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This is the perfect place to find storybooks on animals from across the world - from wild animals to our household pets.
Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | Having suffered heatwaves and COVID anxiety, we can all empathise with the tired and grumpy Arlo who just cannot sleep. The hero of the Greenaway medal winner’s new book speaks to us all, but particularly to over-tired and over excited small children who do not know how to let go of the day. Luckily for Arlo, and for children, Owl is to hand with some useful advice on how he manages to sleep when everyone is awake during the day. The logic of receiving advice from a nocturnal animal will really register with this audience. “Have a good stretch from your nose to your toes/ Do a little wriggle, let your eyes gently close/Relax your whole body, slow your breathing right down/ Imagine you’re sinking into the soft ground". The gentle refrain that Owl teaches Arlo is the perfect antidote for us all- a little bit of mindfulness that would also be a lovely calm down routine in the classroom! Not only are the illustrations a visual feast, with a stunning colour palette marking the transitions between night and day, but Arlo and Owl are beautifully characterised. Another trademark from this hugely talented author is the warm humour. Arlo is so excited by his long and restful sleep that he must tell Owl- and wakes him up! The song is reciprocated with success and their joint celebrations at dusk wake the rest of the neighbourhood and a duet is required to restore calm. The repeated refrain will be one that is copied in homes and classrooms everywhere. Useful for mindfulness and as an introduction to Night and Day topics, this stunning book is a real triumph of beautiful words and images working in absolute harmony.
Following the success of children’s picture books Leap, Hare, Leap! and Swim, Shark, Swim!, Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou tackle another natural phenomenon – the wind. As Dom writes: ‘Chase Wind through the oceans, fields and mountains as, from zephyr to gale, she carries seeds and stirs seas, enriching the world and breathing life’. Dom and Anastasia guide the reader through the journey of one gust of wind using rich poetic language and amazing illustrations. Blow, Wind, Blow! shows children how wind affects almost every aspect of our daily lives, moving windmills in Holland to irrigate land and crops, flying kites in Paris, sailing boats in the Pacific, creating sandstorms in Chad and Sudan and hurricanes in Florida before settling back down to the gusts we encounter at home.
From the inventive author-illustrator of the award-winning There’s a Bear on My Chair comes this smart sequel, and boy has Ross Collins delivered again. It’s a rollicking, rhyming, visually-pleasing treat in which it turns out that Bear isn’t terribly keen on getting a taste of his own medicine (to begin with, at least). The cause of Bear’s irritation is the presence of Mouse in his house (yes, the very same Mouse on whose chair Bear presumptuously sat in the first book). In Bear’s outraged words, “That rodent can’t live here, oh no! I’ll tell him that he has to go.” Of course, Mouse refuses to leave and proceeds to cause chaos in Bear’s house, before a mob of partying mice turn up. But then - the twist! – when Bear realises “Hey! These mice are nice!” With wonderful interplay between text, illustration and design, this is excellent for reading aloud - the kind of book that will have toddlers urging for it to be read again, and again (and again) while completing the rhymes before adults have chance to read them.
Set in ancient Rome, during the terrifying rule of Caligula in fact, Annelise Gray’s book is a mix of history, adventure and horses – a winning combination! Dido’s father trains riders and horses for the famous, and frequently deadly Circus Maximus chariot races. She dreams of being a charioteer too but that’s not allowed, and she’s stuck watching the boys compete. When her father is murdered, Dido has to flee Rome, leaving behind her beautiful horse Porcellus. But Fate will bring the two of them together again, and sees Dido compete in the Circus after all. The story of Dido, Porcellus and their fellow riders and horses makes for thrilling reading. Gray transports the reader to Rome in a hoofbeat, places, people and the dangerous times vividly brought to life. Caligula plays a part in the book, and he’s not the only real person to do so – watch out for Cassius Chaerea too – but Dido is the star, as she makes her way in Rome’s macho world, determined to set her own path and avenge her father. A superb historical adventure story. If Dido’s story sets readers looking for more classical adventures, as it undoubtedly will, point them to Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles and Philip Womack’s The Arrow of Apollo.
Rich in atmosphere and full of heart, Sky Hawk is an intense and touching story of how protecting a rare bird forges a deep and special friendship between two children. The osprey is Iona’s secret but she trusts Callum to keep it and together the two of them do all they can to keep the bird safe. From the glittering lochs of Scotland to the mangrove swamps of the Gambia, Sky Hawk is an enthralling tale about a promise between two friends, Callum and Iona, that will change lives forever, and the power of friendship, loyalty, and hope. A book to treasure.
