Top Texts for July

​Karl Duke selects some high quality texts to promote reading to inspire learning for all.


by Torben Kuhlmann

“You, see, one should never underestimate us mice.”

If you have read any of Torben Kuhlmann’s history-inspired books you know by now that mice are capable of changing the world! Following on from their fellow adventurers who learned to fly (Lindbergh) and landed on the moon (Armstrong), two unlikely friends build a vessel to help them find missing treasure at the bottom of the ocean. The treasure may not be what you expect!

Kuhlmann cleverly weaves the story of Thomas Edison in an accessible way for children of all ages through beautifully detailed illustrations and an engaging narrative. Edison is a perfect text to read together under a visualiser allowing children to explore the artwork which is a real treat. Kuhlmann’s books are a wonderful inspiration for making links across the curriculum including history, science and geography as the mice begin a journey of discovery, research, design and exploration. A perfect addition to any classroom from Year 2 onwards.

Child of St Kilda

by Beth Waters 

We are living in a golden-age of non-fiction texts and Child of St Kilda by Beth Waters – a historical story I had no awareness of – fits comfortably within that bracket. 

Before the whole population was evacuated in 1930, Norman John Gillies was one of the last children to be born on St Kilda. Through Waters words and illustrations – rendered appropriately using traditional printmaking techniques – we learn what life was like for Norman growing up within a remote, close-knit and resilient community. 

Wildlife, families, school and occupations are amongst the features explored as well as respectfully touching upon the themes of isolation and change. The book is a perfect stimulus for a history or geography project in KS1 or KS2 and, despite being set almost a century ago, could be used effectively to encourage many topical debates with children.

The Legend of Podkin One-Ear

by Kieran Larwood and illustration by David Wyatt

Podkin, the son of Lopkin, chieftain of the Munbury warren has to step up when the Gorm – one of the most terrifying creations in modern children’s literature – attack leaving destruction in their path. With echoes of Tolkien and Middle Earth, the quest for Podkin begins.

Kieran Larwood’s introduction to The Five Realms has inspired readers and writers in school more than any book I have known due to its exciting plot, variety of characters and range of settings. The adventures of Podkin, Paz and Pook explore the themes of self discovery, friendship, love, loyalty and good versus evil. The story is cleverly constructed which helps the story to move on at pace and will leave children gasping for more. The text is supported in great detail by the incredibly talented David Wyatt’s illustrations. This is a great read for Year 3 and 4 and a superb read aloud. The first of a wonderful series.


About this month's reviewer

Karl Duke is the Headteacher of Blyton cum Laughton Church of England Primary School in Lincolnshire. He is passionate about creating a curriculum driven by high quality texts – both picture book and novel – to promote reading and inspire learning for all. Karl has spoken at various conferences to share both his school’s journey and ideas for developing writing using picture books through his Detail Detectives strategies. He regularly contributes on Twitter via @KarlDuke8, @DetailDetects1 and @PrimaryPicBookClub.