Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 22)

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.

The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes by Julia Donaldson

Josephine's grown out of her running shoes so she goes to the shoe shop to get some new ones... and they are labelled magic shoes. When she leaves the shop, she looks round to see that she is being followed by a bear with a backpack. Can she escape from him? It turns out that the shoes really are magic after all, and they carry Josephine off on a series of exciting adventures... but still she can't escape the bear... The gorgeous illustrations by Lydia Monks are beautifully embellished with lots and lots of glitter, as well as being packed full of intriguing little details that children will love to spot and enjoy. Full of joy and superbly presented, this is a book that will be relished over and over again - a real treat.

It's Your World Now by Barry Falls

This is an unusual and inspirational book, encouraging children to aim high and reach their dreams. It will help children to appreciate the wonderful things that exist in the world and the things they can achieve... and that's lesson number 1. Lesson number 2 shows that, even if there are setbacks along the way, there's no limit to what can be achieved. And whatever happens, the child is reassured that their parents will always love them - and that's the most important lesson of all.

Norm by Sylvia Liang

Norm looks exactly the way a normal person looks and he lives in a very ordinary village where everything looks the same. He thinks this is the best way to live, until a golden bird took him beyond his village where he discovered a world that was completely unruly. Soon he discovers the joy of being free from rules. It's an unusual and thought-provoking book that encourages us to step outside our safe little world and embrace what the world has to offer. The detailed illustrations are fascinating to ponder over.

When It Rains by Rassi Narika

Kira hates rainy days, when she can't do all the things she enjoys. That all changes when, one day her friends Ana and Ilo ask her to join them on an adventure outside during another downpour. Kira discovers the joy of all the things that happen outside when it rains from the new friends she makes, to the umbrellas on the streets, to the thrill of lightning, and finally, the warmth found at the end of each rainfall. Simple artwork and joyful text combine to bring us a story of hope and discovery that will brighten even the rainiest of days. Share it next time it rains and then go out and enjoy the weather!

Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins

Most marshmallows are born into marshmallow families, play with marshmallow friends, and go to marshmallow school where they learn to be squishy. Most marshmallows read a book before bed and then fall asleep to dream ordinary marshmallow dreams. Is this book about most marshmallows? It isn't. Because Rowboat Watkins knows that just like you, some marshmallows have big dreams, and just like you, these marshmallows can do anything they set their minds to. This sweet and silly book is an inspiring reminder that by being true to ourselves each of us can be truly extraordinary.

Amazing by Steve Antony

Steve Antony is one of my favourite picture book authors. His books are always spot on with their gentle humour and child-appeal. An important lesson is engagingly covered in this fun-filled book - how to understand and accept others for what they are. Very few words are needed and yet the message is loud and clear - a little boy and his pet dragon are the very best of friends and they have fun together, just like everybody else. Being different doesn't hold them back from friendship and fun, as this joyful book shows with its happy action-packed illustrations. It's an excellent way to start discussions and encourage acceptance.

The Book Dragon by Kell Andrews

The Book Dragon hoards books - and because of her, no books are allowed in the town of Lesser Scrump. As she steals all the books, words can only be written in dirt, or scratched on plants and trees. But Rosehilda wants to bring the joy of stories back to her town. Will she dare to confront the dragon and help her village love reading again? It turns out that the Book Dragon isn't as bad as she seems and s clever solution is found. This enjoyable fairy tale has a feisty heroine and celebrates the joy of stories, as well as delivering a message about not judging a book by its cover. Published by Sterling Books, March 2019, ISBN 9781454926856.

My Pet Star by Corrinne Averiss

A story about a star - what could be better at bedtime? A little girl finds an injured star beneath a tree, so she takes it home to look after it. She shares stories with it, makes it special snacks and tucks it into bed at night. As she cares for the star, so it glows brighter and brighter, until the time comes to let go... A heartwarming story about care and compassion, and knowing when it's time to let go, however sad that is. Beautifully illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw.

Has Anybody Seen a Story?​ by Mandana Sadat

Once upon a time, there were three Thingummies called Sadie, Spike and Smudge... They have everything they could want... except stories. Without stories, they are bored, so they set off in search of a story. Their quest takes them through the fairytale trail, on the poetry path, along the future freeway and to many more wonderful places. Along the way they make lots of new friends and have plenty of adventures, all thanks to the power of stories. An imaginative celebration of the joy of stories.

