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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


HHHH


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


colours,


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


three


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


authoritative


conversational friendly


and yet


in tone and always accessible,


Layton


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


are


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


expressive


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


and


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


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