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The best children's books: 100-91

Eight-year-olds are likely to get frustrated by the sentence construction. Either read it to them or wait a couple of years. Modern environmentally and health-conscious youngsters might eye the fox hunting and smoking with horror. But this story of Barney, a small boy who makes friends with a strange, Stone Age type boy he finds living in the local quarry, is enormously appealing. A really rollicking straightforward read that celebrates a strange friendship and the way two are better than one when it comes to taking on the bullies.

Stig's puzzlement at the modern way of life makes the reader look at the world from a slightly different perspective. The girls are enrolled in stage school so they will be able to earn a living.

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It all seems slightly quaint now, but Streatfield's characterisations are wonderfully vivid, the writing straightforward and honest and the narrative a page-turner. Quite delightful and infinitely more real than all those titles currently being churned out for ballet-mad little girls. No spoonfuls of sugar are necessary to help this classic tale slip down. Jane and Michael's new nanny turns out to be the intimidating Mary Poppins, who brings a little magic into the lives of children in the Edwardian middle classes' equivalent of "care". Yes, the Harry Potter books are derivative and hierarchical, but Rowling's a genuinely witty writer with a terrific gift for naming things: one of the great pleasures of these books is the way they present the wizarding world as a parallel universe to that of us poor muggles.

What's more, they are real page-turners and appeal to boys and girls equally. The second in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is the weakest; the third, The Prisoner of Azkaban the best, not least because the Dementors are so truly terrifying. But these kinds of arguments are academic: I've yet to meet a child who is resistant and plenty of adults find them just as spellbinding.

Eight upward, but younger brothers and sisters are liable to get in on the act earlier, particularly if you read it to them. It runs to 8hours and 23minutes, which sure beats nine hours of I Spy. Written in , Cresswell's stories about life in a small Welsh village where Lizzie wanders the streets with her head in the clouds seem almost to come from another century. But while village life has changed out of all recognition, the emotions of Lizzie, who wants something exciting to happen in her life, who loves her soft dad and rather severe mum but keeps getting into scrapes and who meets a witch in the way other people run into the milkman, remain as fresh as a daisy.

A touch of romance and a shiver of fear are to be found in this Carnegie Medal-winning fantasy, set in the beautiful valley of Moonacre where the moon princess once ruled. Old-fashioned, but there is toughness beneath the whimsy. More for the girls than the boys. A classic that doesn't reduce the world - on the contrary, it opens it up - but which does view it from a child-sized perspective. It tells the story of a family of little people who live beneath the floorboards and borrow from "human beans" who don't even know they exist - until the young Arietty makes friends with "the boy upstairs".

There is nothing in the slightest bit twee about it. Norton writes brilliantly, viewing the world as if through the eyes of her little people with a sense of wonder and terror. Even children who are addicts of the excellent but bastardised film version and the superb BBC serial version will gobble this up on the printed page. Jessica loses her house in the blitz and is evacuated before the rest of her school to a huge Welsh castle with only the gardener and housekeeper for company.

But she is not alone; the castle grounds are full of other mysterious presences including a ghostly boy, a sinister green lady, a screeching peacock and chains of desperate "stonestruck" children, engaged in a deadly game of tag with Jessica as the quarry. Cresswell writes with a spare, dense poetry about the desolation of separation, the isolating effect of unhappiness and the need to take care about what you wish.

A really spellbinding piece of grown-up writing for children that makes the Goosebumps series pale into insignificance. It can be read alone at 10 upward, but both are very satisfying for adults to read to the 8-upward age range. In a different vein, but just as good, is Cresswell's Snatchers - the story of a girl whose guardian angel appears in the local park to protect her from the Land of the Starless Night. Liable to engender plenty of hilarious discussion about whether angels have belly buttons. Yes, yes, we know.

Ridiculously middle-class and old-fashioned and full of Christian imagery, the triumph of good over evil and being a jolly good sort. But really it is magic, provided you take care not to force it down your children's throats too early. Some of the sentence structure is quite difficult and you really need to be eight upward and a confident reader not to be put off. But it's like getting into the wardrobe in the first place: a bit tricky, but once you've made it through the door, utterly transforming. Of course this isn't actually the first in the series - The Magician's Nephew is - but this is where you should begin.

