Up to age 5 [Reception/Foundation] 2015

 

15 Things NOT to do with a baby, Margaret McAllister, illustrated by Holly Sterling

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847805065 £11.99

‘Congratulations. You now have a baby in your family. You will make each other very happy, but you must remember these simple rules...’ So begins this delightful book, tackling what for many young children is a momentous and difficult transition in life – the arrival of a sibling – with humour and a preposterous range of things not to do.

‘Don’t peg the baby on the washing line, or send him up in a hot air balloon. Don’t plant your baby in the garden, then forget where you left him.’ It allows young children to join in with their own ridiculous suggestions, whilst developing an understanding that this new family member is not actually going to be a playmate for quite some time to come. After fourteen prohibited actions, you will be pleased to know there are two double-page spreads of positives, finishing with ‘and most of all…give your baby lots and lots of love.’ Whilst this is a valuable addition to the EYFS bookshelf, part of me feels it would have been more memorable had the text rhymed – but perhaps a small quibble.
Elizabeth Broad, Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton
Online review 2015

The Adventures of a Royal Dog: Lupo and the Secret of Windsor Castle, Aby King

Hodder Children's Books ISBN 978-1444921441 £6.99

As everyone knows, Lupo is the cocker spaniel belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. What may not be so well-known, is that he and Prince George talk to each other in the nursery and that Lupo is a dog who clearly, if this first book in a proposed series is anything to go by, is going to keep getting into scrapes. The author has evidently done some homework: the royal corgis and dorgis in the book share the names of those listed as owned by the Queen in 2007, according to Wikipedia anyway. HM may not be aware of just how bad a dog Vulcan is – she may need to read it here - and may not be too thrilled at being described sitting up in bed in peach nightgown and curlers. There are some nice touches of humour – Mice Intelligence Section 5; the Pigeon who sits on top of the palace guard house tweeting his followers; an instruction to ignore the brown line on the network of secret underground tunnels (it only goes to the House of Commons and nothing but big rats there). There are some equally clunky parts: the Duchess ‘clapping her hands merrily’ in the nursery, Vulcan ‘hadn’t gotten away with it all’, liberal use of capital letters and some rather clumsy dialogue. But the plot rollicks along happily and there are some nice references to the story of George and the Dragon, together with the Sword of Ascalon.
Elizabeth Broad, Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton
Online review 2015

Aren't You Lucky! Catherine and Laurence Anholt

Red Fox ISBN 9781782952305 £ 6.99

This is a delightful picture book which explores the significant changes which come about in a young child's life with the arrival of a sibling. First it is the inexplicable waiting, then the arrival of something resembling 'a raspberry' has every grown-up telling you how lucky you are! How can that be, when Mum is now very busy, the baby makes a lot of noise and it cannot even be a playmate? The telling phrase, 'It took me a long time to get used to that baby', is borne out in the wonderfully evocative illustrations, often four little scenes on a page, each showing the confused, attention - seeking behaviour so often seen in new older brothers and sisters. Fortunately, Mummy soon has the brainwave of saying she needs someone to help her and luckily there is someone right on hand. In no time at all people are commenting on how lucky the baby is in his older sibling! This is such a sensitive and reassuring handling of this subject, that every classroom from Reception to Y2 should have one to explore at key times. This experienced husband and wife team are particularly skilled at writing about these important family events and the books are obviously rooted in their own experience. Children will find much to identify with and to discuss here.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

Betty Goes Bananas in Her Pyjamas, Steve Anthony

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192738189 £11.99

With its vibrant, glossy pages and exquisite illustrations, Betty Goes Bananas in Her Pyjamas perfectly captures the bedtime routines of many young children throughout the nation. The lovable gorilla Betty, who has many creative interests, does not want to go to bed and boy is she a procrastinator! The discussions provoked by this book will create a platform to talk about bedtime battles and tantrums. Repeated elements throughout enable young readers to participate in the storytelling. This interactivity would be ideal for a class or an adult led story telling session. Alternatively, young readers could independently sound out the words in this book, as the font is clear and legible. Large and smaller font sizes help the storyteller read the tale with expression, which brings the characters to life. Humorous, bright and inviting, this book should not be missed off of library, classroom and bedroom bookshelves.
Lauren M Freedman, key stage 2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.
Online review 2015

