Pick A Pumpkin


Pick a pumpkin from the patch-

tall and lean or short and fat.

This lovely book follows a family as they prepare for Halloween. It captures the fun of choosing exactly the right pumpkin before working with friends to create the perfect lantern. Having decorated, they leave the pumpkin to guard their home whilst they have fun trick or treating. Written by Patricia Toht, author of All Aboard The London Bus (review here) shortlisted for our 2017 Poetry Category, it is a real joy!


Perfect for Halloween which will be here all too soon, ‘Pick a Pumpkin’ is wonderful for reading aloud as the rhyming text delights in each activity as the family prepares. The vocabulary is rich, adding to the pleasure of reading out loud. There is nothing scary here, just the excitement of the occasion. Although people in the UK have only more recently used pumpkins for Halloween lanterns, turnips were traditionally used and this could be discussed along with other traditions.


The illustrations are glorious , full of autumnal shades and scenes of family fun. There are lots of details to enjoy and the wonderful glowing pumpkin towards the end of the book could inspire children to create their own illustrations.

‘Pick a Pumpkin’ is simply bewitching!

Pick a Pumpkin Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406360615

Published 5th September 2019

Tropical Terry


Coral Reef City is full of bright, beautiful tropical fish with swishy tails and swooshy fins. Surrounded by all this colour and splendour is Terry. Small and plain, he is a little fish who lives with his best friends, Cilla the crab and Steve the sea snail. Together, they have great fun playing, but Terry is hurt by the way he is treated by the tropical fish and longs to be one of them.

With a little help from his friends, Terry creates a colourful costume and makes it into the cool crowd. But is being a tropical fish really as good as it seems?

This is a story of friendship, self-esteem and valuing those things which make you different. The allure of friends with the 'right' clothes, the 'right' look, who are part of the 'right' crowd is something many children (and adults!) struggle with and this beautiful story very clearly shows the folly of this way of thinking. Terry has two lovely friends and he is very talented at playing 'Hide-a-Fish', but he can't see the value of these things, focusing instead on the visual attraction of the tropical gang, even though these fish are unkind to him. The story offers a wonderful way into much needed discussions about self worth and being an individual, making it great to share with children of all ages. 

There are also discussions which could be had around Terry's treatment of his faithful friends when he becomes part of the dazzling shoal of tropical fish. He was 'far too busy flaunting and posing to play with Cilla and Steve.'  The story lends itself to role play and/ or writing in role, exploring the feelings of the different characters at this point (and others in the story), developing empathy and consideration.

On a sciencey note, children learning about the oceans, living things or evolution and adaptation could investigate why some fish are so 'showy' and others so plain and easily camouflaged. 

The illustrations are a complete joy! Vibrant blues make a wonderfully watery backdrop to Terry's antics and each spread is full of little details and touches of humour. Children could have great fun creating their own Terrys- with and without fabulous tropical tail- perhaps resulting in mobiles where the tails could be displayed in all their glory! They could create underwater scenes using various papers and materials to cut out some creatures and plants whilst drawing/ painting others. They could also play with watercolour methods, using salt on wet paint etc to create backgrounds. There are so many possibilities!

Lovely story, fabulous illustrations! Perfect for sharing with a class or at home.

Tropical Terry   Jarvis  

Walker Books     ISBN: 978-1406376425

You can read a review of 'Mrs Mole, I'm Home' here.

FCBG Children's Book Awards- Mrs Mole, I'm Home!


Morris the Mole has been hard at work all day, but he can't find his glasses. Still, he is confident that he can find his way home to Mrs Mole and the children. Yet every time he thinks he's arrived, he pops into another family's home. Fortunately, the smell of worm noodles leads him back to his family and his dinner.


This is one of the four  books short listed in the Books for Younger Readers category of this year's FCBG Children's Book Awards and as a Federation group, we encourage all of our members to get involved. I started the voting at my school by sharing each book in this category with my class.


'Mrs Mole, I'm Home' had them laughing out loud- not always easy with Year 6 children- as Mr Mole accidentally visited family after family in his efforts to find his home. The repetitive format of the story encouraged them all to join in with speculating whose dinner he might interrupt next. The illustrations were a huge hit with the class enjoying little details like the titles of the books in the owls' tree, the bunnies with all their carrots and the worms in the soil. 

A warm, wonderfully funny story with lovely pictures! 

You can find out more about the Children's Book Awards and how to vote here.