Joan Aiken's classic adventure story is set during the imaginary reign of James III in the early part of the 19th century when the recently completed channel tunnel has allowed wolves to overrun large parts of Britain. A really rollicking story, with plenty of wild flights of the imagination, it has the essential ingredients of lost parents, an evil governess and two feisty cousins, Bonnie and Sylvia, determined to evade the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp.

The good news for those with keen readers is that there are more than a dozen books in the Willoughby Chase sequence. The bad news is that although featuring the memorably stroppy heroine Dido Twite, some of the subsequent novels are off-puttingly obscure. Funny and tender storytelling from the excellent Susan Cooper. This one is about a boggart that is accidentally transported from his remote Scottish island to the bright lights of Toronto, and doesn't like it one bit.

Bad-tempered things, boggarts.

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Life seemed grim when father lost his job and the family had to move to their aunt's home. But with the arrival of Johnnie the pig, things begin to improve. Childhood is somehow golden in E Nesbit's stories about a family of children who discover a Psammead or sand fairy, a grumpy and very ancient creature that can give them wishes. The difficulty is of thinking of really good wishes and not getting things that they really don't want at all, and even the simplest of wishes seem to get them into great difficulties.

This book is such fun that children want to gobble it down in one sitting and are absolutely amazed when you tell them it was written almost a century ago. It seems so fresh because it gets to the very heart of being a child - the wonderful sense that anything can happen to you and probably will. To the average nine-year-old girl, Jacqueline Wilson's books are as desirable as a trip to Claire's Accessories and a pair of the latest fringed jeans. This story of ten-year-old identical twins Ruby and Garnet, who lose their mother and have to come to terms not only with their dad's new love but also with growing up and growing apart, is a model of Wilson's exuberant and confessional storytelling style, in which Ruby and Garnet take it in turns to tell the story.

Wilson's books can be too obviously issue-driven to be really satisfying, but they are a stepping-stone into a real world where real kids face tough emotional problems. Join Hazel and his brave band of rabbits as they set out in search of a new home. Richard Adams's modern classic is not fluffy or cute at all. In fact, it's so good that you completely forget after a while that we're talking rabbits, not humans.

It is two children against the rest of the world in Thomas's riveting tale about Julia and Nathan, who win popularity at school when they find a stash of money in a deserted house, but soon decide to flee when teachers and parents want to know where it came from. Thomas writes from a child's point of view about what it feels like not to have a special friend and never to be picked when teams are being sorted. The unlikely friendship between Julia and Nathan is drawn with a delicacy that never ignores its difficulties and the final triumphant realisation that love is worth having is exhilarating.

Macabre is the only word for Pullman's wonderfully creepy tale that, needless to say, runs like clockwork. In a way it is a parable about the power of storytelling itself. But it is also part fairytale, part ghost story and part science fiction; Pullman writes with a deceptive simplicity that makes the whole thing feel both ancient and very modern at the same time.

There are some wonderfully witty picture asides, but is the narrative that really winds you up: a creepy tale in which a lazy apprentice clockmaker gets his comeuppance and a story being told on a dark winter's night suddenly takes on a sinister life of its own. If families still did that kind of thing, this would be the perfect novel to be read out loud around the fire. While roasting chestnuts, of course. Cleverly structured and wittily told series of stories that combine to make one satisfying whole as they tell of Ailsa, who sees the truth behind the yarns spun by the mysterious man who helps out in her mum's antique shop.