You Can't Cuddle a Crocodile by Diana Hendry

Older siblings with pesky little sisters will love this book! Everyone knows that little sisters can be a handful, and this one more is more so than most. Every day, she is a different animal - she's a monkey, a bear, a camel, a penguin, a crocodile and a lion. Her very patient and long-suffering family are very pleased when Freya comes back again... but wait - what's this at the bottom of the garden? Full of humour and gloriously illustrated by Ed Eaves, this is a lovely picture of family life.

Chatterbox Bear by Pippa Curnick

Gary the bear is a chatterbox - he just can't help himself, regardless of where he is and who he is with, he just keeps talking. As nobody wants to listen, he sets off in search of new friends and finds himself on an island full of birds. But when he finds they don't understand his language (they don't speak Bear), he learns that there are other ways to make friends and communicate. Soon, they are communicating using eyebrows! And then along comes Dog... does anyone speak Dog? All about friendship and understanding, this is a lively and uplifting picture book that is full of fun and joy.

There's An Alien in Your Book by Tom Fletcher

This is another in a wonderful series that really captures children's attention and encourages them to delight in sharing books. Now an alien has crash-landed in your book and it's up to you to help him get back to where he belongs. Young readers have to blow.. pat... jiggle... turn the book... and more in order to help him. It's wonderful fun with an underlying message of acceptance and inclusion; appearances really don't matter. Wonderful illustrations by Greg Abbott encourage children to share in the fun. A super book from a brilliant pairing.

Oink by David Elliot

Busy mums and dads will readily identify with this charming story about Pig, who is enjoying a lovely peaceful bath until... In come the animals one by one, intent on having fun and making lots of noise. In this wordless but not soundless picture book with its delicate illustrations, we find out whether Pig can ever get rid of them... A subtle and beautifully presented book.

Brian the Brave by Paul Stewart

This is one of those picture books that stands out from the many on the market because of its important message and the gorgeous way in which it's conveyed. Al,l the sheep want to be friends... but Stanley only likes sheep with black wool, Hamish, Cassidy and Lou think black wool and white wool are rubbish - while Tracey and Frank only want sheep with horns in their gang. What can bring all these silly sheep together? A wolf, that's what! It's time for the sheep to forget their their differences and work together. It's superbly told with lots of touches of humour and exceptionally illustrated by Jane Porter who depicts these characters wonderfully.


Wonderful - I always look forward to reading Hugless Douglas books, knowing that it will be another imaginative and entertaining adventure with the lovable bear. Today, Hugless Douglas is admiring his spring collection (there's an idea for parents to do with their children) when a nest full of eggs ends up in his lap. Good-hearted as ever, Hugless Douglas offers to look after them until Swoopy Bird has built a new home. But there's a surprise in store and Douglas gets more than he bargained for! This is a perfect springtime story, full of warmth and heart and all about working together.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Who can fail to be fascinated by what lies within a lighthouse? The lighthouse stands firm on highest rock of a tiny island, keeping ships safe as they sail past. The lighthouse keeper keeps busy in his lonely and isolated world. But life goes on and constantly changes, often in unexpected ways, and this lyrical book takes the reader on a journey of change. The delicate and evocative illustrations are created in Chinese ink and watercolour; they reflect the changes superbly and movingly. The book concludes with a description of life in a lighthouse, which makes fascinating reading (it's quite different to other accounts I have read).

Wide Awake (Dinosaur Juniors, Book 3)​ by Rob Biddulph

It's time for bedtime, and all the bedtime rituals are complete... but somebody is wide awake! It's Winnie and she wakes up poor Otto to keep her company... and he tries all sorts of things to get her off to sleep. A lullaby? No. A recall game? No. Finally, counting dino sheep works - but oh no, guess what happens? This is a wonderful bedtime story with catchy rhyming text, cute characters, lots of fun - what more could you want? Superb artwork of course - and that's here too with plenty of lovely details especially in the memory game, which is gorgeous. This is the third in a lovely series about the experiences all little ones share.

