King of the Sky

King of the Sky by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Laura Carlin

Published by Walker Books

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A young boy comes with his family from Rome to a south Wales mining village in the 1920s. While his family set up a cafe, the boy is left to wander the streets and hills. The rain, the landscape and the language tell him ‘this is not where you belong’. But when he makes friends with a retired miner and his flock of racing pigeons,and they pin their hopes on a race from Rome to South Wales, life begins to change.

A powerful story about the meaning of home and finding friends in unexpected places, chosen by Amnesty UK for its positive representation of human migration.

King of the Sky has already been a successful theatre production, directed by Derek Cobley with music by John Quirke.

Reviews

“This lovely story will resonate with any child who has felt out of place, whether a transfer student in a new school or an immigrant in a new country. This will work for group readings, but will be much more special for one-on-one sharing, where readers can absorb the language and pore over the detailed, nuanced pictures. This is a unique and very special book.” - Booklist (starred review)

“Striking mixed media artwork combined with a timely message for anyone struggling to fit in in a strange and seemingly hostile place make this a strong purchase for large collections and/or curriculums with a global focus.” - School Library Journal

“The mixed-media art is soft and smoky and impressionistic, with watercolor blurs evoking pigeons in flight and grainy pencil sometimes adding texture and sometimes outlining figures; they silently expand on the narrator’s account, allowing for views into his family and the bustling life of his terraced row of houses. This is likely to be as much of a different world for viewers as it is for our protagonist, so they’ll appreciate the novice company and find this an unusual and compelling animal story.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Carlin’s smudgy, near-transparent mixed-media illustrations, depicting soot and sun and shadow, capture the essences of the old and new homelands, and a number of wordless spreads emphasize the differences, and distances, between them. Quiet, tender, and profound, this window into immigration offers an intimate understanding of just what it means to come home.” - The Horn Book

“Davies brings the story full-circle in elegant ways, and Laura Carlin’s mixed-media illustrations exhibit the same type of smudgy, scratchy-yet-soft look that won her accolades for The Promise, also written by Davies and published in 2014.” - Kirkus Reviews

“There’s much here to resonate with current world events and it’s one of the most visually stunning books of the year. Carlin’s artwork is mesmerising, with beautiful use of colour to represent hope and warmth.” - The Bookseller

“Most of the world doesn’t have to think twice when asked where they’re from or where home is; some children have to think harder about the answer. Davies recognises this – her sensitive, uplifting tale about find your place in a new strange new land could just as well be about a refugee as it could any child moving to a new town.” - The Times (of London), *Children’s Book of the Week

“A melancholy but uplifting meditation on migration […] Laura Carlin’s blurry, Lowry-esque illustrations capture the sensitive power of Davies’s text.” - Financial Times

Teachers’ notes


Perfect

Perfect by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Cathy Fisher

See a gallery of the illustrations on the Guardian Website.

Read an article about Perfect by Nicola on the Scottish Booktrust website.

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Perfect is a story about the birth of a disabled child, told from the perspective of an older brother waiting excitedly for the birth of his little sister. But the baby is not what he was expecting, and he struggles to bond with her. Only when he finds a crashed fledgling bird - a swift- does he come to see his new sibling as perfect, like the bird, and simply herself.

This story uses the deep symbolism that the natural world holds for us all; it also opens the door for discussion around the issue of disability. But it is, at its heart, a story about families, about siblings, and how love binds us together in spite of our difficulties.

The inspiration for the story came from my own life: from the house where I was a small child, which was tall and pointy, with swifts in its roof and from my own great longing for a younger sibling. Those early memories blended with conversations with friends and family who have experienced the birth of a disabled child. And the final catalyst was the great delight that children in my adopted Hackney Schools took in the swifts that fly over their heads in Summer.

Reviews

“Every bookshop, every school, every library, should have this book.” - Jackie Morris, artist and writer

“stories as deeply felt, and as exquisitely crafted as ‘Perfect’ are the food that nourish the soul” - Nikki Gamble, education consultant

“It made me breathe a sigh of relief to remember that words and pictures can help widen and explain the world for children. It intrigues, involves and soothes it’s reader - all at the same time.” - Laura Carlin, artist and illustrator

“Felt like the child inside of me was reading liquid poetry” - Jonathon Ellison, Filmmaker

Buy it here

Teachers’ notes


The Promise

The Promise by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Laura Carlin

Winner of the 2014 Engish Association Picture Book award for best fiction.

Have a look at The Promise website. Hear Nicola talk about the Promise and some children from Hayes Park School read from The Promise.

