Big Picture Press

NSTBA PICTURE BOOK CATEGORY LONG LIST part 3

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With so many wonderful picture books available, this category cause the most debate. Here are the next five on the list…

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Deliciously silly from the first page, ‘I am a Tiger’ sees a mouse boldly proclaiming that it is, in fact, a tiger. Other animals are taken aback by this bold claim and try to disprove it. However, Mouse, brimming with confidence and conviction, manages to rebuff their claims until a genuine tiger appears. Completely unfazed by this arrival, Mouse simply tells the tiger that it is the mouse and then uses its own brand of logic to identify each of the other creatures. The ending opens the possibility for another Mouse story.

The illustrations are bold, using strong colours for the backgrounds and the bemused expressions of the animals and the confidence of the mouse are just wonderful.Even the end papers join in the fun with Mouse cheekily peeking round tiger strips at the beginning and through a hole in cheese at the end before setting the reader wondering again with the final illustration. Perfect for story time, ‘I am a Tiger’ will have everyone laughing and making up stories! Brilliant and beautiful!

I am a Tiger Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1509855155

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Matisse’s beautiful art work goes unnoticed until he finds a place full of eager eyes which notice his creations- a playground.The children wonder at Matisse’s art and are inspired to create their own. A wonderful way to introduce children to the work of Henri Matisse and particularly ‘The Snail’, ‘Matisse’s Magical Trail’ lends itself beautifully to celebrating creativity, the joys of close observation and noticing the little things around us. Matisse’s work inspires the children to transform their environment, bringing joy to others along the way.

The illustrations are fabulous, working perfectly with the text to produce an inspirational, artistic story!

Matisse's Magical Trail Tom Hopgood, illustrated by Sam Boughton

OUP ISBN: 978-0192767264

You can read another review of this here.

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Inspired by the story of a rougheye rock fish caught off the coast of Alaska, ‘Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish’ is a tale of the change in our oceans, particularly coral reefs, and how the actions of just one determined person can make great change. Alba loves to collect beautiful objects which she would gather around her home. However, as the years passed, the number of beautiful objects she could find grew less whilst the amount of strange, unfriendly things in the ocean grew. Finding herself trapped inside a plastic bottle, Alba is washed up on the beach where fortunately, she is found by a little girl who rescues Alba and leads a campaign to clear up the mess.

Clearly showing how the actions of an individual can make all the difference, this is a wonderful story for discussing the problems for wildlife caused by rubbish and pollution. A ‘Did you spot..?’ section at the back encourages children to locate and identify different creatures found on coral reefs, introducing them to these wonderful creatures. A final note also suggests ways of looking after our oceans. The pictures also identify a whole range of alien objects which have found their way to Alba’s home, ruining its beauty and creating hazards for the creatures that live there. A strong message through a lovely story.

Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish Lara Hawthorne

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1787412927

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When a stranger arrives with only a suitcase, everyone is full of questions, particularly when he tells them what his case contains. Suspicious, they force the case open whilst he is asleep and discover the real contents. When the stranger awakes, he finds they have tried to make amends.

Beautiful, poignant and profound, ‘The Suitcase’ reminds us all of the importance of being kind and thoughtful, about standing up to the negative ideas of others and of welcoming ‘strangers’ and making them friends. It is all the more powerful for its simplicity and is a must read in every classroom and home.

The Suitcase Chris Naylor-Ballestros

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004473

You can read another review of this here.

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Liesel lives above the bustling city, watching the busy people below. In a magical pause between tick and tock, Liesel stops time and gets to work, spreading happiness through good deeds across the city. These little acts of kindness have a big impact when the city rumbles back into life.

The importance of taking time, of noticing and of offering a helping hand are celebrated in this beautiful book. Liesel reminds us that there is always a moment to help, to change things, to make life a little better for others and so enrich ourselves. The illustrations are striking with splashes of colour highlighting the places Liesel helps against the muted colours of the city. A wonderful book for sharing, discussing and inspiring random acts of kindness.

Between Tick and Tock Louise Greig, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405286596

You can read another review of this here.

NSTBA INFORMATION CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

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Perfect for supporting work from the Year 5 programme of study on ‘Earth and Space’, ‘Voyage through Space’ takes the reader on an adventure with a little girl and her dog as they explore the solar system. Starting at the sun, they visit each planet in turn. With additional fact boxes across each spread, the text is full of interesting details, presented in achievable sections and written in a chatty style. The journey ends at the Kuiper Belt (including Pluto) which is past the edges of our solar system.

The illustrations are stunning, full of colour and interest, forming an appealing backdrop to the information. The style and presentation of this book will appeal to many children, particularly those who find navigating large sections of text difficult. The ‘glow in the dark’ poster is an attractive addition.

Voyage Through Space Katy Flint, illustrated by Cornelia Li

Wide Eyed ISBN: 978-1786030825

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Explaining Darwin’s theory in an accessible way, this re-telling by Sabina Radeva is perfect for using to support the work in the Year 6 programme of study on evolution and inheritance. Beautifully illustrated, it explains the basic concepts of Darwin’s work in easily digestible sections, putting it into the context of the time in which he lived. The book starts with scientists before Darwin and looks at his family life before moving on to his ideas. The text includes quotes from Darwin himself, reminding the reader that Darwin actually wrote the ideas the book is based on and there is a fascinating ‘misconceptions’ section at the end. An appendix offers additional information and a glossary explains some of the terms used.

