BfK 5 – 8 Infant/Junior continued A New Green Day HHHH

Antoinette Portis, Scallywag Press, 32pp, 978 1 9126 5048 4, £12.99 hbk

If ever there was an invitation to

look anew at the natural world, then Antoinette Portis’ sequence of lyrical riddles offers just that. We follow a little girl from sunrise to

nightfall as she responds to morning’s invitation to “Come out and play!” Once she’s up and outdoors a

series of voices belonging to a snail, a leaf, an inchworm, a tadpole a pebble,

a cloud, rain, lightning,

thunder, mud, shadow and finally night, pose a clever riddle on each recto, the answer being revealed at the turn of the page. “I’m a map of my own / green home. / Follow my roads / and climb” - A mountain path perhaps? Turning to the verso we discover those words were spoken by leaf, a leaf whose shape and veins are almost mirrored by one of the trees standing behind. Both Portis’ illustrations and verses

are beautifully textured: “I’m a sweet sucked smooth / in the river’s mouth. / Let me roll in your pocket,” is a speckled pebbled held on the girl’s outstretched palm above a grainy shore. Every riddle

asks listeners to embrace

readers and the

outdoors, to re-experience the familiar with all their senses alert and with a willingness to allow each encounter with nature

to reveal unexpected

riches. JB Rex the Rhinoceros Beetle


M.G.Leonard, ill. Duncan Beedle, Scholastic, 32pp, 978 1 407194 18 9, £6-99, pbk

Two beetles, with their armour plating and huge horns, sit in the rainforest. Buster finds a banana, and asks Rex to help him carry it back to the beetle tree. Rex is suitably impressed, but curious to hear how Buster found it. Out comes a tall tale, as the beetles begin a journey, carrying, dragging, pulling the banana. “You’re a hero, Buster,” Rex sighs, as Buster recalls scaring away a snake. “I wish I were as brave as you.” But when a monkey bursts upon the scene, grabbing their prize banana, Buster is the first to turn tail and run. Rex wonders why his super brave friend is hiding. Monkey begins to show an interest in the two beetles, and Buster tells Rex to use his mighty strength to scare him away, to use his sword-like horn to terrify him! But, oh dear, Rex starts whimpering, and

suddenly Rex realises that

Buster is, in fact, a BIG LIAR! Will they get demolished by the decidedly interested

monkey? Eventually,

returning to their beetle tree they tell all their family and friends that Buster is a hero; he saved Rex from a … GORILLA! There follow two double spreads

of Amazing Rhinoceros Beetle Facts, e.g. Considering their 26 Books for Keeps No.243 July 2020 great

size, rhino beetles are among the strongest creatures on the planet. They can fly! The book concludes with suggestions for contributing to wildlife at home; having an overgrown corner in the garden, putting in a pond. The illustrations throughout closely follow the adventure, ably portraying the changing relationship between the

two characters, the boasting

stories from Rex and Buster’s obvious admiration. Each brightly coloured page has impact; Rex and Buster are easily recognisable, not only in their different stripey bodies, but also in their facial expressions. A young child could easily follow the story unaided, by just ‘reading’ the pictures, page by page. This is a fun story and will have appeal across a wide range. GB

The Walloos’ Big Adventure HHHHH

Anuska Allepuz, Walker, 32pp, 978 1 4063 6241 1, £12-99 hbk Meet

the Walloos… wallaby/kanga

cross? Big Walloo, Spotty Walloo, Old Walloo and Little Walloo live on a small rocky island. Old Walloo is the family storyteller, and Little Walloo can’t wait to have his own adventures. So Old Walloo builds a boat and the four set off, eventually arriving at a tropical, exotic island where life becomes…. peachy! But over time, they feel their island is changing. Is it hotter?.... Is it MOVING? Old Walloo and Little Walloo agree something isn’t right. Midst GURLES and WURGLES they realise Walloo

the bounces

land IS moving. Little about

until she

lands on something like a nose. The nose morphs into an enormous hippopotamus, who explains to Little Walloo that she is far too hot in the scorching sun and is about to dive deep under the water. There, the plants are tall and green and will shelter her from the burning heat. The Walloos realise that all the plants that had surrounded and protected hippo are gone. They had destroyed her safe home! The telling of how they regenerate a sheltering environment for hippo is beautifully told, and soon there is again an exotic island. The illustrations

give a feeling of size

and space… of adventure and fun;… from the two endpapers, to each exciting spread. The first endpaper is a blueness full of drifting fish shoals, which are joined in the last endpaper by numerous hippos, attracted to the renewed environment. of


predominantly blue and green the

four Walloos boat

In a range stand

out in contrast, along with all the exotic plants. Each character is well portrayed…see Spotty Walloo (Mum) snoozing on their

trip! The

gentle eco message about protecting and respecting the natural world is delightfully told, well married between the text and pictures. A book to enjoy and treasure. GB