Boom, Baby, Boom Boom! Margaret Mahy, illustrations by Margaret Chamberlain

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847806062 £4.99

A fun-filled book of playful silliness full of the rhythmic verve and onomatopoetic sounds makes this read-aloud fresh for young children. Mama puts her baby daughter into the blue highchair and presents her with a delicious lunch: bread and honey, sweet apple slices, cheese, carrot, and lettuce. Thinking baby could not refuse such a tasty feast Mama then sits down at her drum kit, for beating her drums makes her feel ‘at ease with the world’. She doesn't know ‘that the animals were listening at the window’, and, ‘Boom-biddy-boom- biddy-boom-boom-boom!’ Closing her eyes while she goes to her own world of contentment, Mama doesn't see the animals trot in to the house. When baby drops the cheese to the floor, the yellow cat eats it up; the bread is shared with the brown dog with the ginger eyebrows; the lettuce goes to the black-faced sheep; and so on, until the whole lunch, to the accompaniment of Mama's drumbeat is eaten, but none of it by the baby. As the clever little baby sits back with a sense of achievement, Mama opens her eyes to the last beat, sighs, hugs and kisses her baby with delight to see all the food gone. Baby is rewarded with a banana- peeled and ready to eat and of course this time the baby ate it all up. “Boom-biddy-boom-biddy YUM YUM YUM!''

Margaret Chamberlain’s whimsical illustrations are a perfect blend of soft pastel hues and clear intense colors, bringing the personalities of the animals, Mama and the baby to life and paired with the writing of Mahy makes this book an enthusiastic and engaging read.
Eileen Mary Pike, teacher and Principal, St Oliver's National School, Carlingford, Ireland
Online review 2015

Cheer up your Teddy Bear Emily Brown, Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Neal Layton

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444923421 £6.99

Emily Brown is an imaginative, playful, optimistic, thoughtful little girl. She and her rabbit Stanley easily travel to the outback of Australia, Yellowstone National Park and the south of France, all without leaving the house. But none of these exciting adventures is able to cheer up her lonely, only tearful teddy bear who has been forgotten in her toy box. Wherever they go, he takes his own personal raincloud with him. Resourceful Emily shows amazing tolerance and patience to try to make him feel better, but nothing works until she decides that she’s had enough and opens her big red umbrella to protect them from the storm the bear has created. Then, as if by magic, not one, not two, but twelve other little teddy bears appear from the long grass, and the tearful teddy manages to change his frown into a smile, so he is happy at last. You can easily picture young listeners aged 3 to 6 making their own faces match the events of the story, and like Emily, eventually becoming not a little frustrated at the bear’s continued wailing. There’s lots to talk about with this story – one of four Emily Brown titles being currently re-issued – positivity, attachment to old and new toys, using the imagination, tolerance and caring for friends. Both author and illustrator have websites – www.cressidacowell.co.uk and www.neallayton.co.uk where you can find out more about their work, including the many awards each has gained.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2015

Chu’s First Day, Neil Gaiman, illustrations by Adam Rex

Bloomsbury ISBN 9780062371492 £10.99

Chu, the young panda, is about to start school and he is anxious. ‘Will they be nice?’ and ‘Will they like me?’ are his major preoccupations and he is not fully reassured by his parents’ answers. Nevertheless, the teacher has a friendly face, but when she asks each child in turn to say their name and one thing they can do, Chu’s eyes become bigger and bigger. They can all do amazing things like climb, or run fast or be funny, but what about Chu? Luckily, there is lots of chalk dust in the air and we soon witness his talent! The familiar subject of starting school is given a refreshingly new twist with Gaiman’s text focussing on the things we can already do when we start school. The wonderful illustrations by Adam Rex are integral to this tale, starting with the quirky addition of an aviator’s helmet atop Chu’s head! Each animal is given its own juvenile personality through the almost three-dimensional pictures and there is a telling contrast between all of them interacting confidently in ‘show-and-tell’, while Chu is shown isolated in white space on the opposite page, not saying anything. We are equally dependent on the two double page spreads showing the effects of Chu’s sneeze to gain reassurance that they have all reacted positively to him, because the narrative shifts rather abruptly to Chu after school with his parents. This is a tale 3-6 year olds will undoubtedly enjoy.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

