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Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 17)

 
These are richly illustrated books and they are not just for young readers.Although I have given the ages 2 to 5 as a rough guide, many will appeal to older children. Some are thought-provoking titles from which all ages can gain pleasure. You're never too old for a picture book! Plenty here for all ages to share and enjoy.

The most recent reviews are at the top of this page - so these are generally the most recently published books.

 

The Road Home by Katie Cotton

'This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home.' This poetic and gentle book looks at the hard work birds and animals must do to prepare themselves for winter. A bird flies off with her chick, a mouse builds a nest for her baby and rabbits free from hungry wolves. Tones in the delicate illustrations become more muted as winter progresses, effectively reflecting the tome of the story which ends on an upbeat note as the creatures acknowledge their need for one another. A poignant and beautifully told tale.
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I Promise by Zanib Mian

A touching and thought-provoking story about a young girl who goes through life seeing one promise after another broken. Even the man who promised to give her the world let her down. So the girl decides to make her own way around the world, and never to break her promises. Conveying a powerful message about being true to yourself, and to others, this is a warm, empowering and uplifting story with wonderfully emotive illustrations by Maria Migo. It is also a fascinating journey around the world and the story would make an excellent basis for a class project.

Hello, Mr Dodo by Nicholas John Frith

'Martha was cuckoo about birds' - and every day she looks for birds in her garden. One day, she gets a big surprise when a dodo turns up in her garden. She decides to keep him a secret - until the day comes when she slips up. Luckily, Martha is very resourceful and gets herself out of a tricky situation... and when she goes back to find the dodo, she gets another surprise! The retro-styled illustrations are really out-of-the-ordinary and give the book a lovely vintage feel. A charming story about friendship, loyalty and ingenuity.

Ten Little Monsters by Mike Brownlow

Ten little monsters have woken from their sleep - but life in the castle is far from safe. One by one, the little monsters are captured... but there's a far from scary surprise at the end! Another hilarious counting book from a talented pairing; the illustrations by Simon Rickerty are bright and bold but not at all scary. A great addition to the series, and perfect for Halloween.

Footloose by Kenny Loggins

"Footloose" is a song co-written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins from the 1984 film of the same name. In this book based on the song, zookeeper Jack joins the zoo animals in an all-night dance party. To add to the fun, the book includes a CD with new recordings by Kenny Loggins. Young and old can sing along to the classic hit with new lyrics, as well as a three-song medley families will love. With a great cast of characters and a lively text, this foot-tapping book and CD combo will have children dancing around the room.

Things That Go (My First Search and Find) by Neiko Ng

Search and Find books are a great way to enjoy books with your toddler; they are perfect for sharing and a good way to encourage conversation as well as learning to be observant. This large board book is full of vehicles, arranged in seven themed scenes - town, building site, park, farm, rescue, sea, up and away. The colourful tabs are perfect to help little fingers find the page they want, aided by the vehicle pictured on each. You and your child can explore the double-page scenes, spotting the vehicles pictures and named at the bottom of each page. There are questions on each page which are good for stimulating discussion. The pictures have plenty more to enjoy too, as the background for each set of vehicles is portrayed in detail, with plenty of lively characters going about their work. With a naughty French bulldog to spot throughout as well, there is plenty here for parents to talk about and return to again. Can your child spot Serge the bulldog on every page? It's quite a challenge! A lovely book.

Bears at the Beach by Emma Carlisle

Little Bear tells us all about his exciting trip to the beach with Mum and Dad. After lunch, he sets off to fly his kite - but loses his Mum and Dad. He looks everywhere on the busy beach and then - oh dear - he gets stuck. But the clever little Bear has a very good idea; who could miss a Bear with a kite? I love the illustrations which capture a day on the beach to perfection. Although this lovely story has a happy ending, when you share it with your child, please emphasise that little children and little bears should NEVER wander off from their parents.

