Resources on a shoestring

Cartoon collection

The Grasshopper Collection is a series of superb animation films for primary children. Many have been shown on TV, but they are well worth having in permanent form. Arion and the Dolphin, retold and narrated by Vikram Seth, conjures up the power of the Greek myth in blazing Mediterranean colour, striking words and lyrical music. The Mousehole Cat brings the much-loved Cornish story to vivid life. The Angel and the Soldier Boy uses no words but beautifully evokes menace, courage and resourcefulness. Children and teachers will be moved and fascinated. Most of the films cost pound;9.99 (videos) or pound;12.99 for DVDs.

Tel: 0845 1306142

Pop-up sums

Learning the simplest number bonds takes on a delightful form for small children in Colin Hawkins's Adding Animals and Takeaway Monsters.

The books are crafted to incorporate ingenious feats of paper engineering which illustrate problems such as 2 + 3 or 5 - 4. Readers can predict the answers and then pull a tab, whereupon zoot-suited crocodiles join a jazz band, teddy bears pop up in a bubble bath, and monsters fall into pianos or lock one another inside cupboards. At the same time, the numerical answer appears. Pictures and arithmetical statements are integrated with memorable and infectious humour. The books cost pound;8.99 each from Mathew Price Ltd.

Tel: 01935 816010 Email:

Testing words

The pages of two new verbal reasoning books are full of uncompromising sets of letters, rows of words and bracketed groups of numbers. They are to prepare for the tests - 11+ and school entrance - that many children will take at the end of key stage 2. Every kind of "puzzle, solution, mystery, dilemma, process" is set out with brief explanatory introductions, whether it be finding the odd one out or working with sporadic and unrelated calculations. The books come with answers at the back. Verbal Reasoning Book 1 and Book 2 cost pound;4.99 each from AE Publications.

Tel: 020 8894 1633

Lasting legacy

The poet and critic David Holbrook inspired a generation of English teachers in the 1960s with his demonstration of children's capacity for creative writing. The origins of that faith are explored in his reprinted autobiographical novel, A Play of Passion. Set in 1940, it vividly evokes a confused adolescence: conflict with parents, teachers and police, the perplexity of sexual experiment, a growing sense of the power of imaginative language, Shakespeare's above all. It provides a generous, convincing contrast to the narrowness of the literacy strategy. pound;7.95 from Mousehold Press.

Tel: 01603 425115 Email:

Tom Deveson

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