I still can't pass a grandfather clock without thinking of this book, so strong an impression did this haunting story make on me as a child. Pearce's writing sends a shiver of both excitement and fear up the spine in this clever double time-framed story about Tom who, when the clock strikes 13, can see his aunt's house just as it was 50 years ago. I could use all of these books in the same lesson to talk about how animals sometimes do the same thing a different way and for different reasons. Aug 14, Tess rated it really liked it Shelves: beyond-it-s-good , childrens-art-poety. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Boston, ISBN: Each themed section has the same design, beginning with a question in large bold print: "How many ways can you snare a fish? At the bottom of the page are six small illustrations; for example, in the first section one finds a matamata, a dolphin, a grizzly, an eel, a diving beetle, and an anhinga. The reader's eye is compelled by the fish on the adjacent page looming large in a white background. Upon turning the page, a double-paged spread offers larger illustrations of three of the animals to the left and three to the right free floating in white space.

The text,curved or jagged or circling the animal, describes how this particular animal answers the question. Each section addresses an ingenious adaptation. For example: A diving beetle dives for a fish by using a tiny bubble of air; a whelk eats a clam with a slender drill that enters the clam shell, killing the clam before sucking it up. Jenkins' cut and torn collages reveal subtleties such as the light reflected in a tailorbird's eyes, and the transparency of a fly's wing over the fine hairs on its back.

Not useful as a quick reference guide as there is no index, however, this book will illicit interest in further research. Contains a well-regarded bibliography. Aug 25, Annette rated it really liked it. In their sixth collaboration, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have created another stunning picture book about the amazing natural world.

Each section explains a common problem and how different animals have adapted masterful ways to solve these challenges of survival. Each section begins with a problem, such as; "How many ways can you use a leaf? The two-page spread that follows sh In their sixth collaboration, Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have created another stunning picture book about the amazing natural world. The two-page spread that follows shows these animals in the act of solving the problem. For example we learn that "using her sharp beak and silk from a spider's web, a tailorbird sews a leaf into a pouch that will hold her nest and eggs.

The text is uniquely placed next to the animals. Using the example of the tailorbird, the text is placed in a zig-zag pattern that represents the beak of the bird. Although some of the vocabulary may hinder beginning readers i. The authors have included information pages and a short bibliography at the end of the book. Similar to their other titles such as; Living Color, and Sisters and Brothers, this book is written in a way that will excite the reader to learn more about the animal world.

It would be an excellent read-aloud for primary grade students to begin a unit about animal adaptations and encourage them to seek out little known information about animals as they begin independent research. Older students might enjoy the book independently as they peruse the story and read the additional fact pages at the end.

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Oct 11, Jill rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction-picture-book. This book presents a number of challenges animals face along with their unique methods for solving the problem. For example, one challenge is digging holes. Readers are presented with the question, "How many ways can you dig a hole? There is an aardvark making burrows with his front legs and claws, a Mexican burrowing toad digging into mud with its feet, a red rock urchin wearing away rock or coral with This book presents a number of challenges animals face along with their unique methods for solving the problem.

There is an aardvark making burrows with his front legs and claws, a Mexican burrowing toad digging into mud with its feet, a red rock urchin wearing away rock or coral with its teeth, and more. Other challenges presented in the book include catching flies, snaring fish, hatching eggs, using leaves, and eating clams. At the end of the book, readers can learn even more about each animal featured.


Accompanying the fact-filled text are Jenkins' customary colorful paper collage illustrations. I never fail to be amazed at how he captures so many details and facial expressions with the collages. This is a book that I highly recommend to children who are interested in animals, and it would make an excellent cross-curricular resource for science, geography, social studies, and language arts lessons.

It may also inspire young readers to come up with creative ways of solving their own problems after seeing how the animals in book do it. Mar 19, Kylee Myers rated it it was amazing Shelves: descriptive-language-vocabulary-ecl. This clever book discusses the many ways that animals catch their food. The title is a bit deceiving because this book is about many different food sources, not just flies. Many animals eat fish, and each of them has a different way of catching these fish. Many animals eat eggs, and each of them has a different way of catching these eggs. Some animals eat clams, and they all have their own ways of opening the shell to catch the clam.

This book also includes different ways that animals use leaves This clever book discusses the many ways that animals catch their food.

