copies of book titles and photo of Phoebe Demerger
Created: 12th December, 2023

Each month CLPE's Librarian, Phoebe Demeger, will reveal some of her favourite books she has recently added to our Literacy Library.

Discover December's below:


From independent publisher Bok Bok Books comes an exuberant and inclusive board book celebrating family and food. Bhorta Bhorta Baby (Jumana Rahman and Maryam Huq) centres around a parent and child preparing a meal of aloo bhorta together; it’s filled with rhymes, rhythm and repetition, plus delicious sensory language. 

In A Stick and a Stone (Sarina Dickson and Hilary Jean Tapper, Moa) a group of children and adults set out on a nature walk in Aotearoa New Zealand, before the children split off to have their own adventure, sparked by a cheeky kea bird. It celebrates the small wonders of wayfinding and the natural world in simple rhyming text: “A frond, a beak, a fossil, a creek”.  

Two for Me, One for You (Jörg Mühle, translated by Catherine Chidgey, Gecko Press) is a wonderfully witty picturebook about friendship and sharing: Bear finds three mushrooms in the woods, and Weasel cooks them, but how will they divide them up? The narrative of (in)justice calls to mind the tale of The Little Red Hen, and the illustrations carry a narrative of their own, such as the silent comedy of the approaching fox who just might solve Bear and Weasel’s problem for them... 



Poet James Carter joins with illustrator Nathalia Takeyama to bring us two interactive board books examining the natural world, All the Things a Tree Can Be and All the Things a River Can Be (Little Tiger). Information about the broad roles of these two natural entities is imparted in short phrases and labels, and hidden under flaps and moving pieces, great for supporting developing readers in Year 1. 

New from Alison Green Books is Axel Scheffler’s Fairy Tales, four new tellings of classic tales – The Hare and the Hedgehog, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs and Puss in Boots. Each is warmly written and illustrated by Scheffler, and presented in pocket-sized, mini-hardback format. 

How to Find a Rainbow (Alom Shaha and Sarthak Sinha, Scribble) sees red panda sisters Reena and Rekha – one loves staying indoors to paint, the other loves splashing in puddles – on a rainbow-chasing adventure. Shaha’s narrative effortlessly weaves in the science of rainbows, accompanied by sumptuous pencil illustrations from Sinha. The perfect picturebook for a rainy day. 

In Ning and the Night Spirits (Adriena Fong, Flying Eye), a shy boy finds making friends more terrifying than the rumours of sinister spirits that lurk in the forest around his village, but what happens when he meets a spirit for real? A magical picturebook about bravery and using your voice, drawing on East Asian folklore and mythology, with a stirring central message about the power of empathy and understanding to combat unfounded fear. For more information on the creatures of Ning and the Night Spirits, visit the Flying Eye website. 

Bang! The Story of How Life on Earth Began (Katherine Halligan and Amy Grimes, Walker Studio) is an attractively presented and lyrical account of Earth’s history from the Big Bang up to the present moment, told as narrative non-fiction. The poetic language makes effective use of repetition and patterns as various creatures appear and change and grow – would pair well with The Pebble in my Pocket. 


Lower KS2 

Zanib Mian, the celebrated author of Planet Omar, brings us a brand-new fiction series entitled Meet the Maliks: Twin Detectives (illustrated by Kyan Cheng, Hodder). Twins Maysa and Musa may be very different, but they work together to solve mini-mysteries in their community, such as investigating who destroyed their cookie sculptures before the big charity baking competition in Book 1, The Cookie Culprit. Like Planet Omar, Meet the Maliks is hilarious, warm-hearted and inclusive – the Malik family are practicing Muslims. 

The Egg Incident (Ziggy Hanaor and Daisy Wynter, Cicada) is an offbeat reimaging of the Humpty Dumpty tale, told as a graphic novel. Young Humphrey’s parents have taught him to always be extra-cautious after what happened to poor Uncle Humpty: no running, no playing catch, no sitting on walls...but where’s the fun in that? An anti-cautionary tale about letting go of fear and embracing life and all its bumps. 

Not only is How Do Meerkats Order Pizza? (Brooke Barker, Faber) entertaining and adorable, with cartoon illustrations by the creator of the popular Sad Animal Facts, it also spotlights real-life scientists and ecologists, prioritising women and people of colour, who are researching and working with the animals profiled. Filled with up-to-date and fascinating animal facts about crows, jaguars, Antarctic midges, meerkats, and many more. 


Upper KS2 

Newly published in the UK following its original 2018 publication in the US, Harbour Me (Jacqueline Woodson, Orion) centres around six sixth-grade children who come together in a weekly group meeting and share stories about themselves and their lives, forming friendships and developing advocacy for one another. Deeply empathetic and beautifully written.  

100 Tales from the Tokyo Ghost Café (Julian Sedgwick and Chie Kutsuwada, Guppy Books) is a truly unique title, reuniting the creators of Tsunami Girl. It’s a collection of short stories drawn from Japanese folklore, many involving ghosts, spirits and cats, intercut with short manga comics which tell a parallel story starring Sedgwick and Kutsuwada as characters. Atmospheric and endlessly creative, and closes with a glossary of Japanese words and phrases. 

Finally, another title incorporating myths and folklore is Storyland: Discover the Magical Myths and Lost Legends of Britain (Amy Jeffs, Wren & Rook), a children’s edition of Jeffs’ adult title of the same name, and with woodcut illustrations by the author. It tells nineteen tales originating in Britian – a historian, Jeffs also includes historical notes on all the tales, and two introductions provide additional context on the relationship between history and myth.