Wings by Paul Stewart

Poor Penguin is left all alone as, sadly, he looks up and sees that the sky is full of birds, "I wish I could fly!" he says. He turns to his friends for help, but nothing they can do can get Penguin off the ground. Then they come up with a brilliant idea, and soon Penguin is soaring ... but oops, he lands in the ocean and he finds that he has a very special talent. I love this story, which is beautifully illustrated by Jane Porter - she depicts all the birds for us so well, and they are utterly delightful; my favourite picture is Owl giving Penguin a big hug. The story shows us how important supportive friends are, and how we all have a special talent, maybe an unexpected one. A lovely book.

One Cheetah, One Cherry by Jackie Morris

"One cherry, one cheetah Two dogs, two balls, one big, one small Three bears, three bowls, three silver spoons, four fine foxes strawberries sharing strawberries"... up to an unexpected ending at 10. Playful words, unexpected pairings and beautiful animal paintings combo=ine to bring us a very special counting book. The watercolour illustrations, each of which is a little work of art, are embellished with gold and silver leaf, and show us some lovely animals, including foxes, elephants, tigers, swans, mice and more. A beautiful book which takes counting books to a new dimension; one to pick up and pore over with delight.

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

A busy dog is on a mission to find her place in the world.Revel in the glorious illustrations of dogs who, all alike, have their lives mapped out, be they swimmers, sailors, scouts or soldiers. The understated humour is spot-on - everyone is the same except for one dog who doesn’t quite fit in. So she decides to leave town to find her place in the world. When she meets another 'Odd dog out', she comes to realise that there's nothing wrong with being different, and returns home, to where she belongs - as one who stands out from the crowd. It's so clever, and all goes to show that different is good. I love this - an outstanding picture book.

The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Princess and the Pea by Abie Longstaff

Kittie Lacey is the best hairdresser in all the land and she is very busy as princesses from all across the land flock to fairyland village for a chance to marry the prince - and the queen has a special test for them. But are the princesses doomed to be out of luck as Prince Peter meets chef Penelope? The princesses line up - but amongst them is a wicked witch; can Kittie get rid of her? Finally, when not one of the princesses detected the pea, along comes Penelope... and they all live happily ever after! Fairytale characters and references to familiar stories abound in this, the ninth story in the bestselling Fairytale Hairdresser series. It's a lovely series, and children will have hours of fun spotting all the fairytale references as they enjoy the story and pictures - and the glittery cover.

The New Libearian by Alison Donald

It's storytime at the library and everyone is ready - but the librarian is missing. The children set off in search of her and find themselves following some footprints until they find... a new librarian! He agrees to read a story - but it has to be a scary one; one about bears - because he is a bear. Finally, the real librarian turns out, a bit late because of an unfortunate accident... but when she starts to read the story of the Three Bears, one is missing... where could he be? A wonderfully imaginative story that shows the power of books, and the sheer joy that comes from reading and using imagination.

Mr Mustachio by Yasmin Finch

Mr Mustachio, who is very tall and very thin, thinks it is a lovely day for a picnic, so off he sets with his super-duper, curly-wurly moustache, of which he is very proud. But disaster strikes when he decides to play on the roundabout and the super-super, curly wurly moustache gets very, very stuck. It seems there will only be one solution after a number of people try in vain to help - his pride and joy must be cut off. Next day, he decides on a replacement... Great fun, and a story that will amuse children enormously as they share in Mr Mustachio's plight and enjoy the increasingly bizarre ways of untangling him.

Who What Where? by Olivier Tallec

This horizontal book is unusual and eye-catching. Every page poses a question - 'Who left a jacket at home? Who's looking in the mirror?'; on the same spread, another page includes an assortment of cute animals, one of which provides the answer to the question. You'll need your wits about you to spot the correct answer, and adults will find this as engrossing as children do. Children will learn early concepts such as expressions and positions as they hunt for clues. You'll be pleased to know the answers are at the back! It's a fun book, very attractive, and one that will have readers young and old seeking out the answers.