Crikey and Cat, Chris McKimmie

Allen & Unwin (Murdoch Books) ISBN 9781743363638 £9.99

What is one to do when all of the stars disappear? Why, pop down to the local hardware store, buy a long ladder and replace them, of course. Crikey and Cat is a beautifully presented almost wordless picturebook which follows, at almost breakneck speed, the night-time adventures of Crikey, the dog, and Cat. What immediately strikes the reader is the artwork within the images. The illustrations are both bold and sparse in equal measures. There is something uniquely appealing about white space which surrounds a boldly painted image: the reader’s eye is encouraged to explore every tiny detail. There is also more than an echo of the artwork of Eric Carle: the colours, the brushstrokes and the occasional sense of the surreal. In many respects, this is a book of two halves. Through the first pages, the reader is immediately presented with the problem of the missing stars. This problem is solved, in the most practical way imaginable, when another is immediately presented. As with many wordless picturebooks, Crikey and Cat offers the reader the opportunity to make a carefully considered exploration of the images which provide the narrative structure and would, therefore, be perfect for encouraging small group book discussions for primary children.
Tracey Parvin, Senior Lecturer, Primary Education
Online review 2015

Derron goes to nursery school
Grandma comes to stay,           

both written and illustrated by Ifeoma Onyefulu

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847802521 & 9781847802514 £7.99 each

These two titles in the First Experiences series use photographs to show us common occurrences in a young child’s life. But the children in these two books, Derron and Stephanie, live in Ghana, West Africa. What we learn from travelling through their respective days is that experiences such as preparing for and starting school, and enjoying a visit from Grandma, are universal, it is only some of the details that differ. Both similarities and differences can stimulate thought and discussion. For children of West African heritage, there will be the celebration of their culture and the reassurance of familiarity or learning about a homeland they may never have seen, whilst for those having no knowledge or understanding of the wider world, the books offer a window for observation and learning. There may even be some eye-openers for a few adults!
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2015

Go Home Little One! Cate James

Words & Pictures, Quarto Publishing Group ISBN 9781910277126 £11.99

A beautiful hardback, this is the first book that artist Cate James has both written and illustrated. It is a lovingly crafted introduction to the seasons and woodland creatures native to the UK. Ideal for a younger audience, the pictures are vibrant and have a lovely tactile and ‘collage’ quality to them, which would also make them a perfect template for an art lesson. We are introduced on the first page to our main character Florence, a young hedgehog who is getting ready to hibernate for winter. Florence, however, is keen to discover what she might be missing out on when she hibernates, and so we follow her adventures with her two friends the squirrel twins, Harry and Barry, as she explores the woodlands through all the changing seasons. This book has a lovely page on which the four seasons are depicted side-by-side and it would therefore be a great introduction to this topic in the Foundation Phase – what are the differences in the four pictures? What is the same? Which is their favourite time of year and why? As the reader observes Florence and the twins staying out later than asked by their parents, it is also a good opportunity to talk to children about why it might be unwise to keep playing even though they are having so much fun! What dangers can the children spot in the forest? There are some lovely opportunities to look for creatures hiding behind trees and the mouse which appears on every page. There is also the chance to investigate seasonal foods as readers can try and identify what Mrs Hedgehog has prepared for supper before Florence and she get ready to hibernate through winter. This would make it a good book to read in the lead-up to the Harvest Festival or simply to look at the variety of flora and fauna in our woodlands – the perfect excuse to explore outside and perhaps take the class out for a Forest School lesson!
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

The Greedy Rainbow, Susan Chandler, illustrations by Sanja Rešček

QED Publishing ISBN 9781781716618 £4.99

This book tells the story of a jungle that loses its colours. A monkey finds a tiny rainbow hooked onto the tallest branch of a tree, and he thinks it so beautiful that he wants to share it with all his jungle friends. Unfortunately, everything the rainbow touches loses its colour, and so the jungle and all the animals in it are soon all grey. The rainbow sees how sad the animals all are and soon returns all the colours – though not in their original order! This story is a great introduction to the colours of the rainbow and would be particularly suitable for Foundation Phase. The tale also touches on themes of greed, friendship and kindness and would be a useful aid to provoke discussion during circle-time. As with all QED publications, the book also provides useful guidance for next steps that teachers and parents can take to get the most out of the book and could also be well used in art and literacy sessions.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Happy Birthday Nina! Anita Pouroulis, illustrated by Agata Krawczyk

