Ages 7-9 [Lower Key Stage 2] 2016

100 Most Awesome Things On The Planet, Anna Claybourne

QED Publishing ISBN 9781784936365 £5.99

This is a fascinating book. It covers a wide range of places from across the globe. Entries are divided into Awesome Natural Wonders and Awesome Human Creations, and each is given an awesomeness rating. There are attractive, detailed photographs and interesting information in easily digestible formats. The Locust Storms page reveals that ‘A single locust swarm can be 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) and can contain 100 BILLION locusts. That’s more locusts than there are people on Earth!’ We learn that a blue whale has a heart the size of a small car and some of its blood vessels are so wide that you could fit inside them! The world’s largest tree is the California redwood, which is 70 times taller than an average human. The sculpture of four American presidents at Mount Rushmore was started in 1927 with 400 workers and was not completed until 1941. The first carving of Thomas Jefferson was blown up because the rock was hard to work with. Thrust SSC is the fastest car on the planet and reached a speed of 1,228 km/h (763 mph). The book is intriguing and the awe-inspiring content promotes curiosity. It is highly recommended for KS2 children.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

The Accidental Secret Agent, Tom McLaughlin

OUP  ISBN 9780192744395  £6.99

I had been lucky enough to read the previous novel, ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ which was a great text. This book, although separate from the other titles, has the same tone and engages the reader in a world of spoof spy fiction. The character at the centre of the story is Kevin Twigg who is a normal school boy who wants to be a spy. Kevin meets a real spy in the form of Jake and they end up swapping places. Kevin then has the weight of the world resting on his shoulders. The book is well written and children in both lower and upper KS2 will be able to access the text. It would be a good text for guiding writing. The illustrations help entice the children into the world of the spy.

Matthew Wilson, key stage 2 teacher, St Paul’s CIW Primary, Cardiff

Anna Liza and the Happy Practice, Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Matt Robertson

Barrington Stoke ISBN 9781781125595 £6.99

This book surprised me in a good way. Firstly, it is beautifully drawn and there's something about its compact, sturdy shape that captured my curiosity. After this, I was expecting a run of the mill story on a medical theme, but this book exceeded my expectations. In a nutshell Anna Liza tries to imitate her mum as a psychiatrist, looking after the children left in the waiting room while their parents go in to see her mum. It's very clever as the content deals with mental health issues, specifically loss, either in terms of a relationship or a bereavement. The clever bit is it doesn't say which it is so works for both. Children are often the unseen casualties when their parents have tough times and this book addresses this issue in a digestible, subtle way. I would recommend it for Juniors upwards alone or across the key stages when used as a resource for P4C or circle time. It is a good book and it really impressed me.
Rob Bilney, KS2 teacher, Llancarfan Primary School

Born Free Chimp Rescue: A True Story, Jess French

Orion Children’s Books ISBN 9781510100541 £5.99

This book opens with an introduction from Virginia McKenna, OBE, the Founder of the Born Free Foundation. Then we hear the story of Chinoise, a baby chimpanzee who was born in the forest of Cameroon. She was taken from her family to be used in the tourist industry and was kept in a steel cage in a noisy restaurant. Eventually she was rescued by Born Free and their supporters in 2014. Now Chinoise lives in a special nursery for rescued primates where, at last, she has made friends and learned how to play. The fact that this is a true story had an impact on my class who were shocked that animals were be treated in such a way. The book includes fact files about chimpanzees and related animals and some superb photos. This is an excellent introduction for key stage 2 children to the plight of baby chimpanzees, and the subject of animal welfare and protection.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury

Children Like Us From Around The World Clothes, Moira Butterfield

Wayland Books ISBN 9780750296120 £12.99

One of a series of six KS1/2 non-fiction books about children from other countries, this book details clothing from different climates, special occasions, national costumes, as well as jewellery, shoes and even hats. Printed with vibrant colours, the photographs are eye-catching and appealing, featuring clothes as varied as yagushkas made of eight layers of reindeer skin, an Irish dance dress and an orange Buddhist robe. Accompanying text includes information about life-styles, culture and interesting facts, for example that the Kayan neck rings worn by six year old girls in Burma are actually one single metal coil wrapped round several times and girls may choose to have them removed at the age of 15. Many do not. Other books in the series are Food, Homes, Schools, Toys and Games and Transport, making them a worthy resource for the library.
Paul Jackson, Director of Education, SATIPS

Discover the Roman Empire, Isabel and Imogen Greenberg

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847808264 £8.99

A companion book to Discover the Ancient Egyptians, this book explores Romans and the Roman Empire - but not Romans in Britain which is the focus of the National Curriculum history unit. Presented in exactly the same way as the Egypt book, this volume looks at Roman history, gods, heroes, life, empire and towns. The text is accessible and attractive, the images add to the 'feel' of the period, and the book serves as a good introduction and basis for further study of the topic. The pull out map at the back is again excellent - simple, clear and informative. But the timeline - which is not to scale – is misleading and prevents pupils from getting a real sense of the time period. The text is very 'safe' - there are few, if any, of the controversies and debates historians have about the Roman Empire. A useful reference book for primary pupils, as long as it is only one part of sources about Rome.
Alf Wilkinson, The Historical Association

Emily Mouse’s Birthday Party, Vivian French, illustrated by Mark Marshall

Orion Children’s Books ISBN 9781444016147 £4.99

Part of the blue Early Reader series from Orion Children’s Books, Emily Mouse’s Birthday Party is designed to be perfect for sharing and reading together. This is a lovely story which follows Emily Mouse as she prepares to celebrate her birthday by hosting a party with friends. Each page is clearly and brightly illustrated to help give clues to support new readers, and the font is easy and accessible to read. It is a step up from early years’ picture books, and makes a great first step to more compact texts aimed at KS2. There are opportunities for interactive participation from the audience as part of shared reading, asking questions about what they might need to buy for a party and later on in the story – what has Emily Mouse forgotten from her list! It would also make a valuable text as part of guided or paired reading.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

Moon Princess, Barbara Laban

Chicken House Limited ISBN 9781908435934 £6.99

When I started to read this tale I was unsure as to whether it would be a mystery, a modern fairy tale or both. I was intrigued to find out whether the story being in China would be a critical part of the tale. And a critical part it was! Interwoven will a few words from Mandarin, the story opens up the magical world of China in a really lovely way to young people. The author manages to convey the incredible mystery and intrigue that China offers and will create a curiosity in the minds of young readers. The culture of such a historic and tradition rich society is lovingly conveyed through the story. It is a simple read that older children could enjoy solely for pleasure and that 8 year olds would read as a challenge. There is a happy ending that makes this the perfect story for a class tale!
Matthew Wilson, key stage 2 teacher, St Paul’s CIW Primary, Cardiff

The Moon Spun Round, W.B. Yeats for Children. edited by Noreen Doddy, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald

O'Brien  ISBN 9781847177584  £14.99

The writings of William Butler Yeats are infused with the rural landscapes and haunting tales and legends of his Irish homeland.  Kyle-na-no, Dooney and Innisfree may be real, but they conjure up a timelessness and lands of enchantment.  This collection includes many of his best loved poems: The Wild Swans at Coole, The Cat and the Moon, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and The Song of the Wandering Aengus.  It also includes two of his short stories, biographical information, a letter as a child to his sister and previously unpublished memories from his daughter Anne.  Thus far, another interesting collection of his work with some original additions, so what makes this such a remarkable, desirable edition?  Sumptuous artwork, much of it in deep, rich blues, greens and jade, or jewelled hues for fruits and fairy folk bring to life Yeats' words utterly superbly.  The Sidhe are both fearsome yet ethereal, we can almost hear the wild swans' appear wing beats and one of them, in a brilliant imaginative leap, becomes the pool itself.  The cat's eyes reflect the changing moon and heaven's embroidered cloths seem coiled and folded before our eyes.  Despite their brilliance, these pictures enhance rather than overshadow the lyrical beauty of Yeats' imagery and the cadences of his verse, which is no mean feat.  While the verse should be read aloud and given voice, these pages require a slow poring over to elicit every gem and nuance.  This would make a beautiful gift or prize and should certainly be within reach of every KS2 teacher to read aloud and share.

