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Best Books This Month – May 2022

Best Books This Month - May 2022

It’s easy to feel lost in the flood of so many new children’s books available. Each month, we pick five of our recently published favourites.

Check out our Review Panel’s top picks for you to read in May 2022.

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Michelle Paver
Chapter book

This is the much-anticipated grand finale to the prize-winning ‘Wolf Brother’ adventure series.

The time has come for Torak to go head-to-head with the Demon Naiginn, but could it cause disastrous consequences for him and Wolf? Torak must hunt down the demon before the demon finds Wolf and eats his soul, giving him ultimate powers. Naiginn also has a new tool to help him – Wolfbane – also known as the wolf killing plant. Protecting Wolf becomes even more of a challenge when he gets lost on the ice. Will Torak find him before it’s too late? Will they escape the newly discovered Kelp clan?

This is the last book in the suspenseful adventure series that follows Torak and his companion Wolf. Having read most of the books in the series, I was excited to read the final adventure and I was not disappointed. You do not have to have read every story in the series to be able to enjoy the narrative. There are links to the other story lines in the final book so that it is easy to understand. The story is filled with drama, adventure and cliff-hangers, which keep the reader engaged. The plot ends with a satisfying conclusion, which I will not divulge so as to keep the ending a secret for new readers.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an adventure story and it is most likely to be enjoyed by children in Upper KS2, either as a standalone adventure or as part of the well-loved series.

Reviewer: Natasha Kendrick

Dan Sentat
Graphic Novel

A 245-page graphic novel by Caldecott Medal winner and New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Dan Santat. Sophia’s father, a marine biologist, was lost at sea when his research vessel sank. At the mercy of investors, the ‘Aqualand’ marine reserve he founded to protect sea life and continue their research is getting slowly but surely turned into a money-making theme park. One day, a strange being in an old fashioned diving suit emerges from the ocean searching for ‘Aqualand’. When they meet Sophia there, it is revealed that the suit is piloted by four friends from the ocean who, having found her father’s journal near his shipwrecked vessel, are wowed by the promise of a safe haven where they can be protected from the dangers of the ocean. Sophia becomes firm friends with these brave little creatures, and in their humorous adventures not only do they help Sophia with her science project, but together they save ‘Aqualand’ and make it into the haven it was always supposed to be.

Nicola Davies & Jenni Desmond

On the night before Earth Day, as the clock strikes midnight in Greenwich, two children take an imaginary journey around the world to see what is happening in each different time zone.

They travel to the Arctic Circle, where we learn about melting ice. They watch a family of elephants in Zambia, where it is 2am. They see the baby sea turtles make their journey into the waves on the beach at India. They hear the morning song of gibbons as they pass through Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in China, at 6.30am. They dive down into the ocean in the Philippines as we watch whale sharks have their breakfast of plankton. In Australia at 10am, kangaroos and their joeys find shade under the gum trees. At 12 noon they are in Antarctica, where melting ice again makes things difficult for its inhabitants, the emperor penguins, who rely on it to raise their chicks. Heading into the afternoon, they pass through Hawai’i where they see that humpback whales are thriving now that humans no longer hunt them as we once did. At 4pm in California, they wander through a beautiful meadow of flowers and learn how important the insects pollinating them are to all life on earth. As evening falls, they come to Ecuador, home to owl monkeys, insects, birds, and bats – but only for as long as humans resist the temptation to drill for oil here. In Brazil jaguars are endangered, but changes to farming are helping to protect them. Late into the night at 10pm, they pass over Bird Island, South Georgia, where albatross parents risk feeding their chicks plastic in the mouthfuls they return home with. As the last chime of midnight sounds, they return home, back to their human world of plastics, oil, roads and lights.

The illustrations in this book are simply stunning – full of movement and colour. The evocative words weave learning about the earth’s rotation and time zones into the fascinating journey around the globe. Although we see the destruction human beings are causing to the planet and its inhabitants, we also hear stories of success and change, and the book has a really positive message about how we can make a difference and can do something to protect the planet.

This would be absolutely perfect to read around Earth Day each year, as well as for general learning about climate change, time zones, animals and places of the world. There is some simple and clear information at the back about what climate change is and how we can do something to help. All in all a fascinating book in both story and imagery.

Reviewer: Amy Cross-Menzies

Michael Holland
 & Philip Giordano

Flying Eye has built a reputation for publishing high-quality non-fiction for children and I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast is no exception. Its subtitle – A Celebration of Plants Around the World – is fitting, as the whole book bursts with colour, information and adoration.

The book is split into four main parts: All About Plants, World of Plants, From Breakfast Until Bedtime and The Power of Plants. Sections within these parts range from covering large concepts such as plants’ roles in food chains and food webs down to the interesting details about how plants help us look after our teeth. There are various “DIY” investigations and experiments to try such as making invisible ink and creating bottle gardens. The book is visually stunning throughout and playfully illustrated as a flying insect pops up frequently to guide us through it all. I Ate Sunshine For Breakfast strikes a great balance between the everyday uses and marvels of plants and the science within this. Each page serves to remind the reader of the wonder of plants which is all around us.

The page layout is such that each section is presented as a double-page spread and this would be particularly useful in schools. It would be very easy to base some great reading lessons around these spreads and, because plants play such a large role in so many things, teachers could link it to many areas of the curriculum if they wanted. There is, for example, a section on how various world flags use plants as symbols and a different one on their role in musical instruments. All this before the more obvious pages you would expect such as pollination and seed dispersal. Plants play a large role in the primary Science curriculum and so this book really is a gem that could be dipped into again and again in KS2.

Hannah Gold
 & Levi Pinfold
Chapter book

A highly-recommended story with themes of family bonds, parental mental health and marine conservation. The story centres around a connection between an eleven-year-old boy, Rio, and a beautiful grey whale. The tale highlights the topic of environmental sustainability but also draws a picture of the wonderful connection that can develop between children and animals, placing hope and empowerment in the hands of the young to make a difference in the planet’s future.

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