BfK Under 5s Pre - School/Nursery/Infant contd.

well as ‘up’, and ‘mummy’. In Bedtime a daily routine is the

focus; again talk opportunities are highlighted and the emphasis is on turn taking. We see a baby getting undressed,

zipped into a sleepsuit as well as story and rhyme time. A playful touch is included with a game of ‘peek- a-boo’. The value of giving simple choices (about which story to have) to promote talk and the importance of repetition in returning to a familiar rhyme is included. Key points about ways to promote

talk are summarised on the inside back cover

books, aimed at parents of babies and toddlers, have a clear instructional aim and may be supportive

parents who are unsure about ways to encourage early language, a link is provided

website for more talking tips. SMc The Greedy Goat

Petr Horácek, Walker Books, 978-1-4063-6716-4, £11.99 hbk

Meet a very greedy goat. She is not content with the usual diet of grass. Oh no – so off she goes eating a variety of unsuitable items including the farmer’s pants. The result - a very bad stomach ache. A picture book by Petr Horáček

is always a treat. His bold, colourful illustrations

attention and can be appreciated by all not

background colours – mainly white, occasionally vibrant blue or green, ensure

direct and uncluttered. There that that

always the texture of the goat’s coat to add variety. Goat’s cheeky, greedy character stands out - and there is no denying the effect of her greed. The text is just as simple and direct, allowing for plenty of repetition as well as introducing both colours and days of the week. The conclusion is satisfying – has goat learnt a lesson. I wonder. This is what a picture book for the very youngest should be like. FH

Watch out for Muddy Puddles! HHHH

Ben Faulks, illus Ben Cort, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 32pp, 978-1-4088-6719 8, £11.99 hbk

Watch out for Muddy Puddles! is the first picture book from Ben Faulks,

parents nationwide as Mr Bloom in the CBeebies show Mr Bloom’s Nursery, which he also and writes.

known to children

adventure that children love: what if there are creatures living in puddles? What if that particularly muddy puddle that your dad makes you skirt every day on the way to school contains a crocodile, or a magical hidden world; what if it goes right down and down through the centre of the planet? All these ideas, and more, are explored in a series of lively scenes, each one of which is really the start of a story in itself, and there’s an irresistible

It’s the sort of ‘what if’ created and

the images are is

overwhelming. The ages. demand pleasurable

However, they are simple

of each book. These for to HHHH

momentum to the book as it builds to a silly but satisfyingly (slightly) scary climax. Illustrator Ben Cort, of Aliens Love Underpants fame is the perfect illustrator

having a bath, being

fun with the surreal aspects of the story, drawing crocodiles brandishing knives and forks, an enormous rubber ducky with a very convincing wicked glint in its eye and a delightful boatful of little pirates. Two cross sections are particularly appealing: one allows children to see the world beneath the surface, where three mermen kings are enjoying a game of catch; turn the book sideways and another shows a little boy plunging down through the earth, fossils, Viking remains and the more everyday cans and bottles buried in the earth on either side. The rhyming text falters a little sometimes but it’s still great fun for reading aloud. Both illustrator and author are completely in tune with their audience, and their audience’s view of the world, and this is a book that will be very much enjoyed by children, and indeed adults too. AR

The Messy Book HHHHH

Maudie Powell-Tuck, ill. Richard Smythe, Little Tiger Press, 36pp, 978 1 84869 279 4, £10.99 hbk


illustrated by the always fun Richard Smythe. Maudie Powell-Tuck’s text is cute and clever – Cat has made a mess. Dog wants to tidy up, but Cat just wants to get rid of it. ‘Are we being naughty?’ asks Dog. Cat shoves it to the sides and squashes it down, but jumping on the mess just puts it in someone else’s way. Dog doesn’t approve of any of Cat’s other ideas to get rid of the mess and when she finally does tidy up, in her own way, it backfires and makes a bigger mess than before. There’s no other option – they’ll have to work together to tidy it up, but putting everything in the right place brings a nice surprise in itself. Children and adults alike will love this brilliant picture book. It continues to surprise and the use of white space and dialogue story is really exciting. A penguin-in-a-hat side line story adds extra laughs but it’s Cat that really steals the show. Cat’s expression when

priceless. This will be an instant hit at home and parents may end up referring to Cat when convincing little ones to tidy away their toys.

