for adults helping children

learn English as a foreign language

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May and November        distributed free                              download Issues from

Decoding type styles for meaningful reading.


From the Editor -     Opal Dunn




REALBOOK NEWS introduces books that you can use from your first or first lessons with beginners of Nursery or Primary level. Apart from giving a rough grading of the language and reading level, REALBOOK NEWS now includes an additional grading indicating if the books are suitable for Nursery (N) or Primary (P) Level or can be used with either (N/P). In the beginning stages of learning it is important to check that a REALpictureBOOK is right for the children you teach as success and interest motive. Although all the book selection is published in Britain some of the books originated elsewhere, including Australia, Japan and the US. Issue 13 also includes many books that use different type styles in interesting and challenging ways for children. The Feature Article discusses Decoding Type Styles for Meaningful Reading.


In November 2002 REALBOOK NEWS was nominated for a British Council Education UK ELT Innovation Award but was not successful. A pity as REALBOOK NEWS, now in the 6th year of publishing, needs some outside recognition if it is to obtain funding to develop the Newsletter and improve the Website. A big thank you to those of you who wrote in support.


REALpictureBOOKs continue to find a place in many more classrooms, which is exciting for children as research shows that a REALBOOK can change a lesson into a deeper learning experience for a child!

Watch out for these 2 new books on how to use REALBOOKS with children in the classroom.

·        Tell it again! The New Story Telling Handbook by Gail Ellis and Jean Brewster

published by Pearson Education ISBN 0-582-44774-7 for children in the 8-11 age-group.

·        JET: Using Realbooks in the ELT Classroom by Sandie Mourao

published by Mary Glasgow/Scholastic ISBN 1900702193 for children from 3 to 12 years.

JET is advertising special offers of packs, which include 3 or 9 of the REALBOOKs introduced by Sandie Mourao. For details visit the Teacher’s Resource Centre on website

At the same time those of you interested in using REALBOOKS should also look at

·        Using Picture Books – Ideas for working with 12 picture books by Hilary White

published by Step Forward Publishing ISBN 1-902438-44-2 £9.95. Although not written for EFL situations, this book gives a good over-view of the role of REALpictureBOOKs in a child’s holistic development. It also introduces 12 popular picture books and suggests related activities including some five-minute activities.


Anna Sadowska in Poland continues her work ‘REAL-BOOKS- REAL VALUES and her project on travelling books in which she links up with teachers in Lativia (Gunta Krigere) and Estonia (Sirje Lepik) and of course Poland. These teachers have exchanged books and added their own activities, feed back and cultural information. One of the books used is Susan Laughs (Issue 9). Anna also works with children preparing for Cambridge Young Learners English Tests and writes, ‘I have managed to prove that the story based approach is what really works better than just a course book in preparing kids for these exams.’ For more information email:


I have recently received a Report on the successful Books on Wheels Conference held at Valencia University last June. Organised by Marisa Gonzalez, the creator of the Books on Wheels Project the Conference, with a Plenary Session and Workshop by Wendy Superfine, was well attended. This project, which incorporates REALBOOKS, aims to encourage children to enjoy reading and writing through making their own books. Recently Marisa lectured at the Barcelona APAC Convention where she explained how to make books with children and introduced the Books on Wheels Project and Club that teachers can join. Further information from

Feature ArticleDecoding type styles for meaningful reading.

REALpictureBOOKS are examples of authentic up-to-date visual and linguistic literacy experiences.  (Developing Visual Literacy Issue 6). They are constantly changing like the society they mirror. Many of their visual experiences reflect the new commercial type styles seen on TV, advertising or on food packets some even in English or Roman letters in non-English language societies.


Visual experiences in REALpictureBOOKs are becoming increasingly challenging for young readers, and more especially for those learning English as a foreign language, as creativity spreads across a double page from the illustration to the presentation of the text. Texts may be laid out in different type styles in non-traditional ways to portray movement, excitement, fear or fun. Some words may be highlighted in different ways to give added value and express deeper meaning. A glance at the front and back covers of this issue show examples of some of these new challenges.


 In some recently published REALpicturestoryBOOKS visual experiences have become more holistic as the picture and the language (text) closely interact to support and expand each other making decoding quicker and understanding possibly deeper. In REALBOOKS written for younger children, where the balance between the text and picture is unequal, the text being shorter, the child will get most information from the details in the picture. Young children are used to doing this in their home-language activities; since many cannot yet write a lengthy text, they compensate by putting their detailed information into their pictures.


