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Bonkers About Beetroot

by Cath Jones & Chris Jevons

This is a truly original picture book that, like its name, is just a bit bonkers! It tells the story of an innovative zebra who is looking for a way to bring in visitors to Sunset Safari Park to save it from being closed down. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Zebra decides to grow the world’s most enormous beetroot which, with a nod to the story of the Enormous Turnip, becomes so big that the only thing to do is to eat it. However, eating the beetroot has unintentional and colourful consequences for Zebra in a humorous twist. This is a really funny story that is suitable for reception and KS1 and would fit well with topics about plants and animals.

A Whisper of Horses

by Zillah Bethel

An absolutely breath-taking story about pursuing dreams and learning to navigate the choices that shape identity. This imaginative tale is set in a dystopian future where the walled-in city of “Lahn Dan” is ruled by a dictating government that organises society into three unequally treated classes. The story centres on Serendipity, a young girl who dreams of seeing real horses and longs for the freedom they represent. Serendipity finds an unusual map and begins to wonder if everything she has been told by the government is a lie. With the help of a likeable smuggler friend called Tab, as well as a story-telling professor and several groups of settlers that she encounters along the way, Serendipity shakes off the notion that identity is defined by class or lineage and begins to forge out her own destiny instead, opting to follow her dreams and discover her own place in the world. This is a gripping and thought-provoking read suitable for Upper KS2 and we recommended it highly.

The Great Race

by Christopher Corr

This is a highly recommendable retelling of the story Chinese Zodiac and how the order of the animals came about, new for 2018. The story is easy to understand for KS1 and reception with striking illustrations, containing wonderfully colourful spreads painted in an oriental folk style. This text holds a high level of appeal for young children and is perfect for learning about Chinese New Year.

Also featured on: Books for Chinese New Year

The Mirror of Pharos

by JS Landor

The Mirror of Pharos is a story of magic and adventure, suitable for upper KS2. Twelve-year-old Jack appears to live in the kind of world where magic is loitering just below the surface of a very normal existence; from a curious Nan baking her unusual cookies, to a mysterious disc that arrives at Jack’s house and an amber-eyed wolf watching over the village. There is just enough mystery to keep the reader intrigued by the plot’s twists and turns, but a greater strength of the book is the characters and we particularly enjoyed the eccentric Jago Flynn, a charismatic artist who befriends the central character Jack. This is an original fantasy story that quickly catapults the reader from the familiar quotidian to an enchanting realm of time-travel, magical animals and perilous quests.

The author offers school visits and supplementary information on her website:

Project Bugs

by Camilla de la Bedoyere

We love non-fiction texts with interactive elements and 'Project Bugs' is full of them! This book is crammed with colourful fold-out pages, exciting hands-on projects and secret flaps that are cleverly integrated into the photographs (like insects’ wings or cells in a beehive that lift up to reveal extra information). Bursting with interesting facts and ideas for investigative activities, such as finding out how some insects can walk on water, this text delves into the biology of a whole host of fascinating minibeasts. Recommended for KS2. 

Also featured on: Minibeasts and Plants & Animals for KS2

Body: The Ultimate Guide

by Dr Kristina Routh

This book contains a detailed breakdown of what goes on inside the human body. Suitable for upper KS2, the text holds a wealth of information organised into accessible bullet points, clear photographs, pull-out wall posters and very detailed diagrams. The structure into key sections makes it easy to find information quickly and we particularly liked the acetate sheet overlays that display different layers over the top of each other. A useful support for learning about human biology in KS2. 

Also featured on: healthy humans

The Black Lotus

by Kieran Fanning

What’s more exciting than a story about ninjas? How about a story about time-travelling ninja trainees with unique superpowers, on a quest to save the world from an evil empire? Set in an alternative reality where most of the modern world is ruled by President Goda and his Samurai Empire, three children from different world cities find themselves brought together in a race against time to fight back against the Empire, training first at a sort of Hogwarts for ninjas. This is a fast-paced and convincing narrative and we would highly recommend it as a great addition to upper KS2 libraries, especially for readers with a taste for action and who can handle small amounts of violence. An edge-of-your-seat exciting and highly original adventure that travels through time and space faster than you can say 'ninja'! 

