Brian Alderson is founder of the Children’s Books History Society and a former Children’s Books Editor for The Times. Gwynneth Bailey is a freelance education and children’s book consultant. Clive Barnes, formerly Principal Children’s Librarian, Southampton City is a freelance researcher and writer. Diane Barnes, was a librarian for 20 years, mostly as a children’s specialist, working in Kent, Herts, Portsmouth and Hampshire, and Lusaka (Zambia) with the British Council. Jill Bennett is the author of Learning to Read with Picture Books and heads up a nursery unit. Jon Biddle is English Coordinator/Reading Champion at Moorlands Primary Academy in Norfolk, and co-founder of the Patron of Reading scheme. Rebecca Butler writes and lectures on children’s literature. Jane Churchill is a children’s book consultant. Stuart Dyer is an Assistant Head Teacher in a Bristol primary school. Anne Faundez is a freelance education and children’s book consultant. Janet Fisher is a children’s literature consultant. Geoff Fox is former Co-Editor (UK) of Children’s Literature in Education, but continues to work on the board and as an occasional teller of traditional tales. Sarah Gallagher is a headteacher and director of www.storyshack. org

Christine Hammill teaches in a college of further education and is also an author Ferelith Hordon is a former children’s librarian and editor of Books for Keeps Matthew Martin is a primary school teacher. Sue McGonigle is a Lecturer in Primary Education and Co-Creator of Dr. Lucy Pearson is Lecturer in Children’s Literature, Newcastle University. Margaret Pemberton is a school library consultant and blogs at Val Randall is Head of English and Literacy Co-ordinator at a Pupil Referral Unit. Andrea Reece is Managing Editor of Books for Keeps. Sue Roe is a children’s librarian. Elizabeth Schlenther is the compiler of Nicholas Tucker is honorary senior lecturer in Cultural and Community Studies at Sussex University.

Under 5s Pre – School/Nursery/Infant Frankfurt HHHH

Mia Cassany & Mikel Casal, Tate Publishing, 32pp, 978-1-8497-6579-4, £8.99 hbk

Frankfurt is – well yes, a “sausage” dog,

or rather a Daschund. He

lives with Pierre in a small flat ant the top of a tall building. Frankfurt loves Pierre and loves his life except there is one problem; his name. Can Frankfurt make Pierre realise how much he hates his name? Bold,

simple colours combine

with bold geometric shapes to evoke the continental atmosphere of this gentle

story of friendship and a

problem solved. Frankfurt is a little dog with a real character and young readers will find it easy to sympathise with his predicament; many may indeed recognise the situation. The careful design is not confined to the illustration alone. The text is carefully placed on each page and presented in a clear, well sized font that ensures it is a pleasure to read. No tricks, just an enjoyable story. FH

Neon Leon HHHH

Jane Clarke, illus. Britta Teckentrup, Nosy Crow, 24pp, 978-0-85763-807-6 £6.99 pbk

Neon Leon is a chameleon who doesn’t seem to be able to change from a bright orange.

(It’s bright,

but not glow in the dark). The other chameleons move about, changing colour to blend in, and we are asked what we think might happen when they, for instance, go to the sandy desert, and to tell Leon what colour he should be in the grey rocky mountains. Then we have to say it louder…We say ‘Goodnight’ Leon’, and turn the page softly, but Leon is so bright that he keeps the other chameleons awake. They get very grumpy and Leon sadly walks away- and finds some bright orange flamingos, with whom he blends in perfectly, until they fly away. He spots something over in the corner of the page, and walks very slowly (we count to 10 across the page) to a place where there are bright orange flowers, and, can we guess? Yes, a bright orange friend. With lots

of audience opportunities participation, for this will

be good to share or to read aloud. Britta Teckentrup’s stylized animals and backgrounds work well with this simple story. Jane Clarke is also very experienced, and this partnership is evidently successful. The book will be fun for very young children. DB

