Learning With Picture Books

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis recently won the English Association Book Award 2021 for Non-Fiction for the 4-7 age group and was also nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2021. It is an excellent example of how picture books are able to present facts and learning in a manner that both engages and entertains young children.

This book follows a small child through a summer’s day as she explores the natural world around her. Told through a series of riddles that invite the reader to think and encourage curiosity this book is refreshing in both its original delivery and the lyrical style of its presentation. A voice from nature itself asks the questions and as we turn the page we discover the answer and the next question is posed.

The riddles prompt thought and end with discovery, some are trickier for children than others but all awaken a sense of the ordinary and everyday being something special. Who might be “scribbling on the path in glistening ink”? A snail of course. But what ”races up the hill while lying at your feet”? Your shadow! The language is rich and encourages discussion and there is a poetic quality to the text in places.

“I’m a black coat slipped around Earth’s shoulders.

Count my shiny buttons.”

Says night.

The bold artwork complements the text perfectly and the slighter smaller format hardback lends itself to being held and explored by young children. This is a delightful book and I can well understand why it received the English Association Award as it encourages a sense of wonder and discovery.

The publishers, Scallywag Press, have created a lesson plan to tie-in with A New Green Day which would be excellent for KS1 and is available to download here.

A New Green Day is a book of summer and at the moment after the wettest May on record that is what we are all looking forward to. However despite our wish to say goodbye to the rain for a while water is something that we cannot live with out and in Hey, Water! her other book for Scallywag Press Antoinette Portis celebrates that water is everywhere.

Once again we accompany a child as she explores and discovers allowing the young reader to learn alongside her. We observe that water comes in many different forms, shapes and sizes and in nature, weather, in our homes and even in our bodies. The text describes the manner of its movement and how we use it and react to it depending on its form and the illustrations and the one word descriptions provide an understanding of the different examples of water in our world. This is a clever introduction to the topic of water and yet presented in a simple child friendly manner.

The final pages provide a more structured description of the water forms, water cycle and water conservation together with ideas for playing with and learning about water and a short quiz. The artwork throughout is bold, bright, striking and attractive to young readers enticing them to open the book and browse. This is a wonderful introduction to information books and would be an excellent addition to school libraries and classrooms. There is a lesson plan suitable for Year 4 created by Jenny Guest on the publisher’s website which you can download here

You may enjoy this interesting tour of Antoinette Portis’s art studio:

I should like to thank Scallywag Press for providing my review copies of these books. Both books are available to purchase from their website. You may also enjoy their lovely In the Garden series by Rob Ramsden introducing younger children to the wonderful world of nature.

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4 Responses to Learning With Picture Books

  1. A New Green Day sounds absolutely marvellous, I love the idea of the riddles. Thank you Anne, I think you’ve just given me a birthday present idea for a young relative 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alibrarylady says:

    It’s a clever idea, Veronica and I think it makes for good interaction and chat although some would be too tricky I think for very young children. I like the style of it, it’s a bit quirky. I hope you like it too when you see a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

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