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By Sarah StevensReception and reading recovery teacher

Take a look at our reviewer’s choice of the five best new titles on the early years bookshelf


Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood by Timothy Knapman and Gwen Millward (Puffin, PB, £5.99).

This is a clever and humorous story, written from a dragon’s perspective, who finds a boy in the woods and takes him home to his parents. There is a fair amount of small text, including labels, which makes this book suitable for slightly older children to look at independently. However, it is a simple story that younger children would enjoy having read to them, too.

Suitable for ages four to six.


1 2 3 Little Fish by Guido van Genechten (Little Tiger Press, BB, £4.99).

This title focuses on a fish that plays hide and seek along with the reader and discovers a variety of sea animals, hidden under cleverly-disguised flaps. The illustrations are bold and easy to follow. The book would work well if it was shared with a group of children, as the reader is asked questions on each page. This text encourages prediction, turn taking and question-and-answer skills, along with a focus on counting to five.

Suitable for ages three to five.


The Gotcha Smile by Rita Phillips Mitchell and Alex Ayliffe (Orchard Books, PB, £5.99).

This colourful book tells the story of a child who struggles to learn how to make friends when she starts school. In the end, she discovers that the solution is all too simple – give them a big smile. The illustrations are bright and colourful, and display children of different ethnicities in a school. The story lends itself well to discussions concerning friendship and making friends.

Suitable for ages three to six.


Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt (Happy Cat Books, PB, £5.99).

This comes recommended as a Richard and Judy Book Party Choice. It is written with great wit and humour as it examines the tough life of a squirrel that fears ‘the unknown’. The ending of the story suggests to the reader that perhaps the unknown isn’t so scary after all. It contains an excellent message about bravery, which will appeal to children and adults alike.

Suitable for ages three upwards


Who Are You, Stripy Horse? by Jim Helmore and Karen Wall (Egmont Press, PB, £5.99)

This is a story about a toy horse that is desperate to find out who and what he is. On his search, he meets other toys that come to life to help him with his quest for information. The book contains traditional story language, written in an interesting and very descriptive manner. The entire concept of the tale allows the reader’s own imagination to come to life. The illustrations are unique, with wonderful child appeal and plenty of detail.

Suitable for ages four to six.

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