Pick of the New Picture Books

So many picture books have been published in recent weeks that it can be hard to keep up with them all. I have selected a few that I would like to recommend for both home and school as having that something extra that adds to their enjoyment and value.

That’s Mathematics (based on the lyrics by Tom Lehrer) by Chris Smith and Elina Braslina

That’s Mathematics is a picture book with a difference. Inspired by the song written by Tom Lehrer, maths teacher Chris Smith has created an entertaining book that will make maths fun for children. This is a brilliant way of showing children how mathematics is part of daily life conveyed through words and pictures.

Each double page is devoted to one line of the song with an explanation, challenges and activities designed to inspire youngsters. It’s a clever concept and has an appeal that will do much to dispel any anxiety a child might have about the subject. There are recipes, games, and puzzles to try and there is a lightness to this book that ensures it doesn’t feel too much like a teaching tool however it will educate as well as entertain. The vibrant illustrations by Elina Braslina incorporate much information too and everything is presented in an accessible manner. The spine on the cover of the book is designed to be used as a ruler too, such a thoughtful idea.

There is a helpful Parents’ Notes section at the end of the book and a link to downloadable activities plus answers to the puzzles posed throughout the book. A mathematical glossary is the final touch. Published by Mama Makes Books and highly recommended.

Lots of Dots by Pippa Goodhart illustrated by Anna Doherty

I’m a big fan of the picture books created by Tiny Owl Books and this latest title by the duo of Pippa Goodhart and Anna Doherty, creators of Best Test, is a delight. A joyful story about friendship and inclusivity this would be lovely for Early Year settings.

Jaguar wants to make friends but can’t find anyone who is the exactly the same as her. Clever Ladybird points out what they have in common and is quickly joined by other creatures who highlight their similarities. So a joyful Dotty club is formed! However Zebra is stripy and a bit sad that he is unable to join. Welcome to the Patterns club! But then monkey would not be able to belong. But wait, monkey suggests the Everybody Club which is the perfect club as it welcomes all.

With its wonderful inclusive message, its colourful illustrations showing how we can be alike and different at the same time this is a fabulous picture book with an important and reassuring message. Alongside the kind theme there are opportunities for learning about shapes, patterns and colours so this is a great book to share with pre-school children at home or in nursery settings. A delightful book.

Not Now, Noor! by Farhana Islam illustrated by Nabila Adani

Not Now, Noor! tells the story of a curious child and her perseverance in trying to find an answer to her important questions. Her quest to find the reason why the women in her family wear hijabs becomes a celebration of Muslim women and a joyful look at Noor’s happy family life.

Noor loves her Ammu (Mum) and the other special women in her family but wonders why they all wear headscarves. She ponders on the various possibilities such as hiding snacks under them or to avoid catching nits, possibly even being a spy, and decides to find out the true reason. Unfortunately the eager little girl always times her questions for when the women are busy so the repeated response is… “Not now, Noor!” Poor Noor despairs of ever finding out the real reason. But then her Ammu comes home and Noor has one last try. Of course she has the right answer for her curious little girl.

Inspired by the author’s own experiences as a teacher and the questions children asked her, this is a charming story of family with humour in the vibrant illustrations but is also a lovely way of educating children with whom this lovely book is shared. Published by Puffin Books in March.

Daisy and Jack’s Perfect Pond by Rachel Lawton and Beatrix Castro

This bright and colourful picture book is a wonderful way of encouraging young children to create their own mini wildlife habitat in their garden. Subtly inclusive and with creatures to spot on every page Daisy and Jack’s Perfect Pond will bring children, families and nature together in a gentle and practical way.

When Daisy and Jack spot a little frog in their small garden, they decide to come up with a plan to make their new visitor feel at home. With the help of Papa and Daddy, and some new tools from the garden centre, the two children create their own plant pot pond, and soon discover that a small change can make a big difference to their local wildlife.

In addition to the creatures to spot and the information included in the story there is also a guide to frogs and toads and their life cycle at the end of the book. All the information has been checked by an environmental education specialist and this is a valuable teaching tool in addition to being a happy story of a family sharing a love of nature together. This latest in a series of picture books from Pikku Publishing inspiring a connection with nature would be a valuable addition to home and school bookshelves.

Don’t Be Silly by Padmacandra

A bouncy reminder that we don’t have to take life too seriously all the time, this happy picture book by the illustrator of The Tale of the Whale is great to read aloud and has a range of linked creative opportunities available too.

Bouncy Bo and Little Smudge live in a sombre castle with their serious father. The two children are full of mischief and laughter but the adult around them are all so serious it is as though they have all forgotten how to smile. But then one day the children visit their grandparents and they discover that perhaps not all grown-ups are as miserable as they thought! Children will enjoy the rhyme read aloud and the repeated instruction of ‘Don’t be silly’ encourages plenty of audience participation at story-time too. However this funny and entertaining book also explores stereotypes and takes a wry look at the bond across the generations too. It is grandparents who sometimes have the time to enjoy the ridiculous with their small grandchildren and this is captured beautifully in this book.

The range of teacher resources and activities available on the Scallywag Press website linked to this book are excellent and enable adults to use Don’t Be Silly to encourage creativity including art ideas, writing suggestions and drama.

I Heard a Bird by Rob Ramsden

Another gem from Scallywag Press and the last in the In The Garden series of picture books in which Rob Ramsden introduces very young children to the natural world around them. I Heard a Bird is a fitting finale gently encouraging little ones to watch, wait and listen and develop an understanding of their environment.

A little girl waves hello from her garden and then hears a bird who is frighten away by a pair of fighting cats. As she searches fro the missing bird she meets many other creatures on the way, insects buzzing, a mouse scurrying and also leaves rustling. She stops and listens to a calming silence and as she relaxes and waits wafting through the breeze she hears the friendly sound of her little bird saying hello.

This is a soothing and gently calming picture book with a simple text and repetition to read aloud and clear uncluttered illustrations amplifying this effect. The themes of noticing the little things going on around you is an important one for both children and adults alike and I Heard a Bird encourages this approach. The choice of vocabulary is thoughtful and conveys the quality of the sounds the little girl can hear as she wanders through her garden on her journey of discovery. Perfectly pitched for pre-schoolers this is a lovely introduction to our natural world. There are some great teaching resources for this book too on the Scallywag Press website.

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5 Responses to Pick of the New Picture Books

  1. Elena says:

    Another lovely review! Thank you. We appreciate the time you take Anne. Best wishes, Elena, Pikku

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Not Now, Noor! look and sounds glorious! That’d be my favourite of this selection. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Reading Matters – children’s book news | Library Lady

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