I’m The Train Driver / I’m The Bin Lorry Driver

I’m The Train Driver
I’m The Bin Lorry Driver

David Semple and Katie Woolley
Oxford Children’s Books

Young children have the opportunity to imagine themselves into the driving seat of both a passenger train and a refuse collection lorry as they share these books with an adult either at home or at nursery/preschool.

Having donned the appropriate uniform the train driver climbs into the cab, puts on a seatbelt, checks the controls, starts the engine and is responsible for taking a family to the city for some sightseeing. En route there are stations to stop at to allow more passengers to get aboard, a freight train to negotiate, a tunnel to drive through slowly and carefully,

then the level crossing gates are open so its full speed ahead until the signal controller radios to say ‘switch tracks’ and off you go to the city’s main station where the passengers are eager to get off. Finally, a train driver needs to log the train’s arrival before heading home

The driver of the bin lorry has two other team members who are also responsible for collecting the recycling from all the blue bins on their round and they start work early in the morning while it’s still dark. Having set the route, off they go, the driver taking care to stay within the speed limit. The team works hard all morning,

remembering to log each bin emptied into the hopper on the lorry’s computer screen and totalling up the final number. Then with all the blue bins duly dealt with it’s back through the now busy streets to the tip where the lorry’s contents is emptied onto the ground ready for sorting.

As with others in this series, teamwork is key in the roles presented; and there are lots of opportunities for developing vocabulary and other important early learning skills such as colour, number and shape recognition.

Let’s Tell a Story!: Pirate Adventure / Jungle Adventure and I’m the Bus Driver / I’m the Tractor Driver

Let’s Tell a Story!: Pirate Adventure
Lily Murray illustrated by Stef Murphy
Let’s Tell a Story!: Jungle Adventure
Lily Murray illustrated by Essi Kimpimaki
Wide Eyed Editions

These books offer a way into those choose-your-own-adventure fiction series for solo readers as well as story making. They would have been especially useful during the periods of lockdown and school closures in the past couple of years when youngsters were stuck indoors much of the time and adults often struggled with home schooling. However they can act as fun prompts for story telling or writing at any time.
Each has an introductory spread telling how the book works and then follow fourteen pictorial spreads each one offering lots of options such as: Which hero will you be?; Which clothes will you dress in? What will be your destination? Why are you going? Who will accompany you? How will you get there? What will you take? There are potential disasters in the form of enemies who appear with ‘dastardly’ plans,

and finally, ways to end your chosen story. And, there’s a penguin that keeps appearing in both books adding a search and find element.
It’s possible to have fun creating hundreds of different stories though I suspect in the pirate adventure, some children (as well as this adult reviewer) would find the female characters somewhat stereotypical. On the other hand a hijabi doctor is a welcome possibility: indeed the crew members choice spread is definitely inclusive.

There’s a wealth of learning potential in these imagination sparkers be that at home or in the classroom.

I’m The Bus Driver
I’m The Tractor Driver

David Semple and Kate Woolley
Oxford Children’s Books

If you watch youngsters playing you might well catch sight of a child pretending to be a bus driver among them. Now with the first of these books they’ve got the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of bus number 4 on its 8am morning journey that takes among others children going to school and other passengers off to work or the shops.

In the second title, little ones can try their hand at driving a tractor down on the farm. It’s definitely an eventful day in the driver’s cab with Scally the sheepdog for company: the cows need their breakfast, there are empty barrels to collect from the barn, as well as a hay baler that has got stuck in the mud and needs assistance.
The bright stylised illustrations provide opportunities for colour and shape recognition, and simple counting in these interactive books for the very young.

Information and More Board Book Style

Zoom: Building Site Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Susanna Rumiz
Zoom: Farm Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Aviel Basil
What on Earth Books

With their strategically placed die-cuts and cutaway pages, a final pop-up scene, a simple narrative and a wealth of relevant labelled objects, these are two additions to the Zoom series for toddlers.

In the first Maxie, clad in his safety gear, spends a day on the building site where the construction of a sky-scraper is under way. Little ones will see a wealth of machines that drill, dig, scoop, move materials, mix concrete, lift heavy items and get rid of unwanted debris.
Humorous moments occur when Maxie forgets to check all the pipe connections before turning in the water – oops! All ends satisfactorily though with a building ready for visitors.

In the Farm Adventure we join Bo as he drives his shiny red truck from his city home to the farm. Once there he is greeted by the animals and then he gets on with various tasks: he milks the cows, feeds the sheep, goats and alapacas, then gathers eggs from the hens – all before breakfast. Next he collects honey from the bees, harvests fruit and vegetables, and brings in the corn and wheat that he delivers to the barn. Phew! After all this it’s time for a snack before starting the peanut harvest. The mischievous duck that accompanies him will give little ones something to giggle over as will the fact that the goats escape from their field and have to be rounded up before Bo leaves.

Both books begin and end in the children’s own rooms and young listeners will realise that therein are many of the components of the imaginary adventures.

