reviews Under 5s Pre-School/Nursery/Infant continued Ed’s Choice

Hello! A Counting Book of Kindnesses


Hollis Kurman, ill. Barroux, Otter Barry Books, 24pp, 9 781913074999, £11.99 hbk

This is a counting book with a difference. The opening pages reveal a family escaping war and danger. We are invited to imagine what this might be like and reassured all will be well – because of the kindness of strangers. The family’s journey is structured in the form of a one to ten of kindnesses, from two hands pulling them to safety aboard a boat to ten new friends made in a new land. The warmth of the beautiful

Illustrations by acclaimed picturebook maker Barroux enhance the simple text enabling young readers to follow the journey of this refugee family and encouraging them to join in with the counting. Additional details within the illustrations provide further learning opportunities including sequencing number one to ten and the days of the week.

However, this particular moggy is

of the recalcitrant kind and is having none of those things. For as we know cats like to walk by themselves, so it makes a leap for freedom, through the kitchen window and off into the great outdoors with Grandpa and Boy in hot pursuit. Following the creature proves pretty challenging; she leads them on a wild cat chase as the borders of fantasy and reality merge. Eventually the two humans find the

fast-moving feline when she pauses briefly to allow them to catch up and then it’s time to party. What a party it is with cats of all shapes and sizes cavorting to live music with wild abandon.

Then back at home once again,

Boy, Grandpa and their charge appear to have become firm friends and Boy, fired with enthusiasm is more than willing to have their visitor return. As with all his Grandpa and Boy

stories, Sam Usher keeps his text to a minimum allowing his quirky, energetic watercolour

and ink

illustrations to do much of the story telling. The eagle-eyed will notice that the transition to the imaginary titular location is indicated by a potted plant growing in Grandad’s garden. JB

Tiny Ant HHHH

Claire Freedman, ill. Claire Powell, Simon & Schuster, 32pp, 978 1 4711 8148 1, £6.99 pbk

There’s a rumble in the jungle as the jungle version of Britain’s Got Talent rolls in!

Everyone is excited and

practices their many skills in hopes of making the big time. Tiny Ant also

Endorsed by Amnesty

International, this book would be a gentle introduction to the plight of refugee children for the very young. It could provide the perfect starting point for conversations about this important

hands, feet and faces. There is no pretension – Jane Newberry captures the mood of a Rhyme Time or that moment between granny and baby (or toddler). Here there is no abstruse vocabulary, no difficult sentiments, this is for today. Accompanying each rhyme are illustrations by Carolina Rabei. They are a perfect match. Her child- friendly images bounce, zoom, creep and bump off the pages filling the space with a lively visual experience. The colours are vibrant and textured – in tune with the immediacy of the words. This is a book that fills that gap – what to give for the new arrival in the family or what to use in a Story Time designed for the very, very youngest; something that can find immediate use. So get zooming to the moon or tap,tap,tapping with those wooden

spoons – it will be fun. FH Everyone Has a Body

topic in educational

settings and at home. The final page poses the question ‘How many ways can you think of to be kind?’ encouraging discussion of simple ways to extend a hand of friendship and help to those seeking asylum. Key facts are included in the back of the book and a list of organisations offering help. SMc

practices, but no one expects him to do anything well, and he gets bullied in a reference to the sad time that Susan Boyle experienced in her first time on the show. The fact that she won (quite rightly) is also referenced in this story, as Tiny Ant sings his tiny heart out, whilst all the rest of the animals come a cropper. The illustrations are an explosion of colour and detail as the lion’s costume splits, monkey’s juggling bananas end up in the audience, and the skunk ‘makes an awful pong’ as he tries to play his trumpet. This reviewer


enjoyed the pictures at the beginning and end of the book, with Tiny Ant making his way out of and back to his underground home. Kids are going to love this.

