A round-up of some titles we think would be value for money in any home, classroom, or library.
Selections by Pat Triggs
Some favourite authors and artists do it again.
Bertie and the Bear
Pamela Allen, Hamish Hamilton, 0 241 11054 8, £4.75
The bear chases Bertie and in turn everyone else chases the bear – shouting, blowing trumpets, banging gongs, tooting flutes etc. etc. Great for infants and extrovert storytellers who like to make a noise and really get involved in a story.
The Kettleship Pirates
Rodney Peppé, Kestrel, 0 7226 5837 0, £4.95
Fun, fantasy, excitement as Pip mouse gets carried away on a pirate adventure. In the same style as the very successful The Mice who Lived in a Shoe and equally appealing for sharing and beginning reading.
Mary Dickinson. pictures by Charlotte Firmin, Deutsch, 0 233 95558 6, £3.95
Mums and kids on a day out in the country. I Alex and his mum have a great time in their different ways. (Alex gets very dirty: Mum doesn’t get cross.) Top infants and reading lower juniors.
King Henry’s Palace
Pat Hutchins, Bodley Head, 0 370 30981 2, £4.50
Another hit. Three stories about very nice King Henry, his soldiers, his servants, his gardener and his cook. Clever and funny and just right for new readers.
Tattie’s River Journey
Shirley Rousseau Murphy, pictures by Tomie de Paola, Methuen, 0 416 45460 7, £5.50
A set of beautifully stylised, subtly coloured illustrations exactly complements the story of calm resourceful Tattle whose house floats away on the flood. She rescues a baby and a plain, domesticated young man and when the waters subside discovers a whole new life.
Doctor de Soto
William Steig, Andersen Press, 0 86264 059 8, £4.95
Should a mouse dentist treat a fox with toothache? Marvellously funny and inventive William Steig explores the dilemma in a brilliant sequence of words and pictures. Not to be missed.
Stanley Bagshaw and the Twenty-Two Ton Whale
Bob Wilson, Hamish Hamilton, 0 241 10812 8, £4.75
Another saga in rhyme and cartoon from Huddersgate where our hero, Stan, `resides with his Grandma’. This time a whale mistakes the way to the pole and ends up in the canal. Very funny. A must for juniors.
And, of course, Gorilla, Anthony Browne’s witty, perceptive, impeccably designed book, featured in BfK earlier this year
Some less well-known (as yet) names to recommend.
Ron Maris, Julia MacRae, 0 86203 1443, £4.95
For the youngest. A series of double spreads interspersed with vertically split half pages which turn to show more and more of what’s in ‘my house’. Very cleverly conceived (doors seen in the distance become the pages we turn) and executed. Endless potential for ‘ sharing and talking.
Ned and the Joybaloo
Hiawyn Oram, pictures by Satoshi Kitamura, Andersen Press, 0 86264 048 2, £4.50
Another rich and resonant fantasy from the Angry Arthur team. What this book has to say about pleasure, happiness, joy, may not be completely understood by young readers, but it will be felt.There’s something here for adult sharers too!
The Vegetable Thieves
Inga Moore, Andersen Press, 0 86264 047 4, £4.50
Des and Letty – two mice – find running a market garden pretty exhausting. Following a trail left by vegetable thieves they find some abandoned mice children. You can guess the rest. The pictures, especially of the vegetable garden, are exquisitely drawn and coloured.
Sylvia Fair,. Macmillan, 0 333 32655, £4.95
Maud and Amelia decide to relieve the monotony of a life confined to their respective ends of a long bed by embroidering the bedspread with pictures of their childhood home. Each sister sews her memories in her own way; telling and showing how they did it makes a delightful story.
Moveables: Simple and Effective
Harry Stevens, Collins, 0 00 143195 1, £4.95
A pull out book that is a guessing game. Who buries his bones under garden stones? Who had grass to chew and gives milk to you’ The picture answer appears when you pull, and the word is revealed on the tab. Jolly cartoony pictures; strong, smooth-running mechanisms.
Rod Campbell, Blackie, 0 216 91468 X, £4.50
Lift the flaps as Buster goes to look for eggs on Grandma’s farm. Simple storyline with lots of repetition and opportunities for joining in and predicting.
