Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 16)

These are richly illustrated books and they are not just for young readers. Although we have given the ages 2 to 5 as a rough guide, many will appeal to older children. Some are thought-provoking titles from which all ages can gain pleasure. You're never too old for a picture book! Plenty here for all ages to share and enjoy.

The most recent reviews are at the top of this page - so these are generally the most recently published books.

Dreamer by Brian Moses

This lyrical book is a child's dream of a world where nobody harms wild creatures and where water is unpolluted and the air is pure. "I dreamt I was a whale... and no hunters chased after me. I dreamt I was a seal... and no one wanted fur from me.' This inspirational picture book is a call to all of us to stand up for the future of our planet and help to save our wild world. The magical pictures take us right into the child's dream world - on the first page, his bed floats on a sea filled with beauty. Each picture is a work of art, reflecting our wonderful world and all that lives on and in it; look at all the detail and use the pictures and text as the basis for discussion.

Happy Birthday, Old Bear! by Jane Hissey

Wonderful! A brand new Old Bear book to celebrate 30 years since the publication of the first Old Bear book. Since that time, Old Bear has won his place in the hearts of multitudes of children and he is still making new friends. Parents and grandparents will love to introduce him to another generation and there's no better way than with this celebratory book. It's Old Bear's birthday and all the friends are getting ready; there's a new friend too, Elsie the elephant, who has a painted umbrella as a gift. But disaster strikes in the garden - Elsie and her umbrella are blown away by a gust of wind and must be rescued; luckily, Hoot the owl is on hand. The characters are so, so gorgeous and quite irresistible to children. Picture book perfection.

Zeki Can Swim! by Anna McQuinn

Daddy is going to take Zeki to his swimming lesson tomorrow, so it's time for a splash-around in the bath first. The book describes and illustrates just what little ones can expect to happen in their swimming lesson, so it makes a great introduction before the first lesson, which can be quite scary for a young child. Then it's time to get dressed and have a snack in the cafe as the new friends get together. It's great to see the variety of families depicted, and the sheer exuberant joy which shines through the pictures will make swimming lessons very enticing - as well as being essential to ensure children learn water safety.

Where's the Pair? Spotting Postcards (Big Picture Press) by Britta Teckentrup

Can you spot the two bears with the same scarves? The zebras with identical stripes? Or the two identical dogs? The pictures increase in complexity as the book progresses. Wonderful stylish illustrations adorn every postcard so children can have the fun of spotting then send the postcards to friends and family so they can spot the pairs too. The cards are printed on good quality cream card and are pre-printed on the back, all ready to share.

One is Not a Pair: A Spotting Book by Britta Teckentrup

I love Britta Teckentrup's stylish illustrations, and her spotting books are great as they give the excuse to pore over her wonderful pictures. Here we have whole pages full of little pictures - there are ice cream cones, magpies, a squadron of planes and much more. Just one picture on each page is not a pair - but which? Each set of pictures is accompanied by catchy rhyming text that trips off the tongue. A glorious book.

The World-Famous Book of Magical Numbers by  Sarah Goodreau

Drumroll! Step this way to be amazed by the marvellous world of numbers. This unique counting book is totally different to anything you will have seen before. One Master Magician with his two glamorous assistants are here to take the reader on a journey through superbly paper-engineered pull-ups, flaps and pop-ups to magically bring numbers one to ten... and many more. Beautifully produced, this is a real joy of a book.

Nothing! by Yasmeen Ismail

This lovely story really brings us a child's perception of the world. Mummy and Lila are on their way to see Grandpa, but Lila is very busy. When Mum asks what she is doing, she always says 'nothing'. But really Lila is busy in her own wonderfully imaginative world, trying to capture an octopus, starring in the circus, hiding from giants... The reader can join Lila in her colourful, chaotic world where the power of the imagination is limitless. But Grandpa has a plan to join Lila in her secret world. After all, playing is even more fun when you play together! A lovely story adorned with gloriously action-packed drawings.

