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If you're looking for suitable books for your 5 and 6 year old, our extensive list of expert recommendations is sure to put you in the right direction.
May 2020 Debut of the Month | There have been many versions of the moral tale of the crow and the peacock and this one from debut picture-book artist Jo Fernihough is particularly attractive. The vibrant mixed media and collage images are full of movement and expression and immediately catch the reader’s attention. Crow is living happily and contentedly until he starts to compare his feathers and his song with other birds. From the dove to the nightingale, to the cockerel to the swan, each bird seems more magnificent than the last and crow is sure each one must be the happiest bird alive, but each in turn direct him to a bird they are envious of. But when he finally reaches the magnificent peacock he learns that he himself is the subject of envy. He is free to sing and fly free compared to the caged peacock. Crow and the reader learn the lesson about what is really important in life and that one must count your own blessings. A strong message for the current situation and beautifully conveyed in nicely repetitive text and imaginative use of typography as well glorious colour. A really worthwhile addition to the library.
Twenty years after the publication of the book that must be in every nursery and primary school library, we have another vividly colourful jungle tale filled with a perfectly judged rhyming text that is a joy to read aloud and sharing a really positive message about being true to yourself and celebrating all sorts of achievements. Guy Parker-Rees has a very distinctive technicolour palette and has talked about his love of drawing elephants, which really shows in the endearing cast of characters here. It is time for the all -important Elephant games when, one by one, the young elephants compete to impress King Elephant Mighty and earn their Elephant Name. So the loudest becomes Elephant Noisy and the strongest Elephant Strong and so on, but right at the end is little Num-Num who did not know what his talent was and whatever he tried, failed to impress the king. He gets called Elephant Nothing at All and sadly Num- Num decides to leave. But the animal friends he gains at his new watering hole convince him of his own worth and he returns to put the king right. This positive message of affirmation is a really timely one and I can see that this text will be as universally popular as its predecessor and a classic in its own right. Indispensable for every library.
With expert input from Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine | With consultant Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the adviser on this book you can use it in confidence that the information is relevant and correct. The idea behind the book was the brainchild of the publisher Nosy Crow - to make something freely available to help children understand the current situation and to try to ease some of their concerns. No-one has received any fees for this book. Plus, using such a well-known illustrator as Axel Scheffler (recognised worldwide for the Gruffalo illustrations) makes the whole thing feel recognisable and familiar. The book takes us through explaining what a virus is and how you might catch it – and what happens if you do catch it. A fascinating fact gleaned on the way is that there are more different antibodies inside us now than the number of people in the world! Everything is explained in simple terms so that young children can understand the way antibodies react to virus incursions. The book goes on to explain why we need to take care, why a vaccine may take some considerable time to develop and why so many things are closed at the moment. It also tackles the issues of being at home all the time, lack of fun and activities – and how to share and how to talk to your grown up about worries. Talking about ways to help is a very useful way forward – and also being kind to those you live with. The book finishes on the very positive statement that ‘one day this strange time will be over – we did it together’ a vital message of hope. There are also sections of information for children as well as for the parents, guardians and carers. It was a brilliant idea to create this – and a very generous act to make it available free of charge – excellent call Nosy Crow!
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2020 | Written for and about “the swift and sweet ones/who hurdled history and opened a world of possible”, for those who “survived America by any means necessary. And the ones who didn’t,” this is an inspiring ode to the author’s forebears and to the world-changing feats of unforgettable Black American figures. Author Kwame Alexander’s initial inspiration for this book came in the year his second daughter was born, the same year Barack Obama became the first African American president of the USA. As a result, Alexander wanted his daughters “to know how we got to this historic moment”, which is exactly what this stirring book does. The chained slaves who kept faith, the elite Olympians, the innovative musicians, the seminal scientists, the courageous activists - people from all walks of life are celebrated in Alexander’s poetically poised words, and gloriously illustrated by Kadir Nelson, with much for young children to ponder and ask questions about. As well as being a wonderful way for parents to explore Black American history with their little ones on a one-to-one basis, this will also work well with older children in a classroom context. Indeed, this is one of those rare and wonderful picture books that defies age boundaries - a radiant, resonant unforgettable tour de force, as befits its theme.
A delightful addition to the Little Dolly Dressing series. Follow Ruby the Rainbow fairy as she flutters around Fairyland in search of colourful fairy dust. Use the stickers to dress the fairies and decorate the pages. Scenes include a garden filled with red flowers, an orange orchard and a yellow meadow and lots more.
This little paperback does much more than it says on the tin. It encourages young readers to explore the outdoors (whether that’s via a ramble in the countryside, a trip to the local park or picnic in the garden) and shows them how to make the most of it by using their powers of observation and imagination. It asks you really look around and note what you can see, whether plants, insects or birds, and then to make sketches or maps of where you are. More, it encourages readers to make up stories and also includes short descriptions of famous people who found inspiration in the outside world, from Beatrix Potter to Claude Monet. It really should make young people see and think differently about the natural world around them, and packs in a great deal of information and stimulation.
Inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM with The Adventures of Lillicorn in WooWoo Land, the first in a series of STEM children’s picture books for children 4 to 8 years old. Meet Lilli, a fearless little girl, who is intrigued by science, and loves to conceive new experiments and inventions. In her dreams at night, she transforms into Lillicorn, a superhero, and teams up with friends to travel to distant lands and figure out innovative solutions that save the day. The rhyming storybook is designed so that children can solve ten different STEM quests and earn collectable charm tokens (provided in the book). It’s an exciting way for children to learn fundamental STEM skills at an early age, as well as develop 21st-century learning skills (the 4Cs – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication).
The celebrated French author and illustrator has put together a brilliant collection of infographics that are designed to make children think about the world in a new way. Each colourful and distinctive page shows something that happens in our world every second. Every fact quoted is backed up by an impressive list of up to date sources at the end of the book. This introduces in an accessible way for young children the concept of statistics and what can be gained by collecting and analysing data. For example, the presentation on opposing pages of the £700 invested in humanitarian aid and the £46,760 spent on arms and weapons makes us all stop and think. However ,in the current circumstances that the world finds itself I,n there is another way in which the book can be of value, as the whole discussion of “ do you think this is still happening every second?” will inevitably occur. The stark 2 deaths every second may very sadly be a larger number and the 600,000 kilometres travelled by car every second may well be considerably smaller. Other things will not be changed. The fascinating 4,500 Olympic sized swimming pools of water evaporating from the oceans every second (and we are also told that an Olympic sized pool holds 3,000,000 litres of water) and the 5,235 kilograms of sand, carried by the wind that leave the Sahara desert. Every page could be the basis of a very useful lesson in a different curricular area. Beautifully produced, this unusual book will really earn its keep in the classroom.
Architecture-loving Iggy Peck is one of the young band of Questioneers, along with Ada Twist, Sofia Valdez and Rosie Revere. They love nothing more than asking questions, working things out and solving mysteries, and there’s a great one here: Ada’s Great-Aunt Bernice has been left a beautiful Art Nouveau mansion, complete with ghost – can Iggy find the mansion’s hidden treasures, and what to do about the ghost? The story is lots of fun, and Iggy’s enthusiasm for buildings and knowledge too is a key part of the adventure. A lively, hugely enjoyable read that celebrates brains and partnership.
Meet the Magic Dolls Grace, Lily and Holly. They live in a cottage in Dolly Town, always ready to help the magical inhabitants of the Enchanted Isle. In this adventure, a unicorn is in trouble – can they calm her down before she hurts herself or others, and why is she so upset? Young readers will love the sense of teamwork and friendship between the three as well as the idea of an island full of magical creatures. As an added treat, the book includes pretty colour stickers so that you can dress up the dolls ready for their adventures. An undemanding but satisfying read.
This lively information book does a great job of bringing the Romans to life for children using colour illustrations and interactive flaps to convey a great deal of information. There are double pages on the Roman army and its war machines, on Roman building, gladiators and – likely to be a favourite with most young readers – Roman public toilets. There are lots of facts to learn and some wonderfully quirky bits of information too: did you know, for example, that Roman schools took place in the street, or that Roman children had pet mice? Entertaining and effective as all information books should be.
A story of kindness during the 2020 Coronavirus crisis | This illustrated children story has been created during the first three/four months of the global outbreak of the Coronavirus Covid-19 in 2020. This is a very strange and difficult time; it is a period full of anxiety, of isolation, of distance between families and between friends; it is a moment in time of pain, of fear and worries in terms of emotions, health, finances as well as what the future might bring. But it also a moment where it is very important to try to keep hope and love at the centre of our thoughts and our days. This book is for everyone, everywhere in the world; it is a story of of kindness, hope and love.
This is a superb example of an information text, ostensibly for younger children, but with multi-age and multi-curriculum uses. It is also a thing of beauty, printed on high quality paper doing full justice to the stunning illustrations, with the author’s expressive brush work, clever layout and a palette filled with watery blues and greens and the white and grey of rain, fog and snow. A little girl notices the role of water all around her—a sprinkler, a tap, a stream, a lake. She also notices that water sometimes tries to hide, or change state, and that water is part of every living thing including her. The book concludes with four pages of beautifully clear explanations of water forms (liquid, solid and gas), the water cycle and the all-important conservation of water. There are some excellent suggestions of how to play and learn about water and true or false questions to check understanding. These are very well suited to older children too, as indeed the book is, as a model of writing and the effective use of figurative language. Poetic descriptions make this an enjoyable read-aloud and the larger font labels that identify the source of the water on each page (including Zoe the narrator) are perfect for vocabulary building for the youngest child. A really well thought out and brilliantly executed early science picture book that deserves a place in every school.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a classic painterly feel to this picture book but its message is very contemporary. Clem loves exploring along the seashore and collecting treasures in her bucket. These include shells and pebbles and pieces of glass, as well as brightly coloured plastic lids, bottles and netting. She befriends a little crab, caught up in a bit of netting and it hitches a ride home with her. Clem knows the crab belongs on the beach, but will he be safe there? Then a trip to the aquarium inspires her class to protect the ocean and together they clean up Clem and Crab’s beach. It’s a lovely story, and an important one, told so effectively in Fiona Lumber’s carefully chosen words and beautiful illustrations.