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

My Book of Birds, written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério

wren and rook  ISBN 9781526360007  £12.99

A stunning illustrated book that introduces young children to many different species of bird. Valério’s collage illustrations capture the distinctive features of a range of birds including the golden eagle, the great white pelican, the osprey, the snowy owl, the great cormorant and the Atlantic puffin. Each bird has a collage created with old magazine paper, art paper, gift wrap, scissors and glue. A small amount of information is included that is easily absorbed by young children. The large format hardback enhances the illustrations. The endpapers show eggs and feathers and the book includes an introduction, glossary, index and sources for further information. An inspirational compendium of birds.

Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

My Human Body

Wayland Books  ISBN 9780750299428  £5.99

Ideal as a home reference book for KS1/2, this infographic sticker book is packed with non-glossy diagrams and information. The book lacks a contents and index page but covers topics such as the skeleton, digestion, respiration and the senses providing different ways of comparing humans and animals by using over 200 stickers. Here is a fun and interactive book which will keep reader busy and provide some unusual and interesting facts along the way.

Elisabeth Jackson, former Deputy Head of Spratton Hall Pre Prep School

Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection, Julia Lee

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192739384 £6.99

Set back in the days when housemaids ran the show, Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection is certainly not lacking in humour. Alternate chapters depict the thoughts of two delightful, yet contrasting, characters, with whom a young audience can relate. Nancy; a 16-year-old; newly appointed; and rather clumsy housemaid presents her thoughts and discoveries through her hand-written diary entries. With scrawlings, ink splotches and written thoughts about how to spell words, Nancy’s diary is how you might expect any 16 year old’s diary to be – full of accusation, which lacks evidence, and scandal. Ella; the young daughter of a well educated, well travelled scholar, on the other hand, has her discoveries narrated. The two contrasting text types keep the book fresh and interesting throughout. You will find yourself giggling out loud when you read about all of the shenanigans Lee’s young housemaid gets up to without her mistress finding out! I would recommend this book to a reluctant female reader in lower KS2.
Lauren M Freedman, key stage 2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.

The Ostrich of Pudding Lane, Jeremy Strong, illustrated by Sarah Horne

Conkers (Barrington Stoke) ISBN 9781781125526 £5.99

One of Barrington-Stokes’ Conkers list of titles, this raucous tale from Jeremy Strong had me engaged from page one. The story is not complex: an ostrich appears in the grounds of Pudding Lane Primary School and causes mayhem; it becomes the school mascot; it is kidnapped…and rescued; it causes mayhem again during a school inspection. That’s it! However, Strong’s genuine enthusiasm for his story, characters and readers is evident in every sentence. The action is ridiculous, but any reader from a confident 7 year old to a less confident 11 year old will recognise the types that inhabit most schools and enjoy the nonsense that occurs when you add an ostrich to the mix. Teachers will enjoy seeing the school inspector made ridiculous by Mad Iris. The text is easy to read and entertaining black and white illustrations appear every few pages. There are some (rather dull) activities at the end. I think this story would be hilarious read out loud over several sessions as well as being a popular addition to the class library.
Debra Holmes, English teacher, Sexey’s School, Bruton, Somerset

