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Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 1)

Marcello Mouse and the Masked Ball by Julie Monks 

It's been a long dark winter in Venice but spring has finally arrived and with it the Masked Ball. Marcello is really looking forward to it, but there's a problem - he hasn't been invited. Nothing daunted, he enters the ball, which is full of cats! But he has come prepared with a cunning disguise and all the cats are pleased to welcome him. Suddenly though, as he is enjoying the dance - DISASTER! Will Marcello become mice cream? Enjoy the surprise ending to this unusual picture book. Venice is beautifully depicted in the evocative illustrations and there is plenty for little eyes to enjoy. Flowing text and plenty of opportunities for sound effects and dramatic pauses, this is a lovely story to read aloud.

Wolf Won't Bite by Emily Gravett 

'Roll up! roll up! We have caught a wild wolf.' And just look at all the weird and wondeful things he can be made to do - but whatever he does, he won't bite.. or will he? The old story is turrned on its head in this story of the wolf and the three pigs... or is it? Marvel at the cheek of the three pigs and wonder whether they will get away with it. Minimal text and plenty of action in the pictures to tell the story.

How to Grow a Dinosaur by Caryl Hart

What an intriguing back cover to the book - 'Take one packet of dinosaur seeds...' How can anyone resist reading on to find out what happens? Albie is helping Mum in the garden and it all seems very boring - but when he wakes up next morning the garden has turned into a jungle. And that's not all - it's full of dinosaurs! A wonderful adventure in brilliant colour. The illustrations by Edward Eaves are really eye-catching and complement the excitement of the story excellently. A worthy successor to Supermarket Zoo.

Pirate House Swap by Abbie Longstaff

A house swap holiday doesn't seem that extraordinary, does it? The Clark family decide to do something different this summer - but didn't realise quite how different this would be! They set off and find, to their amazement, that their holiday home is a pirate ship.But the adventures going on at the Clark's house are even more extraordinary - just flap out the picture to see what's going on. Wonderful and the biggest surprise comes when the family return home. This book is great fun and there is lots to look at and enjoy. 

Don't Want to Go by Shirley Hughes

Wonderful! A new book by Shirley Hughes and this will be eagerly read by all her many fans. As always, she takes a common family situation and turns it into an enchanting and reassuring story, perfect for sharing and reading aloud. Just look at the expression of the face of the toddler, who doesn't want to go. But when Lily gets to Melanie's house, she finds it's not too bad after all. Wonderfully observed characters which will strike a chord with every family, this addresses the issues of insecurity felt by toddlers and addresses those concerns in an approachable and reassuring way. A lovely book which will deservedly become a favourite in many homes. Highly recommended. 

Poggle and the Treasure by Michael Evans

An eye-catching cover is a good introduction to this story - lots of textures for little fingers to explore. The star of the story is an adorable litte dragon called Poggle. Poggle and his friend Harry have had a lovely day of adventures on the beach - and then they find treasure! It is a giant egg and they decide to keep it warm and see what happens - but will they dare to look when it hatches? This is a lovely story with an unexpected ending. text and illustrations are cleverly interwoven, taking the reader through the story in a lovely way with lots of fascinating detail to enjoy.

 

Number Circus 1-10 and Back Again by Kveta Pacovska

A learn to count book packed full of interesting activities to capture children's attention. There are flaps to open, doors to see behind, holes to peep through, pull out zigzag numbers, interesting textures - and a mirror to see the most special person of all. The large format of this book gives plenty of opportunity for lots of detail whilst keeping the pages uncluttered. The vivid and quirky illustrations give plenty of opprotunity for question and discussion. Learning to count is reinforced by the fact that all the preceding numbers are included on each page. A lovely fun way to learn and very unusual - a refreshing change from the norm.

   

Charles Fuge's Astonishing Animal ABC

Wonderful alliterative flowing read-aloud text takes the reader through a wonderful array of weird and wonderful animals - a jolly jackal, a nasty narwhal and a worried walrus are just some of the lovely creatures we meet in this novel ABC book. The details in the pictures are absolutely fascinating - share these with your child and talk about what you see. These creatures really get up to some strange antics. I love the tortoise training the unicorn! Meet all the animals again on the penultimate page and see how many your little one can remember. Just who is the strange creature at the end? Beautiful, colourful and original and a book to go back to over and again.

 Quick, Slow, Mango by Anik McGrory

Kidogo's mum is always telling him to hurry up... Pole Pole's mum always tells him to slow down. But which way is best  -and, more importantly, which way is the best way to get breakfast? A lovely gentle tale, illustrated with really amusing illustrations filled with detail, which tell the story in themselves. Kidogo is floating peacefully in the river when he decides to make a dam across the river - and catches all the mangoes which impatient Pole Pole has knocked down. Not only does he catch mangoes but he catches Pole Pole too. A lovely story about doing things in your own time and getting there in the end.

Bumble: the Little Bear with BIG Ideas by  Marni McGee

Grandma has fallen and bumped her head and Bumble decides to be helpful to make her feel better. So...he picks every single flower in the garden. Oh dear! Then he decides to paint her front door...and do the washing up... but it all goes wrong for poor Bumble. The birds tell him she will be very cross but Grandma loves Bumble too much to be cross. The illustrations are enchanting  -absolutely zinging with colour. Two really loveable characters show us that love is all-important and the pictures really touch the heart.

Bravo! by Moni Port

Gecko Press pride themselves on 'Curiously good books from around the world'  and this title is another excellent example of their fulfilment of that aim. This gently humoprous story is about Helene  who does love her family, but she wishes her father was not so terribly LOUD. He is a shouter and it runs in the family. helena doesn't want to be a shouter so one day she packs her bags - and her trumpet - and leaves home. The family can't find her until one day they find out she is going to be at a concert - so they go, and at the end just one person shouted 'BRAVO'. This story conveys an important message for parents; listen to your children. Lovely illustrations by Philip Waechter are full of detail and complement the story wonderfully.

Fidgety Fish and Friends by Ruth Galloway & Paul Bright

A glittery cover gives this book instant appeal and the lovely glittery pictures continue throughout the book - an unexpected surprise and children will be thrilled. Fidgety Fish swims his way through the pages as he meets all sorts of wondrous sea creatures, each with its own lovely rhyme - can your child spot him on each page? How many seahorses can they count? A beautifully presented book which is out of the ordinary, made so by the fabulous illustrations - really attractive and great fun too. Plenty to capture children's attention.