In today’s REALpictureBOOKS image, language, type style and layout have been created and designed as a whole unit to give the reader an aesthetic and pleasurable experience with no conscious educational aim. REALpictureBOOKS differ from YLs’ EFL textbooks where frequently illustrations have been added to text later with the aim of clarifying the meaning of the teaching text. Like this a young child from a different culture is presented with as little ambiguity as possible, especially in the early stages of learning English. This aim for clarity is also reflected in the choice of type style which is generally a simple print-style (with handwriting a and g) following traditional punctuation rules and grammatical conventions like capital letters only at the beginning of the sentence.


On any computer today’s child has access to a long list of type styles, which at a click can be flashed on the screen and printed out. A wider choice is available to designers, authors and editors who in creating REALpictureBOOKS are not constrained by the educational needs of teaching children to read. Some illustrators like Lucy Cousins (Issue 12) create and copyright their own print style. This enables them to create their own holistic picturebook experience, which children soon recognise as the author-illustrator’s ‘trade mark’.


Children are used to change; most find adapting easier than many older adults! Children spend their early years adapting to newness – new circumstances, new people and new voices. Most seem to take adapting in their stride learning to accept ambiguity as much of what they see and hear may not be clear to them until they have taken part in related experiences. This leaves them open-minded, ready to accept newness with few preconceptions and at the same time be willing to take some of the risks that go with uncertainty.


Children accept the divergence in reading different type styles as a challenge. For native speaker children the initial getting-used to the newness may be difficult, but the challenge is even greater for  those who write with non-roman alphabets like Chinese, Japanese, Urdu and Arabic or where eye movements differ as children read from right to left across the page or top to bottom.


The Teacher as a Mediator

The teacher’s role is that of mediator between the child and the REALBOOK, not openly teaching but looking at text and type styles together and talking about them. Children, especially boys, like making their own codes and un-scrabbling other people’s secret languages. This enthusiasm can be re-treaded as children are using some of the same strategies to do this as this when decoding a page of unconventional text in a REALpictureBOOK.

Developing strategies for decoding for meaning

Teachers can help children read more easily and quickly by helping them transfer some of their decoding strategies from their home-language, even if they are only emergent readers. To do this  children need the following information in order to talk about the type styles.

Information on the shapes of the standard forms of the alphabet – small and capital letters - as this will be the reference for comparison necessary for decoding. Without a solid knowledge of the standard alphabet shapes decoding takes longer and could be frustrating and so de-motivating.

The names of the letters of the alphabet. Without knowing the names of the letters it is difficult to talk about words and their letter content. The sounds of the letters have a different role and there are some complications - like the two sounds for the letter c. Many parents do not know the letter sounds correctly and often as a result confuse their children. However most adults know the names of the letters, and many can even sing the alphabet song, and can therefore give some backup at home.

Facilitating decoding for meaning

Every experience helps a child build up his own visual bank of type styles, which form a resource to draw on when decoding. Talk about:

Way of decoding a spread

Any one who is used to reading Picture books with a young child will have noticed that when a child turns a page to a new spread he nearly always looks at the picture first following the same routine of Skim, Scan and Review. 

Skim  The child gets a general impression looking at the picture first and then the text. (The child is used to getting more information from pictures. Compare this with the adult who generally reads the text first and second glances at the picture regarding it as decorative but not necessary.)

Scan The child looks at the picture scrutinising detail. The child moves from place to place in the picture moving on only when he has obtained sufficient information for his present needs.

Review The child, satisfied that he has gleaned sufficient information, returns to review the whole picture incorporating the connections made between the details and his own experiences.

The child then appears to pass through the same routine in looking at the text, possibly reading sentence by sentence or blocks of text. Where different type styles are used little is known about how he decodes. Does he read the speech bubbles first? Does a general pattern emerge?

Browse The child needs opportunities to return again and again to the visual experience (Browsing  Issue 11) in order to make new connections and obtain deeper meaning. Picture and text provide multi-layered experiences, which alter each time the child returns to the book as the child is older, more mature and experienced. He possibly has added confidence too, as his newly acquired daily-life experiences make additional connections to the decoding experience so deepening meaning. What we see is not simply given but is the product of past experience and future expectations.’ Gombrich.


