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From the author of There’s a Tiger in the Garden comes this funny adventure story. A delightful picture book about Matilda, who is neat and tidy and tends to want to be very straightforward and her annoying Dad, who always gets distracted by something, whatever he is doing. Matilda finds a treasure map and plans to go immediately to the spot marked by the X, but her father wants to accompany her – and in doing so they digress, but they see some amazing sea creatures, have an adventure with a whale and almost lose each other on the island, until they discover the treasure simultaneously. Beautiful illustrations in watercolour and pencil show us a fascinating array of wildlife in the sea and on the island. The story is told with simplicity and charm; emphasizing that even people we don’t always see eye-to-eye with can be great companions. A great way into a discussion about getting along with people who aren’t like you.
This book offers a fun and quirky introduction to famous artists, writers and scientists, via their pets. We learn a great deal about Sigmund Freud for example through the story of his beloved chow chow Jofi, who was present in his owner’s famous treatment rooms for seven years. Similarly, it’s much easier to identify with Isaac Newton once you know about his little dog, Diamond, or Henri Matisse as you learn about his cats Minouche, Coussi and la Puce. Some of the pets of course are interesting in their own right too – the crocodiles Dorothy Parker kept in her bath, or Charles Dickens’ talking raven Grip, who stars in Barnaby Rudge and also inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. There are full page illustrations of each pet and owner and opposite a page of lively, accessible information about the pair and their relationship. Unusual, handsomely illustrated and inspiring.
‘One day, we found an octopus/ had come to live on top of us.’ Those are the opening lines of this glorious picture book – how could you not want to know what happens next? The octopus itself is unmissable – huge and an eye-catching fluorescent orange colour – slightly non-plussed looking perched atop of a very neat little house. Some of the neighbours are not too welcoming, calling the fire brigade to try and force it off, fortunately with little success because once the children of the house and their friends start playing with the octopus, barriers are broken and the advantages of having an eight-legged chum become clear. Illustrator Steven Lenton rises brilliantly to all the challenges set by Peter Bently’s ingenious rhymes depicting the various ways in which the octopus helps around the house – often eight different activities at a time, plus one very special octo-tastic Christmas tree. Making friends has never been so much fun and it all comes to a wonderfully octopussy conclusion too. Fabulous!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2020 | A class trip to the art gallery inspires Luna and her friends in all kinds of ways. Seeing the amazing pictures by Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and many more they are transported into other worlds and given the opportunity to savour the colours and textures of some of the world’s greatest paintings. They are also encouraged to create their own pictures inspired by the range of images they see and the stories they tell. Luna loves the art - and loves sharing it with her mum who is a helper on the trip. But for some, the experience is more challenging. Can Luna help Finn engage with what he sees and find a way of expressing his feelings? She can and the day ends happily for all. Readers will love this introduction to art as enjoyed by Luna and her classmates.
Avocado is feeling just fine in the fruit and veg aisle at the supermarket - until a young customer asks a difficult question: Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? Avocado doesn't know the answer either - and the question won't seem to go away! A brilliantly funny book about identity and being confident in your own skin - featuring the world's most popular superfood!
Inspired by a fantastical world imagined by the authors’ twin daughters, this educational activity book is underpinned by a belief that “children, especially girls, learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills best when these skills are approached within a storytelling context”. This brightly illustrated book certainly fulfils its aim of introducing STEM skills in an imaginative, interactive way, and its main character’s infectious enthusiasm for all things scientific will surely inspire more girls to get into STEM subjects. Lilli loves nothing more than finding things that “challenge her curious, scientific mind”. One night she transforms into her superheroine persona and embarks on a quest to help her friend fly from WooWoo Land. Young readers are invited to join Lillicorn’s quest, solving ten STEM puzzles in her vibrant world. With an appealing rhyming text, and charm tokens to collect along the way, the clear design conveniently signposts the STEM skills nurtured by each activity (including pattern recognition, abstraction, structured problem solving, sequencing, spatial perception and sorting) without detracting from the puzzle-solving or story. In some ways, the book’s structure is reminiscent of a computer game, with prompts and well-timed narrative pauses that invite readers to get stuck into the self-contained, bite-sized activities. What’s more, the tone is warmly encouraging, with the text informing readers that Lillicorn needs their help. Once the quest is complete, the solutions can be checked at www.lillicorn.com, where questers can also download a certificate and unlock additional activities.