I Spy Something Wonderful by David Conway

The heart-shaped cut-out draws you into this heart-warming tale - the perfect bedtime read, with another lovely heart-shaped cut-out inside - children will love these. The deer family are playing I-spy and there are plenty of opportunities for you and your child to join in the game through the enchanting illustrations. This is a lovely family story, to be shared by loving families everywhere - and at the end, baby deer finds the most wonderful thing of all. Can your child guess what it is?

The Amazing Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Proysen

The ever-popular Mrs Pepperpot is brought up to date for a new, younger market in this colourful book. Two stories, Mrs Pepperpot and the Treasure and Mrs Pepperpot and the Bazaar, draw children into the fantastic world of this lady whose habit of shrinking at unexpected moments gets her into all kinds of trouble. The vibrant illustrations show this lovely character both large and small and really bring her to life. Super to see these books brought to a new market, whi will hopefully grow into reading the full stories. A magical yet believable character, one of the classics of children's fiction.

Frank and Teddy make Friends by Louise Yates

Before you even open this book, show your child the fascinating cover picture and talk about it - full of interesting detail. Professor Frank Mouse is very clever and can make almost anything. He looks out of his window and longs to join in as he sees all the other creatures working together, but he is very shy. So, he decides to make himself his very own friend - but when Frank leaves Teddy on his own, teddy causes havoc and Frank sends him out............. But this is a story about true friendship, so it ends happily. Just look at Louise's illustrations - they are enthralling and full of the most wonderful touches of humour. A lovely book to share.

 

Star Friends by Tracey Corderoy

Ooogle-Doogle was very cautious - every morning he checked his bedroom to make sure there were no scaries there. Then he very neatly ate his breakfast, and played two games for exactly six minutes each. But his organised life suddenly changes when he meets Boogle. He finds out there is much more to life and learns to overcome his fears. A lovely, reassuring story for sharing, especially for rather timid children, highlighting the importance of friendship in helping to overcome fear of the unknown. Alison Edgson's expressive illustrations bring the story to life and draw us into the world of these charming friends. Tracey's books really express her love of story-telling and help to draw children into the magical world of books.

The Perfect Hug by Joanna Walsh

We all love hugs, so follow little Panda as he goes in search of the perfect hug - and finds it very close to home. As he searches, he meets all sorts of creatures - hug a snail or a boa constrictor, anyone? Lovely rhyming text flows through the story, linking the vivid illustrations, as Panda finds out that none of these hugs is quite right. Full of adorable animals - how many can your child name?Perfect bedtime reading - just make sure you end with a hug!

Millicent and Meer by Richard Byrne 

Meerkats are all the rage at the moment, so enjoy meeting some of these charming creatures in Millicent and Meer. Millicent finds Meer in a box labelled M-e-e-r-k-a-t and as she has always wanted a cat, she takes him home. But Meer keeps getting into trouble and seems unable to behave like a proper cat. Will meeting Marvin the cat and learning from him help Meer to become a proper cat? Then they find out where Meer really belongs - and Millicent gets a new friend. A lovely story of friendship, with fascinating detail in the absorbing pictures.

Itchy Bear by Neil Griffiths 

You really feel for poor Itchy Bear in this story - he is woken up from a lovely sleep by itching and desperately searches for somewhere to scratch. But every time he finds the perfect spot, he upsets another creature. 'Oh dear', 'Oh dear, oh dear'...what is he to do? Finally, he seems to have found the perfect spot...but has he? Judith Blake's bright illustrations convey the story beautifully. Hidden in the pictures are lots of little creatures - see how many your child can spot as you share this story, and increase your child's vocabulary and understanding of location - behind. on, under... This story also comes with a DVD to further extend enjoyment.

Where Have You Two Been? by Neil Griffiths

Can't you just imagine the exasperation  in their mothers' voices as Prickle and Antlery return home festooned with various bits and pieces they picked up during their race? Prickle challenged Antlery to a race and it seemed that the outcome would be a foregone conclusion - but that was before they encountered various obstacles on the way. I loved the pictures of Prickle rolling down the hill, almost hidden by leaves and Antlery draped with the contents of some poor person's washing line - such fun in these pictures. The humour will really appeal to children in this lovely story of a race for home. The illustrations by Janette Louden are full of detail to help children learn about the countryside.

There's a Spider in the Bath by Neil Griffiths

Stanley always has an excuse when it comes to bathtime, so his family don't take him too seriously when he says there is a spider in the bath. So fisrt his sister goes to look...then his mother... and finally his father, who gets a gigantic pop-up surprise! Perhaps bathtime had better be postponed... Perhaps, like Stanley, your child could draw some ideas to help the spider climb out of the bath? The repetitive vocabulary will help children become familiar with the words and they will read along with you and learn to recognise the words. Another lovely story book from Red Robin Books.

Ringo the Flamingo by Neil Griffiths

This is a beautifully written story which challenges our preconceptions about disability. Ringo's legs didn't work but the flock always took care of him and he always remained happy. One day, a fire swept across the lakeside and all the rest of the flamingoes flew off to safety, leaving Ringo behind.  But not only Ringo was left behind  - and he was the only one who could rescue the chick. A wonderful story of bravery with a touching ending showing how Ringo has a position of real value in the flock. The shiny pages and stunning illustrations make this a book to treasure - wonderfully produced. An excellent introduction to disability awareness and a thought-provoking story to share with all children and an example to us all.

Shaun the Shy Shark by Neil Griffiths

Like all Neil's stories, this is perfect for reading aloud and for sharing with a group.This would make an excellent assembly story on the theme of it is no bad thing to be different. Shaun does not live up to the expectation that sharks should be terrifying, so the other sharks shun his company. But Shaun swims oiff to the bottom of the sea, where he finds the perfect home. Much to his surprise, he makes lots of friends and loses some of his shyness. Beautiful seascape illustrations by Peggy Collins are packed with fascinating detail.

Dog Did It by Lynne Garner and Mike Brownlow

'Boris loves to eat green worm porridge...even though green worm porridge upsets his belly.' Just how it upsets it, you will find out in this picture book with its inevitable appeal to children who love 'toilet humour'. Poor dog gets the blame every time, but he didn't do anything...or did he? Boris learns that passing the blame doesn't always work.The illustrations by Mike Brownlow are full of gruesome detail which children will just love to spot. A hilarious story guaranteed to get children chuckling. Beware - you may be asked to read it over and over again!

Little Rex and the Big Roar by Ruth Symes and Sean Julian

The glowing, brilliantly detailed pictures by Sean Julian caught my eye as soon as I opened this book. Lovable little dinosaur Rex is portrayed with such character - I love his expressive face. The thing Rex likes to do best is ROAR, but his parents are always asking him to quieten down. Follow Rex as he plays with family and friends - and finally finds a use for his roar as he saves his family. Then they all learn to roar and life gets very noisy! Children love dinosaurs and there are plenty of different ones to spot in these vibrant illustrations.

