Ages 7-9 (Lower Key Stage 2) 2017

Discovery Atlas Travel the Whole World In One Book, Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Sara Lynn Cramb

QED  ISBN 9781784937805  £9.99

This is an attractive atlas pitched appropriately for younger KS2 children who are taken on a journey round the world. The book opens with a description of our world, an explanation of the atlas, and an explanation of biomes. Then there are maps of each continent showing natural features of the country and its plants and animals and information such as the country’s top people, food, sports and places to visit. Children enjoy the Fast Facts sections, and the pages have a good balance between bright pictures and written information.  At the end of the book there is Quiz Time with multiple choice questions, and a ‘Can you spot these pictures on the maps?’ These reinforce learning and encourage revisiting of pages. There is a contents page and an index. It is highly recommended, and excellent value.

Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Evie's Magic Bracelet The Silver Unicorn, Jessica Ennis-Hill in collaboration with Elen Caldecott, iIllustrated by Erica-Jane Waters

Hodder Children's Books  ISBN 9781444934397  £5.99

This is the first in a new series of seven books written by the famous sports star in collaboration with an established children's author. Although it deals with universal themes relevant to all children: the worries of starting a new school, concerns about being seen to be different and the importance of loyalty and friendship, the design of the book jacket means the appeal will be mainly for girls. Evie, just about to go to her new school, receives a mysterious parcel from her Jamaican grandmother. Soon it is clear that the magical properties of the parcel's contents give Evie a singular new talent, as well as the ability to see the magic which is there in positive human relationships all around us. So begin a number of adventures for Evie as she begins to build new friendships and to show her mettle. This is a magic story with a bit of a twist, which makes it all the more satisfying. Evie is a plucky little character with real determination. We meet Ryan and Isabelle, the friends she wins over, have a hazy notion about parents, teachers and loving grandmothers in the background, but essentially this is a world in which a child needs to demonstrate grit and self-reliance in order to succeed. As such, it should be both enjoyable and inspiring for able Y2 and lower KS2 girls who might enjoy it in paired or shared reading as it is well written (once past the somewhat overdone three similes in the first page and a half!) and with pace. The charming black and white illustrations will also support newly independent readers. This will, undoubtedly, prove to be a popular series and worthy of a World Book Day ambassador.

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Frankie’s Magic Football Mammoth Mayhem, Frank Lampard

Little, Brown Books For Young Readers  ISBN 9781510201125  £5.99

My class of 7 and 8 year olds have recently introduced me to Frank Lampard’s series of Frankie’s Magic Football books. In Mammoth Mayhem, Charlie, his pesky older brother, his friends and their dads are off to a campsite for some quality time with a sleepover to celebrate Father’s Day. Charlie possesses a battered, old football with magical powers and the magic begins soon after their arrival in the campsite. The adventurous children are transported back to The Stone Age where they meet a boy whose dad has gone missing. After their heroic rescue of the father, they are chased by a woolly mammoth, which returns to the campsite with them and causes havoc. They manage to conceal the huge beast and return him to his proper place in history and are eventually applauded for leading the adults to a cave full of prehistoric paintings, which include an image of 4 children and their amazing, talking dog. The text in this chapter book is large, with double spacing. In each chapter there are a few simple line drawn illustrations. This book is a perfect inclusion in the class library as a pleasure read or as a text for paired reading. It will really appeal to children aged 7-9, with an interest in sport, history and adventure stories.

Eadaoin Macauley KS1 Teacher, Co. Down, N. Ireland

How to be a Tiger, George Szirtes, iIllustrated by Tim Archibold

Otter-Barry  ISBN 9781910959206  £6.99

How to be a Tiger is a fabulous collection of light hearted, entertaining poems by the multi-award-winning poet, George Szirtes. Its simplicity and directness will appeal to all readers with themes ranging from the weather to animals. The title poem, with its rhyming style actually made us roar! There is certainly something for everyone here!  As part of the collection, Szirtes takes traditional stories and reworks them as charming, captivating poems. They could be used as a teaching tool, a perfect alternative to reading the well-known stories of Sleeping Beauty, the Emperor's New Clothes and Hansel and Gretel. What a great way to encourage reading for pleasure! With captivating illustrations, this collection of poems is brought to life. 'How to be a tiger' would be the perfect book for any confident lower KS2 readers who are interested in dipping their toes into poetry. A thoroughly engaging read!

Elizabeth J Berry

Message from the Moon and other poems, Hilda Offen

Troika Books  ISBN 97819090001430  £6.99

Following on from the success of Blue Balloons and Rabbit Ears this is another poetry collection for children of all ages. Mostly short poems, all illustrated by the author, covering a broad range of topics from Feathers and Fur to Dream-time, some are funny, some are silly and all show how to use language creatively. Good to use in the classrooms to tie in with different topics you might be teaching.

