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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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | Penny, the notorious dog-napper, has a host of dogs already but there is one very special dog she is determined to get her hands on. Quick, clever, a master of disguise and very good at problem solving, he is the dog she wants. And he is covered in spots so should be easy to find. Penny’s assistant Pat sets out to find the dog. Can the dog-nappers catch their prize or will they be outwitted by the super-smart dog? Emma Lazell’s energetic and vivid illustrations inject this simple story with great energy.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | Noah and Hatty are thrilled when they discover their Uncle Lofty owns a zoo. But Uncle Lofty is no longer able to look after the animals and has decided he needs to get them back to their own homes. Although he has a boat, he has a boat but he needs helpers! Soon Noah and Hatty, together with their Aunt Smiley who looks after them while their parents do their special work far from home, and a lively group of animals including the very lively Monkey Robertson, are off round the world finding out a lot about animals as they do so!
With a short, simple but often lyrical text, and through striking, beautiful illustrations, Moth tells the story of the peppered moth, and through that explains evolution and describes the changing landscapes of our world. The peppered moth provides a perfect example of natural selection: some moths are born with speckled wings, some are charcoal black. The speckled markings are most effective as camouflage when moths are resting on pale tree branches, but as the Industrial Revolution begins and trees are covered in sooty deposits from factories and chimneys, suddenly the black moths do better and their numbers rise. Then, as laws are passed to reduce pollution and the air clears, the situation is reversed again, and the number of speckled moths increases. Not only does this encapsulate natural evolution, it also reminds us of nature’s resilience and offers hope for the future. The final line encourages children to go out and observe moths for themselves, something this book will surely inspire them to do.
Best friends Betty and Maud love doing everything together. And they are sure that their favourite toys, Duck and Penguin do too. But Duck and Penguin do NOT! While Betty and Maud share playing in the sandpit, taking turns on the swings, painting and baking, Duck and Penguin push each other off the swings, crush each other’s sandcastles, and cover each other with paint and cake mix. Can they ever be friends? Luckily they can! Julia Woolf conveys this witty story about friendship – or not – most effectively through the venomous scowls and frowns and ferocious looks between the two soft toys in contrast to the brilliant warm smiles of Betty and Maud.
Bear and Squirrel are best friends and do everything together. Bear describes it beautifully: ‘Like peas in a pod, you and I fit/ Like strawberries and cream, we are a hit’. The pictures however are telling a different story and we can all see that sometimes – quite often in fact – Squirrel is more than a little irritated by Bear, not to mention squashed, bashed and accidentally knocked about! When it all gets too much, Squirrel tells Bear he needs space and Bear, being a really good friend, understands. Check the illustrations again though, and we can see that life without Bear just isn’t the same. Steve Small’s illustrations are full of humour but poignant too and Smiriti Hall’s rhyming text a delight to read aloud; this is a virtuoso portrayal of what friendship means.
‘Please remove the Mouse from the House’: the instructions could not be clearer, but mouse-catcher Mr Bosh and his assistant Mr Bumble make such a mess of it! Children will squeak with glee as My Bumble tries and fails to catch the mouse, each time more spectacularly than last. We know things won’t go well when he can’t avoid the mouse-traps he’s laid – the same traps the clever mouse has nimbly side-stepped – but everything really goes to pieces when Mr Bosh sends him out to bring back a cat … The scenes are increasingly outlandish and comical, perfectly represented in Russell Ayto’s bright, scratchy illustrations, and it all culminates in the biggest disaster you can contemplate. Stylish, irreverent, unruly fun for all!
With a simple narrative and eye-catching spreads, this picture book delivers a powerful and timely message. Meera and her mum are enjoying a day at the seaside, when suddenly a giant approaches them – a huge, blue giant that comes out of the sea and is actually a wave. It has a message from the ocean: ‘We need your help.’ Sailing out, mother and daughter find the sea is full of rubbish and start to clear up. Next day, Meera goes back to the beach and piles up as much litter as she can. Friends join in, and friends of friends, and when everybody helps out: ‘even the biggest messes can be fixed.’ The final pages make suggestions for ways we can all cut down on plastic and while the story doesn’t dodge the size of the problem we face, it does provide hope and encouragement. With its rich, painterly seaside and deep-sea scenes, this is very beautiful, and very memorable. For more books with an eco theme visit our Green Reads collection
Ant Chloe is a little ant with a great attitude to life. She is industrious and always ready for an adventure. Naturally curious, this sometimes gets her in trouble. She wants life to be fair and is hard working, She is part of a happy family of ants together with her 10 brothers and sisters.
A group of animal friends think they have found some stars that have fallen to earth. Together they endeavour to get the stars back into the sky. Reach for the Stars is a book about teamwork and encouraging others to do their best. This is book three of a larger series however I think they could be read in any order. This is a very unusual book as it is designed to be read aloud by a group, giving 4 children the chance to be one of the characters and allowing them to read the book between them. I liked that the contribution from each character is clearly stated at the start as I think this could be a nice way to encourage less confident, or perhaps younger readers to join in. At the end of the book are suggestions for discussion and a chance to explore our feelings. I liked the illustrations, which are clear and colourful and I think that Reach for the Stars is a good book for early readers to enjoy. I think that this is a lovely book to share with friends or siblings and take it in turns to be each character.