Little Red Hood  by Marjolaine Leray

This is a completely new take on an old favourite. The bright red scribbled cover is the clue to what happens inside. The story is told purely through the medium of a red crayon, with a few black lines and a cut-down text in child's handwriting. It stars one very clever little girl, who turns the tables on the wolf very cleverly. It is translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone and is a real find - it's great to see good children's books from abroad brought to the British market. This unusual book is one of the first to be published by Phoenix Yard and bodes well for the future - welcome to the children's book publishing market.

Oh Dylan! by Tracey Corderoy

As soon as I picked this book up, I was entranced by the glittery daisy chain that draws you into and through the book - what a super device to capture children's attention. Join duckling Dylan and his three sisters as they head off for their first swim...but where's Dylan? This adorable little duckling has the best of intentions but he keeps getting lost, whilst his baby sisters are oh-so-good. A heartwarming story to read aloud and perfect for reassuring little ones that mummies always love their children, even if they sometimes get exasperated with them. Enjoy singing along with the  songs, which form an integral part of the flowing text. Beautiful illustrations by Tina Macnaughton perfectly capture the spirit of the story - I love the picture of the family (all except Dylan - where's Dylan?) at the tea table! A perfect story for sharing and unwinding at the end of a long, tiring day.

The Little White Owl by Tracey Corderoy

This is a really thought-provoking book, making us all, adults and children alike, think about our inclination to judge others on their outward appearances. The Little White Owl  may look plain and boring in comparison with his brightly coloured fellows, but he has the most wonderful fund of stories which amaze the other owls and, despite their initial resistance, they take him to their hearts. The story actually brought a tear to my eye at the end. The illustrations by Jane Chapman are fantastic - just look at all the owls huddled together on the tree - and can you believe the range of expressions on their faces? This would be a wonderful bedtime story to share with your child and would also be lovely to share with a class and as an assembly book.

I'm Me by Sara Sheridan

Imogen arrives at Auntie Sara's for the day and Auntie Sara is full of wonderful ideas as to who they should be. But Imogen says 'Hmmm, not today....today I just want to be...'. But before she can say who she wants to be, Auntie Sara has another exciting suggestion... but finally Imogen manages to get Auntie Sara to listen and they have a wonderful day doing just what Imogen wanted. Imogen is a very determined little girl and children will have great fun reading about all Auntie Sara's ideas and sharing them through the vivid illustrations by Margaret Chamberlain, which depict Sara and Imogen in all sorts of unlikely situations.

   

Peely Wally by Kali Stileman

Peely Wally lives at the very top of a very tall tree. Peely Wally lays an egg and then she shakes the branch...down falls the egg. In this brightly coloured story, your child can follow the adventuresof the egg by following the line past all the various animals who catch the egg, until...CRACK! Lots of different animals to talk about, and make sure your child spots the butterfly on every page. Great fun and the bright illustrations really jump out of the page at you - and there's a surprise at the end.

Fatou Fetch the Water by Neil Griffiths

An enchanting progressive story to read aloud and share with your child. Fatou sets off to the well, but along the way she is given lots of messages to remember. She remembers all the messages but somehow forgets the most important thing... A reassuring read - we have all been there, adults and children alike, and there is always a way to put mistakes right. An interesting insight into the world of The Gambia, the vivid illustrations take you right inside a Gambian village. Encourage your child to talk about the pictures and the life depicted. A two-page spread at the end supports and extends the information in the book, making this an ideal book for Foundation Stage and KS1 pupils learning about other countries.

Albert's Tuneful Trunk by Neil Griffiths

'Your trunk will stay curly if you're not careful' warned Albert's parents and uncle. But did he take any notice? No, just like most children, he didn't - he still wound his trunk around anything he could find to wind it around.  Guess what happened... but when all the other elephants laugh at him, Albert finds he can do a wonderful thing. The book includes a CD-ROM of the story, with music and dance and fun activities - a super way to extend the value and interest of this lovely story and give children hours of enjoyment.

Did You See Them Too? by Neil Griffiths

Another lovely story by Neil Griffiths for reading aloud. Neil has a passion for children's literature and story-telling and this shines through in his books. Use the pictures on the endpapers to encourage your child to tell you a story. A lovely rhyming story, with a storyline guaranteed to appeal to every imaginative child...did I see that...or didn't I? What do you think? Were they really there, or not? Look closely at the pictures and you will find the answer - great for encouraging observation. Plenty to talk about in this story and lots of new animals to meet. Find out more about Neil Griffiths' lovely books on the Red Robin Books website.

No Room for a Baby Roo! by Neil Griffiths

Baby Roo had the most comfortable pouch ever - and he wanted to tell all the other animals about it. A great idea - until he decided it was time for a rest. Can your child guess what had happened? Poor Baby Roo - what will he do? As your child enjoys this enchanting story, she will learn about some of the animals that live in Australia, and where they really like to make their homes. Flowing text and lovely, vibrant illustrations make this a super story for sharing, for bedtime and for role play with a group of children, each of whom can be one of the animals - and this can lead on to finding out more, too.

Winnie Wagtail by Neil Griffiths

An adorable puppy goes in search of other animals to see if they can help her learn to do the one thing ALL puppies do - to wag her tail. Follow her adventures as she tries to swish...twirl...twitch...her tail. Happily, there is one thing that can make her tail wag, without her even trying. The words in this story really flow making it the perfect read-aloud book. Repetitive text is perfect for young children just getting to grips with the wonderful world of words. Make sure you share the charming illustrations and the opportunities they give for discussion around the world of farm animals.

Sneezy Bear by Neil Griffiths

Poor Sneezy Bear - his tummy is rumbling and he is SO hungry, but everytime he spots something tasty to eat, he sneezes - with disastrous consequences. But there is a happy, if sticky ending for Bear, at least. Oh dear...oh dear, dear...oh dear, dear, dear...The simple storyline makes this an easy story for children to follow and it is wonderful for reading out loud - your child will just love to join in.  The story is brought to life by the vivid illustrations of Janette Louden, absolutely full of action and fun.

Naughty Nina by Juliet Mickelburgh

Nina is tired of being nice. Everyone says how nice she is and the more they say it, the less nice she feels. So, one day she decides to stop being Nice Nina and to start being Naughty Nina. It's fun to start with, and children will adore the naughty antics, but then being naughty starts to get boring too...so what should Nina do? A reassuring read showing children that just being ourself is the very best way to be. The illustrations by Anna Laura Cantone are full of interest and full of unusual detail and mixed media - they repay a really good look. Then, when you and your child have enjoyed the story, there's a fun dice game to play at the end. A great debut picture book for this author..