REALpictureBOOKs provide a drive to communicate through exciting experiences in different forms of visual literacy. Apart from learning English through REALBOOKs, we can help children become confident with newness of both illustration and type styles so that they know how to decode for meaning. In doing so we are helping them develop valuable life-long skills for use in both English and home-language in this media led world where visual literacy is becoming more influential each year.

C Opal Dunn

Children reading Pictures by Evelyn Arizpe and Morag Styles RoutledgeFalmer ISBN 0-415-27577-6

10 BOOKS for Nursery and Primary (front cover)

Everybody Poos      Author-Illustrator Taro Gomi                                N/P Level 1a

Frances Lincoln Publishing     Hardback           ISBN 0-7112-2046-8              £9.99

Following the success of The story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business      (Issue 11) this simpler book, discussing the different sizes, shapes, colours and even different smells of a wide selection of animals is already a great success in the UK, especially with boys who seem to enjoy discussing poos more than girls. In this book poo is used both as a noun and a verb.

Fish poo. So do birds. And bugs too.

A one-hump camel makes a one-hump poo. And a two-hump camel makes a two-hump poo. Only joking!                                                                                                                                   

Where and how poos are done is also included.

Some children poo on the potty, others poo in their nappies. The crocodile does it in the water. The boy wipes himself with paper and flushes it away.All living things eat, so …… everybody poos

The colourful illustrations add humour to the already amusing text.

Written and illustrated by a Japanese, Everybody Poos was originally published in Japanese in 1977. Later published in translation in the US in 1993, it became ‘a best seller’. If you feel parents will not be shocked by your approach to English, enjoy this together and help crush taboos about natural functions - after all all living things eat, so … everybody poos.


The Wheels on the Bus   Illustrator Paulo Zelinsky                               N/P Level 1a

Orchard Books  Novelty/Hardback           ISBN 1-84362-195-9             £12.99

This sparkly presentation of the Traditional Song with flaps and arrows that can be moved to bring the bus ride alive makes it attractive to a wider age range. Adapted and illustrated by Paulo Zelinsky with skilful paper engineering by Rodger Smith this book offers children a chance to explore and expand their vision of the bus journey as they sing along with, in some cases, new words many of which include useful phrases. The music is on the back cover for those who are not familiar with this well-known children’s song.

The people on the bus step out and in, out and in, out and in, all day long.

The driver on the bus says ‘Move along please! Move along, please! Move along, please! All day long.

The riders on the bus go bumpety-bump, bumpety-bump, bumpty- bump Until finally you arrive at The Public library The end of the line. The detailed map on the final page enables the reader to follow the bus route along its journey aided by flaps, which prompt the use of the right verse of the song as you go along on the journey. A great interactive book for browsing! An escape route to another society.


Buzz Buzz, Bumble Jelly    Author-Illus: Nick Sharrat                             N/P Level 1a

Scholastic   Novelty/ Paperback      ISBN 0-439-99865-4                        £5.99

Buzz Buzz, Bumble Bee.BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ turn half the picture page and you have half the face of a cowboy with a bee-like hat Buzz,Buzz Bumble cowboy.Turn the bootom half of the page again and you have Buzz buzz Bumble catand turn again and it is Buzz Buzz Bumble building. Yes the same bee-like hat on the top of a sky scraper.Go on to the last page until you come to the whale. Yes Buzz, buzz Bumble whale and there is a whale looking really cute wearing a bee’s hat! The final page does not divide. It’s a picture of Whoosh! A spouting whale These are just some of the combinations you can make with 12 pages, 10 of them cut in two. The Black outlined colourful drawing are full of humour, the vocabulary limited to simple words and phrases. A great book for beginners to enjoy and remember, especially older Primary boys. Copy the book format and make your own books. It could be enormous fun and an opportunity to get rid of frustrations.



Best Friends Special Friends   Author- Illus: Susan Rollings                           N/P Level 1b

Orchard books         Hardback       ISBN 1-84121-156-7                       £10.99p

A rhyming text that introduces you to the qualities of friends and makes you think about all your best friends as well as your special friends. Slow friends, fast friends, racing round the playground friends. Tall friends, small friends, some are very clever friends. And on it goes until Old friends, new friends. I really have a lot of friends. My special friends, surprise, surprise, it’s ALL my friends! And guess what? They are celebrating my birthday. The language is easy-to-pick-up and recite aloud as a group; the illustrations show typical everyday experiences with young children. This book can make an ideal starting off point for a project about friends and a discussion about how children feel about each other.


