Top Texts for May 2021

Elaine Allen, Executive Headteacher has chosen some delightful texts for Early Years

The Smeds and The Smoos

by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The newest rhyming picture book from the fantastic duo of Julia Donaldson (author) and Axel Scheffler (illustrator), her books never cease to give me, and of course our children, so much pleasure. In this book, I particularly love all the alien-related language (you definitely need to practise reading this first before reading out loud!)

I really enjoyed reading this book to the children. All children love aliens, and when the two main characters go missing, their alien families (the red SMEDS and the blue SMOOS) race around the universe searching different planets, in the process, meeting very different looking aliens. Although these families initially do not get along, whilst searching together they start to value each other’s company.

As well as a wonderful story, the theme of difference is tackled superbly! I cannot recommend this book enough.


by Suzy Senior and illustrated by Claire Powell

Who doesn’t enjoy a funny book to read to children! Written by Suzy Senior and illustrated beautifully by Claire Powell, I particularly like reading books with an under the sea setting. And once again a book with rhyme, my favourite style for reading to younger children.

In this book, poor Octopus cannot find anywhere that sells underpants for someone with 8 legs. Until he finds an amazing underwater emporium with all types of clothes and accessories for underwater creatures. And his problem is solved… but in an unexpected way!

I enjoy books which can also encourage a conversation about ‘number’ and this book’s illustrations give so much to talk about, in addition to the story itself. It also opened up a wonderful discussion about what creatures under the sea would need as clothing and accessories, really getting the children’s imaginations going for writing and illustrating.

The Giant of Jum

by Elli Woollard and illustrated by Benji Davies

All children love giants and this one sets out on a mission quite typically to find a child to eat, but not any child, one especially chosen, Jack! On his quest, he meets different children all needing his help in one way or another, and he gladly gives it. Not realising his kind deeds are making friendships, he does not understand why the children begin to like him so much… even Jack who is too tired to walk home and who the giant carries home before realising who he is. The children find a way to satisfy the giant’s hunger (which does not require eating children!) and the giant finds himself with lots of new friends.

I love reading books which link to traditional tales, in this case Jack and the Beanstalk, as then the links can be made and discussed with the children. Once again, a theme of friendship and kindness, permeates the story, so wonderful for children to hear, discuss and relate to their own lives.


About this month's reviewer

Elaine Allen is an Executive Headteacher at a primary school and English Hub in Blackpool.

Elaine has spent the last 15 years leading schools in areas serving a high proportion of disadvantaged learners. During this time, Elaine achieved her PhD in Education and Social Justice, having a particular interest in researching social justice issues both nationally and internationally. Elaine is passionate about developing literacy and oracy skills at the same time as embedding a culture of reading for pleasure utilising a curriculum ‘drenched in books’!

Elaine is currently Chair of the English Hubs’ Council and serves on both the Blackpool and Liverpool Education Improvement Boards.