A heart-warming and magical story of a very special relationship between a child and a polar bear which will inspire readers of all ages to realise that they, like April, can make a difference in the battle against climate change. When animal loving April arrives on Bear Island in the Arctic Circle where she will live for the next six months while her father runs the scientific operations she is told that, despite the island’s name, there are no bears on it. The melting ice caps mean that the polar bears can no longer arrive from the nearest mainland near Svalbard. But April soon finds out that there is one bear left. And April needs to do everything she can to keep him alive. Confident of her ability to communicate with the bear and to feed him, April nourishes the bear and even plans his return to safety. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, The Last Bear invites readers to care about the science behind the fate of an endangered species and to believe in one girl’s magical solution to the problem. **The images and illustrations in this extract are subject to copyright © Levi Pinfold and may not be used without permission.
A debut author is always a new experience to read – and this new fantasy-type novel aimed at middle grade readers does not disappoint. Maggie is a child, isolated from her family (Dad left, Mum recovering from a breakdown of some sort) whilst she is nominally looked after by her somewhat odd Aunt Esme. She befriends a rather battered old cat with torn ears and one eye – whom she is convinced hums tunes to her. But that is only the start of rather strange occurrences – Maggie sees her enemy from school apparently disappeared into a parallel reality by the new, odd, threatening careers mistress. What can she do – no one will believe her if she tells the truth… So, Maggie is left with only one course of action – she must rescue Ida from whatever has made her disappear. The characters are so well drawn and delightfully eccentric that one can become totally engaged in this well-developed story. Hoagy, the cat, proves to be a firm friend, and courageous – helping Maggie not only rescue her enemy Ida, but by doing so rediscover some of the happiness she has lost in her oddly disconnected life. An author worth watching – and a good read for fans of fantasy-based adventures.
Who’s to blame when things go wrong? Dogs Norman and Ringo realise that they are the Blamehounds when they get told off for everything from farts to an unexpected splat of peach juice. But then they come up with a plan! Soon the Blamehounds along with other dogs are making a small fortune through a few backhanders just by taking the blame humans want to avoid. Ross Collins captures the joke perfectly in words and pictures. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+
Eric and Terry Fan are renowned author illustrators with such gems as The Night Gardener and the Kate Greenaway shortlisted Ocean Meets Sky. For this collaboration they have been joined by brother Devin for the first time. Stunningly beautiful images are what we have come to expect, and this is no exception. The enticing, mysterious cover spotlights a little creature in a bell jar. Beneath the jacket the cover looks like a blackboard covered with code, double helixes and creature sketches. The endpapers are design files to start and shelves of completed products at the end. We know then that this is about creating things. We meet our little creature again and we are shown the contrast between the naturalistic wold and an ordinary shop – Perfect Pets- on an ordinary street, but far below there is an underground world and a laboratory where they make the perfect pets and where they put the Failed Projects like Barnabus. Alerted of impending recycling doom, by his friend Patrick the cockroach, who has been entrancing him with stories of the natural world above, Barnabus and fellow Failed Projects work together on a daring and thrilling escape and find refuge hiding in plain sight in a nearby park. Being a team and supporting each other is crucial to their success. A multi-layered story that will appeal to a wide range of ages and prompt much discussion and debate about ethics and freedom. In a world where young people are constantly bombarded with social media that promotes artificial standards of perfection, this empowering fable has an important message to share.
Raw, lingering and stirringly lyrical, October, October had me hooked from opening to end. Conjured in language that crackles and smoulders like an autumn bonfire, this is a book of bones and bark, of frost and flame, captivating in the manner of Skellig or Stig of the Dump as it undulates towards a wondrous homecoming of the heart. “We live in the woods and we are wild… Just us. A pocket of people in a pocket of the world that’s small as a marble. We are tiny and we are everything and we are wild.” October has everything she wants living in the woods in the house her father built. Her mother left when October was four and she’s adamant that, “I don’t want her. She’s not wild like we are.” This year October’s euphoria at the onset of autumn is sullied when she discovers a dead owl and a motherless baby owl: “my heart won’t stop bruising my ribs.” So, she rescues the baby, names it Stig and declares it her first ever friend. Calamity strikes when the woman “who calls herself my mother” arrives as a birthday surprise - her beloved dad breaks his spine after falling from a tree and October must stay with this woman – her mother – in London while he recuperates. In the chaotic city, October is a bird with clipped wings. Torn from her wild world, she implodes, becomes a “firework of fury”, until she strikes up a bond with a boy named Yusef and discovers mudlarking, which makes her once more “a wild animal skulking and prowling for food”, “a pirate hunting for treasure.” An unforgettable story, an unforgettable heroine – it’s no exaggeration to hail this a future classic.