Three Little Kittens      Illustrator Tanya Linch                                   N/P Level 1b Gullane Children’s  Paperback           ISBN 1-86233-314-9              £4.99

Tanya Lynch’s outlined colourful illustrations put character into the eyes of mother cat and her three little kittens in such a way that you can really feel the dialogue that is going on between them.

Three little kittens lost their mittens and they began to cry. Oh, Mother dear, we sadly fear that we have lost our mittens.

Lost your mittens! You naughty kittens! Then you shall have no pie. Mee-ow! Mee-ow! Mee-ow No! You shall have no pie! Well all turns out well in the end and Mother ends by saying What good little kittens! Now we can have more pie! Purr-r Purr-r Purr-r.  This well-known, easy-to-act rhyme includes some useful phrases which children, once they know the rhyme by heart, can easily transfer to other situations in the classroom or even at home. Good for a mid-term or end of term show.


Do Your Ears Hang Low?     Author– Illus Caroline Jayne Church      N/P Level 1b

The Chicken House      Paperback                     ISBN 1-903434-63-7                £4.99         

A story about two sweet cartoon-like puppies who make friends through comparing their floppy ears. Originally a song (unfortunately the music is not included) it can also be said as an action rhyme. The 12 suggested hand and arm actions, to be done in pairs, are clearly illustrated on the back spread. The rhyming language is easy to pick up and to make reading aloud easier whilst doing the actions, the text is printed as a rhyme on the front inside cover. Readers and writers of non-roman alphabets may need a little help to begin with in decoding the print style, which uses non-conventional-sized small letters.

Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro?

Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow? This story then goes on Do your ears hang high? Do they wave up to the sky? Can you wave them at your neighbour with the minimum of labour? And lift the flap on the final page to find the amusing answer. A fun way of celebrating love and friendship and great if you love pets! 


Dirty Bertie      Author/Illustrator David Roberts                                  N/P Level 1b

Little Tiger Press    Paperback       ISBN 1-85430-8203                         £4.99

No, Bertie! That’s dirty, Bertie! Change the name, possibly to a boy’s name, and does this phrase sound familiar? Bertie has some quite common dirty habits that some children, and especially boys, have like picking up something from a dirty floor, picking a bogey from the nose and weeing all over the place. Every time Bertie gets up to one of these dirty habits a member of his family would chorus, NO BERTIE! THAT’S DIRTY, BERTIE!

Soon Bertie understood and he stopped doing all of these dirty things except one. He just couldn’t stop picking bogeys out of his nose, when no one was looking and worst still, Bertie sometimes eats them! UGH! Any one else you know guilty of doing this?

David Roberts’ outlined illustrations are fun and the faces, especially the eyes, are most expressive. Poor Bertie! You can feel what people think about Dirty Bertie and how Bertie himself feels about his



dirty tricks. A great book to read aloud as children can join in the chorus, which is highlighted in unusual capital letters. There are also a lot of expressive sounds that tell us about Dirty Bertie’s tricks -  aaagh! eek! yuk! bleugh! and of course UGH! Children love this story and the chorus soon gets transferred to both home and school!


We’re going to Feed  the ducks                                                              N/P Level 1b

Author Margrit Cruickshank Illustrator Rosie Reeve         

Frances Lincoln            Hardback            ISBN 0-7112-1961-3              £9.99

A circular ‘old fashioned’ type of well-told story that ties up all the ends and leaves the reader with a feeling of satisfaction. Full of repetition the story counts up to five and down again in an easy-to-understand way that makes it natural for children to pick-up a lot of the language. This story, about an older sister who takes her little brother to feed the ducks, is sensitively illustrated by a talented new artist to picture books, Rosie Reeve, with young children of her own.