Helen Haynes

Rabbit and Bear: The Pest in the Nest, Julian Gough, illustrated by Jim Field

Hodder Children’s Books  ISBN 9781444934267  £9.99

This second outing for the lovable duo Rabbit and Bear is a testament to the success of their creation.  In this adventure, Rabbit wakes to the start of spring in a decidedly grumpy mood.  Every sound grates and irritates because, ‘peace and quiet,’ shouts Rabbit, ‘that's all I want.’  Thus bear's snoring, the appearance of Tortoise in his burrow and the arrival of a very busy woodpecker high in the trees pushes him to the very brink.  In amongst the myriad slapstick moments which happen to Rabbit, what wisdom can Bear offer her fizzing friend?  This delightfully humorous book with its brilliant monochrome and green illustrations on every page, is the perfect transition from picture books to more substantial reading for newly independent readers.  Its themes of friendship, tolerance and how a different perspective can enhance understanding are universal and increasingly relevant in classrooms where even our youngest pupils sometimes have anger management issues.

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Rocketful of Space, John Foster, illustrated by Korky Paul

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  ISBN 971847804860  £12.99

This latest collaboration between experienced poet and illustrator is a supersonic romp through creative wordplay about space.  Twenty-six poems from writers familiar and not introduce us to Spaceman McTavity, the mind-boggling menu from Greasy Pete's Space Take-Away, the worst monsters in the Universe such as the dreaded Drob of Drooble, while also introducing us to the rules of intergalactic Squibble-ball.  The  familiar cow from the nursery rhyme is no longer prepared to jump over the moon with a fish and a spoon, the witch on her supersonic broom made a cosmic mistake, but the outer space garage sale sounds out of  this world!  This collection is great fun, full of wonderful rhymes and fabulous made up words.  It also speaks to the techno-savvy youngsters in  classrooms today with the Email from the Space Hotel, Flurp Blurp's narrator who will ‘update my status very soon’, not to mention the Texter Terrestrial sending its outlandish squiggle texts.  Fun with language, combined with Paul's brilliantly original, colourful and outlandish illustrations make this a very appealing anthology for children in KS2.  Linked with Simon Bartram's Spaceman Bob books or Mini Grey's Traction Man, science topics on space too, there is a  huge amount of drama, creative and non-fiction writing which could be covered in a half term.  Getting children hooked into poetry is a  challenge, but I sometimes wonder why such anthologies cannot also include more sombre or thought-provoking poems.  Surely children can explore more than just fun and silliness?

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Spot the Mistake: Lands of Long Ago, Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley, illustrated by Frances Castle

Wide Eyed Editions  ISBN 9781847809636  £12.99

What a great idea, and what a lovely book. Take 10 ancient societies and draw a big double page spread illustrating the time/period/way of life. Insert 20 anomalies, or inappropriate historical items on each spread. Ask the children to find all the mistakes [they can always check the correct answers on the following page!]. This is a great way to help children discover a real sense of period, of what it was really like to live in the Stone Age, or Roman times. My children had great fun – and much laughter – as they found the mistakes; most were obvious but some much more testing. Having said all that, I do have a couple of minor quibbles with this book. One or two of the mistakes appear where the pages fold and are thus difficult to identify, even when I cheated and looked at the answer page. Six out of the ten societies figure in the 2014 National Curriculum for History for Key Stage 2 – it would have been easy to make all ten appropriate. But my biggest quibble is with the timeline contents page. It would have been so easy to make the timeline really accurate in order to give children a clear impression of who lived when, and in relation to other societies they have studied – that too is part of the ‘Big Picture’ of history children need to develop. Having said that I still think this deserves a place in every school history collection. Well done.

Alf Wilkinson, The Historical Association

What’s Where on Earth Atlas - The World As You Have Never Seen It Before

Dorling Kindersley  ISBN 9780241228371  £12.99

This is a stunning book that brings the world to life. There are specially commissioned 3-D maps and artworks. The books has sections on Early Earth, North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Polar regions, The oceans and a Reference section with a Glossary, Index. The reader is taken on a continent-by-continent world tour. There are themed maps for each continent on topics such as major geographical features, cities and monuments, populations and wildlife. Information is presented in a variety of formats including captions, bullet points, maps, diagrams, statistics, tables, coloured strips along the bottom of double pages, and satellite images taken at night. It is a fascinating reference and information book and is ideal for KS2.

Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

When I Coloured in the World, Ahmadreza Ahmadi, Illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi

Tiny Owl (  ISBN 9781910328224  £7.99

This is another simple and beautiful story where a child uses crayons to colour and change the world.  Each page the child uses a colour to turn something negative in the world into something positive: yellow turns despair into hope; silver turns drought into rain; purple turns crying into laughter; light blue turns war into peace and so it goes on page after page.  It is a message throughout that offers opportunities for discussion at each turn of the page with endless possibilities for children to use their own colours to create their own worlds of hope and a kinder place to be.  This is definitely a book I would use for philosophical enquiry and to encourage creativity.

Jo Bowers, Principal Lecturer, Cardiff Metropolitan University

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