That Pesky Rat, written and illustrated by Lauren Child

Orchard Books ISBN 9781408337370 £6.99

Did you ever think you could feel sorry for a rat? Well, Lauren Child will tug at your heartstrings with her story of That Pesky Rat. He lives in a dustbin but all he longs for is to be loved as someone’s pet. He envies his friends and their seemingly pampered lifestyles, although on reflection he realises none of them would quite suit him. In desperation he puts an advert in the pet shop, hoping for an owner. Eventually Mr. Fortescue turns up and his poor eyesight saves the day. Misreading ‘rat’ for ‘cat’ he buys our hero and both live – of course – happily ever after. Lauren Child tells us on the inside flap that the book reflects her own time of being homeless and wishing to have a place of her own. 10% of each book sold is donated to St. Mungo’s Broadway, to aid their work in helping the homeless. A good story with a message worth discussing. Age Range 5 – 9.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor

Prehistoric Adventures: Stone Circles, John Malam

Wayland Books ISBN 9780750295833 £12.99

What an interesting and attractive book. From the simple yet effective way of differentiating Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age to the interesting selection of prehistoric monuments, this is an appealing and very readable look at one aspect of the Stone Age. The main focus is, as you would expect from the title, Stone Circles, and especially, but not exclusively, Stonehenge. The text explores the different periods of Stonehenge, the discussions about how Circles were built, and especially why they were built. Several options are explored, without definitively picking one. It is a real pleasure to see and read a book where history is a matter of debate and discussion, rather than a definite answer.

Design, appearance and language are all appropriate for key stage 2, and especially lower key stage 2 who are more likely to study the Stone Age. This will make an excellent resource book, or library book to help pupils explore the Stone Age. Companion books, which I have not seen, explore Burial Sites, Settlements and Hill Forts. If they are as good as this book they will make a terrific addition to resources for teachers.
Alf Wilkinson, The Historical Association

The Seal Children, Jackie Morris

Otter-Barry books ISBN 9781910959473 £12.99

What a joy to discover the republication of this glorious book in a beautiful cloth-bound hardback edition. Talented author and water-colourist, Jackie Morris, has relocated the Selkie myth about the seal wife from its more usual Scottish location to her Pembrokeshire coastal home. Instead of the Selkie's skin being hidden by her human lover to prevent her return to the sea, as in most legends, here it is given freely into the care of Ewan the fisherman as their love blossoms. Time passes and two children are born of this union. Eventually, the wife pines for the sea and is allowed to return, but when a stranger appears and beguiles the villagers with tales of prosperity in the New World, if only they can afford to relocate, the children remember their seal-mother's tales of riches beneath the ocean... Can she help them?

This is a haunting story about family love which transcends loss and separation. It touches upon economic migration, the strength of community and the loss of homeland. All this is wrapped in spare, beautifully lyrical prose and paintings in which you can smell the salty air, hear the wheeling gulls and glimpse a shining seal slip beneath the waves. Written at the time of her own marriage break-up, Morris has achieved a poignant authenticity to her tale, whilst also lacing it through with hope. What a wonderful addition to a classroom study of traditional tales throughout primary school, with depths to be plumbed for older children, including this stunning writing.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at CCCU

The Show Must Go On (Badly Drawn Beth), Knife and Packer

Orchard Books ISBN 9781408337776 £6.99

This is part of a series of ‘Badly Drawn Beth’ books which follow the adventures of heroine Beth as she copes with the everyday delights and disasters of childhood! The Show Must Go On depicts Beth’s trials and tribulations as she faces the impending embarrassment of a singing Dad, a Mum teaching at her school and a potentially evil childminder whilst preparing for a school talent show! The book is full of vibrant and comic-like illustrations and clever use of text font and size to help the story to leap out of the page. It is a very accessible text for those moving on to extended reading from early picture books and the humour and vibrant mood will make it very appealing to a wide audience. A great addition to a home collection particularly for more nervous readers as the imagery helps to guide the reader and illustration and text have equal weight. It could also be used as a stimulus for cross-curriculum work on literacy and art within the context of a fictional piece of writing.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

