Up to age 5 [Reception/Foundation] 2011

The Grizzly Bear With The Frizzly Hair, Sean Taylor, illustrated by Hannah Shaw

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847801449 £6.99

The story opens dramatically. The Grizzly Bear with the Frizzly Hair is bad-tempered and hungry. He is on the prowl for food because there is nothing to eat in the woods. He finds a rabbit and thinks he has found his snack, but the vulnerable rabbit cleverly turns the tables on him. The bear becomes a victim of his own greed and stupidity and is fooled by his own reflection. The author is a story teller and the book reads aloud especially well. Words are cleverly chosen and the use of rhyme and rhythm enhance the fun. The combination of text, illustration and layout is superb. Different fonts and capital letters are used effectively and sometimes text is presented at different angles on the page. Occasionally there are circular illustrations surrounded by text printed in a circle. The illustrations are superb - I particularly liked one which captured the vulnerability of the rabbit fishing with a carrot. The pictures of the bear’s facial expressions are very funny.

This book is highly recommended for sharing with Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Oliver, aged 4, said, ‘I loved the story, especially when the rabbit tricked the bear. I liked looking at the pictures. My best ones were when the rabbit was in the bear’s mouth and when the bear looked into the water. I liked stroking the papers at the front and back that looked like bear’s fur.’
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2011

Harry and the Dinosaurs First Sleepover, Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds

Puffin    ISBN 9780141327068   £10.99

Ian Whybrow's Harry and the Dinosaurs series are rightly popular with 3 to 5 year olds. In the latest book Harry and his dinosaurs stay at Jack's house. The boys and the dinosaurs explore the house and discover bats in the attic. Playing on a trampoline in the garden is great fun, as is the smell and texture of the tent. The double-page spread of the boys and the dinosaurs in the bath bursts with fun and excitement. At night the boys have great fun sharing toys and stories. Jack's mum intervenes to settle them down. The boys have trouble sleeping because it is too dark, even with the lucky light sabre on. Jack's dad says the tap, tapping against the window is probably leaves, not bats, but to allay their fears, the tent is put up in the bedroom and all the toys are given special jobs. Everyone has a great time and Harry decides to have more sleepovers.

The choice of subject and pitch of the book are perfect. It is an excellent portrayal of the excitement and fear of a sleepover in a strange house from packing and mum and dad's nerves through to Jack's dad's joke that the dinosaurs cannot understand. The illustrations convey a sense of exuberance, especially when the boys run up the stairs and bounce on the trampoline. An interesting discussion topic is provided by the reference to bats being a protected species. This book is highly recommended and will much be enjoyed by parents, carers, teachers and children. Harry's fans will not be disappointed.

Brenda Marshall, English 4-11 Number 40, Autumn 2010

Monster Day at Work, Sarah Dyer

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books   ISBN 9781847800695    £11.99

Monster has to go to work with Dad. After dressing, discovering why rush hour is so called and eating all the biscuits at the early morning meeting, Monster beats Dad on the computer before going off to lunch. After colouring in Dad’s charts, Monster takes a nap before braving the rush hour in the opposite direction. Much as he enjoyed taking his Dad to work, he decides to stay at home with Mum tomorrow, falling asleep in the linen basket whilst musing on how easy adult life is.  This is a charming view of adult life from a small monster’s ego-centric perspective. Illustrations are bold and colourful, with plenty to discuss on every page. It is ideal for reading to small children or for young readers to browse alone.

Gill Robins, 2011

Number Rhymes: Tens and Teens, Opal Dunn, illustrated by Hannah Shaw 

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  ISBN 9781847802309  £6.99

A picture book designed primarily for use in the classroom, Number Rhymes offers a helpful aid to foundation stage teachers in moving beyond first numbers to teens and counting in tens, and early addition and subtraction.  Brightly illustrated and with a mix of new and traditional rhymes, the book will appeal to children of this stage, both in a sharing situation and alone.  The rhymes and complementary pictures are divided into sections such as ‘In the Caribbean’ and ‘In the country’, with longer poems offered under their own titles, offering a form of narrative and setting to complement the focus on numbers.  The book promotes numerical learning for under sevens in a fun and engaging way, although both the ‘Tens and Teens’ subtitle and the ‘crack the code section’ on working out numbers above twelve are a little misleading at first as many of the early pages are devoted to the learning or revision of numbers under ten.  A useful and engaging book for Foundation stage children.

Kristina West    Online review 2012

Red Car, Red Bus, Susan Steggall

 Frances Lincoln   ISBN 9781847804259  £6.99

This simple story gently unfolds with its bold, clear, delightful illustrations which are bursting with colour and detail. We follow a red bus on its journey down the road and witness it being joined by a red car. . . and then a yellow car. . . and then a yellow van. . . and an orange van. . . until the road is filled with brightly coloured buses, vans, trucks, cars and bikes. The sparsely populated, wide open spaces become filled with houses and people and buildings as the traffic thickens. The details of the street scenes provide lots to talk, including the mother and her son who miss the bus but are rescued by a kind hearted stranger. Red Car, Red Bus will engage youngest readers and no doubt get them talking and thinking about vehicles and journeys.

 Jo Kilpatrick    Online review, 2013

Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son, written and illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

Frances Lincoln ISBN 978184780 £10.99

This beautifully illustrated book is a behind-the-scenes look at the conventional nursery rhyme of the same name. In bouncy rhyme we are invited (by the pig) to see what really happened and why Tom should commit such a heinous crime as pig stealing! Without giving the game away it turns out that Tom is more animal-lover than thief, who falls on his sword to protect his piggy friend. Lamont gives us new insight into the motives of the legendary scoundrel and it is an interesting spin on the original tale.

The book is short in length with limited text, which makes it most suitable for pre-school children. It has a clear and concise storyline with a touch of toilet-humour to boot, which always proves popular with the young reader! The rhyming couplets make it a comfortable read and add pace to the story, whilst the illustrations are engaging and focus the interest of the non-reader as they listen to the story read to them. Its simple language and rhyme also makes it accessible to new readers – a perfect story to read to younger siblings. Pricey, but an innovative and enjoyable book for parent and child alike.
Hannah Skottowe, Key Stage 2 and 3 teacher
Online review 2011

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