Book Review

The Same But Different Too

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There are many similarities and many differences in this lovely book, each one acknowledged and celebrated as they should be. A whole host of wonderful animals and equally wonderful children compare and contrast the things they do, enjoy and are good at, making sense of their world as they share it with those around them. It is a truly delightful book full of gorgeous illustrations.

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Simple rhyming sentences bounce along, making this a wonderful read aloud with plenty of opportunities for joining in and guessing the rhyming words.

I am listening.

You are too.

I love stories.

So do you.

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The illustrations are just wonderful, celebrating the joys of diversity every bit as much as the text. My class were quick to spot the little boy in the wheelchair, for example, and be pleased to see a child like X (a child in another class) being shown in the story. There are so many little details to spot and enjoy- I love Mr Mole’s house! The last spread sums up the closeness and companionship felt by everyone in the story, no matter what their differences. I would love this as a picture on my wall- it makes me smile every time I see it!

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Perfect for assemblies or story time, ‘The Same But Different Too’ would be wonderful for opening discussions about diversity. It could also be used to create some more rhyming sentences celebrating other similarities and differences, illustrated in the same vibrant, fun style.

A joyful celebration of the differences that make us unique and the similarities we share, ‘The Same But Different Too’ is a delightful, thought-provoking book for all to enjoy.

The Same But Different Too Karl Newson, illustrated by Kate Hindley

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004008

Milton the Mighty

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Branded a deadly killer by the media, tiny false widow Milton decides to clear his name. Working with his arachnid friends, Audrey and Ralph, he must make contact with his house human, Zoe, and convince her that he is harmless. But with her father terrified of spiders and Felicity, the owner of BUGKILL, having moved into their street, can this tiny troupe achieve the impossible?

Milton is possibly the loveliest spider in fiction since Charlotte appeared on her web! A wonderful tale of friendship and of what can be achieved by teamwork and perseverance, ‘Milton the Mighty’ also presents a compelling case for respecting spiders and trying to understand rather than fear them. Perhaps #NotScaredOfSpiders should become a real campaign!

Full of humour, the book really tackles the issue of ‘fake news’ and challenges the reader to dig deeper, find out more and use some common sense before believing everything they read. Individuals taking action and standing up for what they believe in, even in the face of ridicule is such a powerful message, beautifully embodied in Milton who has to overcome his self-doubt and feelings of insignificance to achieve his goal.

Just as humans judge spiders, spiders themselves seem to judge one another and it is Ralph who realises that not all garden spiders want something as One Short (who wishes she was called Petal) becomes a valuable ally - and friend, showing the importance of not being prejudiced against others, but getting to know them.

‘Milton the Mighty’ would make a great read aloud, offering plenty to discuss and consider along the way. Hopefully, this ‘teeniest superhero’ will have more adventures very soon!

Milton the Mighty Emma Read, illustrated by Alex G Griffiths

Chicken House ISBN: 978-1911490814


The Steam Whistle Theatre Company

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The Pringles- a Victorian theatre family- have fallen on hard times and decide the only way forward is to venture North in search of pastures new. So, the newly named Steam Whistle Theatre Company ( minus Ma and the littlest ones) board a train for the first time and head for Uncaster. However, they find they are not the only entertainers in town. Baby Bubbles - child magician and escapologist- is also performing. Could this scupper their triumphant come-back?

Recently widowed Mrs Poskett, owner of Uncaster Hall, finds herself with the bailiffs at the door and deserted by all except Edie, a young workhouse girl, who suggests she takes in lodgers. Luckily for all concerned, the Pringles take the rooms, but if the odious Olio Sleevery has his way, no one will be staying at Uncaster Hall for long.

A Dickensian delight for upper KS2 readers, ‘The Steam Whistle Theatre Company’ is a wonderful read. Full of heart and humour, the story is bursting with brilliant characters worthy of the great man (Dickens!) himself. Mr Pringle and his troupe are reminiscent of Mr Vincent Crummles; the fabulously named Olio Sleevery is a villain worthy of Uriah Heep or Daniel Quilp and Edie Boiler a heroine to claim even the hardest of hearts!

But, having captured that essence, this is an original and engaging story which romps along at a wonderful pace. Hard work, determination and loyalty win through in the end, showing friendship can be found in the darkest times and the spoilt, precocious and greedy get their comeuppance.

This would make a joyful read aloud for anyone with a penchant for ‘doing the voices’ and a class who enjoy a rattling good read. Bravo (or brava!), Ms French!

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company Vivian French

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406376319