Digital Leaf ISBN 9781909428577 £6.99

This is the latest in the ‘Jules, Nina and George’ series by award-winning author Anita Pouroulis. This is a very entertaining book for young readers age 4+ and humour is at the heart of this tale about a young girl Jules and her two dogs Nina and George. It’s Nina’s birthday, and Jules decides that dogs deserve to have birthday parties too! So she invites friends over to share in celebrations and offers the dogs all the elements that traditionally go into a brilliant birthday party – such as party hats, sweets and pass-the-parcel. The story is a very entertaining exploration of difference and would be a good basis for discussion for early years around pets and with older years about individuality and recognising and embracing our unique likes and dislikes whether we’re animals or people! The detail in the illustrations will also really appeal to more visual learners. On one page we have an example of the ‘dog record book’ which has information about the dog. Recreating one of these could be a fun exercise on factual writing and would offer plenty of opportunity for differentiating for a range of learning levels. Hot-desking could be used to bring more life to the dogs who could be acted out by children and interviewed about why they don’t like parties, and it would also be a fun tale to read for someone’s birthday. There is also an opportunity for some number work in the book as at the end of the story the reader is invited to find 25 butterflies – a nice touch for additional learning opportunities.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Hugo the Hare's Rainy Day, Jez Alborough

Red Fox ISBN 9781782951360 £7.99
Alborough is adept at creating endearing animal characters and enjoyable rhyming narratives. This book is no exception, with Hugo the hare having a hatred of getting wet and needing his friends to help him cope with an expected rainy day. Billy the goat tries to carry him under the one umbrella they share, to make themselves 'tall' in order to stay dry, but the resulting soaking as they attempt to rescue another friend is almost inevitable. Luckily Nat the cat is on hand to turn disaster into triumph, by joining in and demonstrating the fun to be had playing in puddles. The resourceful little cat even has a song about it which they and the reader can all sing. As the trio dry off in the sun, their friendship strengthened, they know they will never forget the day Hugo got wet.

The music for Nat's song is provided in the book and there is a helpful clip of Alborough singing it on YouTube. Reception classes will enjoy singing along with it as well as luxuriating in all the verbs for playing in the rain: 'sploshing ' in water that 'splished' and 'splashed'; the perfect context for differentiating between those medial phonemes. They will love the large, colourful illustrations with the differing viewpoints, along with the comically varied facial expressions. This is also a good book to encourage any reluctant children to put on their wellies and get out in those puddles!
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

I Have A Dog (an inconvenient dog), Charlotte Lance

Allen and Unwin ISBN 9781743317815 £9.99

This is a charming book that describes the highs and lows of the relationship between a child and his puppy. The simple text is enhanced by the accompanying illustrations showing what the dog is up to. There is humour, repetition and rhythm, so it is perfect for reading aloud, and children can join in. Highly recommended for early childhood readers and dog lovers of any age.
Brenda Marshall, Head of English, Port Regis, Motcombe Park, Shaftesbury
Online review 2015

The Lion who lost his ROAR, but learnt to draw, Paula Knight and Daniel Howarth

QED Publishing ISBN 9781781716625 £4.99

The Lion who lost his ROAR but learnt to draw is a fun, vibrant and appealing picture book which can be used to support many areas of learning in the early years. Telling the story of a young lion who learns a new skill, this book teaches the joy of trying something new. The illustrations are full of vivid colour and include a range of animated jungle characters. Children in the early years will delight in ‘reading’ the expressions of the creatures depicted. The bulk of the content is in the imagery, and so it is a great introduction to reading for KS1 pupils as much of the story can be interpreted from the pictures alone. The text makes great use of font size and style to further depict action and mood, and this could be discussed with children. The book would be useful in a literacy lesson, as it includes examples of alliteration and descriptive writing, as well as in SEAL, Circle Time or a Philosophy for Children session when making use of the ‘next steps’ page included at the back of the book for teachers and parents. It would further make a great exploratory text when introducing the topic of habitats or animals. A lovely addition to any nursery library and great value for further learning opportunities.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

My Life in Brazil, Patience Coster

Franklin Watts ISBN 9781445137360 £12.99

As one of a series of six featuring different countries, this beautifully presented book follows 10 year old Valentina through a day in her life. Each of the six titles presents a full cover smiling face of our child guide which would be very appealing to children, ideally Years 1-3. Using bright, large photographs and speech bubbles, snippets of information are given about school life, games, food, culture and geographical facts. The text is easy to read using a variety of fonts and a small clock at the top of each double page leads us through the day. This is a child-friendly resource, and a very interesting addition to the classroom.
Paul Jackson, Director of Education, SATIPS
Online review 2015

