Ed Vere

How to Be a Lion

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Leonard is a lion. He knows that lions are supposed to be fierce, they are supposed to chomp you and they are not supposed to write poems, but he chooses to be different. However, when he befriends a duck called Marianne, the other lions think he has gone too far.

Leaving the other lions behind, Leonard and Marianne go to their thinking hill where after thinking hard and humming a serious hum, they come up with a poem to explain that everyone should be themselves. 

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Although completely different, Marianne and Leonard develop a wonderful friendship, enjoying each others company, doing the things that they want to do. The illustrations of the two strolling along together or sitting gazing at the stars are simply delightful.

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Leonard is also a fantastic male role model- big, powerful and brave, but not afraid to be gentle and creative. He is prepared to stick by his friend rather than following the pack. Leonard is able to show his feelings and share his thoughts, discussing his problems rather than getting angry or using force. The picture of Leonard hanging his head with the dark background is perfect for starting discussions about feelings as are  his questions, 'Must I be fierce?', 'Must I change?'. 

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The images are bold and uncluttered with strong backgrounds, making this visually appealing as well as a story with a powerful message.Just brilliant!

How to Be a Lion      Ed Vere

Penguin    ISBN: 978-0141376363

Another year over...

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What a book-filled year this has been! In many ways, it has not been the easiest; however, there is always so much to be thankful for.

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We have read many marvellous books this year. Creating our long list was really challenging; whittling it down to the short list even more so, but we ended up with an amazing group of books. 

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Twitter if full of people's lists of 2017 favourite books and I agree with many of the choices that are out there. I have read so many books that I have enjoyed- far more than I have time to review- enabling me to recommend and share with colleagues and children. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to tell us when they have found our reviews useful- particularly those in education who we hope we are supporting with our awards. Please continue to get in touch and let us know if you have any ideas!

SO -favourites of 2017! Where do I begin..?

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Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T Smith. I absolutely adored this one. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the new year as it is one of our current teacher reading group titles and will be discussed in January!

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This is NOT the Zoo for You by Ross Collins. This has had such an excellent response from children I have shared it with. You can read our review here.

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Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere- I am married to the original! You can read our review here.

The Great Gran Plan by Elli Woollard and Steven Lenton.  A review of this treasure will be coming soon! Such a great book to engage children with story and illustration.

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So gorgeous! Origami, Poems and Pictures from The British Museum. You can read about our attempts at origami here.

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Best book of the year. If you haven't read it, why not? You can read our review here   and find out about my trip to Heligan here.

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I know I shouldn't just choose our winners, but I love this book. It's humour- and the importance of its message- make it a real hit! You can read our review here.

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Such a beautiful book- both in words and illustrations. A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver. You can read our review here.

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Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth. Such a gripping story. You can read about the book and the launch here.

Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery, follow up to Day 7, is a great read for older children. 

That's 10- but there are so many more I could add- the whole of our long list for starters! I have read well over 300 books this year and so many have been really enjoyable for a whole range of reasons. For this list, I tried to pick things that other people haven't mentioned, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy theirs too!  Some of the books I have read and loved recently belong to next year- we are already gathering titles for next year's awards.

All at NSTBA wish everyone a fantastic, bookish, safe and happy 2018. 

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.


 

LONGLIST REVIEW: Max and Bird

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Max is a kitten and kittens chase birds.

Bird is a bird and birds get chased by kittens.

This is a story about how the most unlikely friendship begins…

 

When Max meets Birds, Max wants to be Bird’s friend: he wants to chase Bird and then eat Bird up (Bird looks like a tasty snack). But, Bird does not like being chased and certainly does not want to be eaten up. Well, not yet anyway… at least not until she has learned to fly. Bird reminds Max that friends should not eat each other. Bird explains friendship to Max, “Friends have fun together and help each other out…” and then proposes a compromise: if Max teaches Bird how to fly then they could talk about the chasing and ‘other stuff.’