I Love My Mum by Sophie Piper

A book for your child to share with the best Mum in the world - you, of course. Find out why all the baby animals think their mum is the best and then find out why your child thinks you are the best! This is an enchanting story because mums are the best - and in so many ways. A reassuring story which gets to the heart of what mothers do. The illustrations by Melanie Mitchell are beautiful - they really show the love mothers have for their lttle ones. Lovely talking points, as you can ask your child what she thinks each mother does best as depicted in the pictures. I love the 'squishy' cover and the lovely pictures on the cover make this book stand out.

 

How Wet Can You Get (The Cat in the Hat) adapted by Tish Rabe

Sally and Nick have great fun playing outside in the rain - but just how are they going to get clean again? The animals have plenty of answers - they could try a dust bath, a mud bath, licking themselves clean....... all these ideas are great fun but will they actually work for them? The Cat in the Hat helps them learn how animals around the world get clean in a lovely rhyming story. Then see Sally's fun idea for getting herself and Nick clean. Can your child guess? A fun story to read aloud and then your child can enjoy the free stickers.

Princess Poppy: The Play by Janey Louise Jones

There is so much to do when Poppy decides to put on a play - but will it ever be staged? When I saw the title, I immediately thought of a precocious princess ordering people around - and that thought was right! But Poppy knows she can be a bit bossy (read the delightful letter from her, slotted into a little envelope on the first page) and she's happy to accept help from her friends and family. Poppy is an engaging character and I can see many little girls thinking 'Oh, that's a bit like me...'. a lovely story with believable characters and charming illustrations. I like the map at the front - encourage your child to find their way around. There are lots more stories about Poppy and you can join the fun on her website atwww.princesspoppy.com

Me and You by Anthony Browne

Mummy Bear made porridge for breakfast but it was too hot to eat, so the three bears went for a walk in the park. On the facing pages, another story is told in gentle sepia illustrations - I will leave you to guess the parallel story and its conclusion! But whatever you do, don't miss the detail in the pictures - for example, who is climbing out of the chimney? Anthony Browne is just outstanding and I was thrilled to review a new book by him - I have loved his books since reading them with my own children, and they would go back to them over and over again, finding new twists in the pictures every time. A thoughtful interpretation and another winner!

   

Mole's Babies by David Bedford

The cut-outs and shiny shapes on the cover will immediately appeal to little children, as they trace the shapes and then turn to the bright colour inside. Just like all parents, Morris the Mole wants to make his babies happy so he looks all around to see what others do to make their babies happy. Is hopping the answer? Or splashing... or flapping? But, oh dear, poor Morris can't do any of these things. Luckily, in this enchanting story, he finds out just what all babies need - and he has lots of that to give. A thoughtful story that puts priority on the most important thing - love. Each creature and family is beautifully depicted in exquisite drawings and collages by Rosalind Beardshaw. A lovely reassuring read to share with your young one.

Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child

There are always high expectations for a new book by Lauren Child, and this does not disappoint. The multi-award winning author has scored again with Slightly Invisible, which addresses the tricky problem of who Lola who wants to do everything big brother Charlie does -  including playing with his best friend Marv. Charlie loves his little sister and these books are wonderful examples for children of how to get on well with their siblings - something the best of us find hard at times! Charlie and Marv have a very ingenious solution - but you will have to read the book to find out if it works! A perfect story for sharing with your family, and great fun to read together. The use of language will really strike a chord with children, as it reflects the way they think and speak - very clever.

Zoe and Beans: Where is Binky Boo? by Chloe and Mick Inkpen

This is an enchanting story and a very reassuring read for toddlers who treasure their favourite toy. Beans is sulking because he has lost Binky Boo - he decides to 'borrow' Zoe's Molly but Zoe has to take Molly back because she gets VERY smelly!  What is to be done? Zoe loves Beans and doesn't want him to be sad and this is a lovely tale of the close relationship between Zoe and her dog. The charming illustrations will give your child clues to the words in the story and they will love to relate the story along with you. Enjoy the expressions on both Zoe and Bean's faces and share their emotions in this lovely book.

Who stole Mona Lisa?  by Ruthie Knapp

In 1911 what is probably the most famous painting in the world was stolen from the Louvre. In this lovely picture book, learn the story of the theft from the lady herself! We learn about the time she was painted, and how she was hung in the palaces of many kings. Finally, Napoleon gave her to the Louvre. But one day, a man came along and stole her. Where did she go and how did she get back?The story is beautifully told and you really get involved with the Mon Lisa as a character. The stunning illustrations by Jill McElmurry are crammed with fascinating and totally fascinating detail - they repay close study. A really unusual and enchanting retelling of a well-known story, which is great fun to read for all ages.

 Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson

The combination of Julia Donaldson and the illustrations of Nick Sharratt make this book a real wow! Follow the toddler as he takes his friends on a trip down to the end of the pier. Each one has its own distinctive sound, making this book a joy to read aloud - and I promise your little one will want to hear it over and over and will take great delight in echoing the noises - a super way to get children to interact with a book. Superb bright illustrations and the endearing toddler make this book really stand out.

 Dogs by Emily Gravett

Simple, uncluttered pages make this book a refreshing change from the 'busyness' of many books. Very simple text on a cream background with pastel-coloured illustrations leaves the reder free to enjoy the detailed pictures of the dogs, who are wonderfully expressive. I just love the hairy dog shaking himself! A lovely book for dog lovers and I hope will change the views of those who don't already love dogs! Emily Gravett is a Kate Greenaway Medal winner, so you can be sure her illustrations are top-notch. All finished off by little pictures to help you identify the dogs.

Grub in Love by Abi Burlingham and  Sarah Warburton

Ruby and her dog Grub were not happy when Billy moved in next door with his dog Tilly. Ruby decided that perhaps she could like Billy after all, but there was a big problem - Tilly and Grub don't seem to like each other..or do they? A lovely story which shows that the most important thing in families is love - a lesson children are never too young to learn - and demonstrates the value of friendship. The simple story, told in the words of Ruby, will have instant appeal to children. Really appealing characters, beautifully drawn by Sarah Warburton.

 The Heron and the Crane by John Yeoman

John Yeoman is a favourite of mine so it is good to see a new edition of this classic picture book. Crane lives at one end of the swamp and Heron at the other. Heron is lonely and decides to ask Crane to marry him - but one misunderstanding follows another. Will they ever sort themselves out? It may not be the ending you expect - but you must make up your own mind what happens. The text has me chuckling every time and the illustrations by Quentin Blake are the perfect accompaniment. Such lovely expressions on their faces! 

