Bookshelf Picture Books

The Ink House

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The Ink House is a mysterious mansion with a reservoir of ink in its basement, a source of inspiration for anyone who lives in the house. When the current owner- a brilliant artist- leaves to go on his annual adventure in search of curiosities, Maestro, the musical masked mouse who lives behind the skirting board, lets everyone know that the Annual Ink House Extravaganza can begin.

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And a whole cast of wonderful creatures arrive and have a whale of a time. Although the text does not exactly offer a story itself, each of the fabulous illustrations could be used to inspire endless stories. There are so many details to enjoy and excite the imagination that this book offers huge potential for teachers to use with their children. My favourite characters are Nigel, the owl, and Huxley, the hedgehog- perfect for starring in their own tales!

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This is such a beautiful book, full of stunning illustrations, a reservoir of creativity and inspiration to be shared and enjoyed by everyone.

The Ink House Rory Dobner

Laurence King ISBN: 978-1786270764

Lots of Frogs

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Tommy Fox owns a box full of frogs. His frogs are every possible shape, size and variety; some can even sing and dance! When Tommy takes his box of frogs to school for show and tell, you can imagine what chaos it causes. It only takes one cough and sneeze for the lid to come off and the frogs leap everywhere. Work cannot possible continue until all the frogs have been safely discovered in their hide and seek places and returned to the security of the box.

With the help of a space hopper and a handy net, Tommy sets about trying to capture his bouncy frogs. 

One, two, three in the net.

Four, Five, Six, lots to get.

There are frogs everywhere: in the playground, the staff room and even on his teacher’s chair! Tommy will have to be really quick if he is going to catch them all. The last to find is Frank the frog, hiding in the school gym, but by a stroke of luck he is eventually caught. Finally, the frogs are safe. All is well. That is until Tommy suddenly… coughs!

A gorgeously entertaining tale about froggy classroom chaos, all told in rhyme. This is a wonderful book to engage with whilst sharing with a younger foundation stage audience. Children will love joining in with the rhymes and thinking about what will happen next. Howard Calvert’s text has lovely rhythm and pace and paired with Claudia Boldt’s colourful amphibian artwork this book is a real pleasure to look at and read. Each little frog seems to have a personality of their own and this adds to the feeling of pandemonium caused when they all bounce off around the school - a total froggy free-for-all! The perfect text for retelling, counting, rhyming with and jumping around to.

Lots of Frogs by Howard Calvert, illustrated by Claudia Boldt

Hodder Children's Books ISBN: 978-1444939644

How Many Legs?

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Counting legs has never been so much fun! This lovely book has been around for a while now, but as yesterday was National Numeracy Day, I thought it was the perfect time to revisit it! Money from the purchase of this copy will benefit Children in Need too- win, win!

As the animals arrive for tea, the reader is asked to add the number of legs that appear. It really is a counting book with a difference and is excellent to use both in the classroom and at home. There is plenty of challenge as the animals keep coming with varying numbers of legs. Although the solution is offered at the end, there is a jokey alternative in case you haven’t managed to keep up, meaning everyone can enjoy it!

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The illustrations are pure joy with many familiar faces creeping in to join the fun. With lots of details to discuss and linger over, the pictures really lend themselves to developing the stories they tell either orally or in writing. They could also provide an excellent starting point for investigating some of the creatures introduced- and the number of legs they have!

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Told in bouncy, cheery rhyme, the story also offers a wide range of mathematical expressions to explore as well as the benefits of the rhythm and sounds. For older children, there is great scope for playing with different word classes in the text and making up new sentences- change the verb, the preposition, the noun etc.

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The number fun could continue with other animals joining the party- or some of those there leaving -or sharing some cakes. How much might it cost for...? What if they each brought a different number of balloons to the party? Children could draw the new visitors and create the text to go with their illustrations, perhaps creating a class book along the same lines. I would very happily create a whole day (or more!) of activities around this fabulous book, but we spent National Numeracy Day doing two maths SATs papers! Such is life!

How Many Legs? Kes Gray and Jim Field

Hachette ISBN: 978-1444910971