We’re going to feed the ducks! And off the two of them go hand in hand. Look! What a friendly brown dog! says the little brother, but his sister drags him away. No! We’re not going to feed the friendly brown dog. We’re going to feed the ducks, and on they go meeting TWO squirrels, THREE sparrows, FOUR pigeons and FIVE seagulls on the way. All the animals followed them and surrounded them asking them for bread. Oh, all right then. There you are, seagulls! There you are, pigeons! There you are, sparrows! There you are, squirrels! Now we can feed the ducks!  Oh! Sorry ducks. The bread’s all gone! So what did they do? A model story form that can be used as a base for making class stories which can even go beyond five to ten animals.


If you see a kitten                    Author  Illustrator John Butler            N/P Level 1a

Puffin         Paperback           ISBN 0-14-056776-3                                   £4.99

A great, easy-to-understand story that is excellent for joining in and letting off pent-up energy as well as frustrations. John Butler’s fine, life-like illustrations make you feel you could touch or even stroke some of the friendly animals. Reminiscent in form of Eric Dahl’s Brown Bear, What can I see? John Butler uses different language to tell his story.

If you see a cuddly kitten …… and then turn to the next page to see the kitten and say ‘Ahhh!’ But not only do you see a cuddly kitten but some footsteps and a curly pink tail which help you to understand If you see a pongy pig… Turn the page and say ‘Pooo! ‘ to the pongy pig. The story continues each time introducing a new animal on one spread and suggesting what you should say to it, when you actually see the animal, on the next spread.

If you see some slimy slugs …..say ‘Yuk!’ If you see a pretty peacock …. Say, ‘Oooh!’

If you see a prickly porcupine ….say ‘Ouch!’ If you see an enormous elephant say ‘Wow!’

And if you see a crotchety crocodile …. Say, ‘HELP! By the end of the story children will have picked up 10 different expressions for conveying emotions and feelings, which is a good start for a beginner!


Whose Tail Is That? Author Christine Nicholls Illus: Danny Snell       N/P Level 1a

Happy Cat                     Paperback         ISBN 1-903285-44-5                £4.99

First published in Australia this is a tale about two little monkeys who ran off to play in the wild and get lost. A friendly white bird came along and asked if he could help them. The two little monkeys declared,  We’ve lost our mother. We want her back.

Look! In the bushes. Whose tail is that? said the bird  A lions tail! ROAR And so the hunt continued Look! In the tall reeds. Whose tail is that? A crocodile’s tail SNAP. The tails of many different and interesting animals turned out not to be that of their mother. Finally they found the tail that belonged to their mother and all ended well. Great life-like illustrations, this is a fun book to read aloud. Children soon join in especially with the animal noises. An excellent story for picking up possessive forms naturally. Support this by making some animal tails and playing a game asking- Whose tail? zebra’s tail.

14 BOOKS for Primary (back cover)


The Great Race Maze   Author- Illustrator Anna Nilsen                         P/Level 1b

Little Hare           Paperback                         ISBN 187700307-7                £3.99

Get ready to race around the world! Quite a challenge that involves looking very carefully at each maze. Begin at the green flag and navigate your way through to the red flag. Beware of dangerous detours and hazards on the way.  The twelve vividly illustrated mazes with humorous details will stimulate plenty of questions. If you get lost on the way or can’t find the starting or finishing flags, the solutions are at the back of the book together with twelve extra puzzles. The journey will take you from The Artic, to New York, The Amazon, Europe, London, Moscow, India  etc and finally to Sydney. You may need some survival language including prepositions of place like ‘go over the bridge, go on the road, in the boat’. Many children, especially boys, will want to create their own journeys having learned how to do it from one of these spreads. Why did the author decide to stop at these twelve places on a world journey? Children can suggest a different selection for a journey round the world starting and ending in their home-town or country.  


The Holes in Your Nose   Author-Illus: Genichiro Yagyu                        P/Level 2`

Frances Lincoln Publishing     Hardback ISBN 0-7112-2045-X              £9.99

Holes in the nose come in all different sizes and shapes. Almost all animals have two holes in their noses. But some have only one. This book goes on to discuss all the things that happen through the holes in your nose including nosebleeds. It then goes on to show a picture of where the holes lead to: The inside of your nose and the inside of your mouth are connected at the back of your throat. The inside of your nose is full of funny-shaped bumps. The air you breathe in passes between these bumps.