This is a really sweet story. The story says important things about friendship and acceptance, and there's an environmental message at the end which I thought was great. It's very well written - always a good example for children. The pencil drawing illustrations are lovely, although Bertie sometimes looks a bit unfriendly, and younger children might prefer brightly coloured illustrations. I'd definitely read it to my granddaughter who is four. However, I'm just not sure what age group it's aimed at as some of the adventures might not be relatable to a younger child whilst older children might find the story too "young".
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2020 | As winter approaches, a polar bear snuggles inside the den she has made in the snowdrifts of the frozen north and waits for her cubs to be born. When they arrive they are curious about the world beyond their cosy home. As they learn about the secrets of the world Mama Bear constantly reassures them “You’re Snug with Me”.
At last all were gathered inside the ark. It heaved with animals, large and small. Mrs Noah wore a brand-new coat, with a hood and a cape - and very deep pockets. Lots of pockets. When Mr Noah builds the ark, he makes two lists - one for all the animals who will come on board and one for those troublesome creatures he will leave behind. Meanwhile, Mrs Noah gets out her sewing machine and makes a coat with very deep pockets. Lots of pockets.
It’s headmistress Mrs Bottomley-Blunt who declares 4B to be LITERALLY the Worst Class In The World, and she may have a point. After all, there was the school trip to the zoo when Harvey Barlow smuggled a penguin back on the bus, the time they tried to tunnel to Finland, and the Show and Tell incident with Manjit’s dog, Killer… Everyone has bad luck though, and after reading this very funny book, most people will agree with Stanley Bradshaw and decide they wouldn’t have 4B any other way. Stanley’s descriptions of their antics, recounted in two separate stories, are highly entertaining: Joanna Nadin captures the chaos and excitement of primary school perfectly, and young readers will recognise the setting and the characters, not least long-suffering teacher Mr Nidgett. Short sentences, lots of pictures and clever repetition of words and phrases plus the lively action make this a perfect first chapter book. One to recommend to fans of Patricia Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series ready to move onto something more challenging.
I am becoming very fond of Justine Avery's eclectic collection of books. She has the ability to consider issues relevant to children and young people that many adults would fail to recognise. This bright and colourful little book almost acts as a little aide-memoire reminding us that when we encounter problems, we need to trust in our abilities, thoughts and ideas and 'think outside the box'. The artwork is attractive and feels new and fresh and the text is professionally constructed. A delightful addition to an already pleasing series. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Meet the Magic Dolls Grace, Lily and Holly. They live in a cottage in Dolly Town, always ready to help the magical inhabitants of the Enchanted Isle. In this adventure, the Isle’s fairies have invited the three of them to a special picnic, but the safety of the Isle’s inhabitants is threatened by the arrival of ogres. Can the Magic Dolls save the day? Young readers will love the sense of teamwork and friendship between the three as well as the magical setting. As an added treat, the book includes pretty colour stickers so that you can dress up the dolls ready for their adventures. An undemanding but satisfying read.
A little rebel girl goes on a quest to catch a monster in this empowering tale about bravery and kindness from the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Little Red, Bethan Woollvin. Meet Bo the Brave. She's smart, she's strong and she is definitely in charge. Bo's brothers say she is too little to catch a monster. But Bo has other ideas, so she sets off on a quest to capture herself a beast. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or if not, can she make friends with them? I Can Catch a Monster is a funny and vibrant picture book with a message about not judging by appearance and standing up for yourself and your friends, from the Macmillan Prize-winning creator of Little Red, Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel, Bethan Woollvin.
A globetrotting Penguin is the young reader’s tour guide as they explore the world and broadening a child’s horizons has never seemed more meaningful or relevant. 28 cities are explored within these pages- each city having its own double page spread. There has a been a commendable effort too, to ensure a good global spread of locations and cultures. Children will love pouring over the detail of the map and images of famous landmarks, museums and galleries and examples of food and culture which really bring the city alive and give a flavour of its history and development. The pages are colourful, but the soft tones mean that the pages do not appear too busy and the clever design and judicious use of text boxes does not overwhelm the reader. Each city has a basic fact box detailing the country, language, currency and population which makes for interesting comparisons. Young readers will also particularly enjoy the fun quizzes and games to test their knowledge and understanding. A valuable addition to classroom collections.
