Top Texts for December 2023

Marilyn Mottram has chosen a beautiful mix of texts for this month

Blow a Kiss, Catch a Kiss

by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Nicola Killen

A beautiful collection for very young children from the 2022-24 Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho. Subtitled ‘Poems to share with little ones’.

The rhymes and rhythms of Coelho’s language are a delight and pair perfectly with Nicola Killen’s inclusive illustrations. An ideal book for helping young children to share everyday feelings and experiences with laughter and wordplay. A perfect introduction to a lifelong reading for pleasure journey.

Here We Are

by Oliver Jeffers

Written as a manual to life on Earth, this simple, life-affirming picture book is both an overview of Earth and a guide to living as an all-round good person. Concepts of kindness, tolerance, respect and environmental responsibility flow seamlessly into this perfectly judged text.

The final page brings us back to the immediacy of a dad holding his baby. ‘Just ask, I won’t be far away.’ It’s a perfect ending, reminding us that the most important thing for children to know about life on Earth is that they are loved.


by Katya Balen and illustrated by Richard Johnson

After a devastating car crash Annie is struggling to get on with her life. Unable to play her flute, she abandons her plans to go to music school. Moving house seems like the end of the world. Then she meets Noah who shows her the blackbird’s nest hidden in the srubland near their flats. The blackbird’s song reignites Annie’s passion for music. But when tragedy strikes again will she be strong enough to carry on? This beautifully written book is about friendship, courage and hope. ‘It’s always easier not to try.’

Marily Mottram

About this month's reviewer

Marilyn taught for many years in Birmingham schools. She later became one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI). In this role she led national surveys, contributed to the Chief Inspector’s annual report and was Ofsted’s deputy national lead for English. Marilyn has been involved in multiple teacher-research projects. She was part of the Open University/UKLA Teachers as Readers research team (TaRs). She continues to work with schools on this social justice issue. Her own research interests include exploring the intersection between literacy practices and events in homes, schools and communities and the implications for classroom practices and pedagogies.