Children are fascinated by these clearly explained facts and explicit illustrations about how their body works. More of the Japanese author’s culture comes through in this book than in Everybody Poos, but it is portrayed in a way that children from different societies will find interesting and soon absorb.  For example on page 5 Grandpa is seen playing the Japanese game Go, on page 13 the little girl holding chopsticks is eating a very typical Japanese meal and on page 17 what they suggest you say is not babble, but part of one of the Japanese Alphabets called hiragana Na ne nu nay no, ma me moo may mo. First published in Japan in 1981 as Let’s talk about the holes in our nose, this book was translated and published in America in 1993, where it also became a top seller. An interesting and different read.


All Kinds of Bodies Author-Illustrator Emma Brownjohn                       P/Level 1b

Tango Books       Novelty/Hardback         ISBN 1-857070-560-9            £8.99

Another great lift-the-flap book from Tango Books! This time not by Emma Damon (Issue 7 All Kinds of People), but Emma Brownjohn. The fine paper engineering needs careful handling as there are not only flaps up and down but other forms of intricate paper folds, which add to the excitement of discovering about other people’s bodies and comparing them with your own.

Some bodies are thin. Turn the flap. Some bodies are larger.

Some bodies are long and lanky. Turn the flap. Some bodies are short and stocky.

All bodies have faces….. All faces have eyes……… Some faces have a small nose…Some faces have …turn the flap to see the different types of lips.

Bodies come in different sizes and shapes and colours. But under the skin we are all the same! AND EVERY BODY IS BEAUTIFUL! The flap-up diagram of the bones and organs in our body – all named – is for great reference as are the DID YOU KNOW ? 4 points.

The adult skeleton has 206 bones. Half the bones are in the hands and feet …… …………

The lively amusing illustrations are easy to decode and easy to copy, too. A wonderful kick-start to discussion followed by project work that includes something for both boys and girls. A book to browse over, which children will enjoy and parents too, if the children can take it home to share.

Animals Scare Me Stiff          Author-Illustrator Babette Cole                P/Level 1b

Red Fox                 Paperback           ISBN 0-09-940497-4                             £5.99


Babette Cole is one of Britain’s prize wining author-illustrators. Her books are to be found in every children’s books shop and library, but few are suitable for EFL beginners as the text is often longer and culturally specific to British society as are many of the illustrations. This humorous book is great and will appeal to older Primary children especially boys.

Tom is followed by a dog. He thinks. It will eat me. Then a horse joins in. Then a bull…. A snake slithers up. Tom feels sick. They squeeze you to death, snakes do! And so it goes on until The animals come right up and sniff Tom. He is so frightened he sinks to the ground (he does not see the ants). Tom gives a terrible scream and tears off his trousers. What happened to the animals and also to Tom? Children love the illustrations and soon pick up the short text by heart. Children need time to browse over the details of these atmospheric illustrations if they are to get the most from this story.


How do Dinosaurs say Goodnight?                                                          P/Level 1b

Author Jane Yolen  Illustrator Mark Teague   

Collins Children’s Books   Paperback      ISBN 0-00-713728-1              £4.99

Have you ever thought how a baby dinosaur would go to bed? Well this book takes you into the homes of ten different baby dinosaurs from a Stegosaurus to a Triceratops. The author, a Caldecott Medal winner in the US, takes us through many familiar good night antics, which are all explained in rhyming easy-to-pick-up language.

How does a Dinosaur say Goodnight, When Mama comes in to turn off the light?

Does he fall on the top of his covers and cry? No Dinosaurs don’t. They don’t even try.

They give a big kiss. They turn out the light They tuck in their tails. They whisper ‘Good night!’

They give a big hug, then give one kiss more. Good night. Good night, little dinosaur.

The full spread illustrations of baby dinosaurs in western bedrooms are amusing and will fascinate any child even if they are only vaguely interested in dinosaurs. This is a rhyme with a difference that could be fun to act out in the classroom with or without simple costumes. A chart on the first page helps the reader identify all the dinosaurs.


What colour is love?  Author Linda Strachan Illus: David Wojtowycz    P/Level 1b

Bloomsbury Children’s          Hardback   ISBN                                        £9.99

A story about feelings told through jungle animals that might lead to all sorts of interesting discussion. What colour is Love? Could it be green? asks a small elephant. Wrinkly Grandad replies I don’t know if that is true, but grass is green – so love might be blue. The little elephant then asks the tiger. What colour is love? Could it be blue? The Tiger replied I can’t tell you the answer, my little fellow, the sky is blue – maybe love could be yellow? Could it be yellow? Could it be red? Could it be white? Could it be pink? Tired and exhausted at the end of the day, I know who to ask said Small elephant Smooth and Grey and off he went to find his mother who surely must know the answer. She did. What colour is love? Every colour, all around …. Because nothing else matters when it’s Love that you’ve found. The semi-rhyming text makes it easy-to-pick-up and it is supported by vibrant illustrations. So what colour is love and what colour do you love best? A good book to find out more about feelings.