Mira Forecasts the Future by Kell Andrews

Mira, daughter of fortuneteller the Famous Madame Mirabella, can't see into the future - and when she tries, her predictions are humorously wrong! Then, one day Mira gets a pinwheel and a windsock and she finds she can predict something accurately - the weather. Soon Mira is advising everyone, with great success... usually! This is a lovely story, with a dash of weather science thrown in; it all goes to show that we each have our own special gift, even if it's not quite the expected. Sterling Books, August 2016, ISBN 978-1454916987.

The Bot That Scott Built by Kim Norman

'This is the bot the bippity bot, the rabbit-eared robot, that Scott built.' This wonderful cumulative book has the whole classroom in chaos as fiery ants and carnivorous plants, a freaky frog, a big-bellied boa and an exploding 'volcano' wreak havoc. It's up to Scott's bot to put right the mess it created. With every page, the chaos grows... and so does the text which will have the reader reading faster and faster to keep pace with the excitement. Super illustrations keep the anticipation high; a lovely story. Published by Sterling, August 2016, ISBN 978-1454910640.

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker

"When Superheroes don't get their way, when they're sad, when they're mad, when they've had a bad day...they COULD super-tantrum, they COULD but they DON'T, because REAL Superheroes just WOULDN'T they WON'T! All kids have trouble getting a grip on their emotions, sometimes even young superheroes! But what do they do when they're having a bad day? Colourful action-packed illustrations and a dynamic rhyming text reveal the many ways superheroes (and ordinary children, too) can resist the super-temptation to cause a scene when they're sad, mad, frustrated, lonely, or afraid. From burning off steam on a bike or a hike, to helping others, this energetic picture book has plenty of fun ideas to help kids cope when they're feeling overwhelmed." It's an important topic and the book provides an excellent springboard for discussion. Published by Sterling, 7 October 2016, ISBN 978-1454913948.

Spot Goes to the Farm; an Original Lift-the-Flap book by Eric Hill

The enduringly popular Spot has already delighted millions of children and his popularity shows no sign of waning. The sheer simplicity of the illustrations and text, combined with the excitement of discovering what lies under the flaps, give the books their appeal. Spot is totally and utterly lovable and every child should have their own library of Spot books - my children's are now being passed to the next generation, who love Spot just as much. In Spot Goes to the Farm, the mischevious pup is out with Dad, looking for the baby animals on the farm - but where are they? Animals always please young children, so this book will be very popular - one that will be read over and over again, with the accompanying animal noises, of course! There's a new Spot app available too - download from here.

The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies.

We left Noi at the end of The Storm Whale, having said a fond farewell to the whale, and knowing that the whale had enriched Noi's life. Now it's winter and the island is almost snow-bound. Noi's father hasn't returned from his last fishing trip and Noi is anxious. When he sees a shape, he sets off across the ice and finds the boat - but where is his father? Then he hears a bump - the storm whale and his family have come to the rescue. The story is told with few words, but words that really count - it is full of emotion and atmosphere which are also brilliantly conveyed through the pictures. Another exceptional story.

Fairytales Gone Wrong: Snow White and the Very Angry Dwarf: A story about anger management by Steve Smallman

Snow White is hiding in the cottage of the Seven Dwarves and they are all happy to see her - except for Angry. Snow White follows him out of the cottage and gives him some very sage advice and soon Angry is less... well, less angry. Snow White's advice is basically to take time out and then to explain the problems to others - perfect advice to put into place in the family... at nursery... in school. The great thing about this approach is that nobody needs to feel they are being 'got at' but it conveys a key message in a way that is acceptable to everyone. There's a particular element of humour in the pictures which will especially appeal to children...

Fairytales Gone Wrong: You're Not Ugly, Duckling!: A story about bullying by Steve Smallman

When Mummy Duck's last egg produces someone rather different, she still loves him just as much as the others. But poor little Tufty is bullied by the farmyard animals, and even by his brothers and sisters, so he decides to run away. Loyal Sparrow searches everywhere and brings Tufty home - just in time to be a hero. Then his place in the family is assured - so it's good to be different. This series makes a great resource for Circle Time and for PSHE lessons, as children across a wide range of ages will enjoy the amusing stories coupled with superb full-page illustrations. The books end with discussion suggestions.