Midnight at the Zoo by Faye Hanson

Max and Mia were very excited about their school trip to the zoo; and the animal similes flow thick and fast from the start of the book. But the zoo is very disappointing - hardly an animal to be seen. Max and Mia make the most of it though and soon they are left behind and are locked in the zoo at night! And such excitement is in store as midnight is the time the zoo comes alive, with flouncing flamingoes, fabulous fountains and so much more. They have a wonderful time, finally falling asleep curled up with the lions... but is it true? Well, you'll have to decide. The superb illustrations are packed with glorious detail and zinging colours that fly off the page; truly gorgeous. A lovely story.

How to Hide a Lion at School by Helen Stephens

Lions aren't allowed at school, but Iris's lion doesn't want to be left behind. He even stows away on the school trip to the museum, causing much madness and mayhem as he hides among the exhibits. The third warm and funny adventure in the bestselling How to Hide a Lion series is guaranteed to delight children everywhere.

Talulla Bear's Bedtime Book: A Sleepytime Tale by Heather Roan Robbins

This lovely bedtime book will be well received by every parent of a sleepless toddler. Little Talulla Bear is not at all sleepy, so instead of just telling her to go to sleep, she's encouraged to snuggle down and imagine other sleepy animals, including the cosy cat and snoozing dog. Listening to the calming words of the story, stretching and relaxing like a cat, and feeling safe beneath the tranquil night sky and twinkling stars, she soon becomes very, very sleepy.... The poetic and meditative language in this beautiful storybook, combine with Sarah Perkins' beautiful and soothing blue-toned illustrations to gradually calm a restless child at bedtime. The book takes children on a meditative journey which will relax them, ensuring a contented night's sleep

 Honk Honk! Hold Tight! by Jessica Souhami

This amusing story is based on folklore from many countries - Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the UK, as well as variations with variants discovered in Russia and Egypt, so it has a truly international flavour. It is the story of a princess who will not laugh. Her father says that the man who can make her laugh can marry her and so a boy plus a golden goose set off to the palace to try their luck… As they go along, all those they meet try to steal one of the golden goose’s feathers. What will happen when they reach the palace? A lively tale, with delightful illustrations, which is perfect to read aloud.

Watch Out for Muddy Puddles! by Ben Faulks

Splashing in puddles is a quintessential joy of childhood and this exuberant book celebrates this in a wonderfully imaginative way. Watch out for muddy puddles, as you never know what could be hidden below the water. A little boy boy and his friend find out that puddles can conceal all sorts of things, including a pack of hungry crocodiles, and fearsome pirates. They can be dangerous too, as you go down into the depths... and look out for the BIG BAD rubber ducky. Wonderfully illustrated by Ben Cort, this is a fun-packed book, full of the joys of childhood.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist didn't speak until she turned three - but she put the time to good effect, watching and learning - she was always hopelessly curious (her first word was 'why?'). To answer her questions, she embarks on fact-finding missions and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it s up to her to find the source. Her parents are not impressed - but when they realise that Ada has a passion that cannot be quenched, they support her every step of the way. Ada is a strong female character, a perfect role model for aspiring scientists and encouragement never to give up. Her story is superbly told through the rhyming text and detailed illustrations.

Come to School too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester ClarkBlue Kangaroo

If you have a little one starting school, this is the perfect book for you to share together to alleviate any worries and give the opportunity to talk through what will happen. Lily and Blue Kangaroo have a very special friendship - they do everything together. And when Lily starts school, in the eighth title in this hugely popular series, the inseparable duo starting at a new school with surprising results. When Lily starts at a new school she asks Blue Kangaroo to come too. Lily thinks Blue Kangaroo is worried about going but, secretly, he can’t wait to explore and try new things – which is just as well, because the fun lasts even longer than he expected. Children will readily identify with the characters, and discussing the book gives an excellent chance to explain to children exactly what takes place on that all-important first day. The book also offers the opportunity of role play, letting your child take the part of one of the characters.

Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago

Come to Paris along with Max, a dancing tiger with a dream. Max longs to pirouette and plié, to leap and spin. But tigers aren't allowed to dance so he gazes longingly through the windows of the ballet school. Will his dream ever come true? As he dances through the streets of Paris (and make sure you don't miss the sights in the charming illustrations), he makes a new friend and together with Celeste, his dreams come true in this heart-warming story about following your dreams and pursuing your talent, no matter what, and about friendship Little dancers will love to see Max triumph and get his moment in the spotlight. A lovely story.

Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon

All dads want their baby's first word to be 'dada'; all mums want that first word to be 'mama'. This simple picture book shows us lots of animal dads all trying to get their little ones to say 'dada' - and all they get are animal noises until, with one big effort, there's a big surprise at the end of the book! The simple pictures would make great 'spot the difference' puzzles for children!

Looking After Flop (Bing)

Flop isn’t very well, so being a good friend, Bing decides to look after him. He makes Flop a soothing drink, tucks him up on the sofa and reads him a story. But then – uh-oh! – things start to go wrong. Poor Bing, he has tried so hard and even when he makes another drink, that goes wrong and Flop STILL isn't better. Never mind - in a reassuring conclusion Flop helps Bing clear up and tells him that a hug from Bing will make him feel better. A page of colourful stickers add to the fun. Bing stories are ideal to share with toddlers; they talk about everyday situations and coping when things don't go quite according to plan.

Birthday Present (Bing)

It’s Sula’s birthday and Bing has bought her a really special spinny wand. The problem is that Bing really loves it and doesn't want to give it to Sula; he tries to delay the moment but he does have to hand over the wand and he feels very sad. But Sula loves her present, and sharing her pleasure shows Bing that it’s a great feeling to give something to someone that makes them happy! As children enjoy adding the stickers, adults can talk about the story and help their young child to appreciate the happiness that comes from giving. Bing is a lovely character and the stories really help toddlers understand tricky concepts.

Ready Steady Dig by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Big machines are a source of fascination for young children, and this brightly coloured book will really capture their attention right from the friendly digger on the cover. The Construction Crew have all sorts of machines on hand when they set out to build a new... well, I'll leave you to find out what they build, or I will spoil their surprise! Catchy rhymes introduce a range of construction vehicles who are all delightfully depicted as friendly creatures. The big bright pictures by Ed Eaves are really eye-catching as readers meet Ravi Roller, Doug the Digger and the rest of the friendly crew.

More People to Love Me by Mo O'Hara

Families today are far from the nuclear family that used to be the norm - and this book celebrates that diversity. More People to Love Me takes a very positive view of this situation, emphasising the fact that the little girl, whose family is huge, has lots of people to love her. It all starts when she has to draw a family tree - and it gets very crowded when she adds in all the grandparents! The little girl is very happy with her extended family and the book conveys a really positive and reassuring message; it's perfect to share with any children affected by this situation - and the fold-out at the end finishes the book with a nice touch of humour.

What's the Opposite? (The Hueys) by Oliver Jeffers

The Hueys are gorgeous little characters who like to look at things differently and that leads to lovely picture books that also provoke discussion. This time, they are exploring opposites with their typically quirky approach. It starts off simply with easy concepts like ‘up’ and ‘down’, 'high' and 'low' - but you just know things are going to get increasingly imaginative; and they do. The visual humour is clever, quite subtle in places, and the simplicity of the illustrations draws this out. The book will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

 

The Day The Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit is right up there as one of my all-time favourite picture books and now there's another gem of a story to join it. The crayons are off on their travels and Duncan is receiving a series of postcards from all of them... it seems that the crayons might be getting a little homesick. Things aren't going well and they are not happy crayons. Duncan realises that he really hasn't taken much care of his crayons (does that sound familiar?), so it's time to do something about it. It's definitely a book to share, as adults will need to read the postcards - but sharing is a joy. Cleverly written, creative and impeccably executed.

Quick Quack Quentin by Kes Gray

"Quentin was a duck with a very quick quack. 'QUCK!' said Quentin. 'What's wrong with me?'" The doctor says it's simple - Quentin's quack has lost its A. Do any of the other animals have one to spare? Quentin sets off in search of the missing vowel and he's offered some other vowels but they just don't work. But APES don't want to be PES. SNAKES don't want to be SNKES. PANDAS don't want to be PNDAS or even PANDS. What is poor Quentin to do? Finally, he finds the solution in this hilarious exploration of the alphabet.

Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Lindsay Mattick

Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear called Winnie, who was the inspiration behind probably the best-loved bear ever. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a vet, was on his way to tend horses in World War I. He followed his heart and rescued a baby bear who he named Winnie, and he took her to war. Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey - from the fields of Canada to an army base in England. And then to London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend - a boy named Christopher Robin. It's touchingly told and gives a fascinating insight into all that Winnie experienced before finding herself in the safety of London Zoo - with a very special friend. Great to know that this lovely book was the well-deserved winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

Dr Seuss has a place in the affections of generations of children, many of whom learnt to read with his help. These classic books are now in a large picture book format. When Horton the elephant is playing, he hears a small noise but he will need to listen very carefully (big ears are a great help! to hear the tiny Whos who live on a speck of dust – so small are they that nobody believes they are there. But Horton, who is a very caring elephant, eventually convinces everyone that, ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small’! Horton is such a likeable character, you can't fail to warm to him. The book carries an important message about care and respect for others.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

The Lorax is the original eco warrior, and one of the best known of Dr Seuss' characters. His message about the dangers of destroying our forests is more relevant than ever in our day, so this really is a timeless story, told with a light touch that still manages to be very effective. The Lorax' task is to save the Truffula trees from the greedy once-ler’s axe, and the Dr Seuss blend of zany pictures and unique rhyme, rhythm and repetition mean that all ages will learn from and love this wonderful book. The whole story is told in Seuss' characteristic rhyming text which is such a joy to read aloud. “Mister! He said with a sawdusty sneeze, I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” The lovely characters are beautifully illustrated.

Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

This is another classic from the much-loved Dr. Seuss and one which has an enduring message; an account of the journey that lies ahead of each one of us as we grow up. From fun times and triumphs to lurches and slumps, Dr Seuss takes an entertaining look at the adventures that life may have in store for us. It celebrates all that life has to offer and shows that down-times cam be turned into positives. Not just a picture book for children, this book would make a lovely gift to mark any of life's milestones, with its encouragement to grab opportunities and to make the very best of all life has to offer.

Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake by David Melling

Hugless Douglas has built up a huge army of fans - and no wonder. He is wonderfully appealing and his adventures are irresistible. The sheep are baking cakes with Douglas' favourite ingredient - honey - and he can't wait to try them. But there's a bit of a rush when they're cooked and poor Douglas misses out. He's just going to have to try something without honey - and he finds the carrot is surprisingly tasty., so tries the berries and nuts too. But there's nothing better than a hug. It's a lovely story and a great one to share with a fussy eater. There are instructions for decorating sheep cakes too.

Bear Make Den by Jane Godwin

Bear has built himself a wonderful den. But something is missing. What could it be? But each time he adds something, he finds there is something else missing... will he ever find what he needs? Finally, Bear realises that his den needs - well, what do you think? Very minimal text accompanies fun pictures in this playful picture book.

Me, Teddy by Chris McKimmie

Teddy is a black labrador and this is his diary - obviously, teddy was a very naughty pup, as his diary shows! But despite all the things he chewed, he was still much loved. The scrapbook charts Teddy's growing up from a little tiny puppy with a boofy head and big brown melty eyes to a big black labrador. Teddy obviously has a wonderful life and this is charted through his words accompanied by superbly detailed collage-style illustrations which pack in lots of fascinating detail. This is a lovely story giving us a dog's eye view of the world.

The Railway Land Dogs' Club: Three Further Tails by Julian Warrender

The three stories are A Rescue on the Railway Land, The Bone Yard, and On Thin Ice. The stories hark back to a more peaceful world and really encourage children to engage with nature as they follow the escapades of the dog Ivy and her friends who belong to The Railway Land Dogs' Club. Here we have three of their adventures which are lovely stories with the added benefit of showcasing nature through the text and the detailed pictures. The stories, with their accompanying coloured illustrations, have drawings for children to colour so they can put their own stamp on the book. I love the way the story and colouring are combined, and children will be encouraged to study the colour pictures carefully so they can make their own colouring accurate - a good way to engage with the nature depicted.

Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles: A story about war and peace by Steve Antony

The green lizards and the red rectangles are at war. They fight and fight and fight - can there ever be a way to live peacefully together? Very simple text and equally simple illustrations convey the ideas powerfully - and the warring factions do indeed find a solution to war; a positive message to share. A thought-provoking and visually stunning picture book about the futility of war, Steve Antony has taken a serious and sombre subject and made it into a picture book which handles the concept of war with sensitivity and compassion. War is, sadly, all around and we cannot shelter our children from it; here is a book which will help children understand the futility of war without scaring them or introducing concepts which are beyond them.

The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright

There are many of us who don't like change, and for young children especially, it can be a real challenge. Kevin the Koala is very happy in his tree and his slow pace of life suits him to perfection. But all his animal friends want him to climb down and join in the fun; part of Kevin wants to but it all seems too risky. Then one day - disaster strikes and his tree falls down... but then things suddenly seem fine. Beautiful illustrations by Jim Field show the beauty of the Australian Outback and its wildlife, and they work brilliantly with the rhyming text. A stylish book with a reassuring message about accepting change.

Fred by Mick Inkpen

This lovely book features a totally irresistible pup called Fred. He has passed his test and he can do all sorts of clever tricks. He knows all sorts of words... but what is '... Fred'? He hears it all the time and especially when he gets himself into deep trouble - and then he suddenly realises! A joyful romp of a story with plenty of humour that will appeal to all animal lovers. Charming illustrations complement the rhyming text to bring us a book that will be much-loved.

Frida Kahlo (Anholt's Artists) by Laurence Anholt

I am thrilled every time I see a new book in this excellent series. For those who don't know the series, it introduces artists by telling a story based on a child's association with the artist. Mariana is scared of the beautiful woman who is to paint her. Frida Kahlo keeps exotic and it's rumoured that she keeps a skeleton in her bedroom. But as Frida paints Mariana, an unlikely friendship develops, as Frida tells Mariana about her life and the terrible accident that almost killed her, and her determination to continue painting. A heart-warming story about courage, determination and talent, and what can be achieved by putting in effort. The lovely illustrations include reproductions of Frida Kahlo's work, and there is also a brief biography. A superb way to introduce children to art and artists.

Flying Lemurs by Zehra Hicks

Lemurs are really good at jumping - even Granny can jump... but the little lemur is too scared to jump. One by one, the members of the family try to get him to jump with them "one... two... three...uh-oh!" But never mind, the little lemur is fantastic at all sorts of other things and then suddenly - he jumps! It's a lovely story about a supportive family and what determination can achieve. The lemur family is beautifully depicted in the pictures which pack a series of actions onto each page.

Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett

The princesses have just listened to the story of the Frog Prince... but little do they know that a real frog is listening to the story and wishing that he could live like a prince. So he comes up with a clever plot... The princesses wonder whether Prince Ribbit is really a handsome prince, or just a plain, ordinary frog. And as we know, there's only one way to find out in fairy-tale land! A cleverly told twist of the traditional tale, this hilarious story is beautifully told and vibrantly illustrated.

The Hippopandamouse by Jools Bentley

Princess Flo is off to Fluffley's Fine Toys, the best toy shop in town, to spend her pocket money. Everyone in the shop is busy making sure everything is perfect for the royal visit but despite all their care, Princess Flo spots a strange looking toy. It's part hippo, part panda and part mouse... and a complete mistake! Despite all the efforts of Miss Fluffley, the princess is quite determined and luckily, she is just in time to save the... what could it be? Why, a hippopottamouse, of course. The beautiful illustrations are very striking, with their lovely animal characters and the fascinating Unstitcher. A lovely story about looking beyond appearances to the reality behind, and not making snap judgments.

