Up to age 5 (Reception/Foundation) 2018

reviews added august 13 2018 more reviews added November 2nd 2018

You Can’t Cuddle a Crocodile by Diana Hendry and Illustrated by Ed Eaves. Hachette/Hodder Children’s Books. ISBN 9781444924541 £12.99


A tale of childlike imagination and wild family life where the little sister rules the roost. The story is narrated by her older brother who, unusually in a family tale, is nameless throughout. Her Mum, Dad and brother seem to be at the mercy of the little girl’s imagination as she pretends to be a different animal on a daily basis causing mishap and mayhem as she swings round the house like a monkey, hugs ferociously like a bear, terrorises the poor postman with her lion prowling and roaring and ruins a cuddly bedtime story with her snapping crocodile jaws. There is, of course, a twist at the end which I won’t spoil for you here. The bright childlike caricatures jump from the page. At times the little girl as her animal character is only recognisable by her large red glasses. Animal loving children will get pleasure from reading this story just and it provides opportunities for discussion about animals, imagination and family life.

Jane Macleod

Nell & the Circus of Dreams by Nell Gifford and Briony May Smith

OUP ISBN 9780192765949   £11.99

Nell is a young girl whose mother is ill. Nell loses her pet chicken and finds the magical world of the circus. Superb illustrations recreate the circus of dreams, and repay close inspection. The cover of the book feels like linen and the gold lettering adds a special touch. Nell Gifford was the founder of Giffords Circus. and the reader shares Nell’s enchantment with  the circus tent and beyond. At the end of the book we question whether the story actually happened, or was it just a dream? Either way, the experience has changed Nell, and her life is enhanced by the power of her imagination as the circus of dreams “left a trail of ribbons and sequins” in Nell’s world. The book is sensitive and uplifting. Perfect for the classroom, and an ideal gift.

Brenda Marshall

Mole’s Star written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Orchard ISBN 9781408342831 £6.99

At night, Mole comes out of his burrow and gazes at the stars twinkling in the sky above. He sees a shooting star and wishes he could have all the stars in the sky. His wish is granted and Mole places them in his burrow. He enjoys the stars until he realises other creatures like deer, mouse, bear, fox and owl are all in darkness and miss the stars at night. Mole and the other animals put the stars back in the sky where they can be enjoyed by everyone. This is a gentle story about awe and wonder, living together, making a mistake, not thinking things through, empathy, community spirit and sharing the world’s resources. A beautiful book with magical illustrations that is highly recommended.

Brenda Marshall


Joseph’s Cradle written and illustrated by Jude Daly

Otter Barry Books ISBN:9781910959794 £11.99

This is the charming story of a cradle, carved from a much-loved village tree felled in a storm, in which each new-born in the village sleeps.  Their names are subsequently carved on the cradle’s side, recording several generations of village babies for posterity.  When disaster strikes and fire ravages the village, there is sadness that this tradition will have been lost – and subsequent joy when the cradle is found unharmed.  The story is based on a true one, the tradition of a village community in Victoria, Australia.  Jude Daly transposes the setting to rural South Africa, and the illustrations reflect the changing communities of Zulu villages, where traditional round houses are still found among more modern constructions.  A good addition to the EYFS library.

Liz Broad


Oi Duck-Billed Platypus! Kes Gray Illustrated by Jim Field

Hodder Children's Books (www.hachette.co.uk)    ISBN 9781444-937336     £6.99

The Gray/Field partnership have already delighted young readers with Oi Frog!, Oi Dog! and Oi Cat! where animals are given a rhyming item on which to sit, which is much funnier than would first appear.  This new title immediately alerts us to something different – Duck-Billed Platypus?  Whatever rhymes with that?  Or indeed Ostrich, or Hippopotamus, Ibex or lobster?  Well, nothing!  But Frog has a brainwave and asks the creatures about their first names instead.  Solution!  So Dolly the Platypus sits on a brolly, Kate the Kookaburra sits on a gate, while Jean the Jaguar sits on baked beans.  Frog finds something for all the impossibly named animals to sit on, until Geraldine the Kangaroo tells him all her many names. Frog’s response?  ‘Sit where you like!’  Children will enjoy offering their own suggestions for the rhymes, as well as joining in once they have heard the book.  A fun way to help young readers learn about rhyme, and some unusual animals! Age range: 2 to 5.