Lucky Socks   Author Carrie Weston Illus: Charlotte Middleton              P/Level 1b

Gullane Children’s        Paperback   ISBN 1-86233-398-X                         £4.99

A detailed insight into a week in the daily life of a boy about 7 years old called Kevin. Supported by clear outlined colourful drawings the reader can find out what goes right and what goes wrong at home and at school in Kevin’s life.

On Tuesday, Kevin wore his green socks. He got his spelling muddled up at school. And his bicycle tyre went flat.

On Wednesday Kevin wore his blue socks. It rained all day …. And he dropped his sticker collection.

On Thursday Kevin wore his striped socks……and his beetle escaped from his bug jar. Every day Kevin wore a different pair of socks but, oh dear, everything seemed to go wrong until Friday when he put on his yellow lucky socks. Kevin is sure his yellow socks are lucky and wants to put them on the next day for the school sports day but he can’t find them. All Mum could find was some old yellow pants. Kevin was unhappy all the way to school. Everything went wrong and he didn’t win a race. However, the story has a happy ending with a moral. Kevin got a special medal. It was for trying hard at everything – and never giving up. Children can relate to this story and it leads to plenty of discussion, too. For children of other societies it gives a chance to see how children live in Britain and compare their school life.


Captain Toby   Author-Illustrator  Satoshi Kitamura                                           P/Level 2

Happy Cat Books    Paperback         ISBN 1-899248-81-1                       £3.99

Happy Cat Books has reprinted many excellent picture books that, for one reason or another, went out of print with their initial publisher.  Captain Toby is one of these books which, written and illustrated by a Japanese artist resident in London for many years, is now available at a reasonable price in paperback.  The illustrations, with their soft, muted blends of colour, have a feel of Japanese woodblock prints and are a feast for the eyes. One night Toby could not sleep as a storm raged round his house. Suddenly, he felt the whole house rising and falling. It was rolling……. Like a ship in the middle of the ocean. And Toby found himself Captain of his ship/house. Life was difficult for a ship/house at sea in a storm but, worse still, there was a gigantic octopus swimming towards them. How did Captain Toby manage and finally escape back to the harbour? What happened to the octopus?


The Terrible Underpants   Author- Illus: Kaz Cooke                               P/Level 1b

Puffin         Paperback  ISBN 0-14-056882-4                                           £4.99p

Wanda-Linda is the creation of Kaz Cooke an Australian writer, cartoonist and mum! Wanda-Linda has a hairy-nosed wombat as her pet. One morning when it was time to get dressed Wanda-Linda put on her dress, but couldn’t find any underpants. Are they in the washing machine? NO! Did I hang them on the line YES! but the trouble was they were wet! Mum suggested some other Terrible Underpants, which were dry but Wanda-Linda said No. I wish I had a pair of Perfectly Marvellous Underpants instead. But she had to put on the Terrible Underpants. She then went shopping and a dirty big wind blew up my dress and Mrs Kafoops saw the Terrible Underpants. Then she went somewhere else and other people saw the Terrible Underpants until everybody in the WHOLE WORLD saw The Terrible Underpants. So guess what Wanda-Linda did? An easy-to-pick-up text with many useful phrases for transfer. A great story which, children will never forget, but check beforehand that parents won’t object to talk about Underpants!


If you’re happy and you know it!                                                               P/Level 1b

Author Jan Ormerod     Illustrator Lindsey Gardiner

Oxford University Press              Paperback      ISBN 0-19-272551-3     £4.99


Sing this animal story version and children will certainly enjoy themselves and get rid of any frustrations they may have about English being boring!

One day a little girl felt happy. So she sang, If you’re happy and you know it etc.

No, no, no, said the small brown dog – wave your tail – swirl, twirl!

My tail is rather insignificant said the elephant. Flap your ears, flip, flap.