 Gracie the Lighthouse Cat by Ruth Brown

The first thing that struck me about this book was the fantastic quality of the illustrations. Perfect to echo the atmosphere of the story, the softly coloured pictures are absolutely crammed with delightful detail and are real works of art. The story echoes the tale of Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper's daughter whose bravery is still remembered. Can Gracie rescue her kitten from the sea? There is just enough text on each page to keep the attention and make children eager to turn over for more. A really beautiful book, with something new to look at every time you come back to it.

That's Not Funny! by Jeanne Willis 

From the eye-catching cover on, this book does not disappoint. It starts off with a joke which will appeal to children - a banana skin! Just like dominoes falling, the consequences go on and on and on....... Children will love to guess what might happen next, guaranteeing that their attention will be held. Hyene laughs at everyone's misfortunes, but in true storybook tradition, gets his come-uppance in the end. Adrian Reynolds' vivid illustrations are really fun and perfectly echo the 'accidents' that befall the animals. Great fun!

Monkey's Friends by Ruth Brown

This book is just that little bit different, with its half page turns and the clever juxtaposition of words and text which flow across the pages. Children will love to follow the clues in the pages as they look out to see who will be found next - a clever way to attract and keep attention as well as encouraging observation. Ruth Brown's wonderful illustrations make this a book to appeal across a wide range of ages. They are beautifully detailed and ideal for encouraging your child to talk about what they can see.  

Ribbit Rabbit by Candace Ryan 

Frog and Bunny are the best of friends - they do everything together. But sometimes they fight - over little things and big things. This is a lovely story of friendship, perfect for all best friends. It has a great read-aloud rhyming text: 'Ribbit Rabbit. Yip it. Yap it'. Mike Lowery's illustrations are clear and vibrant and every page is full colour - perfect to capture children's attention. As the back of the book says: 'Grip it, Grab it'!

The Perfect Pebble by Neil Irani

' ... because sometimes looking for something can be more fun than finding it.' This is another picture book which carries a really important message, put across in a lovely way. I think it is a lovely book to share with children, both on a superficial level as an enjoyable read and on a deeper level to learn what is really important in life. Every day, the friends had a wonderful time on the beach, looking for pebbels - but one day, they find the perfect pebble and then it all goes wrong............ Park Yun's enchanting illustrations are the perfect complement to the text.

Musgrove and the Giant Turnip  by Ilona Rodgers

This is a lovely book with an old-fashioned feel and appeal. Hermione finds a seed from a prize-winning turnip and she and Musgrove decide to plant it in Kensington Gardens. They find the perfect place, just behind the statue of Peter Pan. The turnip grows...... and it grows....... and it grows.....but will they ever get it out of the ground? They recruit a rag-bag of helpers and ... well, you will have to read the story to find out. Children and adults alike will revel in the humour of this gentle story. Make sure you take plenty of time to absorb the detail in the amusing illustrations, too. Look out for the rest of the series about Musgrove.

A is for Arabia by Julia Johnson

There are plenty of alphabet books around, so it is good to find one with a different focus. It is a lovely book to read aloud to younger ones, as the witty rhymes really flow off the tongue. These are complemented by the delicate colour illustrations by Emily Styles, which reflect the culture and incorporate the capital letters. I find the softness of the colours really appealing.  It is also suitable for seven years olds and over to read themselves, and is a lovely introduction to the Arabian world. A really attractive book.

The Pearl Diver by Julia Johnson

This book crosses a number of categories - it is picture book, story book and fact book. We are taken into the world of Saeed, who is only six, as he learns the traditional trade of pearl diving. He spends the whole summer out at sea with his father on a pearling dhow, and we learn about a way of life (often dangerous) which was hugely important in the Arabian Gulf. Share with Saeed as he learns about the wonders of the sea, and how it sustains the pearl fishers through the long months. The delicate watercolour illustrations are perfect for conveying the atmosphere at sea and really involve the reader in the story. This is an informative story and a lovely way to learn about pearl fishing.

Stan and Mabel by Jason Chapman 

'This is a story about a dog called Stan and a cat called Mabel.' Well, that doesn't sound anything unusual does it? Just wait until you read this charming book. Stan and Mabel are not enjoying life and the departure of the music lady is the last straw - they love their music so they decide to audition to be the greatest orchestra in the world, collecting all sorts of animal friends on the way. Follow their adventures as they journey to Milan. But it looks doomed to end in disappointment - but does it? The book is full of gentle humour right from the start, especially in the pictures - a good mix of colour and black and white. I just love the picture of them all on the plane - the detail is fascinating! A lovely story and the animals are just adorable. This will make you chuckle and feel good.

Batty by Sarah Dyer

What comes to mind when you think of bats? That's right - being upside down. So be prepared for a fun upside down experience when you enjoy this book. Batty tries his hardest to make himself as popular as the other animals at the zoo, but people just aren't interested. He tries to join the other animals but realises that it's just not for him - but when he gets back home, he finds he has got lots offriends. A gentle, charming story about friendship, perfect for sharing and discussing the pictures and the animals together. A picture book with a difference.

The Church Mice Adrift by Graham Oakley

The Church Mice series is a classic and it's good to see it reissued and brought to today's young readers. The Church Mice have to get rid of their enemies, so they hatch a cunning plan. It's all going well when suddenly things go horribly wrong. What will happen? The story is full of unexpected twists and there is humour to appeal to adults as well as children. This is a book to return to again and again as each re-reading will  bring new surprises, especially in the beautifully detailed pictures.This is a beautifully produced book, on thick creamy coloured paper and deserves a place on all children's bookshelves.

Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer

Look out Venice - Olivia is on her way! In her latest adventure, Olivia visits Venice - and is determined to take home a souvenir! The lovable little pig, now starring on Five's Milkshake!, takes us round the entrancing city of Venice in her own inimitable style - and eats most of the ice cream in the city on her way! Join the mischevious little pig on a gondola, admiring the architecture and feeding the pigeons and be drawn in by her bubbly enthusiasm for everything that happens - even airport security! Enjoy the sights of Venice with the wonderfully detailed illustrations in this book, which really bring the place alive. A wonderful book for lovers of Venice, young and old alike, and one to relish reading aloud over and over.

 When I Dream of ABC by Mr Henry Fisher

This is an alphabet book with a difference! Meet the inhabitants of an enchanted dreamworld in this wonderfully thought-out book. The vibrant illustrations are the perfect complement to the quirky words and are packed with intricate detail. I love the words - how about "It is very hard sleeping near a parrot because they never stop talking"? Lovely! And can you guess why a witch might have kitchen floors which are always messy? Every letter has an equally appealing and amusing text making this a book adults will not tire of reading aloud, and children will want to hear over and over again. The clear font means it is an easy read for children themselves, too. A beautifully presented book which is a real delight.

