Up to age 5 [Reception/Foundation] 2010

Mbobo Tree, Glenda Millard and Annie White

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847801197 £11.99

This is a truly stunning book. Mbobo Tree tells the story of Tiranamba Adesimbo Mbobo and her life in a far away village. From the start of this enchanting tale, the reader is gripped by a need to explain the mystery of the Mbobo tree and the authors tell the story very effectively. The text is beautifully written, with some of the most powerful descriptive writing I have read. Different parts of the year are used well to move the story forward and further describe different aspects of life in the village. The story imparts a message of bravery and respect for nature and the environment, which certainly impacts on the reader. There is also a clever link between the beginning and ending of the book which ties everything up neatly.

The story could be used very effectively in the classroom to inspire creative descriptive writing and it is a wonderful example of the legend genre. The illustrations are striking and really do the story justice – the colours are perfect. Mbobo Tree is a ‘must’ for any school and every teacher should have the opportunity to read and use such a fantastic book with their class.

Nick Ward, English 4-11 No. 42, Summer 2011

Music (Little Steps), Polly Goodman

Zero to Ten (www.evansbooks.co.uk) ISBN 9781840895902 £5.99

This is a successful board book that introduces children to making all kinds of music. The font stresses key words such as hands, feet, beat and click. I liked the page showing a guitar being strummed and the ‘Brinng!’ helps you hear the sound bounce off the page. The same is true of the ‘plink’ of the violin being plucked. The picture of the boy blowing the horn is full of enthusiasm as is the delight of the girl hitting the cymbal. This book would work well with Foundation Stage children and would encourage them to try out a variety of instruments and develop motor skills, listening skills and movement.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2010

Piglet’s Picnic, Jessica Souhami

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781845079765 £11.99

This book would be a useful teaching tool for children of reception age. The story is simple and offers opportunities for children to join in as they are listening to the story. However, the illustrations do not add any depth to the story and the choices of colours are misguided and are not easy on the eye. There is a lift-the-flap element to the book which appears half hearted as the flaps are difficult to see and unfold and when combined with the simplistic art work creates an overall feeling of cheapness.

This being said, it is an easy book to read and follow and opens many avenues for active learning, role play and discussion, for example sharing favourite foods and talking about likes and dislikes. Souhami’s classic retelling of folk tales offer a more interesting and varied read and are far more suited to her style of illustration. Piglet’s Picnic, despite having several positive aspects, does not reflect her ‘internationally renowned’ story telling status.
Lauren Rogers
Online review 2010

Rattle and Rap, Susan Steggall

Frances Lincoln Children's Books    ISBN 9781845077037    £11.99

Five year old Sam and his Mum described this picture book as 'a beautifully illustrated book that we enjoyed looking at together.' They found that the detail in each picture gave them plenty to talk about.

Rattle and Rap invites readers to share a family's train ride, from the purchase of their tickets to their destination. Each double page shows the train at a different stage of the journey, travelling through towns and tunnels and over bridges to reach the sea. Vivid illustrations bring each scene to life, giving extensive opportunity for discussion. The inside covers are a pastiche of road and station signs, all of which can be hunted for somewhere on the pages of the book.

The alliterative poem which accompanies the pictures is rhythmic and definitely benefits from being read aloud or with a partner, making this book suitable to share with pre-school and Early ears children. KS1 children would enjoy reading both words and images independently.

Gill Robins, English 4-11 Number 37, Autumn 2009

Silly Baby, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Frances Lincoln Children's Books    ISBN 9781845079512    £11.99

This is the next Silly book featuring Beth, following on from Silly Mummy, Silly Daddy and Silly School. Beth has a new baby brother who can’t walk, can’t talk and just cries and sleeps. Beth suffers agonies of sibling rivalry until Granny helps her to discover that the Baby might be silly, but he’s soft and cuddly, he can smile at her and, what’s more, he’s her brother.

Illustrations are bold and colourful and minimal text is easy for very young readers to join in with. It is ideal for any child trying to understand the arrival of a new baby in the family and would be suitable to read at home or in any Early Years context.

Gill Robins, 2011

Snail Trail, Jo Saxton

 Frances Lincoln  ISBN 9781847804235  £6.99

 Jo Saxton introduces young children to a range of modern art with this clear, original and lively text. We follow the friendly, art-loving snail – based on Matisse’s snail painting – and his silvery trail as he takes us on a journey and we encounter an exciting range of modern art from Pollock, Rothko, Mondrian, Dali, Picasso in addition to Matisse. Told through rhyme, I loved the simplicity of this book. When I shared ‘Snail Trail’ with my 4 – 5 year olds in our topic ‘Minibeasts’ the children engaged quickly in discussion about the artwork and they loved they colourful snail. An original and powerful introduction to the work of famous artists.

 Jo Kilpatrick    Online review, 2013

Very Tasty Vegetables, Bryony Jones Illustrated by Rebecca Fox

Zero to Ten (www.evansbooks.co.uk) ISBN 9781840896152 £5.99

I enjoyed this attractive board book. The cover is enticing and throughout the book high quality illustrations focus the reader’s attention on vegetables. There is humour and the light touch text makes the message accessible to very young readers. The double page about pumpkins clearly demonstrates the growth of the vegetable and then on the next page the leeks that grow upward are contrasted with carrots growing down. My favourite spread is one that features the shapes hiding inside vegetables where cross sections jump out of the page. I recommend this book very highly to Early Years readers and teachers. The wonder of vegetables is explored and there are opportunities for discussion of food, eating and nature.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2010



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