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This book also includes different ways that animals use leaves; shelter, food source, bug repellent. It also mentions many ways and reasons animals dig holes! This is a great fact book for anyone interested in the way animals do things. I would use this book to discuss using descriptive language. Writers use descriptive language to interest readers as well as paint a picture in the mind of the reader.

This book is an awesome example of descriptive writing. Each fact is drawn out in a very descriptive way using words that really paint that picture inside your head. Students can see the description used in this book and implement that kind of language in their own writing pieces. May 30, Charlyn rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: all ages. Shelves: animals , science , picture-book , nonfiction.

The title question and several others are answered showing the varied ways well-known and not-so-familiar animals perform the same task. While the questions are answered with the pictures and shorter answers in the body of the book, each animal is pictured again at the end of the book with more specific information. This is a book students will enjoy poring over, for both the information and the intricacies of the illustrations. Teachers will find it a good introduciton to a science unit on adaptations.

Oct 16, Glenna rated it really liked it. This is a non fiction book geared towards nursery and primary school children. It provides a variety of different animal facts that are obscure, yet intriguing. The illustrator uses torn paper to create the artwork that accompanies the facts in this book. The torn paper adds intricate detail to the animals, emphasizing their realistic appearance. This book is extremely helpful to an outdoor classroom such as mine; the amazing facts it provides keeps the students interested and asking more and mo This is a non fiction book geared towards nursery and primary school children.

This book is extremely helpful to an outdoor classroom such as mine; the amazing facts it provides keeps the students interested and asking more and more questions about the world we live in and the creatures we live with. Sep 23, Yahya Han rated it it was amazing Shelves: after , picture-books , age-groups , non-fiction. Younger ones preschool and kindergarteners might want to draw a picture list, write their list on the chalkboard, or dictate their list for you to write out.

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Encourage them to include anything they think is an insect since the goal of this activity is to develop thoughts. As your study continues, they will be able to look over their lists again and cross off any items they included at first that are really not insects such as spiders or roly-polys. How can you tell an insect from a bug or other creepy-crawly creature?

Ask older kids first and second graders to describe characteristics that insects have in common. Visual learners will especially benefit from browsing nature magazines, books, encyclopedias, or the internet for pictures of different insects. Have them try to find a picture of each insect on their list or ask them to find one picture that shows each of the characteristics they mentioned. How big are the insects you have seen?

Get younger kids to show you with their hands; older kids might estimate the size of particular insects. Show the contrast between how big and small these dimensions are on a ruler. Do insects have bones? Insects do not have a backbone like humans and many other animals do. In fact, insects do not have any bones; they have a hard exoskeleton instead. Did you know that insects are related to crabs and lobsters, which also have exoskeletons?

Thinking Scientifically: Animals that have a backbone are called vertebrates — can you think of any vertebrates?. Any animals that do not have a backbone, like insects, are called invertebrates. All insects have three main body parts: a head , thorax , and abdomen. It helps to think of the thorax as being sandwiched in between the head which is at the top just like your own head and the abdomen at the bottom.

Insects also have special feelers called antennae that stick out of the top of their heads. They use their antennae to smell and feel because they do not have noses and hands like we do. Thinking Scientifically: You may have heard the word antenna before, but have you ever heard anyone say antennae pronounced: an-ten-I? Eyes : Insect eyes are much different from human eyes called simple eyes. In fact, insects do not even see things the same way we do! They have two compound eyes with many different lenses to see out of instead of just one lens in each eye like we do.

Each compound eye can have anywhere from 2 to 30, different surfaces that are very sensitive to light.

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Compound eyes cannot see very much detail or things that are far away. They can see extremely quick movements and things that are close to them, though. If insects did not have compound eyes, they would have a very difficult time surviving and finding food! Have you ever tried to swat a fly?

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What happened when you got close to it? It probably flew away the second you got close enough to swat it. Thinking Scientifically: Some insects, like grasshoppers, have compound eyes and normal eyes called simple eyes! With simple eyes, they can see a lot more detail and see things that are far away. The thorax of an insect is kind of like your chest, except insects have six legs that come out of their thorax!