Ping and Pong Splash! by Amy Trevaskus

This is a great new series, perfect for your child to grow up with. One day, Lucy goes to wind up the clock in the hall, and finds a happy brother and sister living there. The stories show the importance of imaginary friends and how they can help children relate to their own worries. Ping and Pong are, like many brothers and sisters, very different - Pong is very confident and Ping needs reassurance. In this story, the friends go to the park and I feel that any child loving this book will imagine they have their own imaginary friends with them next time they go to the park. All the characters are really believable and likeable and children will readily identify with them. The gentle illustrations by Alison Heath bring the characters to life and are full of fascinating detail. I am really looking forward to reading more in the series  -10 books are promised. Read more about Ping and Pong.

Zou and the Box of Kisses by Michel Gay

When Zou sees his mother sewing on name tapes, the reality of sleeping away from  home suddenly hits him. "'Don't worry,' said Dad. 'We'll make a box of kisses you can take with you.'" When the little zebras are on the train, some of them are sad - but Zou has the answer. Through sharing, he makes lots of new friends and doesn't have time to miss mum and dad. This endearing story about a zebra will reassure all children about to stay away for the first time and it would be lovely to share this with your child well in advance so they too can be reassured - staying away for the first time is a real milestone in children's lives and this book will help to make it a positive experience. It helps parents, too, to emphasise with their child's feelings.The illustrations are soft and beautifully express the feelings of the zebras.

 Leah - the fairy of the Lime Tree by Nish Kissoon

This is a fairy tale set in the Caribbean which aims to teach children a few simple but very important lessons about life. Leah makes a simple mistake on the most important day of her school life, and loses her most treasured gift. What happens to fairies who tell lies? When she lies to her mother, Leah finds out the consequences and learns the importance of telling the truth. This is a charming story, with a strong moral message. This is more than just a picture book although the beautiful bold illustrations by Anna Kecskes complement the story and are fascinating in their detail. There is plenty of text and a real story to absorb and ponder over.

 The Grandparents by Bernard P Morgan

This is a charming tale about Josie and her family. Why do Josie's grandparents not want the family to visit? But they persist in visiting despite being unwelcome - and perhaps there is a message for all of us here. And when things go wrong, they still visit, showing the importance of caring for each other. Josie's love for her grandparents help overcome their troubles when they all join together. The comical dinosaur illustrations from Rikin Parekh enhance the story and offer talking points. A thought-provoking read.

The Beekeeper by Bernard P Morgan

"If someone treats you badly, don't do the same to him or her; treat them with kindness, as they are not your teachers".This is the moral behind this thought-provoking story. The Beekeeper is a timeless children's story about a Beekeeper and his nasty neighbour. The moral message is cleverly woven into a simple and fun story and the characters cpture the attention.  The Beekeeper is brought to life by Rikin Parekh's vivid illustrations making this an educational story that children will love to read.  It would be a good assembly/class story.

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate by Joy Cowley

This is a really unusual book with stunning illustrations by Sarah Davis. The Fierce Little Woman lives happily on her own at the end of the jetty. She never smiled, but that is all about to change! The Wicked Pirate is determined to get into her house - he tries the door, he tries the window and he even tries the hole through which the woman fishes. But will she let him in? This story will appeal equally to girls and boys, with two feisty characters to enjoy. The dramatic illustrations portray these characters beautifully and are full of quirky little details to draw the attention and give talking points.

Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schleffer

This inspired duo, creators of The Gruffalo, score again with this wonderful picture book, which will appeal equally to boys and girls, with both a dragon and a princess featured.  Julia Donaldson's flowing rhymes make this the perfect book for reading aloud. Zog tries hard to be a perfect dragon but something always goes wrong, until the little girl comes to his rescue. You'll have to read the story for yourself to find out why the princess doesn't want to be rescued. Axel Schaffer's detailed illustrations brilliantly capture the story and both words and pictures give plenty of 'hooks' for discussion and sharing. Galaxy National Book Awards Winner.

Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen

Red Ted and Crocodile find themsleves in the station Lost Property Office. Crocodile has been there for ages and thinks he will never be found, but brave Red Ted has other ideas.  Together, they escape and find a friendly cat who offers to help them. Follow their adventures and find out whether they find happiness again. This is a lovely heart-warming story of friendship and makes perfect bedtime reading. Revel in the detail of the illustrations, whilst never losing sight of Red Ted and Crocodile, who are depicted in colour against a charming sepia background. Children will have great fun spotting all the different toys that have been lost - lots to talk about.

The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris

The first thing that struck me about this book was the beautiful illustration on the cover and the rest of the book lived up to this promise. It is the tale of a bear-child stolen away from his mother and looked after by a hunter and his wife. When he is seven, he gets lost following a trail and is found by the bears. His hunter-father follows and vows to kill those who stole his child. I won't spoil the story - you must read the ending for yourself. But remember, the world we have is a wondrous place and we must take care of it to the best of our ability. This is a beautifully written story which draws us into the life of the bear-child and the dilemma he faces.

The Tale of Jack Frost by David Melling

One day, the creatures of the forest find a boy asleep in the snow. So magic is this forest, that even the trees 'shuffled forward for a better look.'  The creatures taught the boy all they knew - but he was always ice cold and everything he touched turmed to frost - so they called him (you guessed!) Jack Frost. But all is not well  - here come the goblins who live in the dank valley. Find out how Jack's magic defeats the goblins in this lovely story. You will certainly meet some weird and wonderful creatures in this vibrantly illustrated book and the detail is phenomenal. Make the most of the opportunity to discuss the pictures with your child - they will really feed the imagination. 

Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson 

Well, fancy that - Cactus Annie didn't want to be at Cowgirl School - how starnge is that? And why didn't she want to be there? She just couldn't get anything right. When she gets to school next day, she is the only one glad to find the cows have gone missing - but she is the one to find them and proves she can be as brave as anyone. I really enjoyed this unusual story and it is perfect for reading aloud - but don't forget to share the vibrant and detailed pictures with your child. A lovely way to share the thought that we can all succeed, however unlikely it may seem.

Roobarb and Custard: When Roobarb's Trousers Flew by Grange Calveley

Mogzilla Books bring you..........Roobarb and Custard! When Roobard decides to get rid of the bumps in the garden, he invents some trousers that help him hover. Can this be a recipe for disaster? It certainly sounds like it! It is amazing what can be done with a fur-drier (tat's a hair-drier to you and me!). Join all the friends as they have a wonderful time in the garden - until disaster strikes and Roobarb takes off......will they ever see him again? Great fun.