Storytime: There's Only One Scruffle by Robert Dunn

If you have ever tried to take away a possibly somewhat disgusting but much-loved cuddly toy from your child, then you will relish this story; and children who have been in that situation will really enjoy reading about Ellie and Scruffle. When Mum gives Ellie a new bear, Ellie really doesn't want him but takes him out with her on a fun-filled - and very grubby - day... so he is just too dirty to play with! Happily, there is a solution that pleases everyone in this sweet story. 'Next steps' at the end of the book give useful ideas to extend the value of the book.

Storytime: Sleep, Little Pup by Jo Parry

Poor Pup - he simply cannot get to sleep. He tries all sorts of things, as the rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations show. He meets all manner of night-time creatures - the fox, the moth, the fireflies and the badger and they all tell him to go to sleep. Sadly, he makes his way back to his basket and Mummy comes along with a special magical blanket and soon Pup is fast asleep. The gentle colours of the illustrations are perfect for a bedtime story, and there is plenty of detail to share and enjoy. An ideal bedtime story to comfort little ones, especially those who simply can't sleep.

Lulu and the Noisy Baby by Camilla Reid

Lulu is a lovely character - she loving and inquisitive and children respond well to her, making her the ideal character to introduce new experiences. This lift-the-flap book is one to have when a new sibling is expected, as Lulu gets accustomed to a new little one in the house. Granny comes to look after Lulu and they have lots of fun and then home comes a VERY noisy baby. Lulu helps Mummy, and even helps Daddy cook dinner - what can your little one spot under the flaps, and will they remember next time? Mummy still has lots of time to play with Lulu in this warm and reassuring book about becoming a big sister.

Naughty Naughty Monster by Kaye Umansky

The Naughty Monster is on the rampage... he is looking for a tasty treat to fill his huge belly. Everyone is scared until he hears the word 'NO!' A little fairy sends him back to his cave... but soon the monster is out again. Once again, the little fairy sends him scuttling away, and shuts him in his cave. The monster has plenty of time to think and decides to be a good monster, and he soon learns it is very pleasant to be a good monster... nearly all the time! The rhyming text is a delight to read aloud and children will enjoy the little element of suspense as the monster is on the prowl.

A Secret Safe to Tell by Naomi Hunter

Some secrets should not be secrets - but that's a hard concept to explain to children. This exceptional book is a really effective way to get that message across. The story tells of a child who has an adult friend who makes her feel special, but things don't feel right. The child is confused, but the friend has told her not to tell. A telling point to me came when the child said she felt adults were too busy to listen - we must all take note of that and make sure we give our children opportunities to talk. The child gets more and more sad and troubled until, at last, she plucks up the courage to tell someone. Sensitively handled, this beautifully illustrated book encourages and empowers children to speak up if someone is touching them in away that makes them uncomfortable. Please only share this book with children in your care - it's not a storybook for them to read alone, but one to prompt conversation and to use when you have suspicions. Every school/nursery/childcare setting should have a copy.

First Day at Bug School by Sam Lloyd

If you have a young one due to start school, then share this book with them - it's bound to allay any fears. It's the first day at Bug School, a secret school hidden at the bottom of the garden. Learn creeping with the spiders, singing with the crickets, count spots with the ladybirds and hop, skip and jump in P.E. with the fleas! A rhythmic, bright celebration of school, starring some very cute bugs indeed. There is just so much to enjoy - the illustrations, which totally cover every page, are simply packed with lively detail and the bugs really are quite adorable. Share this with your pre-schooler and talk about what happens at school - if it's half as much fun as this, they will have a great time!

Munch, Crunch, Pirate Lunch! by John Kelly

What do you think pirates like for lunch? Pirates, of course - and the Beastly Pirates have just snacked on some more pirates for their lunch. Heartless Bart, the pirate leader comes up with an ingenious plan to thwart the greedy pirates and all seems to be going well when suddenly the tables are turned. A rip-roaring adventure full of piratical action. Superbly described and dramatically illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal shortlisted illustrator, John Kelly.

