of a series that encourages children to look at and appreciate nature on their doorstep. First we are introduced to the wonderful world of woodlands. There is a good mix of information, drawings and photographs. Pages are well laid out and facts are presented in accessible bite-size chunks, with effective use of coloured backgrounds and fonts. The book is especially strong at showing us what can be found in local woodland, such as birds, flowers, fungi and logs. Clear instructions are given for activities that enhance learning. I particularly liked making a spore print. Children are encouraged to protect woodland by thinking about their use of paper, recycling, and going paperless where possible.  There is a multiple choice quiz where readers can check that they have absorbed key information, as well as a contents page, index and list of books and websites to encourage further research. An excellent book that will inform and inspire children aged 7+ at home or school.

Brenda Marshall


Unbelievable Football – The Most Incredible True Football Stories You Never Knew by Matt Oldfield Illustrated by Ollie Mann wren and rook  ISBN 9781526362445 £6.99

This is an excellent book for a football fan aged 7+. The information is appealing and wide ranging, including the World War 1 Christmas truce; the greatest women’s football team of all time who played their last match in 1965; the Busby Babes; the player who faked his own death on the football pitch and the psychic octopus famed for his predictions in the 2010 World Cup. The style is informative and warm, and the text is well-spaced on the page which will attract reluctant readers. There are several role models and examples of resilience such as Di Stéfano, Roger Milla and Didier Drogba. This book can be read from cover to cover or dipped into. At only £6.99 it is excellent value.

Brenda Marshall


Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman by Sandra A Agard Stripes Publishing ISBN: 9781788952224 £6.99

Harriet Tubman was an amazing lady. A slave who escaped from the South via the ‘Underground Railway’ to the North; who returned time and again to lead other slaves to freedom; who worked for the Unionist Army in the American Civil War; who campaigned for Women’s Suffrage, and who set up a home for old people with no other means of support. What a life story! She deserves to be much better known, although a feature film, [the first], about her was released in the autumn of 2019.

This title, in the ‘Trailblazers’ series, lets us discover her story. Contextual detail helps the reader to make sense of events, and charming black and white illustrations break up the text and try to personalize the narrative. Her bravery is portrayed in a ‘matter of fact’ way, which makes it even more impressive to read. For a woman who could neither read nor write she certainly left a real legacy. This book is a fitting tribute to her story, appropriately pitched at the right level to absorb young readers aged 8 - 10. Highly recommended.

Alf Wilkinson


Nose Knows by Emmanuelle Figueras  Illustrated by Claire De Gastold What on Earth Books   ISBN 9781912920068     £14.99

I read this book to my Year Two class (children aged 6 and 7 years) and they absolutely loved it. They were enthralled by the subject matter, as was I!  I am not sure I have ever read a book all about the nose and smelling but now I have, we all feel much the wiser for it. The ‘lift the flaps’ were great fun, but also very informative and they certainly added to the interest of the book. Although some of the vocabulary might suit older children, aged 7-10 years, this did not detract in any way from the enjoyment and the children were gripped with each session of me reading from the book. The illustrations are also wonderful and, in fact, make this book something of a showpiece. The drawings are fun, yet accurate and life-like, adding to the educational value of the book. I would certainly give this as a gift for a birthday or Christmas, to any budding little scientist or lover of animals. All in all a hugely successful read and one that I will revisit again and again when teaching the children about our senses in science.

Charlotte Townsend


Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror by Natasha Farrant     Illustrated by Lydia Corry Head of Zeus   ISBN 978178854115 £12.99

This book is beautiful to look at, and captures all the magic of a traditional book of fairy tales. In its hard-back form, adorned with bright and appealing illustrations, it would make a brilliant addition to a library or school book corner, and also a lovely gift for the home. There is one wonderful and modern exception to the traditional tales within this book – all these stories subvert the usual stereotypes and bring to life princesses who ‘refuse to be pretty, polite or obedient’. Instead, these girls are ‘fierce, brave and determined to do the rescuing for themselves’. Capturing the current trend for turning traditional tales on their head, the stories contained within this volume are great fun and include strong and aspirational characters. With a vast array of themes and settings, (from mountains and deserts to city tower-blocks and urban dwellings), each tale stands alone. A lovely book to dip in and out of, it would be great as a stimulus in a P4C session looking at stereotypes and how they have evolved over the years. It could be the basis of some great work on re-writing other familiar tales and so perfect for English lessons.

Laura Davies


Mr Penguin and The Catastrophic Cruise by Alex T. Smith. Hodder  ISBN: 9781444944570 £9.99

This is the third Mr Penguin book and it does not disappoint. This time he is on board a luxury cruise ship because his friend, Colin the spider and kung fu expert, is performing with the Ladies Choir. Mr Penguin is looking forward to having a rest. There are famous film stars, a carnival atmosphere and plenty of fish finger sandwiches. However all is not as it seems and Mr Penguin soon finds himself with a mystery to solve. The story moves at a good pace and the text is well-spaced with plenty if illustrations. Children aged 6 – 8 will enjoy the humour, the fun and sense of adventure. Bravo Mr Penguin!

Brenda Marshall

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