Roobard and Custard: When there was a Ballet by Grange Calveley

Another hilarious story from  Roobard, Custard and their friends, as they put on their version of 'Duck Pond on Ice'. And guess who takes the starring role? Why, it's Custard. Everyone takes part in the preparations and finally the audience arrive to take up their seats - what could go wrong? Plenty, with this lot involved. Enjoy this funny story and make sure you get the best out of the pictures which are full of interesting detail.

 Mr Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham

It's lovely to see this old favourite reissued, and this edition is accompanied by a CD read by Sylvester McCoy which, with its brilliant music and superb sound effects, really brings the story to life. One day, Mr Gumpy decides to go out in his boat but EVERYBODY wants to go out with him. He lets them all go long but on condition they behave themselves - the children must not squabble, the rabbit must not chase about............they are all very good to start with but then they all forgot their promises. I will leave you to guess what happens then! The gently coloured illustrations are really appealing and it is good to see this classic brought to a new generation.

Three by the Sea by Mini Grey 

Strange friends though they seem, dog, the cat and the mouse live happily in their house by the sea. That is, until a stranger blew in from the shore and invited himself into their house. It seems that, with his offer of free gifts from the Winds of Change Trading Company, that he will bring disruption to the happy household, but the story ends with a surprising twist. This is a lovely story about friendship and mking room for the thoughts of others. The story is full of gentle humour and encourages us all to think about how we do things - perhaps we could all make changes? The illustrations are packed with detail and almost tell the story by themselves - you will see something new each time you read this lovely story.

Vern and Lettuce by Sarah McIntyre

I was hooked as soon as  I started to read the adventures of lovable Vern the sheep and his best friend Lettuce the rabbit, not to mention her adorable, but very troublesome brood. Vern is the groundskeeper at Pickle Rye Park and his job is - what else could it be? - trimming the grass. But the moles seem intent of ruining his good work. Follow Vern and Lettuce in their bid for fame in the big city.The stories are all quite simple but the genius lies in the way they are presented in gentle comic strip format. Read very carefully to ensure you enjoy all the gentle puns, which are a wonderful feature of this book. Children who have followed the adventures in the weekly comic will be thrilled to have this big collection of stories. A wonderful gentle comic strip which has appeal for all ages. Take a look at the Vern and Lettuce website to enjoy the free activities and make your own contributions to The Pickle.

Ellie's bad hair day by Jerome Keane

Ellie knows what she likes - she likes Oscar - and she knows what she doesn't like - she really, really doesn't like her hair. So Ellie sets out with Oscar (her pet rabbit) to see if she can find someone with hair just like hers. But they get lost - will they ever be rescued and will Ellie come to terms with her colourful hair? This book is great fun and the wonderfully bright illustrations will entrance children. I like the use of different fonts and the dashed lines which draw you into and through the story. We are all individuals and this charming story shows the importance of being different. Children will love to go back again and again to this book. Find out more about Ellie and Oscar.

The Penguins of Madagascar

This is a charming set of six chunky board books, all packed into a slipcase - just perfect for little hands. Find out who lives in the zoo; who is leader of the penguins; who thinks he is in charge of the zoo; who has the brains; and who is the demolition expert. A lovely introduction to these popular characters.

Ruby's school walk by Kathryn White

Who do you meet on the way to school? Perhaps a cat, or a dog? Ruby meets a prowling tiger and mighty beasts. Will she ever get to school? As soon as I picked up this book and saw the endpapers in the form of a child's exercise book, I just knew this book was going to be great fun! Mum has a matter-of-fact explanation for everything but Ruby just knows there are dangers lurking everywhere. And when she gets to school she is reassured to know she will be doing all sorts of exciting things. A lovely warm, reassuring read for young children who all have imaginary fears. Vibrantly illustrated, and written with a real understanding of children, this is a super book to share with your child.

Driving my tractor by Jan Dobbins

Sing along with this charming story. The brilliantly coloured patchwork-style illustrations by David Sim are really beautiful and crammed with detail which will give you lots to talk about with your child. The author is a specialist in music education and this expertise has been put to good use in the combination of story and catchy sing-along CD (look out for others in the series too). Follow the farmer through a very busy day on the farm and learn about farm animals, farm vehicles and crops and seasons. A lot to pack into one book, but this books succeeds wonderfully. A great addition to any child's bookshelf.

The Beasties by Jenny Nimmo 

The first page of this story cleverly invites you in as you peep through the partly opened door and see Daisy in bed. Daisy lies awake, trying to get used to her big new bed in her big new bedroom, as Weevil, Floot and Ferdinand creep into the room..............and what could she hear? A story and next night, another story. Find out how The Beasties help Daisy settle into her new home through their stories. A charming, atmospheric and reassuring story perfect for bedtime reading. The wonderful use of language means you will have great fun reading this story out loud.. The beautifully detailed illustrations by Gwen Millward complement the story wonderfully and I love the way a completely different atmosphere is evoked by each of the stories.

Mouse trouble by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

Combining the writing talent of John Yeoman and the wonderful illustrations of Quentin Blake is inspired! This is the latest collaboration between the two and is at least as good as its predecessors.The mice are using the windmill as an enormous playground, with the millstone as a roundabout and the grain chute as a slide.The bad-tempered miller decides that he really must get rid of the mice, so gets a tabby cat. But the mice are quite safe as the cat is far too unfit to catch them. So the miller decides to drown the poor cat. Can the mice save him? The illustrations are superb - every mouse (and there are hundreds of them!) seems to have a different expression! This book should be in every home and school library.

The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy

This is a thought-provoking book telling the story of a girl's journey through life. As she prepared for bed, the girl would look out over the darkened town and wonder what life would bring. The book tells of how the girl, throughout her life, makes a clearing in the wood into a very special place. "Why?" you ask. Well, you must read the story to find out. The importance of family and the mystery of life are gently and sensitively explored in this book by the Poet Laureate. The simplicity of the monotone papercut illustrations by Rob Ryan adds greatly to the meaning of the book and close inspection reveals a wealth of detail. A timeless book to appeal to all ages.

More! by Peter Schossow

An enchanting, almost wordless, picture book in mini-hardback format. What happens when you lose your hat and chase after it? Why, you start to fly of course! Gecko Press issue 'Curiously good books from around the world' and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to tap into some of the great new books being released around the world. It's a super initiative and I hope that many more books are brought to the British market this way.