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On a mean street, in a mean town a young thief snatches an old woman’s bag. But inside she finds something more precious than money, something that changes her life, and sets her on a new path.

The beautiful words and pictures of The Promise carry a message of hope for humanity and for Earth: that we can change ourselves, and through that change transform our world for the better.

Inspired by the story of the lone tree planter Elsiar Bouffier, in Jean Giono's 'The Man Who Planted Trees' , The Promise is a very, very special picture book with an important message for children and adults of all ages.

Reviews

"The language, each page is just perfect. Should be in every bookshop" -Jackie Morris

"I was so moved I burst into tears" -Zoe Toft

Buy it here


First Book of Nature

A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Mark Heard

Published as Outside Your Window in the US

Winner of the Independent Booksellers Best Picture Book.

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This is a very special book - not just because it has two different titles and covers, A First Book Of Nature in the UK, and Outside Your Window in the US - but because it is a book about children’s very first encounters with nature.

This collection of poems and beautiful artwork leads readers through the sweet delights of first experiences of the natural world; the wind in your hair, the shells on the beach, the stars coming out one by one. It is a book about the the magic of the ordinary - the frogs in the pond, the blossoms on trees in the park the pigeons in the square and an introduction to the beauty and wonder all around around us.

Reviews

“Reading poetry may seem an activity for the winter-bound and introverted, but this lovely collection, organized by season, urges children to dash outside, slamming the screen door behind them. Unlike so much poetry geared toward children, not all the verse here rhymes, introducing readers to poetic language outside the predictable cadences of Dr. Seuss. Mixed-media illustrations, with an emphasis on woodblock and silhouette, offer plenty of beauty to contemplate.” - Pamela Paul, The New York Times

Buy it here


bat loves the night

Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Sarah Fox Davies

Published by Walker Books

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Bat sleeps by day but at night she unfolds her leathery wings and sets of on a nocturnal adventure. She swoops through the darkness finding her way, and her dinner, by echolocation. Readers fly through the night with Bat, and return at sunrise to the roost, where her tiny velvety baby hangs by its toenails.

Sarah Fox Davies’ exquisite illustrations capture the thistledown delicacy and beauty of Bat and her world.

Reviews

‘I wouldn’t change a word or an image in this picture book.’ — Books For Keeps

We greedily gather bat facts as the pages turn …’ — Junior Education

‘The combination of near poetic narrative with supplementary facts works well, and the illustrations are a pleasure …’ — Times Educational Supplement

‘A wonderful learning experience..’ — Carousel Magazine

‘…sheer pleasure of the beauty of the language…’ — Magpies Magazine


white owl, barn owl

White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

Published by Walker Books

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This is the story of a little girl who has never seen a barn owl until she helps her grandfather put up a barn owl nest box. After months of patient waiting, on one Summer night, she gets so close to a barn owl, that she could almost touch it. Readers will share her experience — will look with her into the barn owl’s face ‘like a pearly heart’ and watch as it raises it wings and flies away so quietly you can hear your own heart beating.

Michael Foreman’s illustrations capture the enchantment and romance of this magical white bird in the blue, blue night. Perfect bedtime reading!

Reviews

‘A charming story and a must for budding birders!’ — Children’s Books‘

… a big hit, blending a sweet story with facts about the graceful, white birds …’ — Norwich Evening News

‘I was in love with this book before I reached the bottom of the first page!’ — The Bookseller

‘… the relationship between a little girl and her grandfather is touchingly portrayed …’ — The Book Magazine

‘A charming story …’ — Verbal Magazine


Dolphin baby!

Dolphin Baby by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Brita Granstrom

Published by Walker Books

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Dolphin pops out into the blue, tail first! He takes his first breath and begins to swim at once to follow his Mum. But he has a lot to learn! How to click and whistle like a grown up, how to make friends and how to hunt for fish.

‘Dolphin Baby’ follows a newborn dolphin through the first amazing six months of life in the ocean.

In the National Science Teachers Association 'Top Ten'.

Reviews

“ Davies’s lively story of a dolphin baby and his caring mother is infused with scientific details about dolphin developmental milestones in the first six months of life... Granström’s illustrations set at various depths in the ocean feature broad brush strokes of every watery hue—light blues and greens for surface antics and inky, midnight blues for the depths that the growing dolphin eventually reaches..” Danielle j. Ford, The Horn Book

“... lyrical narrative and intriguing facts!” goodreads.com

“...charming illustrations and a great introduction to life under the waves...” Angels and Urchins


Ice Bear

Ice Bear by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Gary Blythe

Published by Walker Books

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The biggest predator on land, the polar bear moves alone through the frozen Arctic. Huge and magnificent, the polar bear is a deadly hunter but a tender mother too. It shares its cold, white world with the Inuit people, who watch and respect it, and who learn from its mastery of this harsh and beautiful habitat.