Kaya's Heart Song

by Diwa Tharan Sanders & Nerina Canzi 

This is an intriguing and mesmerising picture book set in the Malaysian jungle. Young Kaya is seeking her ‘heart song’ and journeys deep within the vibrant jungle, which is so beautifully portrayed in the illustrations using a dazzling pallette of bright reds, oranges, purples and yellows set against the vegetatious backdrop of countless shades of green. When Kaya finds a mysterious carousel, the captivating music it produces leads Kaya to discover her own heart song. This is a truly unique picture book, grounded in the values of mindfulness, and one that will leave young readers wide-eyed with surprise and wonder.

Available March 2018.

Also features on: promoting cultural diversity 

The Roman Quests: Escape from Rome

by Caroline Lawrence

The first of Caroline Lawrence’s four Roman Quests, Escape from Rome is a completely gripping adventure filled with danger, excitement and some really gritty themes to get stuck into. Taking his siblings with him, twelve-year-old Juba is forced to flee the Emperor Domitian in Rome and set off on a journey to find his uncle in Britannia (the edge of the known world). Uncertain who to trust, Juba’s leadership skills are tested as he uncovers a sinister secret about his uncle’s lifestyle, requiring Juba to act like his hero Aeneas and make some difficult but important decisions. Steeped in interesting historical details and covering challenging themes including slavery and immigration, this story is abundantly thrilling from the very first page and we highly recommend it for Upper Key Stage 2.

Also featured on: The Romans Topic

Hopscotch and the Christmas Tree

by Katy Segrove & Katerina Vykhodtseva

A fun Christmas picturebook with a message about staying positive. The animals living in Rainbow Mews are disappointed to find that their beloved old Christmas tree is no longer up to surviving another festive season. Struggling to source the perfect replacement, the little cast of animals find themselves thinking outside the box to create a wonderful solution to reclaiming their festive cheer instead.  An uplifting, appealing and original Christmas story suitable for KS1 and reception.  

Also featured on: Christmas

Jet The Rescue Dog

by David Long & Peter Bailey

It is not difficult to find stories about war heroes, but what about when the heroes are animals? This collection compiles true tales of a whole menagerie of courageous creatures that have made their mark during war time. The animals include a bear who carried shells to the Allied troops in World War II, a horse who assisted American marines during the Korean War and an Alsatian who aided the search and rescue mission after the 9/11 attacks in New York. These compelling and astonishing true stories highlight the extraordinary bond between humans and animals even in the darkest of times.

Also featured on:  World War II


by David Long & Kerry Hyndman

This is an exciting non-fiction text containing a collection of captivating real life tales of men, women and children who have survived the most perilous situations against all odds. The book features a mixture of well known adventurers, like Shackleton, and lesser-heard stories like that of Poon Lim, a man who wrestled for survival by living alone at sea on a raft for months and, desperate for something to drink to stay alive, captured and killed a shark in order to drink its blood! Many of the stories are truly incredible and they encapsulate how the sense of sheer determination, guile and radical bravery found deep within the human spirit enables people to overcome adversity in the most unlikely situations. This is a superb non-fiction-that-feels-like-fiction text that we highly recommend to KS2 classrooms.

Also featured on: Awesome Earth

Homework on Pluto

by Lou Treleaven

A fun and original early chapter book on the theme of space, that suitably fills the chasm between this topic’s many great picture books and those middle grade novels pitched at older readers. This book charts the inter-planetary correspondence between space traveller Jon and his primary school class back on Earth. As well as letters, his adventures on Pluto are documented in a scrapbook-style collection of leaflets, newspaper articles, homework reports and other paraphernalia collected along the way. Readers will delight in the way in which the story unfolds with skilful humour and creativity, as the imagined space settlement on Pluto is steadily brought to life through the sequence of letters.  Available from April 2018 (you can pre-order here).

