BfK Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued

     a real friend, a little snow hare who wants to play too. They have great fun with games of rough and tumble, digging and building. When they decide to play hide and seek however things don’t go entirely to plan, as they both hide at the same time! But Little Brown Hare returns home having enjoyed his day exploring and having made a friend too. This is a lovely story for the very

young about friendship and developing independence. It is full of warmth in the words and the beautiful, soft illustrations just like its predecessor Guess How Much I Love You? which was loved by so many. It is sad that the author Sam McBratney has very recently died and so will not see the likely success of this companion story to a well-loved classic. SMc

The Hospital Dog 

Julia Donaldson, ill. Sara Ogilvie, Macmillan, 32pp, 978 1 5098 6831 5, £12-99 hbk

Every newly published picture book by Julia Donaldson arouses huge curiosity. There is a frisson of       delight? And yet again, readers’ expectations are fully met. This tale is one of kindness, bravery and a very daring dog. It is brilliantly illustrated with very

strong characterization.

Here is a dog, a Dalmatian called Dot, is she quite ordinary? NO, SHE’S NOT! Dot is the much-loved visitor to the Wallaby Children’s Ward. She is patted and stroked and cuddled, bringing constant good cheer to crying babes and sulky teenagers. Everyone loves Dot! In predictably catchy, bouncy rhyme, we follow Dot’s rounds with each child and their families, smiles abounding. Rose, Dot’s dotty owner, also cheerfully greets everyone with big-hearted smiles. One of their last visits is to a little deaf boy called Joe, who is packing his bag to return home. Joe and his Mum share the lift down to the exit with Rose and Dot. Once out in the road, CATASTROPHE! Whilst the adults turn to talk to neighbours, Joe spots a friend on the opposite side of the street. Of course he cannot hear a car coming…. Only Dot sees the imminent danger, dashing after Joe, pushing him back. Alas, Dot herself is hit by the car as it squeals to a halt. At the vet’s an x-ray on the wall shows the badly broken leg. The vet says, ‘Don’t worry. It’s not a disaster.  plaster.’ Poor Dot is devastated. No daily swims in the sea with Rose, no rides on the bus, no visiting children at the hospital for six whole weeks. But what a wonderful ending! Children from Wallaby Ward now come to visit       above all, pats and strokes, expressing friendship and happiness. When on a visit to a children’s hospital in London, Julia Donaldson was impressed by

the positive impact visits from furry friends made upon sick children and their families. This book will slot into a very special place with many families and classrooms, and with Sara’s wonderfully rich illustrations, should join their top selling The Detective Dog. It will generate much therapeutic conversation amongst readers and their families. GB

All Sorts 

Pippa Goodhart, ill. Emily Rand, Flying Eye Books , 32pp, 978 1 912497 21 8, £11.99 hbk

Frankie loves sorting things. She sorts by size, shape and colour. She       - whatever catches her eye, and she likes a challenge. Animals are tricky, but people are the trickiest. Uniforms helps her sort the marching band and the football team, but where should she put everyone else? And what about herself? A Venn diagram leaves Frankie right in the middle, at the intersection of My Street, My Family and My School. It seems she’s the only Frankie. Won’t that get lonely? Luckily the Marching Band strikes up ‘such a mix of sizes and shapes and colours of music’ that everyone gets all mixed up in a happy dance, and Frankie realises that ‘everyone and everything belongs in a muddle.’ It seems that everything is sorted, after all! This quietly effective picturebook

offers a taste of many things and brings them together in a way that makes intuitive sense. In the process, it becomes something rather special.      to individual subjects, and neither does All Sorts. As Frankie investigates mathematical ideas, she experiences the poetry of music and wrestles with substantial existential problems. And weaving through the whole are invitations to consider how we should behave towards each other and how we’d like our world to be. Every page dances with a multiplicity of images, from arrays of toys and other objects covering           walk, but it’s the people who dominate this book. Visible diversity is celebrated on every spread, where children and adults of all ages, sizes and ethnicities chat, play games and go about their busy lives. Care  is pushing the baby’s stroller, the football team is admirably diverse             spreads depict a joyfully inclusive street-dance and party, delivering an upbeat invitation to think about what, exactly, has been sorted.       

two spreads, there’s at least one big question not directly addressed in this book: namely, why doesn’t Frankie sort people by

their size


or appearance? Children may want to pursue this, and although the text doesn’t explicitly talk about respecting differences, it’s woven into every spread and may help frame constructive discussions. Two distinct approaches to life -‘orderly sorting’ and ‘happy muddle’ - are also depicted, which may help readers develop personal insight, and understand how others think and feel. Pippa Goodhart’s text is well-pitched

for its audience and Emily Rand’s illustrations more than do it justice, creating warm-hearted and appealing       the ‘everything’ that Frankie is so keen to sort. A muted palette, pale backgrounds and an interest in surface and pattern give the illustrations a decorative feel, but there are changes of pace and viewpoint as the music adds its energy, and lovers of detail will enjoy observing, questioning and imagining throughout the book. Recommended for Under 5’s and children in Foundation Stage/Year 1. CFH

The Leaf Thief 

Alice Hemming, ill. Nicola Slater, Scholastic, 32pp, 978 1 407191 44 7, £6-99, pbk

Enter a very cross squirrel. Yesterday her trees were covered in beautiful leaves, but today? Some are missing, and Squirrel is sure someone must have stolen them. Her bluetit friend reassures her that no, mouse has not stolen her leaves, nor has woodpecker, and that no-one from the woodland creatures is taking her leaves. Why not go back to her nest and relax? But next morning yet more leaves have gone. Bird decides to tell Squirrel that the Leaf Thief is in fact the wind! It shakes the trees and rustles the leaves. The explanation that this amazing event     Squirrel who realizes how silly she has been, especially when she is told the leaves will grow back again next spring. The ending brings on a laugh. Next morning’s scene shows Squirrel shouting loudly, ‘Bird! Someone has stolen THE GRASS!’ as Bird sighs, peeping out from his bird box at a snowy scene. The book concludes with a page of facts about autumn. There are brief notes about deciduous and evergreen trees, and the fact that autumn begins at different times of the year, depending upon whether in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. Many children will already know that Christmas in Australia, for example, is in their hottest months, in the middle of their summer. Lots of information- hungry children will act like sponges and lap up the facts both hidden and open in this amusing book about the inevitable change of seasons. It is full of autumnal colours, rich oranges, browns, golds and reds, and the text hops and jumps about the pages in a very child-friendly way, matched closely by the pictures. There are lots of little jokes in the pictures too, such as bluetit deep in his nestbox, reading a book entitled Bowling for Beginners. The book reads aloud very well. GB


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. Diana 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. Rebecca Butler writes and lectures on children’s literature. Jane Churchill is a children’s book consultant. Stuart Dyer is headteacher of a primary school in East Devon. 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 Ferelith Hordon is a former children’s librarian and editor of Books for Keeps Carey Fluker Hunt is a writer and children’s book consultant. Matthew Martin is a primary school teacher.

Sue McGonigle is a Lecturer in Primary Education and Co-Creator of Neil Philip is a writer and folklorist. 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. Clare Zinkin is a children’s book consultant, writer and editor.

Books for Keeps No.245 November 2020 23

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