Superhero Street, Phil Earle, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Orion ISBN 9781444013887 £6.99

This is a very exciting and really quite busy and complicated story set in Storey Street (great for fans of Demolition Dad) and the moral is really very heart-warming: Sometimes, Mouse thought with a smile, you don’t need a cape to make you super…

Mouse’s home is loving but chaotic and he feels overlooked as his siblings are so demanding. He has to cope with bullying at school and wishes very much that he had a super power. This sounds rather serious but the book is a comedy with strong characters, a fast-paced, energetic ‘thriller’ storyline and a satisfying denouement. The language is pretty straightforward (although there is the odd, important word that will have to be looked up or checked with an adult: adversary, for example). Ogilvie’s illustrations are cheerfully comic-bookesque but usefully support the text by focussing on the facial expressions of the characters; the cover is full-colour and attractive. This would sit well in any key stage 2 classroom library. I suggest you buy Phil Earle’s Demolition Dad as well as we all know that children love sequels and series.
Debra Holmes, English teacher, Sexey’s School, Bruton, Somerset

Trickster, Tom Moorhouse

Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0192743992 £6.99

I was never a fan of rats. They conjure up the idea of fear in the hearts of many. For most people, they wouldn’t be the first choice for a children’s tale. However, Tom Moorhouse has crafted a story with a rat at the centre. Indeed the author has an academic background in ecology. The book tells the tale of Gabble who is the sensible, caring character and his loveable rogue of a brother, Ash, who is the complete opposite. Throughout, the description of the animals is astounding. I have used several passages to teach descriptive writing. It is quite simply magically. I loved the way that the story is based on the need to gain respect as part of the community. A real classic. It is a joy to read.
Matthew Wilson, key stage 2 teacher, St Paul’s CIW Primary, Cardiff

Unicorn in New York: Louie Lets Loose! Rachel Hamilton, illustrated by Oscar Armelles

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192744975 £5.99

I was, I will admit, a little unsure at first about a unicorn trying to be part of a performing arts school in New York. However, this is a very straight forward story that actually will really engage younger readers in Year 3 and some Year 4 readers who may struggle with some elements of reading. The words in the story are quite easy to decode. There are some really lovely images too in the story which bring it to life. The story is quite funny and made me laugh which is always a help when the book is aimed at a younger audience. A lovely introduction into independent reading.
Matthew Wilson, key stage 2 teacher, St Paul’s CIW Primary, Cardiff

Will & Nill, Farhad Hassanzadeh, translated by Azita Rassi, illustrated by Atieh Markazi

Tiny Owl Books ISBN 9781910328125 £12.99

This is a colourful and amusing tale of two street cats called Will and Nill as they consider how to best serve their two primary needs- finding food and sleeping! The illustrations in the story perfectly depict the lazy and dusky haze of a blisteringly hot day, and capture the dream-like state that the cats feel if they give in to napping in the stifling sun. Nill decides to give in to the heat of the day from the very first page. Will, however, believes that the best way to distract himself from the hunger and rumbles of his tummy is to play games – and soon ends up playing an unexpected game of hide and seek with a local sparrow! In a lovely twist in the tale, Will’s kindness towards the sparrow soon leads him to some tasty food and a contented sleep – whilst poor Nill’s stomach rumbles still! Told with wit and affection, the story portrays some simple truths whilst also probing the deeper questions – such as whether it is best to accept your days without question or take a different approach to change the course of your fate.

The book looks at the characteristics of cats, as well as qualities of human nature. Children will be drawn to the bold and vibrant illustrations, and will be amused at the wry and subtle humour of this friendship between two cats. There is opportunity for extending the learning through analysis of language (‘I’m so hungry I could…’) as well as by looking at the deeper themes which are embedded within this tale of friendship, persistence and how simply having fun can lead us to unexpected and joyful places.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg

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