15 things NOT to do with a Puppy, Margaret Mc Allister, illustrated by Holly Sterling

Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781786030474 £11.99

This is the follow-up to the popular 15 things NOT to do with your Granny and 15 things NOT to do with a Baby. It is a charming book with child-friendly humour that teaches children how to look after a puppy. Don’t take your puppy hang-gliding, and Don’t teach your puppy to play the tuba or let her have the remote control. The end papers have delightful drawings of puppies in a child-like style and throughout the book the illustrations are fun and enhance the text. The final double page spread tells children how to nurture a puppy so she becomes a best friend. This is a warm-hearted book that is perfect for sharing with early years.

Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’, SATIPS Council’


ABC Mindful Me, written and illustrated by Christiane Engel

Quarto ISBN 9781633225114 £10.99

This is an ABC book which looks at the theme of Mindfulness. This is a topic which has been growing in importance over the last few years and it has been difficult to find materials that target the youngest children. The author has managed to find themes based around this concept, which relate to each letter of the alphabet, including Yoga and Zen. It is aimed at Nursery and Reception and it has been produced in the format of a board book. The illustrations are bright and manage to reflect the ideas that are being discussed on the page and there is plenty of opportunity for children to explore the pages and think about what is going on. There are only three lines of rhyming text per page, which makes this easy for a child to look at on their own, although it probably works better if there is an adult to help explain the concepts. The back of the book has a section which explains what we mean by Mindfulness and then there are examples of aids such as ‘Emotion Rocks’ and a ‘Thankfulness Tree’ that would be great to use with children. This is definitely an excellent addition to the classroom.
Margaret Pemberton, School Library Adviser

Am I Yours? Written and illustrated by Alex Latimer

OUP ISBN 9780192759467 £6.99

A gentle story about dinosaurs and belonging. A dinosaur egg is blown out of its nest and down a hill. It is lost and upset. Five different dinosaurs try to find out who the egg belongs to. We learn about the key characteristics of dinosaur species such as a Stegosaurus’ spikes and a Corythosaurus’ crest. Just as the egg hatches, the parents are discovered. Latimer’s illustrations are bright and eye-catching. The text is rhythmic and rhyming and reads well aloud. Children will enjoy joining in with the repeated refrain ‘What do you look like inside that shell? / I can’t see in so I can’t tell’. Perfect for sharing with children aged 2 to 6.

Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council


Can You See a Little Bear? James Mayhew, illustrated by Jackie Morris

Otter Barry Books ISBN 9781910959367 £12.99

A sumptuous picture book for sharing with a young child, Can You See a Little Bear? engagingly introduces the concepts of opposites and rhyming words which young children love to guess and join in with, whilst inviting them to ask imaginative questions. Each of Jackie Morris’ lavish illustrations has a depth of detail that enables the reader and listener to find new things at every viewing, which is very useful for encouraging descriptive language and observational skills. The simple text is well spaced and organised to encourage turn taking. A magical book for story corner learning and for bedtime sharing. Age range: 3 to 6

Helen Cook, retired KS2 teacher at St Illtyd’s Primary School, Llantwit Major

Chalkboard Alphabet, Walter Foster Jr.

Quarto Publishing Group USA ISBN 9781633223868 £7.99

This is basically an alphabet book with pictures to illustrate each letter of the alphabet, a funny sentence to capture the two letters shown on each page, for example, ‘Alligator rides a Bicycle. Cow jumps over the doughnut’ and two lines of blackboard at the bottom on which to practise writing the letters correctly. The book includes a set of four coloured chalks which are set into the board pages. It is an aid to learning the alphabet letters and sounds and a way to practise the formation of both upper and lower case letters which are both modelled on the pages. It might hold a child’s attention for a short time and the chalks are a novelty which would soon wear off and snap many times in the process, probably making grip of the implement and ease of use not conducive to good letter formation. It’s probably the teacher in me that is expressing the negative points. Maybe as a way to entertain young children on a car or train ride it might be fun for a while. It is sturdy and strong and the pages can be wiped clean and used again and again so when your own child has used it wipe it clean, buy some more chalk and pass it on to someone else.

