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G. Munday "" (London, UK)

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Dear Zoo
Dear Zoo
by Rod Campbell
Edition: Board book

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cat in a crate!, 23 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Dear Zoo (Board book)
A young child requests an animal from the zoo and so the zookeepers send the lucky individual many animals in attempt to fulfil the request. However, every time there is something not quite manageable about the zookeeper's choice, so it has to be sent back.

Useful for establishing key word vocabulary and word-picture association, this is a well established book for young readers and cleverly requests the reader's physical interaction in order to find out what the zoo has delivered next and what is behind the cage, door, or box. For those children that have recently visited a zoo and been inspired to keep a pet lion, it could serve as a gentle reminder that these animals are extremely hard to manage and that domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are better choices. In this way, such a book could help protect an element of the child's emotional well being and not be disappointed.

A good independent reading book for Low Attainers in Year 1, as it asks more than just reading and can spark discussion about the animals.

Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup
by Helen Cooper
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and inviting... an excellent choice for young readers!, 23 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Pumpkin Soup (Audio CD)
Themes for `Pumpkin Soup' revolve around teamwork and sharing. Illustrations are delicious, inviting and cosy - like your eyes are settling into a snug cottage in the late Autumn. The end of the book will excite and enthral youngsters (KS1 and early KS2). The book can be easily differentiated, from asking Low Attainers what animal did what to help make Pumpkin Soup, through to questioning why the Duck went away and what the Squirrel and Cat realised in his absence.

Children could also be posed questions such as "What makes the images seem cosy?" and unpacking the clear benefits of working together as a team.

Q Pootle 5
Q Pootle 5
by Nick Butterworth
Edition: Paperback

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Blast!, 23 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Q Pootle 5 (Paperback)
Nick Butterworth is a staple author for Year 1 classes and has produced amazingly engaging work, so it has come as no surprise that this book in particular was warmly received in various classes I have chosen to read it to.

With special emphasis upon PSHE (team work, cooperation, consideration for others and acceptance of different social and cultural backgrounds), there is something for the majority of children to become enthralled with. The end pullout page is also an extra special touch that can even receive gasps from unsuspecting pupils!

The book lays very clear foundations to discuss any number of topics across the curriculum, including Science (space, habitats, forces), Literacy (styles of language, what makes character's name sound alien?) Art and, as mentioned, PSHE. For whole class discussion, it is best suited to KS1.

Songs And Verse
Songs And Verse
by Roald Dahl
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, but to be expected!, 16 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Songs And Verse (Hardcover)
A varied and wonderfully imaginative collection of work, from possibly the most famous and well-loved children's author. Split into several categories, each song or verse is opened with illustrations from the notorious artist Quentin Blake, then followed by other graphic masters.

Old tales are given a twist, including the race of the hare and the tortoise, which is loaded with opinions on capitalism and power-struggles. But because of Dahl's accessible style and infamous dark eccentricities, none of the stories come across as pompous or badly disguised vessels to convey the author's own agenda. Instead, the pleasantly heavy, hard-backed book will offer inspiration to readers of all ages, whilst demonstrating a strong command of the tools of poetry.

There are countless ways in which the teacher could use this book. Perhaps most obvious of all, the class could use a poem as a foundation to build a single composition, or entire play. Poems could be unpicked to reveal the rules of rhythm, whilst art classes could be devoted to either replicating the art within the book, or to give pupils the opportunity to make their own illustrations. Due to the wide mix of work within `Songs & Verse', it is one of those rare occasions where it could be used across the entire Primary School age range, depending on how the teacher presents it.

Water: Let's Look at a Puddle (Heinemann Read and Learn)
Water: Let's Look at a Puddle (Heinemann Read and Learn)
by Angela Royston
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes a splash!, 16 Sept. 2008
Aimed at Year 1 and 2, the material detective series are an intelligent presentation that remains scientific in its format, but at a base-level that can be understood by low literacy attainers or aspiring scientists. The book also confirms to the child that science is everywhere and something as commonplace as a puddle can hold a variety of scientific properties and interesting tasks.

Illustrations and captions are clear and colourful, whilst the text is basic, meaning that the science does not become heavily obstructed by words and linguistics. The format of the book is also helpful, as it introduces the idea of contents and glossary pages.

The Very Ticklish Tiger (Peek-a-boo Pop-ups)
The Very Ticklish Tiger (Peek-a-boo Pop-ups)
by Jack Tickle
Edition: Pop-Up

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hee-hee grrr!, 16 Sept. 2008
It doesn't get more adorable than this! With bold and playful pop-ups that can be moved and interacted with, `The Very Ticklish Tiger' is a fun story for Reception class children to become excited about and will no doubt impel them to imitate the noises and actions of the animals featured in the book. Rich with onomatopoeias that can get a child thinking about the nature of phonics, the story also glimpses upon the typical traits of animals children could find in a zoo, or in their natural jungle habitat. Although tigers aren't necessarily ticklish, so there is obviously some artistic license!

Due to the aesthetic nature of the book, this will appeal to a Reception year child and can be used as a means of introducing them to books. The content can in effect inspire the child to become involved, so perhaps it would be wise to expect a healthy level of noisy participation.

