Phoebe's October 23
Created: 10th October, 2023

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

Discover October's below:



A new addition to the endearing Zeki series by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson, Zeki Hikes with Daddy (Alanna Max) evokes the sensations of being outdoors in a way that really speaks to young children's experiences. Filled with phonics, alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia, the book also serves as a companion to the CLPE Power of Reading text Zeki Goes to the Park.

From beloved author Michael Rosen comes The Big Dreaming (Bloomsbury) - with sumptuous painterly illustrations by Daniel Egnéus, it tells of a big bear and a little bear preparing for their winter sleep. There is a STEM tie-in through introducing hibernation to younger readers, and is gently philosophical as Little Bear gathers dreams of happiness, home and hope from the forest’s inhabitants to help see them through the winter. A beautiful, seasonal picturebook.

New out in paperback, a trip to the seaside is infused with creative play in Storm Dragon (Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson, Otter-Barry Books). It follows a grandchild and grandfather on a wild and windy adventure, with lively sensory language and onomatopoeia. Would pair brilliantly with Sand Between my Toes and Granny and Bean.



Also from Otter-Barry, a spellbinding collaboration between Nicola Davies and Petr Horáček, who have previously worked together on A First Book of Animals and Choose Love. The Star Whale is an illustrated collection of animal- and nature-themed poetry, celebrating nature at the bottom of the garden, around the world, endangered and even extinct creatures, with the equally beautiful text and artwork sitting in perfect harmony.

2023 marks ten years since the publication of Benji Davies’ award-winning The Storm Whale, and now, a brand-new story entitled The Great Storm Whale (Simon & Schuster). This picturebook brings together Noi, his dad and his Grandma, with a tale of adventure and interspecies friendship told from Grandma’s childhood.

A ‘twisted’ fairytale from Leigh Hodgkinson, creator of Goldilocks and Just the One Bear, The Princess and the Greedy Pea (Walker) is a hilarious mash-up of The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and The Princess and the Pea. It follows the same cumulative rhyming narrative of the former as the Pea guzzles cake, cheese, and even the table; and plays with the central conceit of the latter – of course a princess would feel a GIANT pea under her mattress! Great fun to read aloud.

The Wild (Yuval Zommer, Oxford University Press) is a picturebook which reads like a fable – the titular ‘Wild’ is a personified being which generously supports the life that lives on its back, until one creature – humans – begins taking more than it needs. A gorgeously illustrated text about coexisting with the natural world and a call to environmental action.


Lower KS2

A Whale of a Time: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year joins I Am the Seed that Grew the Tree and Tiger Tiger Burning Bright as Nosy Crow’s latest year-round poetry anthology, edited by Lou Peacock with vibrant illustrations by Matt Hunt. Presented in gorgeous gift format, it brings together the very best humorous and nonsense poems by classic and contemporary poets, with some seasonally-themed entries.

A new information book from Child’s Play, Life on the Thames follows the wildlife, habitats and human histories of the River Thames, all the way from source to sea. Beautifully presented in landscape Hardback format, and written and illustrated by Emma Shoard, whose use of watercolours perfectly matches the content.

Written by Beth Cox, the co-founder of Inclusive Minds, and illustrated by Samatha Meredith, with input from an expert consultant, All Bodies are Wonderful (b small publishing) is an inclusive, informative and empowering guide to bodies. It covers the science of how bodies come to be, such as genes, DNA and reproduction, as well as how bodies and society interact with one another, all the while encouraging acceptance of our own bodies and those different to ours. A good tie-in to Body Acceptance Week (23rd-27th October 2023).


Upper KS2

A landmark new title from former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, Tales from Shakespeare (HarperCollins) features ten of Shakespeare’s plays retold by Morpurgo as short stories – each opening with a prologue – and with a different contemporary illustrator paired with each tale, including Dapo Adeola, Joelle Avelino and Sam Usher. With an introduction by Benedict Cumberbatch, this is the perfect primer to the works of Shakespeare.

Best Friends Forever (Guppy Books) marks the start of a new novel series called Bigg School by Lisa Williamson, with cartoon illustrations by Jess Bradley complimenting the text. It perfectly captures the transitional period from Year 6 to Year 7 and the changing friendship dynamics and emotional complexity of that time with relatability and a healthy dose of humour.

From celebrated author Katya Balen comes Foxlight (Bloomsbury), a much-anticipated new novel about sisterhood and family in which twin girls, found curled up amongst foxes as children, set off together on a journey of self-discovery, and into different kinds of wilderness. A stirring and emotional adventure, filled with evocative and immersive depictions of the natural world.

The Observologist (Giselle Clarkson, Gecko Press) is a fantastic work of graphic non-fiction which celebrates the very small nature under our noses. An illustrated guide to creature-spotting, or ‘observology’, it supports and encourages readers to give attention to the small and wonderful details of our gardens, pavements and home furnishings. Both text and artwork are a brilliant blend of factual and hilarious, with speech bubbles, labels and short comics making for an extra-engaging reading experience.

Finally, Hear Our Voices: A Powerful Retelling of the British Empire (Radhika Natarajan, Chao Tayiana and Alexander Mostov, Wide Eyed Editions) portrays twenty real-life stories from historical figures who had notable encounters with the British Empire in first-person, illustrated format. It opens with an extended introductory section providing well-communicated context, and is wide-ranging in both history and geography.