Jane Macleod, Primary Teacher, Fairfield Primary, Penarth

A Dog with Nice Ears, Lauren Child

Orchard Books ISBN 97-1408346143 £6.99

Fans of the Charlie and Lola picture book series will be thrilled to read another episode in their lives. Charlie's narration always begins, 'I have this little sister Lola. She is small and very funny’. There follows much sibling dialogue, in this case on Lola's current obsession: dogs. They talk about what dog they would like, they pretend to be dogs, Lola has an imaginary dog and yet Mum and Dad have made it quite clear there will be no dog and that they will visit the pet shop at the weekend to choose a rabbit. Undaunted, Lola continues to plan her ideal dog - its name, its ears, tail, fur, bark and so on until the day comes. Remarkably, she does return with a sniffing, fluffy tailed, wiggly-nosed, hopping creature with nice ears which she calls Snowpuff. As always Child's genius is in creating the voice of the child. Lola is imaginative, comical yet earnest, but often with a five-year-old's literalness which is so endearing: ‘My dog must not catch fleas’, says Lola. He must catch sticks.’ Friends Marv and Lotta appear, but the pace and impetus of the storyline is not at all interrupted. The focus remains on the dog discussion. Children will enjoy sharing their own thoughts on dogs and pets as well as pondering if Lola was carefully engineering a shift in her thoughts towards a rabbit all along, or whether she remains oblivious right to the end. Child's trademark bright, bold illustrations and changes in font and print direction make this a story to interact with and savour in Early Years classrooms. Ge range: 3 to 7.

Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Emily Brown and Father Christmas, Cressida Cowell,illustrated by Neal Layton

Hachette Children’s ISBN 9781444941999 £12.99

A new addition to the Emily Brown series by well-known author Cressida Cowell (of How to Train your Dragon fame) and illustrator Neal Layton. It is Christmas Eve and Father Christmas is having all sorts of problems. Fortunately, he finds himself right outside Emily Brown’s bedroom and she and her rabbit, Stanley, come to the rescue. In desperately trying to become up-to-date with all sorts of gadgets and electronic gizmos, Father Christmas is finding everything is going wrong. But, as Emily Brown tells him, ‘Sometimes, the old ways are the best’, a sentiment many would echo, particularly adults trying to wean children away from screens and keyboards. Fuelling the imagination of the young, in this story we discover that magic works best, and that of course, Father Christmas is real. This is a feel-good tale with delightful illustrations that reminds us that ‘being kind and helpful to others is what Christmas is all about’. Age range 3 to 6.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor

Erik the Lone Wolf, Sarah Finan

Lincoln Children’s Books Quarto ISBN 9780178603108 £11.99

Erik is part of a wolf pack. He is growing up and does not like being told what to do. He feels trapped by the pack rules so he decides to go off on his own. Initially this is liberating, and Erik has fun. He climbs higher than ever before and skis as fast as he liked. He whizzes past a Danger sign and falls down to the bottom of any icy crevasse. Erik cannot free himself. The pack does not desert him and Erik is rescued. After his adventure, Erik appreciates the advantages of being part of the family. The illustrations are atmospheric and convey Eric’s emotions. We feel his tensions within the pack and Eric’s exhilaration when he is free. The double page spreads showing Erik falling, trying to get out, and howling for help are especially evocative, as are the depictions of Erik’s wait and his loneliness and worry. The final double page presents a scene of warmth and harmony. Age range: 2–5.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’, SATIPS Council’