Meet the Grumblies HHHHH

John Kelly, ill. Carmen Saldana, Little Tiger, 978 1 78881 576 5

The Grumblies … life for them is easy- peasy, with bread bushes full of rolls, squidgy-fruit hanging on every tree, and their pond is full of fizzy juice. So the Grumblies have lots of time to …. argue! We meet all three characters on the first spread, looking particularly caveman-like, and we

see their

individual huts in the background. One is made of mud, one from sticks and the third from rope. Their big argument hangs on which of these


materials is best in life. Grumble-Stick says, “OGG!

Stick best!” Grumble-

Rope says, “AGG! Rope best!” and “IGG! Mud best!” grunts Grumble- Mud. Whilst arguing, out of the jungle stomps a huge, hungry creature. It is purple, has long flowing hair, a trunk and enormous legs. Heading straight for their bread bushes,

it chomps away, whilst Grumble-Stick cries,

OGG! STOP!” and throws sticks at the Gobblestomp. These just bounce off his thick coat, and then he spots the squidgy-fruit trees. As he demolishes these,

Grumble-Rope attempts to

stop him by lassoeing a leg. Ignoring the rope, Grumblestomp begins to slurrrrrpp up all the fizzy juice in the pond. And the final attempt to stop the Grumblestomp, by Grumble-Mud, is foiled. At long last, the three agree. Not stick, not rope, not mud best! For the first time ever they stop arguing and make a plan. How they capture Grumblestomp is ingenious, and eventually all four do become friends. This is a great story about teamwork, and learning to live with each other’s differences. It is cleverly illustrated throughout. The

three Grumblies

have hugely expressive faces, and numerous imaginary birds and beasts are scattered around the scenery. This would be a wonderful book for a class drama (or a family one!). Young readers will love the primitive language! GB

8 – 10 Junior/Middle A Climate in Chaos HHHH

Written and ill. by Neal Layton, Wren and Rook, 32pp, 978-1-5263-6230-8, £12.99, hbk

“You’ve probably heard about climate change. At least I hope you have – because it’s REALLY IMPORTANT….” Join the

of That

award-winning creator Rabbit Belongs to Emily

Brown and Mammoth Academy as he tackles the challenging subject of climate change. Factually


conversational friendly

and yet

in tone and always accessible,


presents his material with confidence, care and insight. The first half of the book introduces key concepts – climate,

weather, ecosystems,

greenhouse gases – together with the child-character with whom Layton is conversing. Mid-way through the book, following a summary of the global problems facing animals and habitats, is an arresting photo-collage of an ice floe that allows the character to interject. “This isn’t right.

I like

our planet the way it is. I don’t want climate change to mess it up and harm animals!” Momentum halted, Layton turns our attention to positive change: problems


Cut-aways and diagrams clearly-written

and include informative

labels, text-boxes are enlivened with spot illustrations,

the book, and occasional

photographs reinforce the fact that this is real, and happening now. Throughout


characters interact with each other and comment on the spreads, which keeps things lively and helps young readers feel involved. As a topic, climate change can be

worrying, but readers of this book are more likely to feel empowered than otherwise. Recommended for Key Stage One, but also has much to offer at Lower Key Stage Two – and Layton’s

picturebook, A Planet Full of Plastic, is also available. CFH

Saving Winslow HHHHH

Sharon Creech, Guppy Books, 160pp, 9 781 9 13101145, £9.99, hbk

When Louie’s father brings home a sad little orphaned donkey foal from his uncle’s

farm, he accepts the presented

alongside optimistic visions for the future, and plenty of ideas for small- scale achievable action are included. A Climate in Chaos is heartfelt and takes its material seriously, but Layton’s quirky world-view and irreverent

humour sincerity contributes much to

throughout, and it’s the between


is apparent interplay wit that

its success.

Comic panoramas (a Layton speciality) deliver information visually and via entertaining annotations.

unspoken challenge to care for it, despite his own poor track record in caring for animals. Louie is spurred on by knowledge of his own precarious birth, coaxed to life as a premature baby. Caring for Winslow (his name for the donkey) gives Louie a much- needed focus, distracting him from worrying about his beloved brother Gus, a soldier far away, lonely and in constant danger. The story follows the ups and downs

of Louie’s caring for Winslow and the increasing involvement of his friend Nora, who having experienced loss herself is initially reluctant to become too involved and commit her love to such a fragile life. When the donkey

previous eco-themed

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32