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Book reviews from 4-7 years: Seaside

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Escape to the beach with reviews of some great seaside reads.

Sounds of the Wild: Ocean

Sounds of the Wild: Ocean by Maurice Pledger (Templar, ISBN 9781840118841)

This book delighted my whole class. I have never heard them so quiet, as they waited in anticipation for me to turn the pages! Each ocean scene offers a pop-up picture teeming with different animals. To bring these animals to life, there is a written description of the scenes, and the book even plays the sounds you would hear if you were there.

For those who wish to find out more about the animals on show, each illustration has a corresponding page giving you information about every animal appearing in it. The language, both in the imagery of the written description and the more technical vocabulary of the non-fiction pages, is quite challenging and so makes the book suitable for whole-class work. My children loved it – but I wonder how long the batteries would last once the children got hold of it!


The Seaside

The Seaside by Sarah Ridley (History Snapshots, Franklin Watts, ISBN 9780749670665)

For anyone who teaches the topic ‘Seaside Holidays in the Past’, this is the book for you! The non-fiction book has a double page focusing on every aspect of the seaside – from travelling there, to piers and entertainment. Each page contains lovely old photographs with dates and informative captions. The children particularly enjoyed seeing the kinds of swimming costumes people used to wear.

The Seaside features a timeline to show how holidays have changed, and has a section called ‘Be a History Detective’, which contains suggested activities and questions. The children very much enjoyed singing Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside, the lyrics of which can be found at the beginning of the book. While my class would perhaps not choose to read this book themselves, they really enjoyed looking at the old photographs in the context of a history lesson.


Class Three all at sea

Class Three All at Sea by Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman (Hodder Children’s Books, ISBN 9780340944653)

If you are in search of a funny book for children, look no further! My class liked the context of the story being a school trip – and on this trip the children meet pirates. The illustrations are bright and lively, and the children particularly liked the octopus pictures. They noticed the rhyme straight away and then listened out for it throughout the book. I liked the repeated phrase ‘but they didn’t see…’, which takes you through the book and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.

For the children, the highlight of the book was the teacher marrying a pirate, which they found hilarious. They then asked me if I would like to marry a pirate! The whole class delighted in looking for the teacher and pirate dancing in the background as the story drew to its conclusion.


Seaside Scientist

Seaside Scientist by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts, ISBN 9780749673758)

Seaside Scientist is an unusual mix of non fiction and activities. The children liked the idea of the ‘silly experiments’, some of which require a trip to the beach while others don’t. The information is given in short sections, such as ‘Shark Bites’, which makes it easy to read and digest. Both the information and activities are supplemented by cartoon-style pictures, which appealed to the children.

The book could help make a seaside topic cross-curricular, as the activities cover areas of science, art, PSHE and drama. My class agreed with me that many of the experiments are things they are likely to do at home rather than in school. We therefore concluded that while the book may not be the best addition to our book corner, it is one the children would like to own personally.


Little boat

Little Boat by Thomas Docherty (Templar, ISBN 9780864618726)

This is the story of a little boat in a large ocean, told from the point of view of the boat. The children liked this perspective and were pleased when the boat found his friends. The front cover has a porthole cut out, through which you can see the little boat – and this circular theme is continued throughout the illustrations. My class noticed the boat had been drawn almost as though it had a face, and this helped them empathise with it.

The best aspect of the book for me is the integration of illustration and text. It is not a picture book with some text; rather, the two work together to tell the story. The children noticed this particularly as the words ‘we go round and round in circles’ were written in a circle surrounding the little boat. Little Boat would be a welcome addition to any book corner.


This is the reef

This is the Reef by Miriam Moss and Adrienne Kennaway (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, ISBN 9781845076597)

Is this book fiction or non-fiction? Who cares, because we loved it! This is the Reef teaches you all about the Great Barrier Reef and yet it looks and sounds like fiction. The text is written in three line stanzas of poetic, descriptive language, each beginning with ‘This is the place…’ Some of the vocabulary is challenging, but with the aid of the illustrations the children were happy just to listen despite not understanding every word.

The book would be an excellent starting point for a discussion about environmental issues with older children, as well as being a delightful picture book for younger ones. The illustrations are beautiful: artistic, colourful and detailed. The children enjoyed being introduced to animals and plants they had never seen before. Buy this book now and you are guaranteed many happy reads!

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