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Prmimary books : Nature takes its course

Mister Seahorse By Eric Carle Puffin pound;12.99

Tigress By Nick Dowson Illustrated by Jane Chapman Walker Books pound;10.99

Escape from Pompeii By Christina Balit Frances Lincoln pound;10.99

Dotty Inventions and Some Real Ones Too By Roger McGough Illustrated by Holly Swain Frances Lincoln pound;10.99

I Said Nothing: the extinction of the paradise parrot By Gary Crew and Mark Wilson Lothian Books pound;8.99

Myths and Monsters By Katy Edwards Illustrated by Simon Mendez Frances Lincoln pound;10.99

This selection of picture books, which embody information in an enjoyable story, can be used for various purposes in and outside the literacy hour.

For reception and Year 1, there's Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle. The natural history is a source for smiles, the illustrations in collage and paint are little works of art, and the turning pages produce almost magical effects thanks to some leaves of acetate that reveal hidden surprises.

Tigress by Nick Dowson imbues natural history with poetic effects. There are two texts. One, set down as unrhymed verse, covers 18 months in the life of a tigress as she bears, rears, and trains her cubs, then leaves them to find their own way. The other text, in a different typeface, unobtrusively sited on images of undergrowth, grasses, rocks, and water, gives complementary factual information.

Christine Balit's Escape from Pompeii transports the class back to AD 79. Taking in many sights, her readers follow Tranio, an actor's son, around the city to the bakery, where he meets his friend Lucia.

On a wacky note, Dotty Inventions and Some Real Ones Too, a collaboration between Roger McGough and Holly Swain, is an inspired combination of science and fantasy.

What's the full cost of a lamb chop? asks multi-award winning writer Gary Crew in I Said Nothing: the extinction of the paradise parrot. The story raises ecological issues about our effect upon plant and animal life as humans encroach on natural spaces.

Finally, Myths and Monsters, based upon Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry exhibition, is an illustrated book that links information of all kinds to stories.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

Read these reviews in full in this week's TES. Friday features will continue to appear in the paper through the summer, but the magazine will return in all its glory on September 3 2004

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