Ridiculous! Cries the crocodile …… snap your teeth – snip, clip!

And so the story goes on as each of the 9 animals introduce their own thing.

The little girl soon understands and says So when I am happy I can do my own thing! That’s right the animals all cried. The final page shows all the animals and the little girl each doing their own things and suggests that the reader does his own thing, too Do your thing YA HOO! And be happy too!

It would be interesting to find out what each child considers to be his own thing! Try it and see!


The Pocket Dogs                                                                                            P/Level 1b

Author Margaret Wild    Illustrator Stephen Michael King          

Southwood Books         Paperback           ISBN 1-903207-83-5              £4.99

Have you seen kids with their loved cuddly toy bulging out of their pocket? This delightful story, written by a well-known Australia writer, is about two very small dogs, Biff and Buff and their owner Mr Pockets, who had two very big pockets in his very big coat. In his right pocket he put Biff and Buff in the left pocket. Are you ready? Are you happy Mr Pockets always asked, and hearing Ruff! Ruff! (Yes, Thank you), off they all went to do their shopping. Everyone knew Mr Pockets and his pocket dogs and greeted them on their way. One day a hole developed in the right pocket and Biff fell out and got lost. Biff was found by other shoppers, who tried their best to make him happy, but without success.  Biff was eventually found by Mr Pockets and told him his story. Mr Pockets mended his right pocket and once again all was well. Colourful pen and wash illustrations help to make the story something children will want to hear over and over again. 


The Kiss That Missed  Author- Illustrator David Melling                       P/Level 2

Hodder                 Paperback                     ISBN 0-340-79718-5              £5.99

David Melling’s delightful illustrations and amusing stories are well-known in Britain. This storybook is a lavish experience with superb illustrations around which different type styles are woven to give atmosphere. The goodnight Kiss is highlighted in gold as is the path that it takes on its journey.

The King was in a hurry so instead of kissing the Prince goodnight, he blew a kiss BUT it missed!

The young prince watched it rattle around the room, then bounce out of the window and into the night. The king instructed a brave and fearless Knight to Follow that kiss! The Knight mounted his horse and off he went in search of the kiss. Past a wild wood the kiss floated and past a dragon’s nose until finally it was caught and taken back to the castle. A great story to read aloud and a book which children love to browse over. A different, amusing experience that stimulates creativity.


The House That Jack Built  Illustrator Elena Gomez                              P/Level 2

Scholastic             Hardback                      ISBN 0-439-99234-6              £9.99

The traditional, well-known rhyme with a strong rhythm is superbly illustrated by Elena Gomez. The text is wound round and into the illustrations, which have been cleverly thought out to support the meaning. Elena Gomez’s portrait of Jack make the rhyme come alive. 

Through the Heart of the Jungle                                                                        P/Level 2

Auth:Jonathan Emmett Illus: Elena Gomez                                   

Hodder                 Paperback                     ISBN 0-340-85440-5              £4.99

Eleanor Gomez’s superb artwork brings the jungle animals to life in this re-write to the rhythm of The House that Jack Built. Spread by spread the reader is introduced to a new animal and its antics.

This is the bear with the long pointy claws, That jumped on the crocodile, gaping its jaws,

That snapped at the toad with the beady eye, That gulped down the spider, That gobbled the fly,

That buzzed through the heart of the jungle.

But wait! Nine animals later there was trouble in the jungle. And what started the trouble? Well last, but not least, This is the lion, the king of the beasts and guess what he did! A great follow on from The House that Jack Built not only for the language but also for the comparison of Gomez’s art  work. A good book to read aloud; the constant repetition makes it a natural for joining-in. A quick, easy-to-  produce show for an end of term concert.


REALBOOK NEWS  published in May and November


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·        Recommends suitable books for Beginners

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·        Selects books from any publisher - big or small.

·        Selects books that YLs can or will soon be able to read.

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REALBOOK NEWS aims to help adults select suitable picture books (fiction and non-fiction)

for  young children beginning to learning English as a foreign language or additional language.







·        Recommends suitable books

·        Includes a FEATURE ARTICLE on matters relevant to REALpictureBOOKS.

·        Selects books from any publisher - big or small

·        Selects books that YLs can or will soon be able to read

·        Prints a Book List of all fiction and non-fiction books introduced in back Issues 1- 9.