Builders and Breakers by Steve Light

Big machines and the people working on them are a source of endless fascination to children - and there are plenty in this book as they join a young brother and sister taking lunch to their dad on the construction site. It's a noisy and exciting place With builders building, breakers breaking, welders welding and lots more going on, with impressive machines and vehicles hard at work... and all the while, the children are looking for dad. The detailed drawings make good use of the landscape format of the book, spreading across two pages to bring us intricately detailed drawings that help children appreciate the might and power of these machines - and the people who work with them. Finally, they find dad and it's time for a well deserved break. An engaging book, and one that stands out from the plethora of picture books available.

 I Am a Tiger by Karl Newson

The little mouse is very persuasive - not only does she convince the raccoon, fox, snake and bird that she is a tiger; she also convinces them that they are not who they seem. But can she persuade the tiger he is a mouse? It's a story that will leave children guessing as they enjoy meeting all the lovely characters and finding out who they really are. With vibrant artwork by award-winning illustrator Ross Collins, this is an entertaining story with warmth and humour, and a surprise at the end.


In the City by Dominika Lipniewska

Children will love to see how different the various parts of a city can be in this vibrantly colourful and stylish book which is packed with detail which invites discussion. Starting as day breaks and completing the circle at the end of the book, follow the life of a city - noisy and quiet, places to work and to play, ways to travel, places to explore, foods to enjoy... a city has it all. And when night falls, it's still a place of contrasts, quiet and busy, dark and bright. By reading In the City children will discover every aspect of the features found in cities, wherever they are in the world. It's a stimulating and engrossing book and a lovely way to encourage children to become more observant of and familiar with the world around us. Published by Button Books, April 2019, ISBN 9781787080300. There's a lovely video about the book here.

One Springy Day (A Percy the Park Keeper Story)​ by Nick Butterworth

Welcome back, Percy! It's been a while since we enjoyed a Percy the Park Keeper story but this is well worth the wait! Celebrating thirty years, once again we join Percy and all his animal friends in the park as they celebrate spring and the joys of friendship. It's time for hide-and-seek in the park, but the fox has got himself into a sticky situation. The fox has fallen into Percy's Very Sticky Glue and when he steps out of his hiding place, so does... everything! As he runs off, embarrassed, he leaves a trail behind him. A wonderful huge fold-out shows just what happened. It's hilarious - but we mustn't laugh! The wonderful illustrations are full of humour and a zest for life, with lots of enticing details to pore over. A fabulous addition to the classic series.

Monty and Sylvester A Tale of Everyday Astronauts​ by Carly Gledhill

Another wonderfully imaginative story about best friends Monty the mouse and Sylvester the bear. They've been training for ages -well, 20 minutes at least, and now they're ready to blast off into outer space. Despite some misgivings on the part of their friends, the intrepid duo are not to be deterred Will they discover a new planet? Will they encounter alien life? It turns out it's not exactly an undiscovered planet, but their welcome is warm. When they get back, will their friends believe them? The wonderful illustrations full of fun and unexpected detail - I love the illustration of the spaceship which will surely stimulate children to create their own.


Another hilarious story from the wonderful Andy Stanton. It's time to join two intrepid explorers as they take a train-o, jump on a plane-o, ride a Great Dane-o (down the lane-o) on their way to look at the volcano - the rhyme is a little contrived as you can see, but children won't mind. All seems to be going well - but it turns out that a trip to the volcano is fraught with danger! The bold illustrations are by Miguel Ordonez. On the back end-paper, there's a pictorial glossary of characters and this adds a new and interesting dimension to the book - can your child spot them all through the story? Lots of lovely characters and a hilarious story.

Daddy Fartypants by Emer Stamp

What child could resist a book with this title? Of all the embarrassing things fathers can do, farting has to be top of the list! Even worse, Daddy Fartypants never says sorry for his bottom blasts but always blames someone else. But it seems he's not the only one with the problem... just imagine if your teacher had the same problem! When she blames Daddy Fartypants, he realises that it's not fair to blame others and soon he's a reformed character, much to his son's relief. A hilarious story superbly illustrated by Matt Hunt.