KC 20 Books for Keeps No.220 September 2016 proclaiming ‘all done’ is brilliant concept picture book partner, and has great

Bee: Nature’s Tiny Miracle


Britta Teckentrup, Little Tiger Press, 32pp, 978 1 84869 288 6, £10.99 hbk

The press release for this book claims that its story will encourage young readers to take an interest in the threatened situation of the bee. But this pleasant picture book, with some rather unnecessary cut-through holes in the pages, offers nowhere near the necessary level of explanation to make this likely. A commentary in rhyming couplets charts a single bee’s travels through an attractively illustrated countryside, and then, after our bee alerts the hive, we watch the pollinating activities of its swarm, ending on the assertion that ‘Every plant and flower you see/ Was given life by one small bee’. This is true enough, but I don’t think that, relying on this book alone, anyone would be any wiser how this happens. The ‘gift of pollen’ is mentioned but fertilisation and seed production is not explained. The rhyming text is sometimes strained and at least once botanically misleading: the bee buzzes over the pond ‘where wild thyme grows’. Well, it won’t grow on the pond. It might just grow on the banks of the pond, but it’s usually found in dryer places. There is also a lack of precision in illustration and text about what time of year is being depicted. To be fair, at least some of Britta Teckentrup’s flora and fauna seem to be purely imaginative, but there are identifiable spring flowers, bluebells and apple blossom, jostling with summer blooms, sunflowers and lilies. In other words, it’s a picture book that doesn’t quite know what it wants to do. Is it providing a nature lesson about bees or is it offering something that just looks and sounds lyrically wonderful about nature without any claims to be accurate? I think it could have been done better.

JB Nothing! HHHHH

Yasmeen Ismail, Bloomsbury, 32pp, 978 1 4088 7336 6, £6.99 pbk

Lila needs to get her shoes on, it’s time to go. Mum can’t work out what’s taking so long, whenever she asks what Lila’s doing she says ‘NOTHING!’. But in her own head Lila is wrestling with an octopus and twirling in a circus. When she eats a biscuit she’s a giant, climbing a tower and as she races on ahead she is the only one who can see her horse-drawn chariot. But then Grandpa remembers he can play pretend, there’s really nothing to it. Yasmeen Ismail follows up the brilliantly jubilant I’m a Girl! with another empowering picture

that give little girls the page space to be loud, busy, fun and creative. Lila’s imagination takes her into worlds of her own and Ismail’s energetic painterly style perfectly captures the excitement of a child’s imagination. It’s bright and bold with a simple text that says so much more. A beautiful book that celebrates children, with a special nod to girls who aren’t in the market for more pictures of pink princesses. KC


The Fox and the Wild HHHHH

Clive McFarland, Templar Publishing, 32pp, 978 1 78370 387 6, £6.99 pbk

An urban fox’s search for a more conducive environment than his noisy, smoky city home begins when he and his cousins are disturbed during one of their nocturnal raids on the local bins. The foxes scatter leaving Fred heading off in the opposite direction from his fellow marauders. Having climbed onto the rooftops he spies a flock of birds flying overhead and resolves to follow them, despite being told by other city dwelling animals that ‘beyond the city’ doesn’t exist. Then a bird drops out of the sky before him and the two converse, the bird telling Fred about his wild home. Undaunted by the bird’s ‘You’ll never reach it without flying,’ Fred sets off hunting for ‘the wild’.

some bare, some very smoky, and some

explorer comes upon a hole in the wall. That hole is the entrance to a tunnel down which a somewhat scared Fred heads, and finally emerges in a wonderful green, tree-filled place with soft earth, brightly coloured flowers and an uplifting fresh aroma. But that’s not quite the end of his journey: what he finds over the hills he traverses is even more exciting than all the flora around him … I love


McFarland’s splendid mixed media illustrations are a joy, with Fred emerging as a real character; and the book is a great one to share both with individuals and groups.

JB A Dog Called Bear HHHH

Diane and Christyan Fox, Faber & Faber, 32pp, 978-0-571-32944-1, £6.99, pbk

Lucy is very keen to have a pet dog of her own. When she sets off to find one, she meets a frog and a fox and weighs up the pros and cons of having one of them as a pet instead. Meanwhile Bear has been listening closely and is keen to become Lucy’s pet dog himself despite not really qualifying for the role! He convinces Lucy that he is a newly invented breed of dog and soon Bear settles into his new home happily. Trouble begins when Bear has a sleep, in Lucy’s bed, which lasts the whole winter and both pet and owner become


this story with its message:

Having explored various places, downright dangerous, our

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