Rhymes Around the Day
chosen by Pat Thomson, pictures y Jan Ormerod. Kestrel, 0 7226 5808 7, £4.50
Jan Ormerod’s pictures take the family – the girl twins and the baby – through a day of rhymes from ‘The cock does crow’ to ‘Starlight, Star bright’. A lovely blend of traditional and contemporary.
Quick Let’s Get Out of Here
Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake, Deutsch, 0 233 97559 4, £5.95
Rosen and Blake do it again. 128 pages of poems and expressive black and white drawings about families and friends and people and… well… life. (There’s also a cassette tape from Deutsch of Mike Rosen reading poems from this and the three other collections.)
Monika Beisner’s Book of Riddles
Cape, 0 224 02091 9, £4.95
Metaphor, wordplay are at the heart of riddles so, apart from the fact that lots of them rhyme, these are very close to poetry. Each page of riddles faces a colour plate, beautifully drawn and containing visual clues to the answers. A book to delight in and one with lots of classroom possibilities.
Sing a Song of Sixpence
compiled by Jane Hart, pictures by Anita Lobel, Gollancz, 0 575 03275 8, £6.95
Sub titled The Best Song Book Ever, this collection of words, music (piano and guitar) and pictures is excellent value, especially for use with Infants. Where appropriate, instructions are given for games, dances and actions that accompany the songs and there is a very useful subject index.
The New Golden Land Anthology
ed. Judith Elkin, Kestrel, 0 7226 5805 2, £7.50
James Reeves’ anthology A Golden Land became an institution, the paperback a holiday standby. But it was first published 25 years ago and a lot has happened in writing for children in that time. Judith Elkin has done an excellent job of revising and adding to the original selection so that, as she says in her introduction, today’s reader. and listeners can ‘find afresh the Golden Land’. Jan Mark, Philippa Pearce, Mike Rosen, Bernard Ashley, Margaret Mahy and other modern masters join with the likes of A.A. Milne, Hans Andersen, Eleanor Farjeon. Lewis Carroll and Walter de la Mare, in a book that is a treasure in itself and a starting point for discovery.
Legends of the Sun and Moon
retold by Eric and Tessa Hadley, ill. Jan Nesbitt, CUP. 0 521 25227 X, £5.25
A dozen carefully selected and beautifully presented stories from many different cultures. The tales are short, extremely well-told for reading aloud and Jan Nesbitt’s strong, bright pictures echo in style the cultures they come from. There is a lot on offer here for the imaginative Junior teacher.
In paperback now
Three classic collections from Faber:
North American Legends
ed. Virginia Haviland, ill. Ann Strugnell. £2.95
Northern Folk Tales and Northern Legends
ed. Kevin Crossley-Holland, ill. Alan Howard. Both £2.95
Full-sized. identical to the hardback. Fantastically good value.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
selected and introduced by Richard Adams. ill. Pauline Ellison, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 0 7100 9997 5, £4.95
Nineteen stories illustrated with black and white title drawings and full colour plates. Pauline Ellison’s pictures capture the magic, the mystery, the strangeness and the humour of these timeless tales. Full-size, excellent reproduction, good quality paper.
The Complete Borrowers Stories
Mary Norton. Puffin, 0 14 03.1666 3. £4.95
A large format hind up of all five ‘Borrowers’ books with the original illustrations.
Masayuki Yabuuchi. Bodley Head. 0 370 30966 9, £4.50
An addition to an excellent series of Infant Information books that already includes Animal Mothers and Feeding Babies. Simple text in question and answer format and admirably clear pictures deal with a topic that often engages the young child.
Life of a Butterfly
Andreas and Heiderose Fischer-Nagel. trans. Noel Simon, Dent, 0 460 06141 0, £4.95
One of the best yet in a remarkable series. Admirably clear text and superb close-up photography combine to make what must be the definitive butterfly book for younger children. As a bonus there’s encouragement to go and look for yourself, and the beauty of the photographs, especially the close-ups of a butterfly’s wing, is quite breathtaking.
