Book of the Week

Book of the Week Friday 11th January
Sarah Price

Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

John Burningham was an award winning writer and illustrator who sadly passed away last Friday at the age of 82. He was a local author, born in Farnham and was married to another wonderful author of picture books, Helen Oxenbury. His books have been loved by generations of children and so I have chosen one of his titles for the book of the week.

Mr Gumpy’s Outing was published in 1970 and won the Kate Greenaway Prize that year. He had won the same award previously with another book in 1963. 

This book is a gentle tale of Mr Gumpy who lived by the river and decided to go out on his boat. The children asked if they could join him and he said they could as long as they didn’t squabble. Then a host of animals also wanted to come along, and he had a warning for each of them – “yes, but don’t hop about” he said to the bunny, “yes, but don’t flap” he said to the chickens, etc. Of course, the trip reaches an inevitable conclusion when all the children and animals start doing what they were told not to do, but in a very good natured way. At the end, Mr Gumpy still invites them to come again another day.

There are plenty of opportunities for discussion with this book, starting from looking at traits of different animals, wondering what will happen next and whether everyone will even fit in the boat. A deeper discussion could also take place about consequences. The text is very simple and short which makes it suitable for younger children, but it also has enough within the story and illustrations for older children to enjoy.

  • Book of the week
  • Fiction
  • Kate Greenaway Prize
Book of the week Friday 7th December
Sarah Price

Look I’m a Scientist

This book was nominated for the SLA Information Book Award 2018 in the age seven and under category. It won both the Judge’s Award and Children’s Choice Award in that age group category and then went on to win the overall Book of the Year across all age groups.

It is packed full of exciting science experiments that don’t need a science lab or special equipment but just use household equipment and things you would find in most kitchens. The slime ingredients, for example, are cornflour, washing up liquid, food colouring and warm water. Even the most exciting looking experiment - a potion, which includes a (slightly messy) chemical reaction only requires vinegar, washing up liquid, food colouring, glitter and baking soda!

What we particularly like about this book is that, as well as making the hands-on practical elements of science very accessible to young children, there are enough questions linked to the senses and scientific observation to start children thinking as a scientist as well. 

The layout of the book works well – there are clear numbered instructions, speech bubbles with scientific ideas, terminology and questions, clear photos of each stage of the process and suggestions of how to take each experiment further.

  • Book of the week
  • Childrens Choice Award
  • Non-fiction
  • Science
Book of the Week Friday 30th November
Sarah Price

Will Varjak learn the rest of the Seven Skills on his adventure? Will he find a dog? Will he be able to save his family from the gentleman? 

Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue cat who lives with his family in the Contessa’s house. Like the rest of his family, he was born in this house and has never been outside. He has always been treated a little differently to the rest of his family as his eyes are amber rather than the usual green colour.

When the Contessa dies, a gentleman arrives with two black cats. The Elder Paw asks Varjak to go outside to find a monster that he had heard of, called a dog. Varjak is taught about the Way of Jalal, an ancient and secret martial art for cats. The Elder Paw only knows three of the Seven Skills – Slow-Time, Moving Circles, Shadow-Walking. 

Will Varjak learn the rest of the Seven Skills on his adventure? Will he find a dog? Will he be able to save his family from the gentleman? 

This novel is full of atmosphere and adventure along with really effective and striking illustrations. We are currently reading this in the Year 3 and 4 library lessons and the class is really enjoying it. We can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Last week Miss Clare tweeted the author SF Said (@whatSFSaid) to let him know how much we were enjoying it and he replied with this message for them: 

"Please say hello to them and tell them to keep the Way alive!”

  • Book of the week
  • Cats
  • Fiction
  • SF Said
  • The Library
  • Varjak Paw
Book of the Week Friday 16th November
Sarah Price

Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies reviewed by Billy and Leon

Boys reading and writing at a tableThe winners of the Information Book Award 2018 were announced on 7th November 2018 to tie in with Non-Fiction November. The overall winner chosen by the judges was Look I’m a Scientist and the Children’s Choice overall winner was 100 Things You Should Know About Food. The Hachette Children’s Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Information Books was awarded to Nicola Morgan for her incredible and vitally important contribution to teenage mental health, the teenage brain and well-being. 

Last year, Nicola Davies won this award for her extensive writing on animals for younger children. She is a zoologist who has had the opportunity to study a wide variety of mammals.

It was one of Nicola Davies books 'Big Blue Whale' that Year 1 chose as their favourite book with a blue theme or title on World Children’s Day. Later in the day, Year 2 had the opportunity to listen to the book when Mr Jason read it to them as their Mystery Reader. Billy and Leon have written this week’s Book of the Week:

Billy and Leon's Review

Did you know that a blue whale is heavier than 25 elephants or 115 giraffes? We liked this book because it gave us lots of information and because the illustrations are good.

The most interesting facts that we learned were that a blue whale can have as many as 790 baleen plates in its mouth instead of teeth and that a whale can eat as many as 30 million krill in one day!

We would recommend this book to other children because it’s fun and it teaches us lots of information.

  • Blue
  • Book of the week
  • Non
  • The Library
Book of the Week Friday 16th November
Sarah Price

 Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony

This is the first book in a series by Steve Antony and this book was nominated for the CILIP Greenaway Award 2016. Mr Panda features in each of the books in the series and the clue as to the topic of the book is in the title. 

Mr Panda moves through the book patiently offering delicious doughnuts to a series of different animals. He gets a lot of rude responses, for example, “I want them all” or “Give me the pink one”. Eventually he offers them to a lemur who asks more politely. Will he get a doughnut?

The illustrations in this book are beautiful and very simple, along with a sparse but very effective use of words. This makes it particularly suitable for toddlers alongside being relevant for older children. 

One of the key features of this book that makes it so special is that in its simplicity, it doesn’t over-explain or labour its message. At no point in the story is the reason for Mr Panda deciding whether to share the doughnuts explicitly shared. This means that the accompanying discussion about the meaning of the book can be incredibly valuable and memorable. 


  • Book of the week
  • CILIP Greenaway Award
  • Picture books
  • Please Mr Panda
  • Steve Antony
  • The Library