Eager to get to the chasing and ‘other stuff,’ Max explains the principles of flight to Bird but it turns out that Max doesn’t know how to fly either. So, Max and Bird do what all kittens and their feathered-friends do when they want to learn how to fly: go to the library. Max and Bird then study and read until their brains were full and they knew exactly how to fly – concentrate, stick out wings, flap! But, despite lots of concentrating and flapping, Bird can not fly. The pair even consult an expert (a rather rude pigeon who turns out to be a complete show off) but Pigeon is no help. Even when it seems that their goal is unreachable, Max and Bird do not give up and eventually Bird takes off (it is a rather short, wobbly flight) but he did it.

Now, a deal’s a deal. Max helped Bird to learn how to fly so…

Max has to concentrate very hard. What does he really want: a friend or a tasty snack?

This book is filled with so many valuable messages: friends help each other; libraries have the answer to everything; practice makes perfect; keep trying; believe in yourself; don’t eat your friends… each one could be used as a starting point for discussion in class (except maybe the ‘eating friends one. Hopefully children already know this bit!) and explored in greater detail. Both Max and Bird display resilience, grit and an open mind-set, qualities that we try to instill in children as they approach new learning. They work incredibly hard and do not give up, even when it is tough. When finally Bird succeeds, they still keep practicing so that Bird can become better and better. It would be interesting to explore how experts went about learning their skill – musicians, athletes, writers. Children can share skills that they are becoming experts in and help the class to learn how to do the skill. They could write instructions or a guide to the skill or produce a demo film. Alongside this, it would also be an opportunity to discover how animals learn the skills of survival: are they taught or are they born with the ability. How does a baby bird learn to fly? This would link with parts of the science curriculum especially those that focus on adaptation and evolution and inheritance. Max and Bird could also be used to inspire children to write their own story of friendship between two characters who should not get along.

Max is an incredibly loveable character with some serious ‘cattitude’. The simple, vibrant illustrations, filled with delightfully fun details, perfectly capture the action and expression of the two characters. Warmth, wit and charm spill from the pages throughout the story, making Max and Bird perfect for all ages. It is sure to become a firm favourite in classrooms and homes.

Max is a kitten and kittens chase birds.

Bird is a bird and birds get chased by kittens.

This is a story about how the most unlikely friendship begins…

 

When Max meets Birds, Max wants to be Bird’s friend: he wants to chase Bird and then eat Bird up (Bird looks like a tasty snack). But, Bird does not like being chased and certainly does not want to be eaten up. Well, not yet anyway… at least not until she has learned to fly. Bird reminds Max that friends should not eat each other. Bird explains friendship to Max, “Friends have fun together and help each other out…” and then proposes a compromise: if Max teaches Bird how to fly then they could talk about the chasing and ‘other stuff.’

Eager to get to the chasing and ‘other stuff,’ Max explains the principles of flight to Bird but it turns out that Max doesn’t know how to fly either. So, Max and Bird do what all kittens and their feathered-friends do when they want to learn how to fly: go to the library. Max and Bird then study and read until their brains were full and they knew exactly how to fly – concentrate, stick out wings, flap! But, despite lots of concentrating and flapping, Bird can not fly. The pair even consult an expert (a rather rude pigeon who turns out to be a complete show off) but Pigeon is no help. Even when it seems that their goal is unreachable, Max and Bird do not give up and eventually Bird takes off (it is a rather short, wobbly flight) but he did it.

Now, a deal’s a deal. Max helped Bird to learn how to fly so…

Max has to concentrate very hard. What does he really want: a friend or a tasty snack?