For those educators already teaching Forest School, it is packed with ideas and clever links to the curriculum, but it is also a perfect start for those venturing outdoors for the first time. It provides a well-structured scheme of work that is clear and undaunting. I think many of us are wary of outdoor educating for fear that we are not covering the curriculum adequately, or adhering to health and safety regulations sufficiently, but all that is done for you, it's brilliant. The book is ideal for those who want the entire curriculum prepared for them, but it is also set out in such a way that you can dip in and out, or add some ideas to existing plans. The book is worded in a very accessible way, relevant and progressive. It is very easy to use and includes all the plans, resources and considerations for each lesson, the entire curriculum is covered for both years 1&2, with ideas for whole class groups, paired and individual activities. This makes it ideal for any educational scenario, whether your school is embracing the entire concept or only running forest school as a voluntary club. I have already passed on the title to colleagues teaching outdoors and I know it will prove incredibly popular.
A globetrotting Penguin is the young reader’s tour guide as they explore the world and broadening a child’s horizons has never seemed more meaningful or relevant. 28 cities are explored within these pages- each city having its own double page spread. There has a been a commendable effort too, to ensure a good global spread of locations and cultures. Children will love pouring over the detail of the map and images of famous landmarks, museums and galleries and examples of food and culture which really bring the city alive and give a flavour of its history and development. The pages are colourful, but the soft tones mean that the pages do not appear too busy and the clever design and judicious use of text boxes does not overwhelm the reader. Each city has a basic fact box detailing the country, language, currency and population which makes for interesting comparisons. Young readers will also particularly enjoy the fun quizzes and games to test their knowledge and understanding. A valuable addition to classroom collections.
June 2020 Book of the Month | Check your bookshelves, everyone. We bet they’re full of books about bears, yes? Well it’s time to make room for books about alpacas, starting with this one about alpaca Alfonso! Alfonso loves a good story and when he realises that all his favourite books star bears, but don’t feature any alpacas at all, he sets out to change things. He persuades his friend Colin – a bear – to help, but succeeds only after energetically demonstrating just how great alpacas are. This has to be one of the liveliest picture books of the year, and Alfonso’s passion, enthusiasm and determination gleam from every page. While it makes for wonderful reading, it’s also saying something very important: everyone should see themselves represented in books, and all our reading experiences will be the better if they do. We were lucky enough to ask Emma a few questions about her wonderful picture books..find out more!
June 2020 Debut of the Month | This book takes a poetic look at what it means to be alive. Nuto is a debut author – a teacher in Tasmania, who asks some of the big questions about who we all are, about friendship and our place in the universe. It’s the sort of book that will be a bouncing off point for lots of discussions – but is presented in an accessible and colourful format. Charlotte Ager’s naïve style of illustration means it will appeal across the very young and the not so young. The bold illustrations offer colour and shade in big pictures. Starting with the big questions – that we are made of the stuff of stars, and that we are tiny in comparison to the universe, it goes on to show we have the means to explore, to be both positive and negative. It shows that though we are a small short-lived speck we have the ability to change the world for the better. There are some glorious illustrations – full of colour, detail and action, as well as others that are more contemplative. A good book to have in your classroom!
This is a poetic look at the history of natural hairstyles – and, through Sofia, we see children encouraged not to be afraid to be themselves. Every Sunday Sofia dreams as her Mum washes and styles her hair – and every style has a period and a cultural figure as an example of how styles and history sit together. Whilst feeling sleepy as her hair is done Sofia dream-travels to visit a Jamaican Rastafarian, an African ancestor and a Black Panther in Los Angeles. The poem takes on this journey through history and also beyond our world to the realisation that love of one another is the basis of all. The illustrations are bold and the fact that Tom Rawles is best known for album cover shows through his bold contemporary style. The publisher is a British Jamaican independent company – set up to bring to light some of the stories from the Caribbean and its peoples. It was founded in response to the need for diversity in publishing. I hope we see more from these publishers!
Written to be read aloud, The Ickabog is a fairy tale, set in an imaginary land, and is a complete stand-alone story unrelated to the author’s other work. It will appeal to children between the ages of 7 and 9 but can be enjoyed by the whole family. The story will be translated into a number of other languages, and made available on the website shortly after the English language version appears.