Dance Like a Flamingo

Dance Like a Flamingo
Moira Butterfield and Claudia Boldt
Welbeck Publishing

Little ones can receive a dozen dance lessons courtesy of the host of willing animal teachers in this lively picture book.

Whether they prefer to fly circle-wise, wiggle waggle their bottoms, point and fly like the bees, as they show fellow bees the way to their flower findings;

strut proudly as the peacock shows; or emulate the show-off crab, flexing claws and scuttling sideways in both directions, the instructions are here.

On the other hand (or tentacles) perhaps something a little more gentle in parts like the jellyfish offers, with floaty arm movements and slow, calm drifting might suit the mood: it does get faster though at the end.

I suspect the baby elephant dance will go down well – in more ways than one: make sure you have plenty of space and a soft landing if you do this with a nursery class.

Then after all the fun learning I’d suggest handing the finale over
to the group and letting them choose their moves, as the example on the final spread shows in the celebratory ‘wonderful world’ extravaganza.

With its step-by-step actions and Claudia Boldt’s gorgeous, funky illustrations, this book is terrific fun whether you choose to use it in an education setting or at home: an absolute joy from cover to cover.

Lots of Frogs

Lots of Frogs
Howard Calvert and Claudia Boldt
Hodder Children’s Books

Tommy Fox has a box – a box full of frogs. The expression ‘mad as a box of frogs’ sprang instantly to mind on reading this and there’s more than a little madness in Howard Calvert’s story.

Back in the day, dare I admit it in these days of environmental awareness, children (including myself) liked to collect frogspawn and take it into school where we’d watch the jelly blobs become tadpoles and then frogs. This clearly isn’t Tommy’s intention since he has the fully formed frogs (and toads) in his box but he does take them into school for show and tell. A risky enterprise you might be thinking and it’s certainly so.

Before you can say ‘atishoo’ those little amphibians have escaped and are leaping about causing utter chaos in the classroom,

silliness in the staffroom …

and havoc in the hall.

Tommy has to get all those frolicsome frogs back into his box but there’s one of their number – Frank by name – that has headed to the gym and is certainly eager to give young Tommy a run for his money.

Debut author Howard Calvert’s zany rhyming story bounces along with gusto. His main protagonist Tommy is a delight and Claudia Boldt has captured his enthusiasm and energy superbly. Equally the havoc-causing frogs – every one different – are utterly hilarious.

Spring has surely sprung in one particular classroom and I loved it.

Story Box Animal Adventures / My RSPB Nature Craft Box

Story Box Animal Adventures
Claudia Boldt
Magma for Laurence King Publishing

With the twenty sturdy, double-sided puzzle pieces, users can create endless stories: the pieces are interchangeable and when all are used it’s possible to create an adventure stretching out across 2.4 metres.

Brimming over with narrative possibilities involving a polar bear and his animal friends, wicked pirates, a party throwing tortoise and much more, this is a terrific resource for developing language, especially children’s oral storytelling, either in a classroom or at home. It’s especially good for those (adults included) learning English as an additional language.

Here’s Alesha having fun creating her own stories

The potential is terrific and if used by several children together, turn taking, negotiation and other skills also come into play.

A smashing resource, with illustrations by picture book artist Claudia Boldt, that allows a different story to be told every time it’s used.

My RSPB Nature Craft Box
Sarah Edmonds
Walker Books

This is a collaborative venture with the RSPB. Within the chunky box you’ll find a book full of crafty ideas relating to the natural world: you can for example, discover how to make a nest, birds to sit on it and binoculars for bird watching.

Illustrator/designer Sarah Edmonds also offers minibeast-related ideas, masks to make, instructions to construct a forest diorama, ways to create cards, wrapping paper, baking recipes and more. There’s a ‘you will need’ list for each activity as well as visual prompts.

In the box too, are a dozen activity cards that relate to the activities in the book, 4 mask outlines and 5 metres of pre-cut bunting with natural world images to colour.

All in all it’s a great way to encourage your little ones to get outdoors and explore the natural world.

Brothers Forever

Brothers Forever
Claudia Boldt
Puffin Books

What do you do when your brother and best friend starts school leaving you to spend a long, gloomy day alone doing the things – cake baking, drawing and playing hide-and-seek – you’ve always done together?

That’s what happens to the small ursine narrator of Claudia Boldt’s new picture book. But that is only the beginning.

Big brother Barney, now calling himself Barnaby, has so many new and exciting ways to pass his time, and interesting new friends to play with, that his little brother is side-lined.

Life just isn’t fun any longer.

Enter new friend, Podgy. This cuddly creature participates in the activities previously shared with Barney,

but the new friendship makes boy narrator and Podgy the object of amusement to big bro. and his pals.

When Barney declines his favourite food one day, our narrator senses something is wrong

and that night he discovers what’s troubling his brother – it’s the thought of his first school trip away from home.

Brotherly love and understanding come to the rescue as both bears realise that no matter what changes life brings, one thing – or rather two – are forever.

Warm, realistic and imbued with gentle humour, this story will strike a chord with siblings especially.