On first glance this seems to be a short book with a very simple storyline but upon reading and reflection it offers much more. Illustrated in bright and bold colours, the story focuses upon a young boy called Eddie and his dog, Kenny. Eddie thinks about animals and their special qualities, envisaging what it would be like if he himself had those physical attributes. He transforms himself into a wondrous creature consisting of a variety of animal body parts and succeeds in avoiding dangerous situations by calling upon one of the animal traits. After his adventures, he finally decides that he would actually rather be himself. This would be the perfect story for a teacher to read to a class when celebrating the uniqueness of one's own individuality. Its fantasy element would appeal to young children, yet its underlying theme enables the opportunity to encourage self-worth and confidence. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
You might know Bunny vs Monkey from the totally brilliant Phoenix Comic. This new book brings together a collection of their comic adventures in one chunky but portable, full colour (obviously) paperback – how great is that! If you are new to the duo, Bunny lives in a peaceful forest with his nice (but dim) friends, Weenie the Squirrel and Pig. Other than the occasional run in with a bear, all is calm until the arrival of Monkey, hell-bent on world domination. (In Monkey’s defence, he was launched into space by scientists with that aim, but the mission failed and he fell back to earth just over the hill from their laboratory). He’s helped in his scheming by a skunk with its own underground laboratory and the two cause no end of trouble for Bunny. With titles like Wrestlepocalypse, Fish Off and The Whuppabaloo, these mini adventures are hugely inventive, wonderfully daft and always very, very funny. Bunny vs Monkey would tempt the most reluctant reader - you can find more books we think are suitable for Relucant Readers here.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
The colourful illustrations are so vibrant. It helps bring the characters to life for little children. They will see the funny side of the Imps. This book helps children to learn to be polite and have manners all the time, even when being tempted by outsiders who are just plain rude, like the Imps. But Granny had her magic wand to help get the Imps outside where they belong. It is a wonderful story for young ones and the colourful characters make it believable for them. Diana Mason, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This witty, stylish counting book will catch the attention of adults as well as the imagination of the very young. A rhythmic, rhyming text and eye-catching illustrations present us with one fox in socks, then two gorillas looking in mirrors, followed by three jolly llamas in pyjamas, right up to the twenty birds who have the last words. Along the way we also meet five goats wearing coats, the goats labelled and clearly identifiable under their coats (Nubian, mountain, angora…). Other favourite spreads include the one featuring sixteen chickens reading (and clearly enjoying) Dickens! A wonderfully original counting book that is as handsome as it is effective.
Generosity, unexpected kindness and warm welcomes are at the heart of this story, making it perfect Christmas reading. It’s closing time on Christmas Eve in a big department store and all the shoppers and staff have gone home leaving only Clawdia the cat – and a family of lively mice. They lead her a merry dance around the shop, stopping occasionally to point out scenes that make her rethink her ‘bah, humbug’ attitude to Christmas. A surprise ending sees Clawdia and the mice enjoying a proper Christmas day. The message is lovely and the hectic chases around Christmas displays are lots of fun. As good as any John Lewis ad!
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.
Tom Moorhouse ingeniously breathes new life into Toad of Toad Hall in this engaging chapter book. In an inspired bit of plotting, the young heroes of his book Teejay, Ratty and Mo, descendants of the original Wind in the Willows characters, discover poor Toad frozen in the icehouse beneath Toad Hall, left there years ago by the Weasels who have their beady eyes on his property. Before you can say ‘Poop Poop’ Mr Toad has thawed out and in typically enthusiastic manner is embracing our brave new world and its shiny gadgets. The style is very different to Kenneth Grahame’s but Moorhouse captures the absolute essence of Mr Toad, who is the same impetuous, childish character, alternately egotistical and generous, foolish and brave. The story rattles along with regular nods to the original, and Holly Swain’s illustrations add to the adventure, humour and general warmth.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2019 | The world of wolves is brought vividly to life in this brilliant story which takes the reader right into the mind of a young wolf cub who has to make a brave decision to leave his home and head out into the wide, wide world. Swift is one of a litter of cubs who grow up under the careful protection of their mother and father. From them they learn how to smell and see food and danger and how to stay safe in all circumstances. But, when a rival wolf pack invades their territory, Swift has to move on. Alone, he has to travel on a journey risking everything. Rosanne Parry captures the awesomeness of the vast open spaces through which Swift travels making them come alive. The effect is to leave readers with the greatest respect for the wild and the animals that live in it.
Is Gracie an angel on earth? Amazing Grace is a tale of overcoming fear, building trust, finding love, being open to spirituality, and the power of faithfulness in our relationships. Based on a true story, get to know Gracie, an eleven-month-old shelter cat, rescued by Mom. Gracie had spent her entire life in a cage at the shelter before being rescued. Gracie and Mom’s friendship gets off to a rocky start. Follow along as these two form a special bond through prayer, music, and something very much like divine intervention.
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!
September 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Matt Sewell is a passionate bird spotter as well as gifted artist and his enthusiasm shines through in this sumptuous book. He’s selected favourite birds from around the world, the exotic as well as the everyday, and each one featured is illustrated in his beautiful and expressive watercolour. The passages of text that accompany the illustrations include fascinating facts as well as information on the bird’s appearance and habitat, and some of the facts are really quirky – how the Australian Southern drongo came to provide the slang term for an idiot for example. This is a book to delight, intrigue and inspire as well as inform
Rabbit and Bear: Book 3 | Rabbit and Bear, like Claude, are perfect companions for building reading confidence and getting young children hooked into reading. Laugh aloud text and lively illustrations throughout. Gorgeously illustrated and with a classic feel, this is a brilliantly funny story of a rabbit and a bear who discover that things are always better when they're shared with a friend. Ideal for readers moving on from picture books.
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