Also featured on: Earth & Space topic

Game of Stones

Game of Stones is the next adventure of young Pod, already famous from the book’s prequel Stone Underpants. In Game of Stones, a simple storyline and eye-catching illustrations are brought together to create an amusing picture book filled with playfulness, visual humour and a bountiful measure of prehistoric puns! Feeling bored, inventive Pod and his little brother Hinge set to work to design and create a Stone Age game to play together. Pod’s new inventions are a little short of the mark until finally the pair create an impressive new playground called StoneHinge! This is a humorous picture book that could be used to introduce the Stone Age topic to younger children in a lighthearted and entertaining way.

Beware the Mighty Bitey

This highly original story features a group of Mighty Bitey Piranhas who are lurking in a jungle water pool waiting for their next unsuspecting snack to come along. Filled with music and mayhem, this brightly illustrated and delightfully rhythmical story is heaps of fun. The piranhas are not the only things surreptitiously lurking in the pages of this book, however, as there is also an unexpected twist at the end that we never saw coming!


Reading Barbara Henderson's 'Punch' this week we have found ourselves quickly immersed in its portrayal of the darkened streets of late Victorian Scotland. The plot of this novel moves very rapidly and we were quickly drawn in to the excitement and relentless sense of jeopardy in the story as it follows the adventures of 12-year-old Phineas. After being accused of setting the local market place on fire, Phineas flees and soon finds himself in the company of an escaped convict and a travelling puppet show. As Phineas learns the art of puppetry, he feels unsure who he can really trust and begins to confront some difficult memories from his past. There is a delightful contrast between the sense of darkness that never really leaves Phineas and the gleeful escapism of the travelling show. We recommend this text for upper KS2.

Also featured on: books for the Victorians topic

Bears Don't Eat Egg Sandwiches

We’ve had plenty of fun enjoying Bears Don’t Eat Egg Sandwiches this week and we can’t get enough of this humorous story with an irresistible repeated refrain! This story features a small boy called Jack, who is busy preparing a plateful of egg sandwiches when he is interrupted by the appearance of a large bear. Undaunted, Jack tries to offer the bear some sandwiches but as the story climaxes it becomes apparent that the bear has a very different sort of lunch in mind! The story evokes elements of both The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Green Eggs and Ham, creating a wonderfully amusing new world of its own where boys negotiate lunchtime with bears in the most matter-of-fact kind of way. We love the bold, colourful illustrations that contrast the cartoon-like enormous bear with the photo-style collages of egg sandwiches, perfectly encapsulating the way in which the story merges the mundanity of lunchtime with the ludicrousness of the bear. We highly recommend this book and we are certain that this one will quickly become a story-time favourite.

As Nice as Pie

We really enjoyed this story about a kindly old lady called Mavis who defies reader expectations by taking her fate into her own hands! When the many birds visiting Mavis begin to take advantage of her hospitality, Mavis promises a big surprise in the form of a gigantic pie. The birds are not the only ones surprised by the humorous plot turn in this story, with the narrative taking the reader on a twisty-turny journey along with Mavis as she teaches the birds a lesson and follows her own dreams to open a successful pie shop. Coupled with colourful illustrations that brightly capture all different kinds of garden birds, this is a picture book that is sure to get children laughing, talking and thinking!

The Snowflake Mistake

Young children will love snuggling up with this story on a wintry day! Within a floating ice palace high above the clouds, the Snow Queen operates a snowflake machine, ensuring that it produces perfectly identical flakes. But one day when the Queen leaves her daughter Ellie in charge, the machine breaks and Ellie has to find a new way to make the snowflakes. Ellie creates exquisite and unique snowflakes by hand, making the most beautiful snowfall ever. We really enjoyed this imaginative story celebrating uniqueness and creativity, accompanied by its charming illustrations and soft, wintry colour palette. The instructions for making paper snowflakes are included on the final page and we can see this book being relished in Early Years and KS1 classrooms as part of winter themed topics.

Also featured on: books for Autumn/Winter topics

Pirates in Classroom 3

We have quickly become fond of this delightful pirate story! When the teacher steps out of the classroom, an unexpected visitor arrives in the form of a pirate searching for treasure! Discover whether the children in Classroom 3 can find the treasure before the terrifying Pirate Bloodloss gets his hands on it! We think that this charming story is perfect for capturing imaginations in Key Stage 1 and Early Years classrooms.  