How Rude! written and illustrated by Sarah Arnold

Otter Barry books ISBN 9781910959350 £11.99

Pig spots Mole beside the road with a large box and offers him a lift. When asked about the contents Mole’s retort is ‘NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!’ Pig considers this very rude and slams on his brakes, ejecting Mole from the car. Intrigued by the mysterious box Pig is joined by three friends who start to investigate and speculate about the contents. After Mole’s return he continues to tantalise and trick Pig and his friends, even locking them in the box. Finding himself alone and lonely Mole realises his mistake. He releases the friends and the story ends with apologies all round and the decision to have fun together. This appealing story with lively illustrations would make an engaging read aloud for Early Years children. The three friends’ attempts to find out what is in the box are very amusing. If you pause when sharing the book at key moments children can enjoy discussing what might be in the box and ways of finding out. With themes of sharing and courtesy the story provides the opportunity to discuss the animals’ behaviour, feelings and responses to each other.
Sue McGonigle, Independent Consultant and Co Creator of www.lovemybooks.co.uk

I Just Ate My Friend, Heidi McKinnon

Allen & Unwin ISBN 9781760634353 £11.99

An un-scary monster has just eaten his friend! This book is his search for someone to replace his friend – and shows how hard it can be to find friends sometimes. The illustrations are large, bold and very simple, filled with colour against bold black backgrounds. Does the monster find a new friend? Well, that would be a big plot spoiler. Perhaps the best use for this book is to underline the issues of not having any self-control and thus landing oneself in this predicament in the first place – good to start discussions of a serious subject from a simple and funny book. Age range: 2 to 5.
Tricia Adams, Past Chair, Youth Libraries Group CILIP

I Really Want That Unicorn, written and illustrated by Fabi Santiago

Orchard Books ISBN 9781408336908 £12.99

A fabulous, funny book about a talent show. Chloe Crocodile is desperate to win because she wants the Big Sparkly Mellow Yellow Unicorn. In order to succeed, she must make the best rainbow unicorn cake, the best magic castle, the best unicorn fairy costume and give the perfect performance on her unicycle. She is confident… until Veronica appears. Veronica also wants to win the Mellow Yellow Unicorn. The illustrations are hilarious, and the characterisation of the animals is superb, especially Miss Twinkletoes, who judges the competition. The story ends with a surprise and the message is that friendship is more important than anything else. Delightful reading for children aged 3 to 5.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Joy, Corrinne Averiss, illustrated by Isabelle Follath

Words and pictures ISBN 9781910277652 £11.99

Fern, a little girl who loves her Nanna, is very concerned when she discovers how ‘down’ she has become recently. Mum says it’s as if the joy has gone out of her life. So begins Fern’s mission to try to capture some of the things which engender that lovely ‘whoosh’ of joy and take them to Nanna. Unfortunately, a puppy’s bounce or a baby’s giggle won’t fit in her bag or butterfly net, so Fern herself is very down at the end of her visit to the park, as she feels a failure in her mission. What she learns, however, is that she herself brings her Nanna joy and that the shared experiences they have bring them both immense happiness. This gentle book is beautifully illustrated in watercolour, ink and pencil, often in double-page spreads, creating swathes of glorious colour for the ‘whoosh’ of joy and mute monochrome for downward mood turns. Depictions of Fern are full of expression so that the text, in its appealing font, and the pictures convey meaning in tandem. A great book for helping Reception and Y1 value relationships with grandparents and understand the effects they can have on other people.
Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Juniper Jupiter, written and illustrated by Lizzy Stewart

Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781786030238 £11.99

Juniper Jupiter is a little girl super-hero, but, as we are repeatedly told, ‘It’s no big deal’. Actually, maybe it is – we are, after all, used to our superheroes being mostly male. She has all the usual super-hero powers being super brave, super strong, super smart and can, of course, fly. But she realises she is lacking a side-kick, (that one will need explaining to young readers!). After many auditioning for the role, her faithful dog Peanut is the one who fits the bill perfectly. I have to admit that all the way through I thought that the androgynously illustrated single parent was going to be the chosen one, but I was wrong. It was only when I looked back, (as others will), that I realised the dog had been there all the time. Maybe there’s a message for us to look first to our nearest and dearest when we’re seeking a true friend. Age range: 2-5.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor

The Magic Garden, written and illustrated by Lemniscates

Quarto ISBN 9781633225138 £10.99

This is an enchanting story about recognizing the beauty that is to be found in the world around us. Chloe, the central character, lives in a home with a garden, but she has no real understanding of the things that are to be found there and how they can make us feel. One day she seems to hear the wind talking to her and showing her the magic that surrounds her. We are led through the varying seasons and see the animals and plants as they pass through the annual cycle of life and renewal. This is a beautiful introduction to the natural world and would be an ideal read in reception or even in nursery. The colours of the illustrations are clear but not too bright and the palette veers towards a strong use of blues, oranges and maroons. The front cover is truly lovely, with the use of gold lettering for the title and gold highlights in some of the images. The text is short and clear, giving introductions to the variety of life that we see in the garden. There is an overall calmness about the book, partially due to the white background but mainly because of the clear yet rather soft style of illustration. A nice touch at the end are the explanations about some of the animal behaviour that is shown in the story; a good mix of imagination and information.
Margaret Pemberton, School Library Adviser

Me and My Dad, Robin Shaw

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444928129 £6.99

A little girl goes for a walk with her dad. On the way she sees imaginary characters like crocodiles in puddles, R-R-ROARing trains over the viaduct, dinosaurs, a princess in an old building waiting to be rescued, tigers in forests in the potted plant shop, treasure in the pet shop and metal bins in the ironmongers that would make perfect spaceships. Dad is always by her side, encouraging her to move on, because ‘the best bit’s at the end’. This phrase is repeated throughout the book. Finally, the secret of the hot chocolate, snuggle and shared reading at Buntings Bookshop and café is revealed. This is an enchanting, warm hearted celebration of books and a child’s imagination, love and the wonderful relationship between an adult and child. The illustrations are rich, stunning, beautiful and gentle. An exceptional book from an acclaimed director of animations including Raymond Briggs's The Snowman and the Snowdog, Ethel & Ernest and We're Going on a Bear Hunt. Perfect for sharing with children of age 3 upwards at school or at home.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’, SATIPS Council’

The Mouse Who Wasn’t Scared, by Petr Horacek

Walker Books ISBN 9781406374575 £9.99

Little Mouse wants to go exploring in the woods. Although she is small, she is not scared of anything. We follow her encounters with a wolf, a bear, a moose, and a cat inside a little house. She is not frightened of any of the big, scary animals, but the small, fluffy ones worry her. This is a charming book with atmospheric illustrations that emphasise the size and aura of the animals compared to the mouse. The lifting of the flap in the house is very effective and creates suspense. The mouse is a good role model for younger children and the story provokes discussion about fear, self-esteem, exercising caution, and following friends’ advice. Highly recommended.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council’, SATIPS Council’

My First Day: Starting at nursery, step by step, Amber Stewart, illustrated by Layn Marlow

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192768520 £6.99

Puddle is a duckling who cannot wait to start nursery school and watches enviously as the older ducklings set off each morning with their important-looking backpacks – until the time comes for him to join them. The night before his first day, he suddenly gets cold feet and decides that he definitely can wait – until he is a very old duck. However, he is propelled towards the inevitable and we follow him through his first day. He finds a feather to remind him of his mother, she has packed his favourite lunch, and this paragon of virtue has also remembered his ‘cuddly’ for the post-prandial nap. There are a number of books on the market that serve a similar purpose, but this is a welcome addition, highlighting as it does the worries that many small children experience before ‘the big day’ and gently reassuring them that all will be well. It might also serve, through the narrative, to suggest strategies parents might adopt, but in case they are too subtle, there is a list at the end. A text that might also be a useful discussion starter for the nursery classroom to encourage pupils to talk about their own feelings.
Elizabeth Broad, former Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton and UKLA National Council

The New Baby and Me, Christine Kidney, illustrated by Hoda Haddadi

Tiny Owl ISBN 9781910328187 £12.99

A story about five brothers waiting for the arrival of a new baby in their family. The brothers are expecting another brother and are surprised when the new baby turns out to be a girl, leading them to wonder what she will be like, will enjoy doing and will grow up to be. This story explores the gender stereotypes that children may already have developed. It can be used to celebrate uniqueness and to foster and inspire an understanding that you can achieve whatever you want. The illustrations add to the charm and theme of individuality as they are cleverly collaged producing quirky characterisations and backdrop scenes. The book includes information about the artist and provides some lovely ideas for those children who are expecting a new baby in the family. Recommended for children 3 and up, and for parents and teachers.
Jane Macleod, Primary Teacher, Fairfield Primary, Penarth