Snail Mail: With Pull-Out Postcards by Sharon King-Chai

Sam the Seashell Snail is too young to go surfing around the world with his brother, Tiger, so to keep Sam happy, Tiger promises to send him snail mail. Postcards come from around the world, all slotted into envelopes in the book; Tiger's last Snail Mail has a very special birthday surprise! Meanwhile, we see Sam having fun at home with friends and family. Is this going to replicate the success of 'The Jolly Postman'? It certainly has the same format and the appeal of letters neatly stored in envelopes will always be strong, but there is not the variety. It is a very engaging presentation and as maps are included on the inside of the covers, children have the opportunity to trace the progress of Tiger as he travels the world. Well thought out and very enjoyable.

Four Silly Skeletons by Mark Sperring

Fred, Sid, Belle and Bill are the four silly skeletons - they are very accident prone but luckily Auntie Jane lives at the bottom of their hill and is always ready to patch them up. But one dark night, they refuse to listen to her when she tells them to take lamps and torches - and they don't see the big, big drop... Auntie Jane comes to the rescue but unfortunately she doesn't get the patching up quite right! The catchy rhyming text is set against black backgrounds. with colourful pictures, making a really effective and attractive book. It's a perfect read-aloud book, packed with fun.

How to Find a Friend by Maria S. Costa

Finding a friend isn't always easy, even when you look everywhere. Rabbit and Squirrel are both on the look out for a new friend, so they visit all the likely places, but it seems there is nobody there... or is there? Children will love the pantomime appeal of this lively book, with all its 'he's behind you' moments. With a little help from two cute bugs, the two finally bump into each other - literally! Follow their progress on the map as you enjoy this lovely story with its simply coloured illustrations which really stand out as being different and very appealing.

The Way to Outer Space by Jay Eunji Lee

I love this book which is a clever combination of story and creative activities; space is a topic which enthralls most children and it offers lots of scope for activities as this book shows so well. Em had received a mysterious present with instructions for building a her very own space rocket. Her imagination comes to the fore as Em travels through space to a grey planet whose inhabitants need her help. Throughout the book, children can enjoy a range of creative activities that bring the story to life - they will make a rocket some alien friends and some glittery stars as they help Em o bring back to life the aliens her imagination produced. Unusual and inspiring.

The Star Tree by Catherine Hyde

The beautiful front cover sets the tone for this dream-like book. It's midnight. It's Midsummer’s Eve and at this magical time, Mia’s nightlight goes out. As she climbs on her rocking horse, a very special journey begins. The Great White Owl glides across the night skies with Mia on his back... and this is the start of her magical adventure which takes her to the Star Tree from which she plucks one small star. Then the Great White Goose carries her to the safety of her room. It's wonderfully imaginative and superbly illustrated in soft colours and delicate portrayals of the places Mia explores. An enchanting book.

George Pearce And His Huge Massive Ears by Felix Massie

You can't miss George Pearce - he's the one with the great big ears. Having big ears meant that he could pick up all sorts of things - even things he wasn't meant to hear. This all gets very confusing for poor George and he finds himself struggling to decide what he likes. It's only when he b;ocks out all the confusing sounds that he learns to decide for himself - and soon his life is much happier. Conveyed in a fun way this book carries an important message about being true to yourself, and trusting in your own judgment. The simple illustrations reinforce the message, and there are some very effective spreads to enjoy.

Two Can by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

This book is simple but oh-so effective. One child can do all sorts of things but she won't let the other child play. But when the children see two children playing together on a see-saw, they realise that it's more fun to play together and help each other. And help is what's needed when one child is frightened of swimming - a second child means that two can. A lovely story, charmingly illustrated, about the joy that comes from playing together.

Nicholas and the Wild Ones by Niki Daly

The first day at school can be quite challenging enough but being faced with a bunch of "wild ones" is quite enough to make any child decide they are not going back. And that's what Nicholas tells his mum after encountering big Charlie, mean Jake, Wedgie Reggie and their girl leader, Cindy Crocker. Nicholas is no push-over though - he does just the right thing, first by telling his mum and his teacher and then by putting his artistic talent and inventiveness to good use. This really is an excellent picture book to help young children deal with the problem of bullies - it has a positive message and an ideal outcome. Brilliant for sharing in the classroom, ideally before bullying has had the chance to get a hold. There's plenty of humour and a deft light touch which makes this a stand-out book.
 

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