Rooster Wore Skinny Jeans

This is the story of a rooster with a fondness for online shopping! Delighted with his dazzling new jeans, Rooster is surprised when the other animals laugh at his fashion sense. Rooster soon learns what it takes to be confident in himself and his choices without worrying about the opinions of others. This is a fun story with a strong message about being true to oneself

The Last Cherry Blossom

This empathetic story contributes a rarer voice into the narrative of young people’s experiences of World War II. Based around the experiences of the author’s mother surviving the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, this text combines relatable issues of family politics and dawning adolescence with Japanese culture and the colossal suffering caused by war. We were especially gripped at the moment of the bomb’s detonation and the confusing and devastating aftermath that followed. This emotive YA text would be suitable for mature readers in upper KS2 and offers an fascinating new dimension to the narrative of WW2.

Also featured on: books for WW2 topics 

The Secret Adventures of Rolo Book 4: Jewel Dog and the Dragons

This is the fourth instalment of Rolo’s exciting time-travelling escapades. Jumping straight into action, this book is just as thrilling as the earlier adventures, as Rolo the dog visits the Bronze Age, World War I, Anglo-Saxon England and the mythological worlds of Ancient Greece! We particularly enjoyed Rolo’s journey into the Greek Underworld to encounter Persephone and Hades! Filled with historical details, this enjoyable series is a wonderful way to help develop a wider overview of history for KS2. The author also offers school visits via her website.

We've been testing out Maverick Early Readers for a few weeks now and we are already big fans! Covering book bands from pink to purple, this series takes readers from the earliest stages of letter recognition and beginning blending to basic fluency and comprehension skills.  We like the way in which the stories contain simple introductory activities (such as letter tracing), key words, discussion ideas and fun comprehension quizzes. Our little readers loved the engaging style of the illustrations and the fun story lines that made a change from some of the more predictable stories in comparable early reading schemes. If you are looking for a breath of fresh air to top up your existing reading scheme, we recommend you give these a try! Find out more by visiting the Maverick website

Wild Ideas

We love this engaging non-fiction text all about the way in which animals use problem-solving to overcome everyday challenges. In this book readers will look at how dung beetles use the stars to map their journeys, how humpback whales create nets of bubbles to capture their next fishy meal and how mimic octopuses disguise themselves in the most creative of ways. The collage-style illustrations draw the reader into the incredible world of nature while the short, vocabulary-rich text is perfect for inspiring deeper thinking about what we can learn from nature’s problem-solvers.

Also featured on:  Plants & Animals KS2

Skyscrapers (Awesome Engineering)

This information text presents some of the world's most impressive skyscrapers through pages packed with fact boxes, explanations, graphs, diagrams and photographs. We like the way in which this book explains the impressive engineering behind the building designs in a way that is easy to understand for young readers and we think this would make a great choice for guided reading for KS2.

Also featured on: houses, homes & buildings 

The International Space Station

Did you know that astronauts can grow up to 5-6cm taller in space because of the lack of gravity compressing their spines? Or that astronauts on the International Space Station often add chilli sauce to their space meals because their sense of taste is altered in space? Or that sometimes space-walking astronauts wear an adult nappy underneath their spacesuit? Nor did we, until we read this absorbing information text about the International Space Station! We highly recommend this book, which is packed with fascinating fact boxes, diagrams, engaging illustrations and a comprehensive glossary, and we can see it becoming a key information text for primary classrooms covering the topic of Earth & Space.

Also featured on: Space (KS2)

Look Out! How We Use Our Five Senses

We love information texts with interactive elements and this one does not disappoint! The book explores the five senses and what each sense is for, using fun characters, bright illustrations and simple infographics. When you hold up certain pages to the light (or shine a torch through), extra details are revealed. This book, along with the other book in the series Atchoo! How We Catch A Cold available on Amazon, would make a great addition to classroom libraries in Early Years and KS1.

Also featured on: All About Me