Nina and the Pretty Ballerina, Anita Pouroulis and Agata Krawczyk

Digital Leaf ISBN 9781909428591 £6.99

This is fourth and final book in the ‘Jules, Nina and George’ series by award-winning author Anita Pouroulis. This is a very entertaining book for young readers age 4+ and humour is at the heart of this tale of dressing-up. Jules is a young girl with two dogs – Nina and George. We are introduced to both dogs from the beginning, and Jules tells the readers about their different characters which make them so unique and undoubtedly very familiar to any children with dogs of their own! Jules decides that they both might get bored of being in the same ‘brown and white hair every day’ and so she finds outfits from her dressing up collection for them to wear. We follow Jules as she lets her imagination run wild and she chooses a ballerina outfit for Nina. This is a great opportunity to chat about what dogs need that humans don’t, and vice versa – do children think that pets need clothes too? For older children, it could even act as a starting point for a P4C discussion around identity and what clothes say about us. There is also a lovely additional activity which asks readers to spot all the caterpillars dotted around the story. This would be a fun story to be read at home or a for a Foundation Phase class looking for books on the theme of pets, particularly when bought in conjunction with the other books in the series.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Noni the pony goes to the beach, Alison Lester

Allen and Unwin ISBN 9781743311141 £10.99

Charming, stylised illustrations in a limited harmonious palette, from this experienced and popular Australian author, serve to compliment the equally charming rhyming tale of some animals' seaside visit. The cows are content to paddle and Coco the cat prefers to snooze on shore, but the prosaically named Dave the dog goes whale watching just a little too far out. How fortunate he is in his faithful pony friend, Noni, who comes to his rescue in the waves. Simple and effective, this is a book for the Early Years to enjoy, recite by heart and even make up further oral adventures for the trio. Is it just me though, who is annoyed by titles without the correct use of capital letters? It undoes such a lot of the good work done by teachers in early years classrooms!
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at CCCU
Online review 2015

One Hundred Bones, Yuval Zommer

Templar Publishing ISBN 9781783703517 £6.99

Who knew an unwanted, lonely, scruffy dog could turn out to be a palaeontologist, who makes the most extraordinary Jurassic discovery of all time? This heart-warming book draws some parallels with the ugly duckling, the underdog and the last to be picked for the team. Its message is one of resilience, exploration and true potential. Ideal for a confidence and self-esteem boost, this book would be suitable for both a classroom story and bedtime read. With its sketchy, mixed media illustrations, this book is eye-catching and may encourage children who struggle with reading to have a go. A double spread with classic images of London’s famous sights may make this book a good present to take to a child abroad. Scruff managed to find a new home, will this book find a home with you?
Lauren M. Freedman, key stage 2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.
Online review 2015

One Thousand Things, Anna Kövecses

Wide Eyed Editions ISBN 9781847806079 £12.99

This book is intended as a visual encyclopaedia of first words for young children to read, say and know. It is arranged in themes such as, 'Things to do with you', 'Things in Nature' and 'Things Inside Your House'. From the contents page readers are encouraged to spot a little mouse on each page, a sure-fire technique for encouraging novice reader engagement. The bold, geometric, simplified coloured illustrations are all on cream-coloured pages, and the final spread purporting to show 1,000 objects (I did not check), is reminiscent of charming Eastern European rustic style craft patterns or Christmas decorations. While the publicity material refers to 'contemporary minimalism' or 'appealing retro-modern illustration style', I found it confusingly simplistic for young children. It is virtually impossible for them to distinguish between 'hand' and 'fingers' for instance, many of the vegetables are unrecognisable, and the wonders of the undersea are on one of the drabbest pages imaginable. For me, what was hailed as 'upmarket format' with 'accessible artwork' fails dismally.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

Plane’s Royal Rescue, Peter Bently, illustrated by Bella Bee

Quarto Publishing Group ISBN 9781784930240 £9.99

Plane’s Royal Rescue, the newest edition to the Busy Wheels Series, features a vibrantly illustrated, child friendly plane. Its eye-catching illustrations, complete with the occasional koala, are a fun and enjoyable way for an early reader to learn about aviation. Throughout the book, a wide variety of technical aviation vocabulary such as cargo, runway and terminal are used. These unfamiliar, complex words are written in a slightly bigger font throughout to highlight their importance. This book would be an ideal for children who are about to embark on their first flight as it explains and illustrates each element of the journey in detail. Flying can be a strange and scary experience for someone of any age. This book takes away the unknown and may help anxious children feel calm about the journey ahead. In addition, this book would be a fantastic teaching tool in the early years and foundation stages.
Lauren M Freedman, key stage 2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.
Online review 2015