Come to School too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester ClarkBlue Kangaroo

If you have a little one starting school, this is the perfect book for you to share together to alleviate any worries and give the opportunity to talk through what will happen. Lily and Blue Kangaroo have a very special friendship - they do everything together. And when Lily starts school, in the eighth title in this hugely popular series, the inseparable duo starting at a new school with surprising results. When Lily starts at a new school she asks Blue Kangaroo to come too. Lily thinks Blue Kangaroo is worried about going but, secretly, he can’t wait to explore and try new things – which is just as well, because the fun lasts even longer than he expected.

Boris Babysits: Cased Board Book with Puppet by Sam Lloyd

Monster Mummy is going out, so Boris has been left in charge of Monster Baby. The trouble is, Boris doesn't really know how to look after a baby. He lets Monster Baby jump much too high on the trampoline, plonks Monster Baby in the dog basket, forgets to feed him and falls fast asleep when he should be putting Baby to bed. Boris needs a helping hand - do you know how to look after a baby so all is well before Mummy comes home? Of course you do! There's a lot of looking after to do! The book comes complete with a cute, furry baby monster on ribbon to play with and attach with a velcro dot to each page as you share and enjoy the hilarious story.

D is for Duck! by David Melling

Abracadabra! Duck is a magician. In this gorgeously different alphabet book, Duck can conjure up a bunny, a chicken, an egg... and as the book goes on, the things he conjures up get more and more outrageous... a jungle full of animals, a lion and - oh no - a great big red dragon. Now what is Duck to do? The giggles will come faster and faster as children enjoy this hilarious picture book from a wonderful storyteller.

Ready Steady Mo! by Mo Farah

Gold medallist Mo Farah has teamed up with Mo Farah author Kes Gray and illustrator Marta Kissi to bring us a vibrant and lively picture book that encourages children to get running. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up, do the MOBOT, and then ... Run on the pavement Run on the grass Run in the playground Perhaps not in class! Whatever children are doing, the book encourages them to run... and to read as well, of course. Bright backgrounds to every page set off the action-packed drawings and fast-paced rhyming text to great effect as children run everywhere... even into space! Perfect to accompany the Olympics, this is a super book.

Eat Your People! by Lou Kuenzler

Mummy Monster is trying to encourage Monty to eat up everything on his plate... but it's not his greens he must eat, it's people! Poor Monty doesn't like eating people -who would? They are chewy and crunchy and full of bones! But of course, if fussy eaters don't eat everything on their plate, there will be no pudding, so Monty finally eats up. But you will be very surprised at his favourite pudding! A hilarious story, superbly illustrated and perfectly written and drawn to appeal to children's sense of humour.

There's No Such Thing as a Snappenpoop by Jeanne Willis and Matt Saunders

Big Brother plays the best games, but there is always a condition before Little Brother can play. 'Fetch me a unicorn' says Big Brother. Impossible, you think. But no, off goes Little Brother on a lengthy search and returns with a unicorn. Big Brother makes the challenges harder and harder until finally Little Brother finds the impossible... but where is Big Brother? A cautionary tale which is superbly told and which has a lovely ending, all illustrated with super pictures.

The Messy Book by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Richard Smythe

This is the perfect book for messy children everywhere! Cat has made a mess and she won't tidy it up - no matter how many times Dog asks her. Cat just tries to push the mess away but, unsurprisingly, none of the animal friends want it. This laugh-aloud story perfectly reflects the way children will do ANYTHING rather than tidy up, even if it means more work in the long run. The gloriously expressive illustrations of the animals and the quirky illustrations will delight children; the pages are a delight to look at. Packed with humour and adorably funny animal characters, this is a lovely story.

Paws McDraw Fastest Doodler in the West by Connah Brecon

Paws McDraw, the fastest doodler in the West, can draw his way out of any danger and always saves the day... even when someone is in deep trouble! But when the cupcake wrestlers come to town, has Paws met his match? Quickly, he whips out his pens and draws a rope and a prison but it seems nothing can hold them - until he has a brainwave! A hilarious story, cleverly written and vibrantly illustrated.

