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Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin)
This much-loved picturebook with its peephole and rhyming text depicts scenes of family life during WW2 and will prompt discussions about families and babies as well as ‘then and now’.
The text tells us what the baby’s looking at (his family, his teddy) but the pictures show us everything. What do your children notice that the baby doesn’t?
What’s similar and what’s different about the baby’s home and your children’s?
Joyce Lankester Brisley (Macmillan)
Full of warmth and detail, these stories transport us to a time when a penny offered an exciting spending opportunity and five-year-olds ran errands all alone.
Milly-Molly- Mandy’s rural 1920’s world vanished long ago, but this book brings it to life again in a way that children enjoy and can relate to.
Which story do you like best, and why? Do they remind you of things that have happened to you? Examine the pictures and discuss Milly-Molly- Mandy’s world. How does it compare to the world in which you live?
Laurence Anholt (Frances Lincoln)
This classic picturebook offers a gentle yet thought-provoking introduction to Van Gogh’s work and gives readers a taste of everyday life in nineteenth-century France.
There are plenty of references to van Gogh’s artwork to spot, along with reproductions of Sunflowers and five portraits of the Roulin family.
Why did the children throw stones at Vincent? How did Camille try to help? What would you have done?
Look at reproductions of Van Gogh’s work in this book alongside paintings that were popular in 1890. What was new and different about Vincent’s paintings? Why do you think people didn’t like them? Find out more about his pictures.
Laurence Anholt and Sheila Moxley (Frances Lincoln)
Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, where she hunted for fossils and, at the age of 12, discovered the world’s first Ichthyosaurus.
This beautifully-illustrated picturebook has a substantial text that encourages empathy as well as interest.
Why was it unusual for a girl to be a fossil-hunter in Mary’s time? What were girls supposed to do instead of fossil-hunting? Are there times when you have to resist pressure? How do you know whether to listen to other people or follow your own ideas?
Joanne Schwarz and Sydney Smith (Walker)
Narrated by a young boy as he plays on the swings and runs errands, we share his clifftop experience of a glorious summer’s day.
The sunlight is sparkling across the sea, but deep beneath the water is the boy’s father, digging for coal… how safe is he? Will he come home?
Set in a coastal mining town in the 1950s, this light-filled picturebook won 2018’s Greenaway medal and offers family warmth and historical insights along with real depth and grit.
What does this book tell us about mining? The 1950s? How is the boy’s life different from your own and how is it similar?
Smith’s illustrations add a huge amount to the text. How do they make you feel? What can we learn from them? How does Smith achieve this impact and effect? Look at details, invite observations and help children notice things like viewpoint and framing; light and shade; Smith’s colour palette and the quality of his line.
Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson (Scholastic)
“Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave, and slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.”
Henry ‘Box’ Brown mailed himself to freedom inside a wooden crate using what became known as the Underground Railroad. In 27 dangerous and uncomfortable hours, he travelled 350 miles from Virginia, where slavery was legal, to Philadelphia, where it was not.
This award-winning and affecting picturebook tells a fictionalised version of Henry’s story in a way to which children can relate. It’s well worth sharing, but hard-hitting themes remain.
Discuss this book and the true story that inspired it.
What does freedom mean to you? Should people be free to do whatever they want? Are we free if we have to obey rules and laws? How can we make sure our laws are the right ones?
Cameron Mcallister (Corgi)
Angelo has come up with a revolutionary idea: why not design a low-cost vehicle for a French farmer and his wife?
It would have to be capable of carrying two chickens, a flagon of wine and a dozen eggs across a field without breaking a single egg – and such a car would have to be hidden from the German Army, now occupying France. But with an entire village in on the secret, it might just be possible…
This exciting and unusual WW2 story is based on the true events leading to the production of the 2CV, Citroen’s much-loved low-cost car.
What does Angelo do that children wouldn’t usually be allowed to do today? What else tells you this story is set in a different time and place?
What is happening elsewhere in Europe during the events described in this book? How does the war affect Angelo and his friends?
Michelle Paver (Orion)
This exciting story takes place thousands of years ago in a Stone-Age world so richly-imagined and distant from our own that the landscape seems almost sentient.
Alongside the elemental magics, though, are numerous practical details about how to survive and thrive in such a place – researched by the author during field trips among people who still use the techniques described.
In what kind of world does Torak live? What skills and knowledge does he need for survival?
Do you think it’s possible to accurately imagine living in the past? Does it matter whether we’re right or not?
Emma Carroll (Chicken House)
When Magpie tries to steal valuable blueprints, she’s swept off her feet by an enormous air-filled balloon!
The experience changes her life forever, and soon she’s working for the Montgolfier Brothers instead of robbing them. Will they be able to satisfy the demands of King Louis and Queen Marie-Antoinette and fly a balloon over Versailles?
This exciting story is set in France in 1783 and won this year’s Teach Primary KS2 Book Award.
What did you like best about Skychasers? How did the author bring Magpie and Pierre’s world to life?
Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
stories are told in this mesmerising book – one in words and one in pictures, set 50 years apart – and as they progress, the connections become more obvious, until both stories come together in the most satisfying way.
Rose is deaf and desperately wants the love and attention of her distant mother, a silent film star. Ben’s mother dies in an accident and he wants to find the father he’s never known.
Themes include independence, loneliness and the importance of family and friends; the development of museum displays; theatre and silent films; deafness and sign language; architectural modelling. SPOILER ALERT: Rose is Ben’s paternal grandmother!
How does this book work? Look at the way the stories reference each other and eventually connect. How does Ben unravel the mysteries and make sense of everything? Does he need knowledge, skill or luck?
What does this book tell us about changes between 1927 and 1977? How has the world changed since your grandparents were children?
Carey Fluker Hunt is a freelance writer, children’s book ambassador and creative consultant.
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