The Snake Who Says Shhh, Jodie Parachin, illustrations by Gill McLean

QED Publishing ISBN 978-1781716601 £4.99

This book is set in a bright and colourful jungle and tells the story of Seth the baby snake and the celebration of his birth. Seth doesn’t make the same noise as other snakes, and at first the other animals in the jungle tease him because he is different. As they discuss what gift to get Seth for his birthday, we are introduced to the variety of jungle animals and the sounds they make. Soon the animals learn that Seth’s difference is what makes him special. The story is another great celebration of individuality and touches on themes of parenthood, friendship and kindness. It would be a useful aid to initiate discussion during circle-time and P4C sessions and, as with all QED publications, provides useful guidance for next steps that teachers and parents can take to get the most from the themes of the book. There are opportunities to incorporate art lessons looking at all the different colours in the jungle, as well as an introduction to jungle animals which could lend itself well to some lovely role play and drama sessions. Foundation Phase children will particularly enjoy the bright and bold illustrations in this book and it would be a great tool to use in a phonics lesson introducing the ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sound. Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Spot the Snail in the Garden, Stella Maidment, illustrated by Emiliano Miligrado and Joelle Dreidemy

QED publishing ISBN 9781781716564 £4.99

One of a series of ‘Spot the…’ books, each double-page spread of this book is a scene in different parts of a garden, challenging children to find a variety of objects whilst offering opportunities for discovering new knowledge through what they see and talk about. The detailed illustrations use bold, intense colour. In fact, there’s so much going on that it’s quite difficult to find the objects you’re looking for, one of which is a snail hidden somewhere on each page. (It took me ages to spot the green tomato on the first page). Some children will delight in this quest, feeling a real sense of achievement when they finally track down the snail, the hamster, the grasshopper and the rest, whilst less patient souls could easily give up. This wouldn’t stop them enjoying what they do see, though, as there’s much to observe and talk about, especially in the night-time garden, a place few young children will have experienced. There are some extra facts and ideas for things to do at the end of the book. This could occupy children on rainy days or car journeys and may even interest some into becoming gardeners!
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2015

Too Hot for Spots, Mini Goss

Allen & Unwin ISBN 9781743435410 £9.99

Anyone who has ever played doctors, nurses and patients will relate to the fun and games of the imaginative play in this picture book. Barry feels really hot and 'yucky'. Fortunately, Stella is on hand to make him better. By donning a business shirt, working shoes and spectacles, she is now fully qualified to employ the contents of her doctor's bag on her unsuspecting friend! The tapping, prodding, bandaging and other coddling measures she employs manage to cure his 'bad case of the weasels' in time for him to sort out her 'chicken pops'!

Dressing up and imaginative play are truly celebrated in this text and the amusing characters are photographs of the knitted toys of real dogs created by the author. The font of the text itself is helpfully in two colours, one for each character, and resembles printed writing, with varied sizes and directionality on the page. It is a colourful and 'busy' book, but might be too 'hectic' for some pupils. Many children in Reception, however, will enjoy acting out the story and might even be able to devise other dressing up games for Barry and Stella.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

Very Little Cinderella, Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap

Random House ISBN 9780857534200 £11.99

The premise of this picture book is that a very little girl has a very big adventure and so the authors have looked to traditional tales to provide familiar stories with a slight twist. In this case, little Cinderella still lives with the ugly sisters, but instead of being cruel, they are more at a loss as to how to deal with a rather feisty toddler who answers back! While they go off to a party, the Fairy Godmother acts as babysitter, but she gives in to little Cinderella's tantrum and takes her to the party too. Choosing the dress was the best part of the book for me. Little Cinderella gets her own way and wears her blue dress, froggy coat and 'Lello boots'! The resolution still involves a small prince and a boot in this case, but the romance is a play date instead. This is a clever format and allows for plenty of future titles. Indeed, Very Little Red Riding Hood already exists. The illustration are bold and well integrated with the text, which makes plentiful use of bold and large print to indicate Cinderella's 'shouty' voice. Her way of speaking has all the hallmarks of early talking and children in Reception might well enjoy using their baby voices again as they enjoy this in shared reading. I can see this becoming popular, but for me it was all too 'twee'. I should have preferred this character in a setting of her own, instead of reducing such a classic tale in this way.
Sue Barrett, former primary deputy head and senior lecturer in Primary Education at Canterbury Christ Church University
Online review 2015