The search for Stinky Pond by Shibani Mohindra

As soon as I opened the envelope, I knew these books were something different! Young children will love these stories with the smelly stickers. The publisher reminds us ' The sense of smell....has been overtaken by the other senses. Our books bring a whole new dimension to the reading experience'. This novel idea is a great way to get children to enjoy books and learn that reading is really FUN. Children are encouraged to notice the smells all around, and to talk about them. Look out for 'Smell and tell' throughout the books - you'll be amazed at how realistic they are! And just imagine the children  -'phew', 'phoor', 'stinky'. Great fun  for everyone and a really unusual concept.

Mr Smith Invents a Robot (Adventures of Scratch Sniff and Mr Smith)
The Case of the Missing Garlic (Adventures of Scratch Sniff and Mr Smith)

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the really dreadful spell by Kristina Stephenson

What child can resist a book with a starring character called 'Stinky Socks'? And they won't be disappointed - this is a story to read over and over again. A wicked witch casts a spell and turns everyone to stone, but this story isn't predictable! What power will be mighty enough to break the spell? Why, none other than Sir Charlie Stinktsocks, of course. Can he get there in time and conquer all his foes? The vivid use of language is wonderful and makes this a fabulous story to read aloud. The colourful illustrations and open-out flaps will enchant children. There is an extra challenge - how many references to fairy tales can you and your child spot in the book?

Meg goes to bed by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

A new book in the Meg and Mog series is always to be welcomed, and we've waited 4 years for this one. The vibrant, bold but uncluttered illustrations are  perfect for capturing your little one's attention and give plenty to talk about. Meg makes a spell (hair of a yeti, anyone?) but it goes a bit wrong and supper wriggles away. So what do they do? What owls and cats are best at, of course - catch supper! Your child will love reading along with you - pounce, swoop, plop and whoops - all the sounds children will love to shout out as you reach that point in the story, which you will inevitably be reading over and over and over.......

Bear flies high by Michael Rosen

A new book by Michael Rosen is always eagerly anticipated and this is no exception! Bear wants to learn to fly and four friends make his dream come true, so follow them through their exciting day. Young children will love the rhythm of the story - 'Don't push! Don't push! Don't pushity push!' and I can guarantee you will be asked to read this over and over - but if you want a break, there is a super CD read by Michael Rosen which comes with the book.

 

Topsy and Tim: Start School by Jean Adamson

Topsy and Tim are always finding fun adventures in the real world, and this story is reassuring for young children having first experiences of their own. In Topsy and Tim: Start School follow Topsy and Tim as they learn where to hang their coats, find out all about the classroom and make new friends. A trusted and well-loved pair who can help guide parents and children through 'first experiences', Topsy and Tim books have been beautifully updated with contemporary artwork. Topsy & Tim remain instantly recognisable to parents while in a fresh style that will appeal to a new generation of fans. Also available in a story sticker book for added interaction.

Turn it up Doris by Sam Lloyd

This is a super concept, guaranteed to have instant appeal to young children.  The book contains a hand puppet as an integral part and the puppet can tell the story as you move page by page through the book.  Unlike her noisy big brother, Boris, Doris is very shy and quiet - will she ever be able to sing her song for everyone to hear? Find out how she finally learns to 'Turn it up' when Boris is in trouble. This is a great book for encouraging discussion - what does Doris need in her school bag? Great fun for bedtime reading. Look out for the others in the series.

Baby Ruby bawled by Malaika Rose Stanley

How can Ruby be stopped from crying? The whole family take it in turns to try their ideas but nothing worked....until Jake came along with his solution. What did he do? Read the story to find the surprise in the final picture. A lovely story about an extended family working together, which will appeal to all those who have ever wondered what to do with a bawling baby. 

Why can't I play? by Elizabeth Hawkins

Thomas and his friends played happily in the sandpit every day of the summer holidays until Becca came along, boasting about her wonderful house with a crocodile lake and a castle with turrets. But is it really like that? The friends find out when they are invited to Becca's party. A lovely story about friendship and sharing. 

Just Because by Rebecca Elliott

Toby loves his sister Clemmie, but he can't put into words exactly why - it's 'just because'. This is a lovely book to help children accept the differences between people and to help them learn that everyone is special. It is a heartwarming story of sibling love and will help all young children to understand and accept disability. The warmly colourful illustrations draw the reader into the story. This book deserves a place in all children's libraries and will be excellent in the classroom to enhance understanding.

The Day the Rains Fell by Anne Faundez

Lindiwe visits Earth to show her daughter Thandi all the beautiful plants and animals she has made. But when they arrive, they see wilted trees. They find soil that is dusty and lifeless. The animals are tired and thirsty. Lindiwe and Thandi must find a way to make Earth well again. The beautiful watercolour illustrations by Karin Littlewood really bring this book to life. Find out how the animals thanked Thandi by making her a glorious necklace.

Ella moves house by Angela Hassall

This is a lovely reassuring book, about how to adapt both to a new family and to a new home. Ella doesn't want to go to a new house with her mum and Joe but she comes to terms with the move when Joe saves her doll, Mollie, from............you will find out when you read this enchanting story with its vivid illustrations which are full of fascinating detail. 

Mrs Noah's Vegetable Ark by Elena Pasquali

Noah is busy building his ark and saving all the animals, but what about the plants? Mrs Noah  has spent years sowing, growing and tending her garden and all the plants will be washed away! So Mrs Noah begins to collect seeds and take cuttings which she plants on the ark. The result is a wonderful garden ark which  gives everyone plenty to eat, and means Mrs Noah has a head start in making the world green again. A lovely and novel twist on the story of the ark, this would make a super story for assemblies. 

Vile by Mark Robinson

The subtitle of this book is 'A cautionary tale for little monsters' and it will appeal to those who like Hilaire Belloc's cautionary tales. It sounds idyllic - attending the University of Vile, where naughtiness, mischief and rudeness are essential! Imagine going into the calssroom and the teacher encouraging you to make lots of noise. But not everyone can live up the the expectations - when two monsters learnt to cooperate, and went to the School of Manners, how did they fare?

Morris the mankiest monster by Giles Andreae 

This book is quite disgusting! If you enjoyed Fungus the Bogeyman, you will, without doubt, enjoy reading about Morris. Apparently, this book was turned down by 15 publishers before Random House were brave enough to publish it. Children will absolutely love it - I will leave adults to make up their own minds - but please don't read it at the dinner table! 'He sleeps in a bed of old compost, shovelled on lovely and thick. And when he gets up he goes into the bathroom.............' Well, that's a relief - or is it? I won't tell you what he does in there. The illustrations are wonderful - full of grisly details that children will adore, and they will delight in reading the story to you.

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