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Book reviews from 4—7 years

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By Jill Walkinton and Alison Lewisjoint authors of Don’t Read This Book, written under the name ‘Jill Lewis’

Jill Walkinton and Alison Lewis delve into the world of creepy-crawlies to see what new reads will transform children into book worms

William Worm

William Worm by Sheila Bird and Corinne Bittler (Caterpillar Books, ISBN 9781848570320)

This is a sturdy early reading book with plenty of winning features ranging from pop-up page extensions, easy-to-predict rhymes, and cutaways. There is also a securely fixed integral finger puppet with a friendly face – perfect for adult and child fingers alike. This is a clever device, making the book great for paired reading with younger children.

William Worm has bold, bright illustrations that accompany a simple story about a worm wriggling his way through a variety of habitats. His journey begins in a strawberry patch and we travel with him meeting a mole, a hedgehog, a frog, a magpie, a rat and a lawnmower. His journey ends in perfect worm-friendly soil, away from the hostile environments and their predators. The vulnerability of William is apparent on every page but luckily, with the help of the reader, he can wriggle through the pages to safety.

Quick Draw Minibeasts

Quick Draw Minibeasts (Kingfisher, ISBN 9780753416099)

Can you draw an earwig, a beetle or a scorpion? You can now! This slim paperback book does exactly what it promises, helping even the most unconfident artist put pencil to paper and turn out a masterpiece. Quick Draw Minibeasts has predominantly diagrammatic instructions, which are self explanatory and not dependent upon reading or language ability. Having traced the grid on page one, you go on to develop basic sausage shapes or circles into 14 of the most popular minibeasts. Each creature can be completed in no more than eight simple steps.

This little volume would provide great support for several Key Stage 1 topics – art, science and practical mathematics being the obvious ones. Furthermore, the artistic technique – once mastered – can be transferred to drawing so many other things. A great buy for teachers and children alike. Those classroom displays will look more impressive than ever!

A Kaleidopops Book: BUGS

A Kaleidopops Book: BUGS by Ruth Martin (Silver Dolphin, ISBN 9781592238897)

Welcome to the fascinating 3D world of bugs – and we mean world, because creatures from all continents and habitats are represented here. This substantial hardback book has appeal for readers of any age – even the very old ones like us. We had never heard of a Katydid or an Anchor Stink Bug. Nor did we know that the 350,000 species of beetle make up a quarter of all known life on Earth.

Each double-page spread is packed with information, so any minibeast topic would benefit from the detailed facts alone. However, the colourful pop-ups are a wonderful added feature. New technology has been used here to give the card engineering a longer shelf life, as well as to give an authentic sheen to the bodies and wings of each creature. This interactive book is very enticing – even for the more reluctant reader. What a memorable present it would make!

Here comes the rain!

Here Comes the Rain! by Anna Claybourne and Debbie Tarbett (Caterpillar Books, ISBN 9781848570047)

Here Comes the Rain! is another simple book that will appeal to the youngest minibeast fan, as well as to teachers who will enjoy utilising its cross-curricular content. The weather and its effect is a predominant feature of this story.

Word goes round the insect world that there is a storm brewing, so everybody takes shelter under leaves. As you would expect, the end of the storm brings a rainbow – but this one is a textured, glittery pop-up rainbow! The illustrations are bright, the minibeasts are cute, and the rhyming text propels the reader through the minibeast world. The cutaways and raised creatures give this book a lovely tactile dimension that will attract the earliest readers to the bookshelf. A feel good book in more ways than one!

about Minibeasts

Ask Dr K Fisher about Minibeasts by Claire Llewellyn and Kate Sheppard (Kingfisher, ISBN 9780753415740)

This is an original and amusing approach to the minibeast world. Unhappy insects put their troubles to Dr K Fisher in the form of letters, and he replies. The letter inside its own envelope on the first page sets up the convention of letter writing and could easily be used in literacy lessons.

This is a colourful, busy book with a lot happening on every page. It will warrant many return visits as there are so many different things to notice and discuss. Problems range from the battle of the bulge for the growing caterpillar, to the stick insect whose brother has disappeared. The latter leads to the centre spread factsheet on insect disguises. There is also a useful glossary at the back followed by an index. These are lovely early reference devices.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home by Caroline Pitcher, Malachy Doyle and Jenny Arthur (QED Publishing, ISBN 9781848350649)

This is an ‘east, west, home is best’ tale of Frog, whose bucket home is thrown away, leaving him homeless and vulnerable. What a great starting point for class discussion. The book’s relatively large size with uncluttered illustrations and well-spaced text suits the simple message perfectly. We go with Frog on his journey to find somewhere new to live but, more importantly, we discover what he needs to survive.

Even for this little amphibian, moving house is proving stressful. Frog tries an assortment of unsuitable habitats before finding an ideal cool pond with lily pads and another frog to befriend. Useful notes at the back of the book provide a cross-curricular springboard into drama, science and art activities. This book, with its pleasing pastel illustrations, will make a wonderful story-time read at the end of a day when everyone else is thinking about home.

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