Time Travelling with a Hamster written by Ross Welford
My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.
On Al Chaudhury’s twelfth birthday his beloved Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from Al’s late father. In it Al receives a mission: travel back to 1984 in a secret time machine and save his father’s life.
Al soon discovers that time travel requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, setting his school on fire and ignoring philosophical advice from Grandpa Byron. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer
The Journey written and illustrated by Francesca Sanna
With haunting echoes of the current refugee crisis this beautifully illustrated book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. This book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
From the author: The Journey is actually a story about many journeys, and it began with the story of two girls I met in a refugee center in Italy. After meeting them I realized that behind their journey lay something very powerful. So I began collecting more stories of migration and interviewing many people from many different countries. A few months later, in September 2014, when I started studying a Master of Arts in Illustration at the Academy of Lucerne, I knew I wanted to create a book about these true stories. Almost every day on the news we hear the terms -migrants- and -refugees- but we rarely ever speak to or hear the personal journeys that they have had to take. This book is a collage of all those personal stories and the incredible strength of the people within them.
The Wolf Wilder written by KatherineRundell and illustrated by Gelrev Ongbico
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.
When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.
Pugs of the Frozen North written and illustrated by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
The Race to the Top of the World! It comes around once in a lifetime, and the prize? Your heart’s desire. Shen and Sika can’t resist the chance to win, but competition is fierce. The path to victory is littered with snow trolls, sea monsters, and a gang of particularly hungry yetis. But Shen and Sika have something the other contestants don’t have. Actually, they have 66 other things; pugs to be exact. That’s a 264 paw-powered sled!
Gorilla Dawn written by Gill Lewis
Deep in the heart of the African jungle, a baby gorilla is captured by a group of rebel soldiers. Imara and Bobo are two children also imprisoned in the rebels’ camp. When they learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they swear to return it to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of getting caught are too terrible to think about. Will the bond between the gorilla and the children give them the courage they need to escape?
Little Bits of Sky by S.E Durrant and illustrated by Katie Harnett
I’ve put this story together from the diaries I kept when Zac and I were children. I wrote them because I felt we were almost invisible and I wanted to make sure our story was told, and also in the hope that life would get better for the small unloved girl that was me, and my even smaller unloved brother. And if life didn’t get better or at least more interesting I was going to make it up – to put in witches and castles and rides in fast cars. But I didn’t need to. Life got exciting all by itself…
It’s 1987 and Ira and Zac are being uprooted once again, this time to Skilly House, a home for social care children. Their lives over the next few years are beautifully realised amongst the antipathy of the authorities, the drama of the poll tax riots and the moments of peace and hope Ira finds at Skilly and further afield. This is a memorable and moving tale about growing up, making friends and finding a home.
Naughty Bus by Jan Oke
‘Naughty Bus’ is a visually and mentally stimulating book in which children can recognise themselves and the ways in which they like to play. Floor play is where children learn to exercise their imagination, where they create their own characters and stories and where they explore the ideas they have about inter – personal relationships and the world around them. Children need to be encouraged to do more of it. The text the author has used is in the form of speech only, to reflect how children play and the photographs are shot at child’s eye level to make the scenes easy to ‘read’. It’s a book to be enjoyed by adults too, sharing it with their children to work out together what on earth is going on and who’s the naughty one – the bus or the boy?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The term ‘ classic’ is overused in children’s literature but The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a true one that should be read by all under-fives It is essentially a simple recount of a tiny caterpillar that eats his way to become first a cocoon and then, finally appearing in his starring role as a techicolour butterfly. There are many books around now that use pages creatively, but this is one of the best and the holes get grubby with little finger marks. Most children love to list the food eaten and take particular delight in the caterpillar’s Saturday’s binge fest. By the second reading, they know it off by heart and will want to read it for themselves and anyone passing by.
Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
Although Charlotte’s Webb was first published in 1952 it is a book that has stood the test of time. Perhaps some of you remember it from your own primary school days. It is a story of animals and friendship and includes a literate spider who really does save Wilbur the pig’s bacon. Not everyone likes talking animals, but this cast, including the Charlotte the spider, Templeton the rat, Wilbur, and Fern, the farmer’s daughter are endearing characters whose story is in turn humorous and full of suspense. The death towards the end of the story is particularly affecting. It is one that children remember for a number of reasons. It is one that provides a way for bereaved characters, and readers, to grieve in a positive way.
E.B. White’s dry turn of phrase and his pleasure and playfulness with language makes this a book that it is fun to read aloud. Lower Key Stage 2 children would probably particularly like this story and I hope that you find a moment to read it to them.
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson
This is an affecting book which ostensibibly is about three baby owls: Sarah, Percy and Bill awaiting the return of their mother. The illustrations are richly textured and Bill’s refrain, “I want my mummy” makes this a book you would have to heart of stone not to be touched by! The book taps on young children’s fears about separation from their parents and carers and is an ideal one to share with a young child who is about to face any form of separataion. Writing this little review on the first Monday of September made me think of colleagues whose own children are about to start the first day of big school today