Monsters by Anna Feinberg

When it's a moonlight night, in come the monsters - Tildy just know it! So Tildy hated moonlight, even though Mum and Dad said there are no monsters. Nor does anyone else believe her. Then a new boy came to school. Hendrik drew pages and pages of monsters when the class was writing numbers. He had a way of dealing with his monsters. When Tildy dares to stay over at Hendrik's house, she panics when the moon rises . . . but together they make the night safe, and Tildy can watch the moon sail through the starry sky.

Once Upon a Unicorn Horn​ by Beatrice Blue

Unicorns are indeed magical creatures and perfect to capture children's interest with their appealing looks. But do you know how unicorns got their horns? Long ago, in a magic forest, a little girl discovered little horses learning to fly... all but one of them. When even her magic wand didn't work, June enlisted the help of her parents and, with a very sweet and special treat, the unicorn got his horn. This is the first in a scheduled series showing how magical creatures got their special creatures. It's a lovely heart-warming story, beautifully illustrated, with warm,, friendly characters.

The Sleeping Giant by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

Ireland is a land of myth and mystery and this tale has been a great success since its first publication in 1991. When the giant was on the land, he was a friendly fellow but he did get in the way - so the Druid hatches a cunning plan... Now, off the coast of Ireland there lies an island. It looks just like a giant sleeping in the sea. But what if it really is a giant - and what if, one day, the sleeping giant wakes up? This enjoyable story with its modern take on tradition, and with its subtly coloured illustrations packed with quirky details, is a delight to read.

Tiger's Roar by Alex Rance

The first thing that struck me about this book was the bright bold use of colour in the illustrations by Shane McG. Tiger was the champion of the jungle, sitting at the top of the very tallest tree. But when the winds blew one day, Tiger fell all the way down to the mud at the bottom of the tree, and bumped his head on a rock. Poor Tiger can't get back to the top - and he can't get his roar back. What he needs are friends... and all the creatures come to his rescue in this lovely story about teamwork and friendship. It's a delightfully told story and great fun to read.

Big Cat by Emma Lazell

This nostalgic looking book immediately took me back to my childhood - the illustrations are reminiscent of Orlando the Marmalade Cat. In this hilarious story, Isobel and her rather short-sighted gran, come across a cat in the garden (while they are searching for grandma's glasses). He is a very big cat and all the other cats are disgusted as he takes up a lot of room and eats a great deal. A very big and friendly cat. The big cat moves in with them, much to the disgust of all gran's other cats. Finally, the new cat's mum and dad turn up... and they just happen to have found gran's glasses too. And then Gran finds out just who has been living under her roof... and there's yet another twist at the end of this delightful tale. Packed with fun, this is a gorgeous story, one to read over and over again.

When a Dragon Comes to Stay​ by Caryl Hart

Just like any toddler, the little dragon knows just how she should behave when she comes to stay. She plays nicely, she shares her toys, she helps out - she even goes to bed without protest. What a perfect guest... or is she? The catchy rhyming text tells us one story - but little ones will love to look at the pictures and see what is really happening. And come the end of the day, she's not quite the perfect guest after all! Gorgeous artwork by Rosalind Beardshaw shows us us trio of happy smiley friends, reinforcing the subtle message of the book. Cleverly done, it's very effective.

Stefano the Squid, Hero of the Deep by Wendy Meddour

Being a squid isn't easy, as Stefano would like you to know. All the other creatures can do amazing things and the Deep Sea TV team always film them. Poor Stafano doesn't seem to be good at anything, even though his friends make all sorts of suggestions so he is more like them. But when disaster strikes, Stefano the one who comes to the rescue - with a little encouragement from his friend the Sea Cucumber! With vibrant illustrations by Duncan Beedie and lots of sea life to enjoy, this is a lovely story about the way we all have a part to play.

How to Light Your Dragon by Didier Levy

Oh dear! The little boy’s dragon can’t breathe fire any more. What’s to be done? He tries all sorts of things, from shaking the dragon’s tail and jumping on his belly; then he tries making him angry and jealous but all this just makes the poor dragon even more sad that ever. So the boy tells the dragon not to worry – he loves him anyway and gives him a big kiss. What do you think happens? This delightful story ends in a wonderful burst of colour from the illustrator Fred Benaglia.