The Peppermint Pig (Puffin Books)
The Peppermint Pig (Puffin Books)
by Nina Bawden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yoink., 16 Sept. 2008
The story is a real, full-bodied account of a family and the struggles they encounter whilst in early 20th century England. As the father decides to follow his career and money aspirations in America, the rest of the family take to relatives (aunties etc) in order to scrape by in the times of dramatic change. Poll and Theo, the main children in the tale, face many difficult times ahead, but their emotional state is buoyed by the new addition to the family: a little pig called Johnnie, whom their mother bought for just a shilling.

Bawden's style in this particular book is slow-paced, true but quaint. The interaction between characters feels genuine enough if a little Dickensian, as the colloquialisms and sentence structures always follow a form of etiquette that now seems dated.

Personally I found this an unrewarding read for the first few chapters and can be a hard read to become excited about. The book would be best suited for Years 4 - 6 and readers that do not demand a fast pace and action in order to keep their interest.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 9, 2013 6:08 PM GMT

The Kingfisher Book of Oceans
The Kingfisher Book of Oceans
by David Lambert
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for Science lessons, 16 Sept. 2008
The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Oceans offers a comprehensive look into every aspect to do with the seas, from habitats and evolution, to mythology and human's history at sea. The book covers so much more than a generic science book and is clearly linked to Geography, History and RE, due to the content it chooses to cover.

A particularly memorable feature to this book is that it is tremendously graphic-based. This aspect of the book means that the subject can be examined, dissected and evaluated completely, lifting the author out of the usual constraints of using pictures or illustrations, overall giving the book a feel that everything has been planned to great detail.

Year 6 could use the book to its true potential, but can be easily appreciated by the younger years. In terms of oceanic studies, this is the first - and perhaps last - purchase required for a teachers resource file.

Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish (Puffin Books)
Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish (Puffin Books)
by Michael Foreman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rubbish Fantastic!, 16 Sept. 2008
A wonderful book that brings back many personal childhood memories! Extremely thought-provoking and accentuated by illustrations that are as memorable as they are loveable. This short children's book is clearly to be enjoyed by Years 1 and 2, but as ever is dependant upon ability.

The story at face value is of a businessman's new ambition to build a rocket and fly to the moon. The process of building the rocket severely damages the delicate forest and grassland surrounding him and his company, but he succeeds in his aim nonetheless. But when he lands on the moon, he realises that there is nothing much to see... apart from Earth.

The moral to the book is then spiced up with living dinosaurs that decide to break up all the rubbish and clutter that the man has made. This element to the book then suggests to the child that we should all appreciate how fragile and beautiful our planet is and that we should take responsibility in looking after it.

The strong environmental message was ground-breaking for its original release in 1972 and is still as powerful as it was back then. It has been argued by critics that the underlying thoughts are bland and an attempt to condition children into becoming green. Personally, I see this modern fable to be a magnificent accomplishment that should be celebrated at every opportunity and is a great basis to make future generations conscious of mankind's role in looking after the planet.

Additionally, working with the over-sized edition is a great way to further enhance the interaction between the class and teacher.

Heaven Eyes
Heaven Eyes
by David Almond
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly unique..., 16 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Heaven Eyes (Paperback)
Arguably a bleak story that gradually forges itself into one of hope. Heaven Eyes follows a girl called Erin and her frequently emotional search for love and belonging, whilst still painfully dreaming that her mother will return. She is a child that hides her heart, in fear of it being torn again and is full of resentment for she is all too aware of her faults and loneliness. Stuck in an orphanage that is cold and materialistic, Erin decides to escape the clutches of the institution with her friend January Carr. With an uninvited companion for the road (the aptly named Mouse Gullane), the three children decide that the best means of escape is to build a raft and set off down the River Tyne. But once they drift further downstream, the raft gets bogged down into a stretch of marshland called the `Black Middens'. When the boards break and they are facing imminent death, a curious girl with webbed hands, palest of complexions and strange speech rescues them. Whilst in the company of the girl called `Heaven Eyes', the children cannot decide whether she is a sort of ghost, a child with unique eccentricities, or what she herself describes as a `fishy froggy thing'. Regardless of what Heaven Eyes actually is, it is clear to them that they must find a way off the forever dark lands of the Black Middens and away from the Grandfather, who holds an instant mistrust towards the three runaways that came from The Outside.

This novel is a delicate, and beautiful piece with a Gothic air to its content. Suitable for higher Key Stage 2 readers that are looking for something a little different, predictable formulae such as three children escaping from an orphanage is given a strange turn that is specific to only David Almond's writing. The backbone of the story can be used to tackle PSHE issues and to highlight ethnic and cultural issues, as well as highlighting the importance of social interaction and acceptance. Above all, the book emphasises the importance of solidarity between friends and to avoid labelling people for what they look like or the different ways they may approach a task.

`Heaven Eyes' is an elemental book. In the way that `Once' is dominated by fire (burning of the books and buildings by Nazis, the various pain described and witnessed by the main character) and earth (the struggle on the dusty roads, dirty vehicles, etc), this book holds constant reference to Water. This unlikely theme could then become the basis for discussion (i.e. `what do we mean by this statement?' `What do you think are the themes to the book Heave Eyes?'). There are also links to Science, where controlled experiments could replicate Erin's adventures (making a miniature Black Middens, constructing a raft/discussing what things float the best and looking into evolution and mutation).

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