Oi Cat! Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444932522 £6.99

This wonderful book from the team that created Oi Frog! And Oi Dog! has been issued in paperback. Frog has decided that cats should sit on gnats. Cat is not happy because gnats are “gnibbly” and bite him on the bottom. Dog tries to suggest other rhyming combinations, but to no avail. Then Dog has the inspired idea that Cat could be called mog. Possible rhymes are considered, and the ending comes as a surprise, enhanced by the clever double page pull out. The rhymes are terrific fun, especially the pony sitting on macaroni, the alpaca sitting on a cream cracker, and the armadillo sitting on a lovely soft comfy pillow. The text is enhanced by the colourful illustrations. This delightful book lends itself to being read aloud, and is a sure-fire hit with pre school children. Age range: 0 to 3.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

One Day, So Many Ways, Laura Hall, illustrated by Loris Lora

Lincoln Children’s Books ISBN 9781847809735 £14.99

A thought-provoking book that follows over 40 children round the world over 24 hours. It is fascinating to explore differences and similarities in everyday routines and ways of life. In the Outback, Australia, the children do not go to school because they live too far away. They listen to lessons on the radio, whereas in Hanoi, Vietnam, Linh and Son go to school six days a week, from Monday to Saturday. In Stone Town, Zanzibar Amina helps out by collecting firewood from the beach and forest, whereas Julio sweeps the floor of his hut and helps his parents gather food for dinner in the Amazon Rainforest, Peru. The text is enhanced by attractive retro style illustrations. In the Learn More section at the back, the reader is given a fact about a country, the flag and taught to say hello in the language. This is a book that will extend horizons, inspire curiosity and further research and promote diversity and empathy across the world. Ideal for 2 to 4-year-olds.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

The Only Lonely Panda, Jonny Lambert

Little Tiger ISBN 9781848690 £11.99

The lonely little Panda who bemoans the lack of a friend as he sits in the dewy forest at the start of the book, becomes an ever more endearingly comic character as the story progresses. He spies a female one day and racks his brains over how they might become friends, settling upon imitating what the other animals do around him. Thus we see him trying to dance on bamboo stilts like the graceful flamingos or bouncing and boinging like the sifakas. He tries strutting like a booby and attempts to pinch a peacock tail feather, but nothing succeeds, and he suffers endless comic indignities. Finally, it is the simplest solution which brings success: the straightforward sharing of bamboo. This tale which illustrates the timeless theme of the importance of friendship and of being yourself is played out on silvery grey pages from which leap gorgeous delicately drawn creatures amongst vibrant green bamboo. They appear to be a mix of painting and printing and the result is very fresh and appealing. The two pandas can be distinguished by different eye patch fur colours, but on some pages the lone Panda appears more than once as he rolls, dances and bounces. Very young readers might need support with this convention, otherwise I can see it being a popular tale in Early Years classrooms.
Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

Please Mr Magic Fish, written and illustrated by Jessica Souhami

Otter Barry Books ISBN 9781910959183 £11.99

A retelling of the traditional story of the fisherman and his wife, with, in the best oral tradition, an individual ‘take’ on the tale. The Grimm version focuses on the dissatisfied wife and a hen-pecked husband, never satisfied with the increasingly opulent lifestyle they wish for until in the end they find themselves back in their original hovel. Jessica Souhami has made both the husband and wife dissatisfied, and finishes with

Jack and Liz never saw the magic fish again. But I hope they caught lots of ordinary fish to sell at the market. And that they gradually became happy. What do you think?