Out of the Wood
Graham Underhill. OUP, 0 19 918142 X. £6.95
A fascinating amalgam of natural history with social, political and economic history achieved by following an oak tree from its accidental planting in 850 to its destruction in 1850. Large full colour pictures showing the lives of people at periods across 1,000 years are packed with detailed visual information. The accompanying text is short and in story form. Charts, lists, a timeline, all mean that the reader can use the book itself as a basis for investigation: but it’s also an excellent starting point for further enquiry and investigation of an integrated kind. (UJ/LS)
The Elephant Man
Michael Howell and Peter Ford, ill. Robert Geary, Allison and Busby. 0 85031 531 X. £4.95
A version for children of the true story of Joseph Merrick. exhibited in a freak show as the Elephant Man until he came into the protection of the London Hospital. Skilfully done by the artist and the authors of the original book. A moving story which provokes much thought and discussion in the young.
Marianne Ford. drawings by Anna Pugh, Deutsch, 0 233 97584 5, £6.95
The most interesting and original make-it book for a long time. The origin of each and every activity is traced historically and illustrated by museum photographs. This background information is combined with clearly drawn instructions for a range of things to make and do including quilting, marquetry. applique, silhouettes, miniature shops, ‘jewelled’ eggs, whistles, boomerangs – and lots more. Spiral hound to lie flat. A quality production.
Roald Dahl, ill. Quentin Blake. Cape, 0224 02165 6, £6.50
REAL WITCHES look and behave just like ORDINARY WOMEN and they LOATHE CHILDREN. There are ways of telling what they are (for instance their spit is blue) but not many people know how to do it. One who does is one of the most super grandmothers in fiction, and a definite plus for this book which is highly inventive, if not quite as good as the marvellous BFG.
One Way Only
Gwen Grant, ill. Faith Jaques, Heinemann, 0 434 94136 0, £6.95
The third instalment of the life and times of the narrator of Private – Keep Out! and Knock and Wait. Back from hospital she is still writing in her book and it’s 1950. Youngest of a large Nottinghamshire family she records the passing scene with devastating clarity and a good line in partial comment. Funny, observant, highly readable.
The Present Takers
Aidan Chambers. Bodley Head. 0 370 30967 7, £4.95
The kids in this story have read The Eighteenth Emergency. but it’s not much help in coping with top junior Melanie Prosser and her two nasty side-kicks. Bullying, extortion, humiliation are their specialities and no one person, adult or child, can find the answer. Lucy and Angus getting together is a start. Shades of Betsy Byars and Gene Kemp in a very satisfying tale which, among other things, makes a powerful case for the written word. Reads well aloud or alone.
Jan Mark, Kestrel. 0 7226 5857 5, £5.50
When bike-mad Erica goes to spend the summer with vegetable growing Auntie Joan, Uncle Peter and revolting cousin Robert in a Norfolk village, she doesn’t expect excitement. And she doesn’t get it. But on an errand to ‘the smallest industrial estate in the world’ she finds Elsie Wainwright, his motor bike repair shop and a variety of characters – all with handles to their names. Nothing much happens in this book, but it is impossible to stop reading it. Needle sharp, quirky, observant, Jan Mark has assembled a cast of characters that keep the reader as entertained and fascinated as Erica is. A very funny and perceptive book. One of the best this season.
David Wiseman, Kestrel, 0 7226 5864 8. £5.50
Cathy’s dad, a union organizer is known as Red Tom. When he is sacked and trouble brews she is sent to Gran in Cornwall. There she finds two thimbles, one gold, one iron. They take her back to 1819 (as two different people depending which thimble she wears) and the Manchester Massacre at Peterloo. A neat and readable exploration of human rights and the nature of freedom. This is David Wiseman’s second novel – a name to watch.
Talking in Whispers
James Watson, Gollancz, 0 575 03272 3. £5.95
Another book about the fight for freedom and justice. The setting here is Chile. now or in the future, and this story of sixteen year old Andres and his friends and their opposition to the military Junta makes compelling reading. Here is grief, anger. compassion, courage and hope. Try to ensure no teenager misses it.
Peter Dickinson, Gollancz, 0 575 003314 2, £5.95
The Foundation researches into Harmonic Energy. If you are ill, are found suitable and can pay, the Foundation will arrange for you to have access to The Healer – a ten year old girl with strange and mysterious powers. Sixteen year old Barry’s attempt to rescue her from what he and her grandfather see as the clutches of the Foundation makes an exciting and dramatic story. But as always with Peter Dickinson there is more to it. Refusing to over-simplify, he explores ideas about knowledge. faith, belief, obsession, gullibility, mental and physical health, and his conclusions are determinedly ambiguous and open-ended. One for older readers who like to be challenged and to think.