September Literature Review

Posted on: 30/08/2020

Literacy Tree

'Wild at Heart'

The dictionary definition of wild is to be not cultivated or domesticated and to to be known as ’running wild’ is to ‘grow or develop without restraint or discipline.’ During August we’ve taken to being a bit wild ourselves as we've fallen far from having a routine. Without the clock watching and the diarising of our day, we’ve instead turned to our instincts to make decisions about when to wake - or eat even! Much like our ancestors would have many moons ago and who are gloriously imagined in ‘Human Journey’ by Professor Alice Roberts. To inspire us further with all things wild, we’ve looked to our animal friends and chosen a new version of some favourite poems including a Literary curriculum favourite, Tiger Tiger Burning Bright. The tiger is the ultimate untamed creature of course, but bears no rival to the glorious prehistoric giants that were dinosaurs who roamed wild and free for years for before us and who will be an eternal source of fascination for us in fact and fiction, which is exactly what Hollie Hughes has captured in ‘The Girl and the Dinosaur’

In many ways the demands of September and the requirement to fall in line again will feel like a relief after our wild abandonment over the summer and through lockdown, but we will keep the wildness in mind for a little longer with these books by our bedsides to help us remember that we are truly wild at heart.


Human Journey by Professor Alice Roberts and illustrated by James Weston Lewis published 3rd September

You might well remember the television series, ‘The Incredible Human Journey’, that Professor Alice Roberts researched and presented and the book that accompanied it around ten years ago or so and therefore this illustrated version of the facts and events for children feels like it is very much overdue. However – and particularly in 2020 - it feels more relevant than ever to be looking back at humanity to look forward.

We love an information book written by an actual expert in the field and this feels like the ultimate fact-filled companion. With maps and timelines intricately drawn by James Weston Lewis (whose work we adore as his Great Fire of London book is a Literary Curriculum staple in Y2) This fascinating book takes us back to the beginning of time to trace our ancestors from The Dawn of Humankind. 

 It’s the presentation of this book that makes the subject so wonderfully accessible and the combination of detailed pictures, a comprehensive glossary, emboldened text but with beautifully written paragraphs that explain every aspect of the historical periods with razor-sharp detail and literary language, 


National Trust: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year by Fiona Waters (Author),Britta Teckentrup (Illustrator) Published 3rd September. 2020

This is the second poetry anthology from the National Trust and Nosy Crow following the award-winning, 'I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree' and this collection of animal poems curated by Fiona Waters with watercolour cut-out illustrations from Britta Teckentrup is simply perfect for your daily dose of verse! Each illustration by Britta Teckentrup is a work of art by itself and we thought these could inspire some brilliant illustrations of other poems in the future as in project in home or school. Even though it is organised in calendar form, we couldn't help but look ahead to some of the more signiificant dates in our lives and whilst September seems like an odd release date for this type of book those of us in education know that September is the real start of the year!

The collection itself is wide-ranging with some real classics by William Blake, Dick King-Smith, Ted Hughes, Grace Nichols, Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Dickinson to name a few as well as more recent poets such as Roger McGough,and Grace Nicholls. This is the type of book that sits well in the 'gift book' category, but also is exactly the type of book that should be on every teacher's desk or book corner to grab for a two minute treat to share with the class.


The Girl and the Dinosaur Paperback by Hollie Hughes (Author), Sarah Massini (Illustrator) – In paperback, published 3rd September 2020

We are delighted that this stunning book will be published in paperback this month as it’s exactly the type of book that should be by as many children’s bedsides as possible. It also feels like the exactly the type of book we need right now as it reinforces the positivity in looking to the power of the imagination. 

 We are suckers for a story told in verse, and this gives the book an old-fashioned quality that we adored to read and say out loud ourselves. We are introduced to Marianne who lives by the sea,  ‘There’s a town beside the sea, not so very far from here, with golden sands and rockpools, and a tatttered battered pier. And there’s a girl upon the beach and her name is Marianne, she’s digging for a dinosaur, just beneath the sand.’ And as these bones become a dinosaur friend for Marianne, we see that her dreams are realised. It struck us how wonderful this would be to read to a child or class alongside looking at the life and work of Mary Anning - as well as a trip to the either the National History Museum or the chance to look for any fossils or bones on the beach.

The dreamy illustrations in watercolour by Sarah Massini and the story itself reminded us of other powerful picturebooks where the imagination literally takes flight – such as The Snowman, or John Burningham’s Magic Bed. With all of these, the power lies in the imagination to be a comfort blanket to you when you need to take yourself to a place with an imaginary friend or landscape that can cocoon you with companionship. The perfect picturebook. 

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