To be honest, I have used an original version so often, complete with the refrain

Flounder, flounder in the sea
Hither quickly come to me.
For my wife, dame Isabel
Wishes what I dare not tell

that I found the rather more prosaic Please Mr Magic Fish, will you grant our dearest wish? less appealing, although it would still work as a point at which children could regularly join in. I am not altogether convinced that the alterations enhance the story, nor that they make sharing the book a richer experience, but the illustrations complement the text well and it may be that for those coming to the story for the first time, this version ticks all the right boxes. Age range: 4+.
Elizabeth Broad, forme rHead of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton and UKLA National Council member

The Queen’s Lift-Off, written and illustrated by Steve Antony

Hodder Children’s Books ISBN 9781444934212 £12.99

This is fourth in the ‘Queen’ collection of picture books by author/illustrator Steve Antony, following The Queen’s Hat, The Queen’s Handbag and The Queen’s Present. Through sparse, but well-chosen text, we follow the Queen’s unexpected trip through the solar system, until she is sucked into a black hole. Fortunately, she is rescued and gets home in time for, of course, afternoon tea. A clear black, white, grey and yellow palette complements the text. Her Majesty is accompanied on her journey by a corgi and an increasing number of spacemen. Where have they all come from? How are they travelling? Are they trying to rescue her? Do they get home too? We don’t know! If you go to www.steveantony.com you can find a list of 25 things to spot in the book, such as Laika the space dog, a face on Mars and the American Flag as well as some references to other books in the series. This adds to the fun, but it would have been good to have this at the end of the book itself. Age range: 3 to 6.
Pam Dowson, retired primary teacher and PGCE tutor

Ready to Ride, Sebastien Pelon

words and pictures ISBN 9781910277720 £11.99

A young boy is bored, and his mum tells him to go outside. A ‘ball of fur wearing a pink hat’ rides past and the boy hops on his bike and joins him. Although the boy talks to him, the friendly white creature does not speak. The creature eats the bike’s stabilisers and the boy experiences the joy of riding a ‘big boy’s bike’ for the first time. At the end of the journey the white creature has disappeared, but the boy feels confident because the creature has shown him the way. When he gets home he does not tell his mum about the furry friend. Perhaps he never existed at all. The boy has become a more confident rider and has grown up along the way. Bright pink colour threads through the imaginative illustrations. The back endpaper includes a certificate for a Super Cyclist. An unusual picture book about learning and independence that encourages a positive, can do attitude, and offers much for adults to discuss with children aged 3 to 7.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Rusty the Squeaky Robot, Neil Clark

words and pictures (Quarto Group) ISBN 9781910277515 £11.99

Rusty is a robot living far, far away on Planet Robotone. He squeaks, and he doesn’t like it. He squeaked in the daytime and squeaked through the night. He squeaked so much it gave him a fright. Then the chilling line, ‘If he couldn’t like his squeak, then he couldn’t like himself’. If ever there was a cue for a therapy session, this is surely it. Happily for Rusty, he has good friends. Belle, who was ‘cheery and bright’ sets off with him to meet up with Hoot, who honks, Twango, who twangs and Boom-Bot who…booms. With all this onomatopoeia coming together, it isn’t long before they are building a good robot tune and dancing to it. Accepting himself, Rusty finally declares, ‘It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to be me. My sound makes me special. That how we should all be’. This is a bright, breezy book with illustrations that positively pulse and vibrate with the movement in them, and of course, a perfect springboard into class discussion about self-confidence and acceptance of difference.
Elizabeth Broad, former Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton and UKLA National Council

Santa's Wonderful Workshop, Elys Dolan

OUP ISBN 9780192746177 £6.99

This book is enormous fun. We go into Santa’s workshop and see all the commotion. Santa and his elves are preparing for the busiest Christmas ever. Penguins join the team of elves and things become chaotic. A polar bear is brought in to deal with the penguins, but all does not go to plan in the toy factory. In the nick of time, almost everything is resolved. Each page bursts with colour and fun. My favourite illustrations are of Santa relaxing with the reindeer dance troop and all the pictures of the polar bear. Some of the speech bubbles are hilarious. This is a fantastic book for children aged 2+ and for anyone who is young at heart.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Super Frozen Magic Forest, Matty Long