Race to the Rescue!
Georgina Deutsch and Olivier Latyk
Little Tiger Press

Emergency vehicles driven by animal crews take centre stage in this ‘flashing lights’ , rhyming board book. Toddlers will meet police mice chasing a robber; a hippo helicopter air rescue crew; Dog and his partner assist a swimmer in trouble out at sea, the Pandas in their ambulance rush to the aid of Danny Dog; and finally, a cat stuck in a tree is rescued by Fox and his fire engine team – all in a day’s work. Providing plenty to look at, Olivier Llatyk’s bright illustrations take toddlers right up close to the action for each event,

How It Works: The Body
Amelia Hepworth and David Semple
Little Tiger Press

With its cleverly layered die-cuts this look at the human body, both outside and inside, curated by Doctor Mouse, contains much more information than your average board book. Said mouse however doesn’t supply the main text: that’s provided by Amelia Hepworth; rather he provides additional facts mentioning such things as the sign for ‘hello’ on the Super Senses spread, explains the importance of practise in muscle memory, that the small intestine is something of a misnomer on account of its length and much more. Meanwhile the main text takes us through the various components of the body – muscles, organs and skeletal structure; and David Semple’s labelled illustrations show the details.

A nursery group or preschool child will find plenty to interest and talk about in this one.

Everybody Has Feelings / Respect / I’m the Fire Engine Driver

These are recent titles from Oxford Children’s Books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Everybody Has Feelings
Jon Burgerman

Through his exuberant style illustrations depicting colourful characters of all shapes and sizes in a play park setting, together with a narrative of rhyming couplets, Jon Burgerman presents over twenty feelings that youngsters (as well as zany blobby beings) are likely to experience.

In so doing he acknowledges that it’s perfectly normal to feel say anxious, disappointed,

embarrassed, frustrated, sad or scared as well as confident, calm, proud, and joyful and offers the vocabulary for young children to open up and discuss their emotions as well as listen to others talking about how they feel.

With lots of starting points for circle time sessions, this is just right to share in foundation stage settings especially.

Respect
Helen Mortimer and Cristina Trapanese

This new title in the Big Words for Little People series shows the importance of acknowledging and accepting individual differences and respecting them. It gives examples demonstrating that all lives matter no matter what people look like or believe: that means showing kindness, politeness and abiding by rules. Everybody should feel safe to speak out about their feelings and their lives in general.

Cristina Trapanese illustrates each of the key ideas enacted by a lively cast of characters and Helen Mortimer concludes by suggesting ten things adult sharers can do to get the most from this little book, be that at home or in an education setting.

Add to early years collections.

I’m the Fire Engine Driver
illustrated by David Semple

Here’s a book that allows little ones to switch to imagination mode and step into the shoes of a firefighter, donning the rest of the protective gear, meeting your crew and with siren sounding and flashing lights turned on, driving the fire engine to the scene of the fire in the bakery kitchen.

Part and parcel of the narrative are opportunities for number recognition and counting, joining in with sounds, vocabulary building, following instructions, describing a scene and more.

Through David Semple’s bright, stylistic illustrations and a narrative that makes youngsters feel as though they’re in control, this is a fun book to share either one to one or in a group.

On a Building Site / How it Works: Rocket / Dinosaur Snap! The Spinosaurus

What Can You See? On a Building Site
Kate Ware and Maria Perera
Little Tiger

The building site herein is destined to become a brand new primary school. Youngsters (hard hats donned) can follow the action from the demolition of an old building to the school’s near completion. There are lots of vehicles visiting and working on site including lorries, a digger, a bulldozer, a crane and a cement mixer. It’s good to see both men and women hard at work carrying out their various roles, building, operating machinery (including a woman in a scissor lift, bricklaying, trench digging, tiling, fitting windows and solar panels and more.

In addition to the narrative describing the entire process there are questions to encourage little ones to hone their observation skills by searching for a little mouse, a white cat and other items. With die-cuts and lots of details in the illustrations this will keep your little one’s ears and eyes engaged as you share the book.

The same is true of

How It Works: Rocket
Amelia Hepworth and David Semple
Little Tiger

Get ready to zoom off into space as you read this with your toddler. It starts by explaining briefly what a rocket is and how astronauts use a service tower to get inside. David Semple’s spreads show the release of some of the rocket parts no longer required; an astronaut floating in space beside a command module; the same astronaut walking on the moon’s surface and another flying the rocket. Then come preparations for the return to earth including the ejection of everything no longer needed and finally, splashdown and the collection of the rocket and astronauts by a ship.

Simple language and illustrations to which a touch of playfulness courtesy of a tiny mouse passenger are added, provide a first introduction to the popular topic of space.

Dinosaur Snap! The Spinosaurus
Macmillan Children’s Books

A spinosaurus takes centres stage in this rhyming story inspired by the Strickland’s hugely popular Dinosaur Roar book. Said to be the scariest beast ever it lies in wait for other dinos. such as the young stegosaurus that accidentally gives it a whack with its tail. Its next encounter is with a wily oviraptor that induces an attack of dizziness in Snap before making a dash for it.
Now pretty peckish, Snap sets its sights on the compsognathus aka Dinosaur Squeak luring the little creature down to the water’s edge where a very big surprise awaits …

Created in association with the Natural History Museum this amusing sequence of events ends with a spread giving some basic information about Spinosaurus’s features and also sends young listeners back to the start of the book in a game of seek and find. Look out for further stories in the World of Dinosaur Roar.