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Nothing makes a parent more smug than having your kid willingly wrapped up in a good book. Seeking top recommendations, we turned to the bright bookworms at Maltman’s Green School in Gerrard’s Cross. Passionate about inspiring its all-girl pupils, the school library puts a big emphasis on books that demonstrate friendship and resilience (as well as fun, crucially!).


Olivia series by Ian Falconer

Olivia is fabulous! She is herself and never apologizes for that. A gorgeous little pig who likes to dress-up, sing songs, dance, think, snooze (sometimes) and is even quite good at building sandcastles. Her days are filled with the wonderful minutia that makes up a small child’s life and, at the end of them, when she snuggles up in bed and her mother reads her a story (or three) Olivia the little pig, feels very full of love. Olivia is an absolute gem of a book – a modern classic and is a fantastic choice for introducing your toddler to strong girls in literature. She has an incredible imagination and uses it to go on extraordinary adventures. She teaches young children to always be themselves.

I’m Sticking With You by Smriti Halls and Steve Halls

Although not strictly on our theme, this book had to be included as it is a heart-warming story of friendship. Wherever you’re going, I’m going too. Whatever you’re doing, I’m sticking with you. It’s wonderful to have good friends to see you through the good times and the bad. But sometimes, friends can also be a bit… well… overbearing.

What Will I Be? by Frances Stickley and Lucy Fleming

What do you want to be when you grow up? A pirate or a dinosaur hunter, an engineer or a doctor? Through dressing up and imaginary play, there’s nothing these four best friends can’t be.


The Little People Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

An attractively illustrated series of biography books to include the stories of incredible women.

Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved great things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. Told as a story, with facts and photos section at the back, this sweet series for kids celebrates triumph over adversity through some of history’s favourite characters.

Rose Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

A charming, witty picture book about pursuing your passion. Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her Great, Great Aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. Her invention complete, Rosie attempts a test flight–but after a moment, the machine crashes to the ground. Discouraged, Rosie deems the invention a failure, but Aunt Rose insists that on the contrary, it was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit. Reassured, Rosie returns to her engineering and inspires her classmates to join in the fun.


The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farook

Exciting news for Maltman’s Green School as Nizrana is one of our authors visiting during Book Week!

Chaya, a no-nonsense, outspoken hero, leads her friends and an elephant on a noisy, fraught, joyous adventure through the jungle where revolution is stirring and leeches lurk. Will stealing the queen’s jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for the intrepid gang? This is a fast-paced adventure through the jungle with Chaya’s spirit and determination showing through and a story of friendships that are built along the way.

Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens

At Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have set up their own detective agency. But they are struggling to find any real crimes to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.) Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. To add to the mystery, when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve they must prove one happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Daisy and the Trouble With series by Kes Gray

Daisy’s getting into trouble again, and this time it’s at her school Sports Day! Daisy’s determined to win her race, and she and best friend Gabby have been training hard. They’re going for gold! They’re in the zone! They’re sticking to a strict athlete’s diet of Mars bars, Twiglets, and cheese strings! Trouble is, everyone else in the class wants to win too…


Queens: 3,000 Years of the Most Powerful Women in History

Celebrating strong, brave women across the centuries and around the world, Queens tells their stories of strength and resilience. Spanning 3,000 years from Cleopatra to the Viking queens, Queen Nanny of Jamaica to HRH Elizabeth II, discover new stories about fierce female monarchs.

Full to the brim with striking, vibrant illustrations and bursting with facts about the queens’ pets, costume, homes, make-up, jewellery, and much much more.

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

It begins with a girl and her daemon. Lyra Belacqua lives half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon, Pantalaimon, always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle – a struggle born of stolen children, witch clans and armoured bears. As she hurtles towards danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, the biggest battle imaginable. An original and totally spellbinding series of books to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

It’s 1919. Henry has moved to the countryside with her parents and her baby sister, Piglet – all still scarred by the death of her brother.

Alone in her head, she begins to explore her surroundings, encouraged by her only friends – characters from her favourite books. Nobody notices when she wanders into the woods at the bottom of the garden and meets Moth, a striking witchlike woman. Together they form a bond that could help Henry save her family.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

A girl and the wolves who love her embark on a rescue mission through Russian wilderness in this enchanting tale about love and resilience.

Feo’s life is extraordinary. Her mother trains domesticated wolves to be able to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness of Russia, and Feo is following in her footsteps to become a wolf wilder. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo. Not everyone is enamoured with the wolves or with the fact that Feo and her mother are turning them wild. When her mother is taken captive, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her – and learn from her wolves how to survive.


Becoming: Adapted for Younger Readers by Michelle Obama

What’s important is our story, our whole story, including those moments when we feel a little vulnerable . . . Michelle Robinson started life sharing a bedroom with her older brother Craig, in their family’s upstairs apartment in her great-aunt’s house. Her parents, Fraser and Marian, poured their love and energy into their children. She would go on to become Michelle Obama, the inspirational First Lady of the United States of America. Now adapted for younger readers, with new photographs and a new introduction from Michelle Obama herself, this memoir tells a very personal, and completely inspiring, story of how, through hard work and determination, the girl from the South Side of Chicago built an extraordinary life. A book to read, share, and talk about with the adults in your life, this is a call to action and compassion, and hope for change in uncertain times, and in a scary world.You’ll be inspired to help others, and understand that no one is perfect. Just like Michelle Obama, you too are finding out exactly who you want to be (and, actually, so are the adults in your life).


In this section there is a selection of favourite books loved by our pupils. Mr Pusskins is great fun to read out loud, and Bad Guys is enjoying almost a cult following with Year 3 pupils and the reserve waiting list seems never ending.


Mr Pusskins A Pet’s Tale by Sam Lloyd

Meet the world’s grumpiest, sassiest, most loveable cat . . . Mr Pusskins! He’s got cattitude.

Mr Pusskins has an owner who adores him and wants to make his life utterly blissful. But Mr Pusskins doesn’t want to play mouse games, he doesn’t want snuggles and he certainly doesn’t want cosy bedtime stories. What Mr Pusskins wants is . . . adventure! But, as he discovers, sometimes home is where the heart is (and maybe cuddles aren’t so bad after all.

PRE-PREP: YR 1 & 2

The Claude series by Alex T Smith

Meet Claude, the ordinary dog with an extraordinary life. Claude and Sir Bobblysock just happen to wander accidentally into the royal palace on a very special day indeed – the Queen’s birthday! Unfortunately the royal nanny, Nanny Stern-Bloomers, has had to take herself off for a lie-down and there’s no one to make sure the royal children stay neat and tidy for the big party. But Claude and Sir Bobblysock could step in to babysit, couldn’t they? After all, princes and princesses are always on their best behaviour.

PREP: YR 3 & 4

The Bad Guys series by Alex Blabey

Hilarious series of comic and graphic fiction.

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys… and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that – whether you want them to or not! For the Bad Guys’ first good mission, the gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum-Security City Dog Pound!

PREP: YR 4 & 5

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell and Tomislav Tomic

It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same. Join Stella Star flake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs, and carnivorous cabbages. When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition, can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

You can visit Maltman’s Green school for an Early Years Stay & Play on 4 March 2022, followed by a Whole School Open Day on 18 March 2022, details for both here.

The post Books for bright sparks – a top school librarian’s picks appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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