OUP ISBN 9780192748607 £6.99

This is the third book in the Magic Forest series. It is winter and there is snow, ice and frost in the Super Happy Magic Forest. Our heroes – Blossom the unicorn, Trevor the mushroom, Hoofius the faun, Twinkle the fairy and Herbert the gnome – have to travel north to break the spell of the Snow Queen who has covered the Magic Forest in snow. Will they save the forest? The book is full of action with detailed, colourful illustrations, snowmen, humour and plenty of fun. A delightful fantasy that is highly recommended for children aged 2+.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Walker Books ISBN 9781406377873 £5.99

This is a tenth anniversary edition of the Mem Fox/Helen Oxenbury classic. A celebration of all things baby, and a timely reminder, if one were needed, of a book that is as near perfection it is possible to get. With patterned and predictable language, it is easily memorised by the smallest child: I know of several who have spent many an hour ‘reading’ it out loud to any captive audience, and I cherish the memory of two small boys in the hospital corner in their nursery sharing it with two very poorly teddies… It is the perfect springboard into discussions about families, siblings, similarities and differences. It takes genius to write what on the surface appears to be very simple rhythm and rhyme - and when Fox’s text is paired with Oxenbury’s delightful illustrations - you have a marriage made in heaven. Whether you purchase this as an anniversary board book or in paper format, the youngest pupils in your EYFS setting deserve to have access to it.
Elizabeth Broad, former Head of Primary ITT, University of Roehampton and UKLA National Council

The Way Home For Wolf, Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field

Orchard ISBN 9781408349205 £12.99

Set in the snowy Arctic, Wilf is a brave wolf cub. He is spirited and independent. When the wolf pack decides to move, Wilf is keen to lead the pack. The wolves say he will one day, but choose an elder for the task. As the journey gets tough, young Wilf falls behind and gets lost. He is helped by a narwal, a walrus, a musk-Ox, an Arctic Fox, a goose, and a bear-moth, and is returned to the pack, where he is cuddled and fussed over. Wilf learns an important lesson – there are times when we all need help from friends. He vows to help anyone he finds who has ‘strayed off their track’. The book has an important message – ‘when ALL come together/The darkest of times are easy to weather’. The text is beautifully written in a rhyming style. The illustrations are stunning. Highly recommended for children aged 2 – 5.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

Winnie and Wilbur The Monster Mystery, Valerie Thomas’ illustrated by Korky Paul

OUP ISBN 9780192766939 £11.99

Winnie and Wilbur notice a trail of footprints across the garden. Who has made them? They decide to investigate by going into the deep dark forest round their home. Hazards abound, and Winnie and Wilbur become separated. Wilbur meets big friendly hairy monsters with tiny feet. Winnie has to resort to magic to find Wilbur and ensure the pair exit the forest safely. Eventually Wilbur solves the mystery of the footprints. Korky Paul’s illustrations are detailed and delightful. This is an adventure story which children aged 2 upwards are bound to enjoy. Highly recommended.
Brenda Marshall, SATIPS Council

The Woollies Follow the Footprints, Kelly McKain, illustrated by Jon Stuart

Oxford University Press ISBN 9780192747846 £6.99

Zip, Bling, Puzzle and Baby are four knitted creatures who live in a knitted house in a park. On waking one day, Baby Woolly is captivated by a set of strange footprints. He and Zip decide to follow, but first they engage in what Woollies do best: 'imagi-knitting'. They can create anything they like from wool. In this case they choose to create their own monster feet to make footprints themselves. Puzzle and Blng, convinced the other two have been captured by monsters, engage in some pretty awesome imagi-knitting themselves to equip themselves for pursuit. Fortunately, the answer is much more prosaic than they feared and the friends are reunited safely. I am not sure about this picture book. There has been a resurgence in knitting over recent years and the idea of small woollen characters being able to create any contraption they can imagine - in wool - is, I suppose, engaging and amusing. The CGI artwork is certainly tremendous and creates a truly 3D effect, so that these creations live in the round. I'm just not sure that I find them appealing or the storyline particularly interesting. 3 to 5 year olds will probably like the idea of following footprints, but the plot does not develop much further. Also, what happened to the digger when the monster-catcher arrived? Are things 'unimagined' when not needed? I wasn't clear.
Sue Barrett, retired teacher and lecturer

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