North Somerset Teacher's Book Award



Here at JAB HQ, we are huge fans of wordless picture books and the possibilities they offer. When I found this whilst on holiday this year, I just loved the illustrations and the story.


Every morning, Mr Crocodile wakes from his dreams of floating lazily on the water to the sound of his alarm clock. Getting up, he sets about the business of getting ready and joining all the other busy commuters on their way to work. We follow him through the streets, to the shops until he reaches his final destination.


There are so many details to spot in each spread and so many stories to create along the way. Where might he be going as he sets off from his flat? What has caught his eye in the shop window? Why is the driver of the car which splashes through the puddle so thoughtless and angry? Mr Crocodile is not the only unusual passenger on the tube train, yet everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t notice.

Mr Crocodile is kind- he leaves flowers for a lady as he makes his way through the park. There is a whole story that could be told here, using different viewpoints. His work, when he arrives, is the perfect job for a crocodile and makes you think about the other animals and their secret lives! The monkeys in their enclosure certainly seem to have found a range of ways of entertaining themselves.

The illustrations are an absolute joy, full of details and humour. This is a real treasure! Published in England as ‘Professional Crocodile’, this wonderful book offers plenty to discuss and enjoy.

Professional Crocodile Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Mariachiara di Giogio
Chronicle Books ISBN: 978-1452165066

No Shame


Continuing the story of Stacey Woods from 'No Virgin', 'No Shame' follows her story as she seeks justice in the courts. It's his word against hers and she suffers again as the trial forces her to re-live her ordeal- this time with the world listening and judging. A dark, uncomfortable read, these books are Anne Cassidy at her best.

To write too much would spoil the book, but this is a story which needs to be told. It is not an easy read. It is raw, uncomfortable and thought-provoking. It exposes a whole range of emotions and does not neatly tie everything up with the verdict that's expected. Stacey's range of emotions and her confused feelings for her attacker's brother are painful, but brilliantly explored, reflecting the harsher side of life. 

Anne Cassidy is well known for writing challenging novels which tackle 'grey areas'. In 'No Virgin' and 'No Shame'  are both excellent reads which are much needed. 

No Shame   Anne Cassidy

Hot Key Books   ISBN: 978-1471406782


LONGLIST REVIEW: A Library of Lemons

Calypso has always been her own best friend. She sits by herself at school. She’s a solitary girl, an island. She surrounds herself with books rather than people, enjoying the quiet space in her head that her books make, a space filled with magic and mystery. So when new girl Mae arrives at school, Calypso is surprised to find a kindred spirit. Mae also loves books and reading and for the first time, Calypso finds herself inviting a friend into her world.

Since the death of her mother, Calypso has learnt to cope with life on her own. Her father is a presence in her life, but he keeps himself to his study, burying himself in his work. He talks to Calypso about finding her own inner strength in order to cope with life’s problems. His version of inner strength makes him appear increasingly absent and with Mae’s arrival, Calypso finds herself spending more time with her friend and her family. It isn’t until she begins to experience ordinary family life that she realises how different her own life has become.

Calypso desperately misses her mother and when she learns that her father has been keeping secrets from her, she begins to realise that his attempts at demonstrating inner strength are simply masking the grief he has been struggling to cope with and his emerging mental illness. Thankfully Mae and her family come to the rescue and help Calypso and her father cope with the difficulties they both face.

A beautiful book about grief and depression, but also the power of friendship and hope. Each character has been carefully crafted by author, Jo Cotterill- Calypso, thoughtful yet isolated and Mae, the ray of sunshine in Calypso’s lonely world. A book full of emotion and yet incredibly well grounded. Whilst there is a happy ending, Cotterill alludes to the difficult processes the characters have been through to get where they are and that there may still be dark days ahead, as this is often the case when dealing with mental illness.

A wonderful Moving On book, perfect for the more mature KS2 & KS3 readers. The references to classic and modern children’s literature throughout are a joy to find. Readers could create a list of the books on Calypso’s shelves and create a reading challenge from them. If you’d like to see Jo Cotterill reading an excerpt of her book, take a look at this Youtube video.

 Library of Lemons  Jo Cotterill

 Piccadilly Press    ISBN: 978-1848125117

You can read another review of 'A Library of Lemons' here.