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. Annie Brierley has worked in libraries and the related sector all her working life and is currently Library Supervisor in North Devon. Rebecca Butler writes and lectures on children’s literature. Jane Churchill is a children’s book consultant. Stuart Dyer is an Head Teacher of a primary school in East Devon. 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 Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator. 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 Margaret Pemberton is a school library consultant and blogs at Neil Philip is an author, poet, mythographer and folklorist. 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

The Boy Who Loved Everyone HHHH

Jane Porter, ill. Maisie Paradise Shearring, Walker Books, 32pp, 978 1 4063 8064 4, £12.99 hbk

Dimitri is new at nursery and this friendly happy little boy wants


share the love he feels. Starting with his classmates during storytime, ‘I love you’ is what he tells them all. He continues so doing at playtime, telling not only the children but also the ants and trees in the playground. This utterance is repeated throughout the afternoon to pretty much everything and

everyone he encounters by

which time the children at least, feel Dimitri’s loving rather too much of a good thing.

The trouble is, nobody,

not even the old man he and his mum pass on the way home, say it back: the only ‘I love you’ comes from his mum at bedtime. Next morning Dimitri doesn’t want

to go to school, telling Mum how he feels.

She in turn explains that

people are different and consequently have different ways of showing their feelings. As they walk along she shows examples of this in practice: saying ‘I love you’ need not be spoken: actions can be equally effective. When they arrive in the playground, Dimitri still feels a bit unsure of his welcome but it’s not long before both the actions and words of his classmates let him know he’s okay. Gradually he begins to feel a warmth spreading

right through him and

come storytime it’s clear to everyone that Dimitri is accepted. I love that circularity with the

narrative starting and ending with storytime. Both Jane Porter’s telling, which was inspired by a little boy from her nursery art sessions, and Maisie Paradise Shearring’s richly detailed illustrations

exude warmth tenderness, and perfectly

do both outside and in, and she is soon exploring it all, saying ‘hello’ to each new place. This is a wonderful introduction to moving house, and while Emma seems cheerful about it all, there is an underlying nostalgia about the old house. ‘This is the last time I will eat at this table’ for instance. There are lots of ‘lasts’ before the ‘firsts’ come along, and we sense that Emma has some ambivalence about the move. She is always shown in flat white with thick black lines outlining her body and showing her expressions. The few background landscapes in what appears to be watercolour have a feel of Australia about them, and are beautifully done, but the emphasis is on Emma and her experiences. At the end we see her writing on the wall of her new bedroom ‘Emma lives here now’ and we know the transition has been made. A lovely story. ES

Be More Bernard HHHH

Simon Philip, ill. Kate Hindley, Simon and Schuster, 978 1 4711 6462 0, £6.99, pbkk

A striking black and sparkly cover shows a with-it rabbit beneath a disco glitter ball, dressed in mod gear

and sporting a red super-

powers cape… dancing to music from its headphones, AND wearing roller boots. This is Bernard, who doesn’t like the other rabbits in his warren, doesn’t like carrots, doesn’t like lettuce. He does try to conform, hopping when the other rabbits hop, bouncing when they all bounce. But he senses he is uncomfortable, and only

feels himself in his far-from and capture

Dimitri’s vulnerability, showing how the power of kindness eventually wins. Perfect for sharing with little ones at home or in early settings. JB


Goodbye House, Hello House HHHHH

Margaret Wild, ill. Ann James, Allen & Unwin, 34pp, 978 1 74331 110 3, £12.99 hbk

The little girl, whom we discover is called Emma, is moving from her old home to her new one, and in wonderful pictures full of thick black lines superimposed over flowing landscapes

we see her inside. saying

goodbye to all the things she has loved and enjoyed in her old house: trees and animals out of doors and all the separate rooms

Last of

all, we see her changing the wording on the wall in her room to ‘Emma lived here’. When she gets to the new house, there is so much to see and

22 Books for Keeps No.240 January 2020

rabbit dreams. Finally, he discovers his true love – at Bertie and Brenda’s Annual Bunny Ball. Here, he dresses just as we see him on the cover, most unbunny-like. Oh, how the others express their horror, at his audacity in dress as well as his actions! For he struts and swaggers and peacocks and hustles, grooves with grace, and jives with joy. It is wonderful, and Bernard has never before felt so

happy, so himself. Whilst the other rabbits are horrified by his outrageous behaviour, maybe one little


isn’t? Soon, Betsy is just as groovy, happy and different. That got the others thinking, and before long, they are all as different from each other as is Bernard. Finally, they all agree that although they are the same in many ways, ‘being yourself is the BEST thing a bunny can be.’ Natty

illustrations of all the

rabbits give lots of talking points for readers, each spread being different in character from others, using the spaces to draw the eye to the actions, and following the text admirably. The rabbit force is a building company par excellence, and the pictures give us a peep into their very busy world before Bernard decides to be himself! GB

What I Like Most HHHH

Mary Murphy, ill. Zhu Cheng-Liang, Walker, 26pp, 978 1 4063 6904 5, £12.99 hbk

The little girl has lots of favourite things: the window she can look through to see what is happening on the street, apricot jam, trainers with flashing lights, the river, coloured pencils, chips, a favourite book, and a teddy. But she also understands that all of these things can change. She will grow and change, and the things she ‘likes most’ now will also change. But there is one thing in her life that will never change, and that is her mother. Mum was there before she was born, and she will always be her favourite thing, even when they are cross with each other: ‘You are what I like the very, very most in the world.’ The end pages in this book are particularly beautiful, one of spring and the other of autumn, and all the way through we see things that are favourites of ours too, things we might believe will always be there, but we know deep down will change, as will we. An evocative picture book that will help children understand the meaning of change in their lives and that it should be thought of as a positive. ES

5 – 8 Infant/Junior The House of Madame M HHHHH

Written and ill. Clotilde Perrin, Gecko Press, 10pp, 978-1-776572-74-8, £16.99, hbk

Are you lost? Then step this way! Madame M has some


waiting for you inside her rather unusual house. But do take care… Clotilde Perrin’s latest picturebook

is a wonderfully gruesome lift-the- flap delight for readers who enjoy a ghoulish joke. Strikingly illustrated with

intricately detailed and darkly humorous spreads, this large-scale


features five room-sets containing more than 25 interactive constructions with macabre themes. From the seasonal clock in the sitting room (youth to old age in a single rotation) via the graffiti in the toilet (don’t lift the seat!) to the monster- extractor above the hob (where even the supper is aware of death), many of its features will please older audiences, including reluctant readers and those who find it hard to concentrate on longer texts.

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