The Great Aaa-Ooo by Jonny Lambert

A mouse is on his way home through the dark wood when he hears an awful AAA-OOO! Who could it be? Perhaps it's Owl, Moose, Bear or Goose... but no, they are all just as scared. It must be a monster... so the friends hide in the tree, but disaster strikes and they all fall to the ground, making all sorts of noises. Ah ha - now they know the culprit. This is a gorgeous story, beautifully illustrated with bright colours set against a black background. It is perfect for reassuring children and toddlers who are scared of the dark or getting used to sleeping in a big bed or in their own room.

Oi Dog! by Kes Gray

Frog is not happy - he really doesn't think that dogs should sit on frogs, Why don't they sit on logs instead? Cat insists that there are rules - only mules sit on stools, no one but hares should sit on chairs and however irritating, dogs MUST sit on frogs. But Frog is adamant and everyone else must find something to sit on too. Will Cat want to sit on gnats instead of cushy mats? Will spiders like sitting on gliders? Will whales be happy to sit on nails? It seems they don't have a choice - but when it comes to Frog, he knows JUST where he wants to sit! Another gem of a book which gets funnier and funnier as you read through the outrageous suggestions.

The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight by Helen Docherty

Leo was a gentle knight who liked nothing better than to sit and read. His parents, however, wanted him to be a brave knight who could tame a dragon. So Leo set out with his new shield and sword... and a big pile of books. He soon faced danger, so out came a special story... and another ... and another until even the ferocious dragon was tamed, and tidying up the town. Told in catchy rhyming text and with gloriously detailed illustrations, this is a lovely story about the power of books and a brave little knight.

Choose Your Own Journey by Susie Brooks

Are you ready for an exciting and varied journey? Choose the boat, the train, the car or the bike and follow the different coloured tracks through the story. As the reader follows the lines and folds out the pages, they twist and turn through fascinating and absorbing different journeys.Through the story, the different vehicles come together and separate over and over again, so children really need to focus on the story, which is a great way to develop concentration. There's lots of fun to be had on the way as the vehicles whizz through the mountain tunnel, stop at a petrol station, cycle through the funfair, get stuck in a traffic jam, go to the car wash, head to the beach, and much, much more! It's great fun and a super way to really engage children with the story... over and over again.

I Love My Puppy by Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd

This popular pairing brings us books that are perfectly pitched for young readers, with simple rhyming text, colourful pictures and popular themes. Now we have the ideal book for any little ones who have just got, or who are planning to get, a puppy. It shows the fun a puppy can be and the joy it brings, but it also emphasises the care that must be taken, and all the things a puppy needs. The message is gently but effectively conveyed in a delightful book which is just as good as its predecessors.

More Ketchup Please! Ruby's Tomato Tale by Adam Bestwick

When Ruby was a baby, a sleepy Dad gave her the wrong bottle by mistake... and ever after, Ruby insisted on ketchup with EVERYTHING. As the story goes on, Ruby's insistence on ketchup leads to more and more surprising situations - from Dad feeding his own tomato crop to make it grow, to the army and navy standing by to bring in supplies! But as we well know, children and fickle little beings, and all of a sudden Ruby decides... well, you'll have to read this hilarious tale for yourself to find out. Children will love the story with its weird and wacky food combinations, which are gloriously illustrated to make everyone go 'yuk'.

I Love You Already! by Jory John

Bear and Duck are friends, but just like all friends, they don't always want to do the same thing. Bear is really looking forward to spending a nice quiet day at home; Duck, on the other hand, wants to go for a walk. Eventually, though, Bear gives in and off they go for a walk but things don't tun out as Duck hoped. Duck really wants to be Bear's best friend, but perhaps he isn't going about it quite the right way... In this amusing story, we see the issue from the viewpoint of both parties - it's an insightful and perceptive look at friendship with a comic twist that makes the story great fun.