It’s laugh-out-loud funny,

and the rhyming couplets will appeal too. Great fun if a tad obvious. ES

Big Green Crocodile. Rhymes to say and play


Jane Newberry, illus Carolina Rabei, Otter-Barry Books, 32pp, 9781910959619, £11.99 hbk

“Stripy tigers, stripy zebras...”, “Bibb-ly, bobb-ly, Bibb-ly, bobb-ly. Brontosaurus ride...”, “Fishy in the ocean, Fishy in the sea...” these cheerful little rhymes trip off the tongue inviting participation and the enjoyment of sounds and actions as they are meant to do. This is a lively and engaging collection of contemporary action rhymes to be chanted (or just recited) with actions for

babies and toddlers; the

suggested actions are detailed in neat inserts with each verse, no equipment required, just you and the child – and

Jon Burgerman, OUP, 30pp, 978 0 19 276603 8, £6.99 pbk

Lots of brightly coloured blobby

creatures inhabit this cheerful picture book all about different kinds of bodies and the fact that each body is good in its very own way. The rhymes and pictures show us big ones, little ones, wide or thin, weak or strong, hairy or smooth, old or young – they are all here, and they are all special. The ‘strong’ one is particularly fun as it shows us a blobby in a wheelchair holding up an elephant with one hand, making it clear that strength can be seen in different ways. Humour and chaos and colour make this a true frolic. ‘Being different is nothing new. It makes us special and makes you… you!’ ES

Like the Moon Loves the Sky HHHH

Hena Khan, ill. Saffa Khan, Chronicle Books, 32pp, 978 1 4521 8019 9, £12.99 hbk

A Muslim picture book that is both enchanting and expressive of the Quran,

this will go some way to

helping children understand about the beauty of spiritual texts and also about faith itself.

The author

explains that the word ‘inshallah’ is something Muslims use constantly in their prayers. It means ‘if God wills it’, and it appears at the beginning of each of the rhyming couplets that occur throughout the book. The story begins with a young couple with their baby: ‘Inshallah you are all that is gentle and good. Inshallah you feel safe, like all children should.’ As the child grows, the mother’s blessings follow – her hopes that the child will be kind and strong, that he or she will plant gardens and have faith, speak truth and travel to new places, have ‘blessings and graces’. And, finally, Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.’ The pictures, full of warm reds, oranges and yellows – with green too – are soft, gentle and loving, as is the lyrical text, inspired by the Quran. There could be no better


way of introducing young children to a faith that may well be different from their own and to the fact that mothers of all

faiths and cultures want the best for their children. ES Nervous Nigel HHHH

Bethany Christou, Templar Books, 978-1787416611, £6.99 pbk

Poor Nigel. This little crocodile comes from a family of high achievers or, as the text says: ‘a long line of greats’. A double page underlines the message with a wall full of awards and photos of his family – from Granny Lou to brother Ralf – coming first in races and competitions. It’s true that Nigel does love swimming, but his family expect him to be a champion and that’s where the trouble starts. The closer his first race gets, the more nervous Nigel. Can he find a way to explain how he feels to his family, and how will they react? Even the very young will understand the dilemma Nigel faces,

thanks to Bethany

Christou’s sensitive, effective story. Fortunately, Nigel’s family are ready to understand him, and by then he’s found a lovely way to stand out in the water too, and in a way that helps his animal friends. Children

and adults alike will

identify with Nigel and his story is a great way to start what could be really useful conversations. Bethan Christou’s earlier book Slow Samson is worth looking out too as a book to build emotional intelligence. LS

Mrs Noah’s Garden HHHH

Jackie Morris, illus James Mayhew, Otter-Barry Books,40pp, 9781910959466, £12.99 hbk

The Ark has landed; the ground is rocky and bare. Mrs Noah misses her garden –what can she do? The earth is warm, in her pockets are seeds, carried in the hold of the ark are plants. All it needs is work and loving care. Mr Noah is busy turning the Ark into a house but there are the children and the animals – (even the “tiresome” ones) to help and by Midsummer Day magic has taken place – a magic that not only brings the world to life but binds this family with love. We have already met Mr and Mrs Noah in Mrs Noah’s Pockets, and

Books for Keeps No.243 July 2020 23

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