by Phoebe Demeger
Each month CLPE's Librarian, Phoebe Demeger, will reveal some of her favourite books she has recently added to our Literacy Library.
Discover May's below:
New independent children’s publisher Rocket Bird Books has launched their picturebook list with Owen Davey’s Can I Come Too?. This relatable book brilliantly explores the older-younger sibling dynamic, as we follow two young bears on a fishing trip. With a lovely outdoorsy colour scheme from Davey.
A Zoo in my Shoe (Jason Korsner and Max Low, Graffeg) follows on from I Like to Put Food in My Welly by the same duo. This clever concept takes three one-line stories about animals, and swaps the final words of these stories around to create nonsense rhymes. Very funny, and great for introducing wordplay and poetry to early readers.
When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth (Sean Taylor and Zehra Hicks, Frances Lincoln) is a prehistoric tale that follows an engaging ‘fortunately/unfortunately’-style narrative, exploring problem-solving and consequences with a healthy dose of humour.
Also from Frances Lincoln, The Best Bad Day Ever (Marianna Coppo) stars a grumpy little wolf who just can’t see the good in things, but finds that sometimes all it takes is a friend – even a grumpy one! – to help turn your perspective around. A fine companion to The Bad Mood and the Stick and Barbara Throws a Wobbler.
In Speak Up! (Puffin), the latest title from creative duo Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, the irrepressible Rocket exalts the pleasures and importance of libraries, and starts a community campaign to save her own local library from closure. Informative and inspiring, with visual ‘Easter eggs’ throughout in the form of other Puffin titles hidden in Adeola’s illustrations.
The theme of children instigating change in the community also appears in Grandad’s Pride (Harry Woodgate, Andersen), in which young Milly organises to bring a Pride parade to Grandad’s small seaside town. It’s a delight to revisit and learn more about the characters we first encountered in Grandad’s Camper, and the book serves as a primer to the history and significance of Pride.
Also from Andersen comes Wolves in Helicopters (Sarah Tagholm and Paddy Donnelly), in which a little rabbit beset by bad dreams follows her mother’s advice to try and change the nighttime narrative in her head, by becoming faster than the wolves that chase her. Featuring evocative figurative language, repetition and patterned text, with a strong theme of bravery.
From Bethan Woollvin, the creator of Little Red and I Can Catch a Monster, comes Luna and the Sky Dragon (Two Hoots), an enchanting and feminist picturebook that explores the intersection between science and mythology by drawing on the life of Ancient Greek astronomer Aglaonice, as stargazer Luna seeks to uncover the mysteries of the night sky.
From the author of Hope Jones and The Pet Potato comes the first in a new series, Time Travel Twins (Andersen), written by Josh Lacey and illustrated by Garry Parsons. Beginning with The Viking Attack, siblings Scarlett and Thomas find themselves cast back into two sides of history – a Viking longship, and the village it’s on course to attack. A brilliant resource for an ancient civilisations topic, and closes with an extended historical note.
Welcome to Our Table (Laura Mucha, Ed Smith and Harriet Lynas, Nosy Crow) is an illustrated celebration of food from around the world. It details how different types of fruits, grains, meats etc. are prepared and eaten globally, and also explores the cultural aspects of food, plus some asides on such related topics as factory farming and overfishing. Informative and beautifully presented.
A new anthology from the award-winning and 2003-2005 Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, My Heart Was a Tree (Two Hoots) is a fully illustrated large-format collection of new poems and prose about trees, drawing variously on folklore, mythology and real-life stories, and with tales told from the perspectives of humans, animals, and the trees themselves. With atmospheric artwork by Yuval Zommer, this is a book to be treasured.
Joe Todd-Stanton and Flying Eye Books bring us a new addition to the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection with Luna and the Treasure of Tlaloc. Not only is this a gripping adventure based around Aztec culture and mythology, it also brilliantly examines notions of friendship, fairness and morality, accompanied by Todd-Stanton’s boldly engaging artwork.
A remarkable new novel by E.L. Norry, Fablehouse (Bloomsbury) is a historical adventure that combines Arthurian mythology and quests with the real-life histories of mixed heritage children placed into care following World War II. A gripping and moving soon-to-be modern classic about what it means to belong.
Also in the realm of mythology is Tales from Beyond the Rainbow (Puffin), in which writer and researcher Pete Jordi Wood collects and rewrites ten traditional tales with LGBTQ+ themes from around the world, each one paired with a different illustrator. With an introduction and detailed backmatter on the background of the tales, and the importance of celebrating queer storytelling.
The Mellons Build an Eco-House (Robin Jacobs and Nick Neves, Cicada) is a beautifully presented information book on architecture and construction which centres sustainability, within the frame narrative of a family seeking to build the most eco-friendly home possible. Closes with a glossary of key terminology.
Written by archaeologist and broadcaster Raksha Dave and illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong, Lessons From Our Ancestors (Magic Cat) takes so-called ‘modern’ concepts such as sustainability and gender equality, and exposes them as having always been present in certain ancient civilizations by focussing on real-life archaeological finds from that era. A sophisticated and inclusive look at ancient history.
The latest verse novel from celebrated writer and spoken-word artist Steven Camden, Stand Up Ferran Burke (Macmillan) follows the journey of the titular character from Year 7 up to Year 11, his deep love of food and music, and all the trials and tribulations that come with that life stage, whether school, family, friendship, first relationships, or most importantly identity. It’s so evocative of teenage years, and beautifully and movingly written.