Gary Blythe’s heartbreakingly lovely illustrations take readers to the heart of this remote and ravishing environment, where the polar bear is monarch of all.

Reviews

Winner of the 2005 English Association’s Award for Best Illustrated Book for 4-11 year olds

‘… lyrical text makes this book like a giant poem …’ — Norwich Evening News

‘… the most beautiful non fiction book I have ever come across …’ — Learning Support


Just Ducks

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

Published by Walker Books

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From Spring through to Winter the ducks are down on the river that flows through the town, preening, and dabbling, roosting and flapping but most of all quack, quack, quacking!

Join the little girl to get close to ducks and drakes, and tiny fluffy ducklings as they swim about on the river at the bottom of her garden.

Reviews

“... pitch-perfect throughout, enthusiastic and confident, knowing without becoming precocious ... Rubbino’s watercolors, which range from closeup portraits to gorgeous waterscapes, combine a sketchbook immediacy and economy with an appreciation for the ducks’ streamlined shape... Positively ducky all around.” - Publishers weekly

“...seamlessly combines elements of fiction and nonfiction... The easy-going, colloquial tone of the text makes the information surprisingly easy to absorb. Rubbino’s watercolor paintings have a wonderful freshness and spontaneity. Beautiful, informative, and fine for reading aloud.” —Carolyn Phelan, Booklist


Big Blue Whale

Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Nick Maland

Published by Walker Books

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The Blue Whale is the biggest animal that has ever lived on Earth … bigger than an elephant, bigger than a dinosaur. ‘Big Blue Whale’ takes readers into the mysterious, watery world of this most extraordinary mammal. The story follows the Blue Whale on its long migration, from Polar seas to balmy tropical oceans; along the way readers find out what a whale looks like, feels like, sounds like and even smells like.

Nick Maland’s delicate and tender illustrations work with the text to create a magical story that carries all the majestic scale of this gentle giant and the vast green oceans in which it lives.

Reviews

‘A marvellous meeting with a Blue Whale … fills the reader with wonder … stranger than any fiction … ’ — The Observer

‘… the blend of words and pictures not only informs, but enchants …’ — The School Librarian

‘I’m a whale researcher who has spent 12 years studying blue whales in the North Pacific … rarely do I see a book that is so accurate while also captivating and magical!’ — Amazon Reader Review

‘May plant excitement in the heart of a future zoologist.’ — Picture Book Quarterly

‘Teachers, young readers and parents enjoyed this book, one of whom returned stroking its cover!’ — Child Education

‘Big Blue Whale offers an opportunity for children to share and talk about much more than superficial information … superb pictures, clear exciting text …’ — Books For Keeps

‘… a joy to read aloud, a prose poem which invites the child into the experience …’ — Montessori Education


One Tiny Turtle

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by Jane Chapman

Published by Walker Books

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Sea turtles are great travelers, roaming thousands of miles in remote oceans. After years of wandering they return to the beaches where they were hatched, to mate and lay their eggs, before swimming off into the open ocean once again. This is the story of one tiny turtle’s journey, from her nursery in the weedy Sargasso sea, through kelp beds and coral reefs, back to the tropical shore where she was born.

Reviews

‘One great strength of this book is that while quality information is given, the limitations of our knowledge are often hinted at.’ — Books For Keeps

‘… varied and imaginative language … lively narrative …’ — Child Education

‘An author who gets the balance just right’ — Times Educational Supplement

‘If only all natural history books were as well pitched as this …’ — The Independent


Surprising Sharks

Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies

Illustrated by James Croft

Published by Walker Books

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The last word you would want to hear if you were swimming inn the sea is “SHARK!”. But most real sharks are not at all what you might expect — some are as small as a chocolate bar, some have built in fairy lights and some can even blow up like a party balloon. So, if you thought sharks were all giant, man-eating killers, you’re in for a BIG surprise.

James Croft’s lively and humorous illustrations strike just the right note of entertainment and information.

Reviews

‘… I was caught, hook, line and sinker…’ — The Guardian

‘Rarely do author and illustrator complement each other as perfectly as in this undersea jewel.’ — Kirkus Reviews

‘… works wonderfully at every level …’ — The Guardian

‘… a must for any child …’ — Glasgow Herald

‘Davies strikes the perfect tone …’ — Horn Book Magazine, USA