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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.
June 2020 Book of the Month | Chosen & reviewed by our Guest Editor for June 2020, Martin Brown As someone trying to big-up some of the planet’s unsung animal heroes in Lesser Spotted Animals I adored this brilliant new picture book about Alfonso the alpaca who loves reading but finds that every book he reads seems to be about bears. Emma Perry’s glorious story follow’s on from her earlier 2020 book, I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. And continues the celebration of the joy of reading in a knowing nod to the bear-beset world of picture books - in a picture book. If Alfonso can’t find a book with alpacas in it he’ll just have to write his own! Rikin Parekh’s fun cartoony illustration adds to the treat. There’s even an alpaca fact file at the end! (See also Kristina Stephenson’s delightful Why Are there So Many Books About Bears?)
What fun to discover colours with Elmer, everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant! Each colourful page in this new book shows off a different colour and is packed too with Elmer’s friends and the his distinctive jungle flora. There are so many things to spot and count including eight bright little teddy bears. There’s no-one quite like Elmer and this is a lovely first-learning book.
Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 | | Kate Read uses bold colours, composition and collage to tell the story of one famished fox’s encounter with some angry hens, making this counting book a real thriller. The Klaus Flugge judges said: ‘Visually stunning. There’s real drama here and the way the story is told is joyous. She’s done a very clever thing and created a counting book while keeping within the beats of a story.’
That dog is a very smart one. He’s quick, clever and a bit of a detective in his spare time and he might just have worked out who's behind the dastardly crimes. Will he avoid getting caught himself and rescue his fellow creatures? This second book from the author and illustrator of Big Cat is just as charming and funny as the first.
A gorgeously warm, funny book about everything a friendship can be - for anyone who's ever had a friend. Wherever you're going, I'm going too. Whatever you're doing, I'm sticking with you. It's wonderful to have good friends to see you through the good times and the bad. But sometimes, friends can also be a bit . . . well . . . overbearing. This completely irresistible rhyming text by Smriti Halls is perfectly complemented by artwork from fantastic new picture book illustrator, Steve Small.
They may be a family of hyenas, but if we were all like the Bolds the world would be a much better place. In case you don’t know, the Bolds live disguised as humans in Teddington. Their two children attend the local primary, and both parents work: Mr Bold writes cracker jokes, Mrs Bold designs extravagant hats. In this story, Mr Bold’s mother arrives from Africa for a visit, and struggles rather with her son’s new lifestyle choice. It looks like the family will be exposed, but the story takes a different turn, and once again the Bolds come to the aid of someone who needs their help. The story is deliciously bonkers, the illustrations just as witty and full of quirky detail, and the Bolds’ live-and-let-live philosophy is a breath of fresh air in our quarrelsome times. If you want everyone to go to sleep smiling and happy, make this your bedtime reading.
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.
It’s hard to believe that this is the 27th Elmer storybook as it feels as fresh as one of the brilliantly coloured flowers in his jungle. The elephants are all set to play a trick on Elmer on his birthday. They tell the other animals to act as if they’ve forgotten, nobody is to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’. Lion thinks it’s a funny kind of joke, and lots of the other animals seem confused but the elephants are so excited they don’t stop to listen. Perhaps they should though, because the surprise doesn’t work as they’d hoped. Even so, everyone is laughing and enjoying cake on the last page. David McKee never fails to entertain and surprise, and Elmer and his many friends remain top company for the very young.
Everything is better with a little sparkle, even farm animals! Lift the sturdy flaps in this attractive board book to discover which animal is making the noise on the opposite page. You’ll find a horse, a chicken, a cow and a sheep, all of them together on the last page. Manes, hooves, ears are picked out in foil making the pictures even more appealing. A good book to enjoy with the very young and a fun way to develop hand eye co-ordination and teach colours and first words.
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.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Margaret Sturton announces herself as a major picture book talent with her debut. Little rabbit Herbert loves foxes. Indeed, he loves them so much he wants to be one, making himself a pair of fox ears and a tail. At first his mummy is amused, then angry when he messes up the living room with red paint and cuts up her dress to make a tail. When she sees him out playing as a fox, despite her instruction to be a ‘good little rabbit’, she is cross again, until she suddenly realises how important it is to Herbert to be a fox. The story is full of comic moments and the little rabbit family will be recognisable to all readers. It’s also a wonderful story about identity and love, delivered lightly but most effectively. Highly recommended.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2020 | Full of bravery, hope, dreams and humour this is a wonderfully doggy adventure as Paolo escapes from his confinement in a hairdressing salon and enjoys everything that is on offer in the stunning city of Rome. Paolo knows that Rome is full of beauty and magic but how will he ever be able to get out and see it? Seizing his moment when the salon door is left open, Paolo embarks on a whirlwind and dangerous adventure full cats, dogs, statues and even opera. Claire Keane’s fabulous illustrations create a glorious evocation of Rome – mostly from a dog’s point of view!
Interest Age 5-8 | March 2020 Book of the Month | Clever children who use their wits to get the better of much more powerful adversaries star in this duo of stories by the one and only Michael Rosen. Masha escapes a big and thoroughly bad bear in a particularly delicious way, while little Peggy outsmarts her admittedly rather stupid king to win big. Rosen’s lively, direct style make these stories wonderfully accessible for those growing in reading confidence, and Ashley King’s full colour illustrations add to the appeal of this little gem of a book.
From the author of Seeing Stars which detailed all 88 known constellations for older children, this stylish and sturdy book introduces just six of the most familiar and recognisable constellations to the very young. Young children like nothing better than books which invite them to guess what is under the flap and here each constellation is introduced by the line-connected star cluster sparkling against the deep blue background of the night sky. As you read aloud the verbal clues, children are asked to guess the creature and the answer is revealed, with more lines filling in the details of the animal, under the flap, alongside more information about the constellation and its major stars. Flaps can be quite flimsy and often considered unsuitable for classroom use but, in this case, it is a solid full-page fold-out that will withstand multiple uses. Children will definitely be inspired to do their own star gazing and to investigate further. Personally, this has helped enormously to understand how constellations got their names and to see the animal properly revealed. I still wonder, however, at the imagination of the Ancients that first connected those dots!