Beautiful and informative, Sabina Radeva’s re-telling makes Darwin’s work accessible to children, encouraging them to wonder at the world around them.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species retold and illustrated by Sabina Radeva

Puffin ISBN: 978-0141388502

You can read another review of this book here.

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‘Natural Wonders of the World’ is a beautiful book, exploring 30 of the wonders of our planet, some well known, others less so. A map of the world shows the location of each wonder, linked to the contents so the information can be easily located and there is a comprehensive index at the end. Stunning photographs and illustrations are on every page, celebrating places, animals and birds, plants and natural phenomena with detailed, interesting text exploring the history, legends, people and science behind them.

Each is fascinating, but in the introduction, the reader is also reminded that there are wonders all around us which we should enjoy and comments on how ‘fragile and precious out planet really is.’ The book could be used as a starting point for further researched linked to various areas of science or geography, but could also be the inspiration for a class book about local ‘wonders’, encouraging children to investigate, write about and photograph their locality.

Natural Wonders of the World Molly Oldfield, illustrated by Frederica Bordoni

(photograph credits given at the end of the book)

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526360663

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This striking book looks at the development of transport through the ages. Divided into categories such as trains, ships, cars, etc,. each section starts with a double page spread which gives a timeline of the evolution of that mode of transport, showing key dates. Additional information is then given on the following pages about how they developed and the people behind them.

The wide range of transport included means that there is something for everyone here. The illustrations of the timelines are full of detail and humour, presented in black and white with coloured borders which correspond with the colour of the pages of information. As well as being full of facts, this could inspire children to present their own research in this way.

Amazing Transport: Journey through the History of Transport

Tom Jackson, illustrated by Chris Mould

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1408889770

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A wonderful collection of amazing stories, ‘Great Adventurers’ focus on the expeditions of twenty explorers from throughout history. Each was an inspiration to the author who has ‘chased a life of adventure’ himself and in turn hopes to inspire his readers to do the same.

The book is a fascinating read, including a wide range of people from across the world. Alastair Humphreys explains why each figure has inspired him whilst giving an account of their adventures. Each is told over four pages, including maps. kit, diary entries and recipes and is brilliantly illustrated throughout, including comic strip sections. A brilliant addition to any library!

Alastair Humphreys’ Great Adventurers, illustrated by Kevin Ward

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1783708413

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Very topical at the moment, 'A Planet Full of Plastic’ is an extremely readable, engaging book which both explains the development of plastic and why it has become such a problem. Terms such as ‘biodegrade’ and ‘microplastic’ are clearly explained and the book does not shy away from the severity of the issue. However, it is not all doom and gloom. The book also looks at ways of helping the situation, starting with reduce, reuse, recycle and then looking at the ideas scientists and engineers are coming up with to tackle the problem before offering ideas and information about how the reader can help.

The cartoon/ collage style of illustration, using photographs as backgrounds, is extremely effective and the chatty style of the text makes a direct appeal to the reader, personified by the cartoon child, from the narrator whose identity is discovered at the end of the book. Giving examples of young people who have made such a difference is very inspirational and offers the challenge of thinking of a ‘big idea to help save the planet’. An important book for both home and school, ‘A Planet Full of Plastic’ offers an excellent starting point for making changes to our behaviour, making us all take responsibility for this man made problem. Excellent!

A Planet Full of Plastic and How You Can Help Neal Layton

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526361738

NSTBA Past Winners-Information Books Category

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Quality information books are so important in school-both for classwork and for reading for pleasure and we love investigating what’s available and considering how it can be used. The range of subjects and styles available is amazing and we are always learning about new things in our hunt for those special books for our list. We can’t wait to compile this year’s selection!

We have met so many lovely authors and illustrators of non-fiction books, many of whom have attended our award ceremonies.

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In 2015, this lovely book won. ‘Maps’ is beautiful and can be explored time and time again. You can read our review here. Sadly, no one was able to attend the award ceremony, but we have enjoyed sharing the book with our children.

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In 2016, Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure won this category. Full of fascinating facts and lavishly illustrated, this is an amazing book. The character of Professor Astro Cat is so appealing, explaining difficult concepts clearly. The lovely Ben Newman attended the awards and delighted us all by drawing pictures of Professor Astro Cat in our books. You can read our review here.

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Martin Brown’s Lesser Spotted Animals won this category in 2017 with Martin attending the award ceremony. This is a wonderful book, focusing on endangered animals. Beautifully illustrated and full of Martin’s lovely humour, this is a real gem which we have enjoyed using, particularly for guided reading. You can read our review here.

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Martin is absolutely lovely and was wonderful company. We are very much looking forward to his second book about ‘Lesser Spotted Animals’ which is coming soon! I can’t wait to read it and share it.

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Last year, ‘The Histronauts An Egyptian Adventure’ was our winning book. This is brilliant fun and perfect for those teachers teaching the Egyptians. Grace’s wonderful illustrations lead the story in cartoon style whilst Frances delivers carefully researched historical detail through the story. You can read our review here. Frances was able to attend last year’s awards and was wonderful company. We look forward to many more Histronauts books!

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Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. It is a pleasure to see them being used in classes and enjoyed by so many children!

What treasures will we manage to find for this year’s list? Next, we’ll look back and enjoy the winners of our Poetry Category.