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The outdoor life

Spring is finally making a proper entrance, the days are longer and very slightly warmer, what better opportunity than this to get out and about, exploring the natural world and all that it has to offer?

Fortunately for all book and outdoor fans there are titles to accompany your exploits and for those of you who thought books were only for the indoors now is a good time to think again - the following selection can be used as reference before and after an outdoor adventure and some during it too ...

Learn, discover and be amazed at just what the natural world can offer and what it can do you for - just remember there is much you can do for it too. So when you are out there take care of it, nurture it and ensure it is there for another day, another visitor.

Night-time may be when most little ones are tucked up in bed and sound asleep but did you know there are some creatures who are awake and busy all night, sleeping soundly during the day? With Petr Horacek's Who is Sleeping lift-the-flap book (Walker Books) you can discover who is under the leaf, in the rushes and even in the river. A delightfully simple, bold and bright chunky board book, a guessing game and a book to share.

Having discovered animals sleeping children may

want to learn more about the life cycle of the creatures they see and one of the smallest, most unusual in its transformation is the caterpillar. In Caterpillar to Butterfly by Frances Barry little hands can open out the flaps and create a lifecycle seeing the transformation before their eyes. Published in conjunction with RSPB and Walker books children can unfold and wonder at the change from chrysalis to butterfly. A very clever concept, simply and effectively communicating one of the many wonders of nature.

Inspired by the books so far? Facing a wet day or not feeling in the mood to be outside? Turn your hands or the hands of little ones around you to some crafty fun with Nature Origami by Clover Robin. A Nosy Crow and National Trust collaboration this title helps us all to recreate 13 delightful animals in beautiful paper. From the squirrel and snail to the fox or even a minnow create a nature scene by adding flowers too. With full instructions that are easy to follow and 50 sheets of paper there is plenty of fun to be had and experimentation to be done! If you give it a go remember to post some pictures of your creations for us to see!

Having been creative now it is time to get the pen, paper and clipboard and get back outside. With activities to complete and spotter guides to reference this complete pack will be perfect for little ones on a day of exploration. Published by Walker Books in conjunction with the RSPB My RSPB Nature Clipboard presents opportunities to build, make and explore hidden inside this fantastic pack. Put the poster on a handy wall, make copies of the activity sheets to share or complete on more than one occasion, use the spotters guides to identify your finds and you will not only find yourself absorbed for hours but be amazed at how much you learn.

We have all heard, or should have heard, about how bees are becoming rare and endangered, I hope like me that you want to do something to help. When the Bees Buzzed Off by Lula Bell and Stephen Bennett (Little Tiger) find the minibeasts in a pickle. The problem they face is that the bees have buzzed off and there is no-one to pollinate the fruit and flowers ... will disaster strike or will some very brave bugs and a very grumpy snail be able to bring the bees back? An adventure, a lift-the-flap story with surprises and an important message about looking after the natural world and in particular the bees.

To round off a pair of fictional stories, not related to one another but great fun for older readers and with suggestions of some fun outdoor activities that may just be enjoyed ...

Arlo, Mrs Ogg and the Dinosaur Zoo by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Kathryn Durst (Maverick Arts) finds the completely unruly, disobedient and unteachable 4X in need of a teacher who can teach them, welcome Mrs Ogg and the adventure of a lifetime! A trip to the zoo can't possibly be the answer can it? Well when it is no ordinary zoo and Mrs Ogg is no ordinary supply teacher, yes, it can! A hilarious adventure with plenty of twists and turns ...

Finally dive into the waters (not literally of course) with Ariki and the Giant Shark by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Nicola Kinnear (Walker Books) for a fascinating underwater exploration and adventure. Ariki is not like the others on Turtle Island. Her decoration is different, she thinks and behaves differently and she knows that her heart belongs in the sea where she happily plays with turtles and dolphins - when the fish and the fishermen are scared off by a shark can she save the day? Gripping yet gentle adventure with more promised to follow ...

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