You’re safe with me HHHH

Chitra Soundar & Poonam Mistry, Lantana, 32pp 978-1-9113-7329-2 £11.99 hbk

Night falls in the jungle; the moon 20 Books for Keeps No.229 March 2018

rises, the stars shine. It is time for the baby animals to go to bed. They cannot sleep – a storm approaches with thunder, lightning and the wind. However Mama Elephant is there to gently

soothe their fears, her

whispered refrain of “You’re safe with me” bringing them comfort. Poonam Mistry’s illustrations are

a feast of decoration that reference the arts of the Indian sub-continent creating an exciting visual experience for the youngest reader. Soundar’s gentle text is the ideal accompaniment as Mama Elephant provides satisfying and imaginative explanations for the noises that frighten the young, while her repeated “you’re safe with me” is infinitely reassuring. Rich saturated colours, patterned designs, a lyrical, rhythmic narrative, this is a jewel of a book that should be shared widely as an antidote to the mundane and banal. A bedtime book to treasure. FH

Dino Duckling HHHH

Alison Murray, Orchard Books, 32pp, 978 1 40834 018 9, £12.99 hbk

‘Even as an egg, Dino Duckling was different.’ So begins Alison Murray’s prehistoric spin on The Ugly Duckling story.


Dino feels despite

that reassurances that his Mama

difference Duck’s

makes no difference, and as the days pass and spring turns

to her different to

summer and Dino becomes a gigantic dinosaur, those differences become increasingly evident. Mama Duck teaches her offspring

to swim, to fish, to share, how to navigate by the stars and how to look out for each other. She also teaches their

them how to celebrate differences and even when

being different presents challenges for Dino, his mother always offers reassurance. Come the beginning of autumn

though it seems as though there’s one very significant difference between Dino and his feathered siblings that might well prove


Will he be left behind when the others fly south to spend the winter in warmer climes? With a mother as all- embracing in her love as Dino’s, there must surely be a way; and of course there is. Murray’s open-hearted

story of

acceptance and unconditional love celebrates divergence and difference in a light-hearted

way for young audiences many of whom may themselves

odd one out. Her bold screenprint illustrations

yet reassuring feel

the amusingly emphasise

Dino’s hugeness and the impact it has on himself and others, and the love and devotion of his mother and his siblings towards him is touchingly portrayed. JB

15 Things not to do with a puppy


Margaret McAllister, ill. Holly Sterling. Lincoln Children’s Books, 28pp 978-1-78603-047-4 £11.99 hbk

This picturebook is a follow-up by this partnership to 15 Things not to do with your Granny, and then 15 Things not to do with a baby, which was well reviewed, and it features the same mixed-race family with a boy and a girl, both equally involved in the care of their puppy. It

starts with some but

guidance: ‘Sometimes (puppies) do things they shouldn’t,

general mostly

they are lovely. A bit like you, in fact.’ Puppies should ‘have bright eyes, a licky tongue at one end and a waggy tail at the other’, which means they are happy and healthy. Then we note some things not to do, some of which are patently silly, but children will enjoy knowing this. Hang-gliding, playing Dad’s tuba, having the remote control, helping with the gardening, shopping all

are rejected. Don’t

teach her to chase butterflies – she already knows how to do that (and of course she doesn’t catch one). It’s disappointing to this former librarian that the library is shown as a place where the puppy has to be quiet (the girl’s finger on her lips) rather than a place where only guide dogs are allowed at all (a hitching place outside is normally provided) – that silent stereotype does persist in spite of all the noisy activities that go on in libraries. Anyway, after the silliness, we come to the final double page- spread with the sensible suggestions: do cuddle her, play with her, make sure she gets plenty of exercise and the right food etc. Margaret

McAllister is an

experienced author specialising in books about animals, with some, e.g. her series about the island of ‘Mistmantle’, for junior readers and some picture books. The illustrations are fun, and cover the end-papers, too. Holly Sterling is National Karate Champion and a 4th Dan karate instructor as well as a talented and award-winning illustrator!

books include a series on feelings: Everybody

feels…(angry/ happy/

sad/ scared) showing children of a wide variety of ethnic origins, and a recent anthology she illustrated: Over the hills and far away was selected by the Guardian as one of the 50 best culturally diverse children’s books. This is fun, and children who like dogs, or are having a new puppy, will probably enjoy it hugely. DB


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