Book Band: Dark Blue (Ideal for ages 9+) | An inspiring fantasy story from Katya Balen, author of The Space We're In and October, October. Margot wants her parents to take her birdwatching like they promised but they're too busy and she ends up at the zoo with her auntie and her annoying cousins. There, she sees a strange bird and takes one of its beautiful silver feathers home. Little does she know, that this is the start of a magical adventure in the moonlight... This magical story features black-and-white illustrations by Pham Quang Phuc.
Endling #3: The Only is the third book in an epic middle grade animal fantasy series by Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Two mighty armies are preparing for war, one led by a murderous great cat and the other by a cruel, power-hungry tyrant. But a third army is quietly growing, an army led by a young girl, an army of peace. Not so long ago Byx, a dairne, was the timid youngest pup in her family. But since her family were all slaughtered by the cruel Murdano, Byx has had to leave her own kind and finds herself at the forefront of a peaceful army, serving her friend and leader, the young Lady of Nedarra. Can the courage and heart of these young friends really stand in the way of two great armies? Can peace prevail over war?
For Sila Tekin and her father, life is on hold. Sila’s mother had to go back to her homeland of Turkey to sort out a problem with her immigration papers, but that was almost a year ago and she’s still not been able to return. The worry and sadness have had their effect on Sila and her teachers are concerned enough to put her into a special programme, pairing her with another silent child, Mateo. Though the two do become friends, leading to huge, positive changes for them both, that only happens as a result of Sila’s chance meeting with another lonely person, Gio Gardino, recently widowed, more recently recipient of an enormous lottery win, and his spur of the moment decision to buy an elephant. The arrival of Veda, unsurprisingly, transforms everything, even her piles of poo, carefully gathered by Sila and Mateo, turning Gio’s Oregon farm into a kind of Eden. Author Holly Goldberg Sloan manages this larger-than-life scenario beautifully, as Veda brings excitement, love and joy into her characters’ lives, as well as the courage to hope again. It won’t spoil the book to reveal that Sila’s mum is home by the end, but there’s another wonderful, unexpected reunion too. An unusual and heartfelt account of family love, friendship and the transformative power of wild things, this is one of those books that make the world a better place as you read.
Welcome to the wise and wonderful world of everyone's favourite bear. Paddington Bear is a beacon of happiness - well meaning, funny and always kind. Explore Paddington's unique and universal take on life in this very special collection of warm words about friendship, family, love, laughter ... and everything in between.
The Big Bad Wolf is late AGAIN and is ruining stories as he rushes through the forest to Grandma's house. When the Three Little Pigs get seriously grumpy AGAIN, Wolf tells them he's had ENOUGH. There will be no more HUFFING and PUFFING from this Big Bad Wolf. The fairytale characters aren't worried - they can totally manage without him! But Big Bad Wolfing is harder than it looks ... And what happens when they realise that they really need a Big Bad Wolf in this story?
What a perfect book to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Puffin and its founder Allen Lane and an intensely personal book for author, Michael Morpurgo, suffused with his love for the Scilly Isles and for his family history - his wife Claire being one of Allen Lane’s daughters. The utterly beautiful illustrations by Benji Davies evoke his own holidays with grandparents in Cornwall and one can see that this story of a boy who loved to paint is one that is very personal to him too. Every inch of this book is crafted with love (make sure that you look at the hardback cover beneath the dust jacket with its soaring puffin against a glorious blue background and the images of both author and artist at the end) The illustrations range from dramatic double paged spreads, to little sepia vignettes but every page illuminates the absorbing and heartfelt story which begins with the lighthouse keeper Benjamin Postlethwaite and a terrible shipwreck from which he singlehandedly rescues 30 people including the 5 year old narrator of our story. Recently fatherless and travelling with his French mother to grandparents in Devon, the rescue and Ben himself make a huge impact on the boy – not least because of the paintings which fill the lighthouse and the gift of a small painting which becomes his most precious possession. The portrayal of the grim and bleak life with unloving grandparents in Devon, the misery of boarding school and of an artistic child who was a bit of a loner is very moving. As soon as school is finished the boy retraces his steps to the now defunct lighthouse and discovers a home, a friend and an artistic vocation as well as an injured puffin that together they nurse back to health. A puffin who keeps returning and brings others with him. By the time the young man returns from the war he could not avoid - the island and Ben have become a sanctuary for these characterful birds as well as our narrator and his future family. A charming book which evokes a very real sense of place as well the importance of being true to yourself and finding your place in the world.
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