Degas and the Little Dancer (Anholt's Artists) by Laurence Anholt

This excellent series combines enjoyable stories with child-friendly information about great artists and superb illustrations, including the featured artist's own work - brilliantly done. Marie dreams of becoming the most famous ballerina in the world. When she joins the ballet school in Paris, she notices a fierce man sitting at the side, sketching the dancers. The man is the painter, Edgar Degas. Marie is becoming very successful when her family fall on hard times and can't afford her fees - but Degas comes to her rescue. This emotional story is beautifully told through the eyes of a museum guard. A superb way to introduce children to art.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase by Tracey Corderoy

I love picture books with rhyming text - they are a joy to read aloud, and this is no exception. Ex-villains Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam have turned their attention to baking - and much more successfully, too. Today, they are baking for posh Lady Kate at Woofington Hall, when they find themselves with a crime to solve. Lady Kate's tiara has been stolen... and the thief was black and white. But all the servants and entertainers at the party are penguins, so how will our crafty duo find the thief? Luckily, they have a little help from Barnaby the dog. Steven Lenton's illustrations are a real delight - there is so much detail to enjoy. Great fun, lovely characters and a pleasure to read aloud... over and over again.

Whose Story Is This, Anyway? by Mike Flaherty

So whose story is this? The little boy thinks his story but as soon as he starts to tell the story, he gets interrupted by others who want to join in... and take over the story for themselves. First it's a pirate with a thrilling legend of mermaids and sea monsters, and a hungry dinosaur, an alien bent on world domination and a heroic knight. They all a tale to tell and the book is gloriously and engagingly chaotic as the characters join in with their own stories - and there's a surprise happy ending. A super story, full of life and fun and with some lovely characters, who are all well depicted in the colourful illustrations. Published by Sterling, July 16, ISBN 978-1454916086.

15 Things Not To Do With a Granny by Margaret McAllister

This is a joyous celebration of all that is wonderful about being a granny... and being a grandchild. That very special relationship is captured to perfection through entertaining text that warns grandchildren not to... hide an elephant in her bed... wear her pants on your head... or send her to the moon in a rocket. Of course, there are lots of things you should do, because she loves you. Lots. Holly Sterling's illustrations complement the text to perfection, and add plenty of humorous touches of their own. A perfect present for any granny.

A Pandemonium of Parrots by Kate Baker

I love collective nouns - they offer such wonderful opportunities to have fun with words, and this big colourful book uses them to perfection. Meet a caravan of camels, a flamboyance of flamingos and a lounge of lizards among many others. There is text on every spread which offers a glimpse into their fascinating worlds, and there are search and find games to be enjoyed on every page. These encourage children to look closely and observe, and will mean that they fully appreciate the illustrations by Hui Skipp. This is a lovely book that will give many hours of pleasure.

The Velveteen Rabbit (Nosy Crow Classics) by Margery Williams

This classic story is the tale of a Rabbit who wants to know what it is to be real. The Skin Horse explains that, to be real, you have to be really loved by a child; but being real means you become shabby through love. The Rabbit is not sure about all this but one day he finds that he is Boy's very favourite toy, and Rabbit becomes real to the boy. The emotional story tells how Rabbit finally discovers what it truly means to be real. As he sheds a tear a magical fairy transforms him into a real, wild rabbit, though her parting words remind him that he was always real to the boy. This beautiful hardback book from Nosy Crow comes with glorious illustrations by Sarah Massini, and is cloth-bound with a foiled cover; it will make a perfect gift - a classic story, superbly produced to treasure.

Gus's Garage by Leo Timmers

Gus is a hoarder - he stores all manner of things in and around his garage. But what is he to do with them all? Well, when his friends have a problem, they all know where to go. A bigger seat for Rio, a heater for Gina, a bath for Gus. Not only does Gus have the things, he also knows just what to do with them to help his friends out... and when day is done, his ingenuity at work. A lovely story with Heath Robinson-like illustrations of an amazing range of inventions. Great fun.

Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

Super Rabbit, with his blue cape, sword and mask would really like to be a very brave rabbit - but when it comes down to it, he really needs his mummy. But as soon as his problem is resolved, he becomes brave fearless Super Rabbit once more. It's a cute story that will appeal to the brave part of every child, whilst recognising they still need the security of mummy and home. With bold colourful pictures and simple text, this is a fun read to share.

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