This book is filled with so many valuable messages: friends help each other; libraries have the answer to everything; practice makes perfect; keep trying; believe in yourself; don’t eat your friends… each one could be used as a starting point for discussion in class (except maybe the ‘eating friends one. Hopefully children already know this bit!) and explored in greater detail. Both Max and Bird display resilience, grit and an open mind-set, qualities that we try to instill in children as they approach new learning. They work incredibly hard and do not give up, even when it is tough. When finally Bird succeeds, they still keep practicing so that Bird can become better and better. It would be interesting to explore how experts went about learning their skill – musicians, athletes, writers. Children can share skills that they are becoming experts in and help the class to learn how to do the skill. They could write instructions or a guide to the skill or produce a demo film. Alongside this, it would also be an opportunity to discover how animals learn the skills of survival: are they taught or are they born with the ability. How does a baby bird learn to fly? This would link with parts of the science curriculum especially those that focus on adaptation and evolution and inheritance. Max and Bird could also be used to inspire children to write their own story of friendship between two characters who should not get along.

Max is an incredibly loveable character with some serious ‘cattitude’. The simple, vibrant illustrations, filled with delightfully fun details, perfectly capture the action and expression of the two characters. Warmth, wit and charm spill from the pages throughout the story, making Max and Bird perfect for all ages. It is sure to become a firm favourite in classrooms and homes.

Max is a kitten and kittens chase birds.

Bird is a bird and birds get chased by kittens.

This is a story about how the most unlikely friendship begins…

 

When Max meets Birds, Max wants to be Bird’s friend: he wants to chase Bird and then eat Bird up (Bird looks like a tasty snack). But, Bird does not like being chased and certainly does not want to be eaten up. Well, not yet anyway… at least not until she has learned to fly. Bird reminds Max that friends should not eat each other. Bird explains friendship to Max, “Friends have fun together and help each other out…” and then proposes a compromise: if Max teaches Bird how to fly then they could talk about the chasing and ‘other stuff.’

Eager to get to the chasing and ‘other stuff,’ Max explains the principles of flight to Bird but it turns out that Max doesn’t know how to fly either. So, Max and Bird do what all kittens and their feathered-friends do when they want to learn how to fly: go to the library. Max and Bird then study and read until their brains were full and they knew exactly how to fly – concentrate, stick out wings, flap! But, despite lots of concentrating and flapping, Bird can not fly. The pair even consult an expert (a rather rude pigeon who turns out to be a complete show off) but Pigeon is no help. Even when it seems that their goal is unreachable, Max and Bird do not give up and eventually Bird takes off (it is a rather short, wobbly flight) but he did it.

Now, a deal’s a deal. Max helped Bird to learn how to fly so…

Max has to concentrate very hard. What does he really want: a friend or a tasty snack?

This book is filled with so many valuable messages: friends help each other; libraries have the answer to everything; practice makes perfect; keep trying; believe in yourself; don’t eat your friends… each one could be used as a starting point for discussion in class (except maybe the ‘eating friends one. Hopefully children already know this bit!) and explored in greater detail. Both Max and Bird display resilience, grit and an open mind-set, qualities that we try to instill in children as they approach new learning. They work incredibly hard and do not give up, even when it is tough. When finally Bird succeeds, they still keep practicing so that Bird can become better and better. It would be interesting to explore how experts went about learning their skill – musicians, athletes, writers. Children can share skills that they are becoming experts in and help the class to learn how to do the skill. They could write instructions or a guide to the skill or produce a demo film. Alongside this, it would also be an opportunity to discover how animals learn the skills of survival: are they taught or are they born with the ability. How does a baby bird learn to fly? This would link with parts of the science curriculum especially those that focus on adaptation and evolution and inheritance. Max and Bird could also be used to inspire children to write their own story of friendship between two characters who should not get along.

Max is an incredibly loveable character with some serious ‘cattitude’. The simple, vibrant illustrations, filled with delightfully fun details, perfectly capture the action and expression of the two characters. Warmth, wit and charm spill from the pages throughout the story, making Max and Bird perfect for all ages. It is sure to become a firm favourite in classrooms and homes.

Max and Bird by Ed Vere

Puffin