Victoria’s Day, written and illustrated by Maria de Fatima Campos

Frances Lincoln ISBN 9781847804242 £7.99

Just like many four year-olds, Victoria enjoys her day at nursery school. Photographs show her busily engaged in a range of activities with her friends such as baking, painting, playing outside and using the computer. After school she has a ballet lesson and her daddy takes her to feed the ducks in the local park and to buy vegetables for the evening meal on their way home. She then enjoys helping her mummy to prepare the food. But what makes this book different is that Victoria has Down’s syndrome. The fact that this is not mentioned in the text underlines the way in which Victoria is integrated into the everyday life of her peers. So the book could be used with young children simply as a shared experience of a child’s day, where no mention need be made of Victoria’s difference, treating her in just the same way as her friends. But there is also the opportunity to discuss Down’s syndrome in a positive light, both with those affected and those for whom this would be an unknown situation. A useful addition to the bookshelf either at home or school.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor
Online review 2015

What’s in Your Pocket? Ruth Symons and Laura Watkins

QED Publishing ISBN 9781781716908 £4.99

QED Publishing’s ‘Storytime’ range specialise in introducing young children to the pleasures of reading and sharing stories. Discussion points for parents and teachers are always included in the texts and provide great guided opportunities for extended learning. This book is a delightful tale about a young kangaroo named Josh who learns that he is going to become a brother for the first time. With soft, hand-drawn illustrations, the pictures beautifully evoke the gentle nature of this inquisitive young kangaroo as he learns more about what it means to be a family and welcome someone new into the home. We join Josh on his quest to discover what it is that his mother has in her pocket, and on his journey to find out he asks a number of his friends in the Australian wilderness. Each character we meet has a different idea of what the content of the pocket might be, and this makes the book a great tool for an interactive story-time, with plenty of opportunity for children to share ideas and feelings about what Josh might find. The text makes good use of font style and size to emphasise key parts of the tale, and so provides a useful introductory text to those learning to read. It is well structured and spaced, and would be useful as a learning tool in literacy, geography and in Circle Time or shared reading. A delightful book, particularly useful as a support to children about to become siblings for the first time.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Would You Rather… Have a Shark for a Sister or a Ray for a Brother? Camilla de la Bédoyère and Mel Howells

QED Publishing ISBN 9781784931940 £9.99

This is a very creatively written factual book about sharks. Children are invited to interact with the range of fascinating facts and figures within this book by being asked to pick which type of shark they would rather ‘look like’, ‘share a barbeque with’ and ‘have as a brother or sister’ as well as many more! This is a great way of helping to readers remember what they have learnt about this aquatic creature as the book is both brilliant fun and very amusing, and I am sure would keep children delighted many times over. It would be a perfect book to share with a reading partner, as they could take it in turns to do the asking and revealing, and also to share as a class. It would provide a lovely template for explorations into other types of animal or habitat, as children would relish the opportunity to come up with their own ‘Would You Rather…’ books. QED publishing has kept to their commitment of providing further learning opportunities at the end of the book too, which makes it a very practical teaching resource for supporting a range of learning styles and abilities. There are suggestions for four activities that could act as a follow-on to this book, so it is a great cross-curricular support which could be used in literacy, science, geography, art and maths lessons. A real all-rounder with bright and entertaining illustrations supporting the factual text, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this as a fantastic resource for the classroom.
Laura Davies, Project Development Coordinator for Fair Foundations, Chwarae Teg
Online review 2015

Yikes, Ticklysaurus, Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Sam Lloyd

Bloomsbury ISBN 9781408839706 £6.99

Humorous, bright and fun, Yikes, Ticklysaurus will certainly tickle the humours of children in the EYFS. With its bold, eye-catching illustrations, this book will be one of the first to be chosen off of the shelf. Its rhyming words are easy to learn and therefore add an element of interactivity and fun. Yikes, Ticklysaurus will indulge a young child’s fascination with the pre-historic era and dinosaurs. A good way to learn the names of different dinosaurs, this book beautifully illustrates a wide range of dinos from pterodactyls to the famous t-rex. Perfect for a school story time activity or a bedtime story, this versatile book will have your little ones in stitches.
Lauren M. Freedman, key stage 2 teacher, Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.
Online review 2015

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