Special 40th Anniversary Edition | It’s hard to believe that Not Now Bernard is 40 years old. It’s as fresh and funny as the day it was first written and, best of all, just as shocking. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many times you read it, the end is always an absolute thrill and if that’s not genius, I don’t know what is. In the story Bernard tries unsuccessfully to get his parents’ attention, getting the same reply each time: ‘Not now, Bernard’. Even when he’s eaten by a monster, his parents don’t notice! Parents have to feel uncomfortable, while children themselves are alive to the fact that the monster is probably Bernard (and that we’ve all got a bit of monster in us). One of the greatest books for children ever written.
Have you ever noticed that bears are absolutely EVERYWHERE? Alfonso the alpaca has and it really gets his GOAT! He's decided that alpacas should get the recognition (and LOVE!) that they deserve. And sometimes it only takes one voice speaking out to make a change. It's time to be proud of who you are. (Watch out, bears!)
This book takes a poetic look at what it means to be alive. Nuto is a debut author – a teacher in Tasmania, who asks some of the big questions about who we all are, about friendship and our place in the universe. It’s the sort of book that will be a bouncing off point for lots of discussions – but is presented in an accessible and colourful format. Charlotte Ager’s naïve style of illustration means it will appeal across the very young and the not so young. The bold illustrations offer colour and shade in big pictures. Starting with the big questions – that we are made of the stuff of stars, and that we are tiny in comparison to the universe, it goes on to show we have the means to explore, to be both positive and negative. It shows that though we are a small short-lived speck we have the ability to change the world for the better. There are some glorious illustrations – full of colour, detail and action, as well as others that are more contemplative. A good book to have in your classroom!
We first met Mrs Noah in Mrs Noah’s Pockets whilst the family were all on the Ark. Now the Ark has made land and whilst Noah makes the Ark into a home, Mrs Noah sets about planting a garden in the fresh new earth. Her always deep pockets furnish all the seeds needed for the job, the ark provides the trees they have nurtured along the way and she enlists the children to help her tend the new garden. A deceptively simple story –it is in the illustrations that we see the development of the garden as the pictures move from a dark rocky palette, to a more organised series of garden terraces, with colour gradually growing in each spread as we progress through the book – until at last we have a wonderful explosion of plants and animals for all the birds, bees and humans to share. A wonderful celebration of the joys of planting and growing, I can see it being used to seed discussions around how you might create a garden – in school or at home. Plus, as the publisher points out, it provides a positive way of encouraging discussion around migrants and refugees – as Mrs Noah and her family build a new home in a foreign land. I can see this becoming a firm favourite in classrooms all over the country.
Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 | Winner of the Opera Prima Bologna Ragazzi Prize 2020 | Jam-packed with action and details to find and spot, Where Is Your Sister? is a strikingly confident debut from Puck Koper. Her blue, red and black artwork is printed in eye-catching pantone inks, and her remarkable eye for composition and funny characters marks her out as a talent to watch. Using a limited palette, Dutch artist Puck Koper creates a frantic dash through a department store which is both a search and find story, and an accurately observed and very funny family adventure. The Klaus Flugge judges said: ‘goes at a wonderful pace, with laugh out loud moments. It’s stylish and feels very sophisticated for a first book’.
This is an absolutely visually beautiful book. It teaches, in short verses, about the wonders that we can find when we go exploring outdoors. One main theme is the respect that we should have for all living things and their environment. The illustrations are in gorgeous watercolour, what a talented artist! There is so much to look at and discuss and easily relates to the child's experiences when out and about. Fun verses encourage the reader to match the rhymes. A superb follow up to the previous book 'What Wonders Do you see when you Dream?' Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
April 2020 Book of the Month | Lyla might live in a hi-tech future world in which the moon is colonised and robots a big part of daily life, but the things that really matter are the same they’ve always been: friends, family and learning how to treat them properly. It’s very exciting when Lyla is chosen to look after one of three top-of-the-range cyborg children joining her school and at first Clara 2.2 seems the perfect friend, telling Lyla just what she wants to hear. But real friends do more than pay you compliments, and Clara 2.2’s disregard for anyone other than Lyla soon leads to a fall out with Lyla’s best friend Bianca and then – much worse – puts Lyla’s little brother in danger. There’s lots of fun and humour in the story, but some real tension too and it cleverly delivers a message about what friendship really means, and the importance of kindness.
Learning to read provides the best opportunity for children to take off privately into worlds of their own.
Picture books and easy readers allow children to go solo while being read to gives a background of richer stories to further stimulate the imagination.
Click here to read some helpful tips from top childrens' publisher Egmont.