The One Stop Story Shop by Tracey Corderoy

The knight is stuck - the dragon has gone on holiday! But maybe - just maybe - help is on hand in the One-Stop Story Shop to let him finish his adventure. In this wonderfully imaginative tale, testament to the power of the story, our hapless knight meets a ferret who tries to find him the adventure he wants... Soon the two are enjoying the most fantastic of adventures, from space to the bottom of the sea, from the Wild West to the jungle. When the dragon returns, will he still be part of the story? With wonderfully action-packed and vibrant illustrations by Tony Neal, this is a story full of joy, celebrating the power of the imagination.

I Saw a Bee by Rob Ramsden

Simple rhythmic text tells the story of a little boy who is frightened when he sees a bee in a box, but he gradually comes to realise there's nothing to be frightened of and that they can be friends. The short text is a simple and timely reminder of the importance of bees in our ecosystem; the book is one in a series designed to make children aware of the natural world. There's lots to spot in the colourful illustrations, with many insects depicted, offering the opportunity for learning about and appreciating these little creatures.

Rocketmole: Mission to the Moon by Matt Carr

Armstrong is no ordinary mole - this lovable and determined little character doesn't like living underground but wants to set off to the moon. Armstrong the star-nosed mole doesn't dig living underground. His friends think this is a bad idea, but will they be proved right? On the moon, Armstrong bounces around in his space suit, but soon starts to miss his cautious mole mates - after all, the moon has no atmosphere! Soon the ever-inventive little mole comes up with a much better plan, and all the friends enjoy marvellous adventures together. This witty story is so cleverly written, and it's great fun to read aloud with plenty of adult-appeal - and gorgeous illustrations. Wonderful!

Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins

This is a touchingly told story which shows, through a child's eyes, what it's like living with an autistic sibling. The brother and sister duo spend a lot of their day together, eating meals, going to school and playing. In many ways they are similar, but they also differ in many ways. Whatever happens, they have lots of fun together and love each other just the same. This sensitively written book will strike a chord with every family with siblings, especially where one is differently abled, and it's a great way to open up discussion and encourage empathy.

Terry and the Brilliant Book by Nicola Kent

Terry and Sue ALWAYS give each other books as birthday presents, so when, one year, Terry unwraps a book, he's really disappointed. He doesn't know what to do with it. Finally though, he starts to read it - and he can't put it down, even when he and Sue go to the cinema. Poor Sue - she really wishes she has stuck with the ball! But next day, the tables are turned when Sue starts reading the book... Soon, the two friends realise that there's nothing better than reading books and they join the library and share their new-found joy. There's still time for the odd game of ball though! This is a wonderful celebration of the joy of reading and it should be shared with every child - and just look at all the different sorts of books shown at the end. It's superbly illustrated and exudes sheer joy throughout.

Daisy and Bear: Coming to a Cinema Near You by Fabi Santiago

Daisy loves the cinema and as Bear has never been, she decides to take Bear along. Bear enjoys the experience to the full as she munches, crunches and slurps through her treats and then she needs the loo. She even - horror - takes a phone call! The audience has had enough but when the film suddenly stops, Bear knows just how to get the crowd cheering... Laugh along with this lovable duo - nobody could stay cross with Bear for long in this hilarious tale!

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

This is a new edition of a classic picture book which has been a firm favourite for many years. Right from the wonderful shiny embossed cover, you know you are in a for a treat as the unsuspecting little girl heads home... She's on her way to tell her mum just how she hurt her knee - in the most wonderfully imaginative way. As she meets her friends, she tells them it was a hungry crocodile... a slithery snake... a flying saucer... but only mum gets to hear the truth. This is such a funny story, told with quiet humour and a real understanding of what appeals to children.

Jack and the Flumflum Tree by Julia Donaldson

I run out of superlatives when writing about Julia Donaldson's books - she just hits the spot every time, and the illustrator (in this case, David Roberts) invariably complements the story to perfection. Join Jack for a pacy adventure on the High Seas as he sets off to find the only cure for Granny who has been struck down by the moozles. The only cure is the fruit of the flumflum tree which grows on the wonderfully named Isle of Blowyernose. Granny has sent Jack on his way with a strange assortment of objects but he and his crew soon find out that Granny knew what she was doing after all... but what were the hankies for? The rhyming text really does flow perfectly and is not in the least contrived as sadly can happen sometimes. Fabulous.

Little Bear's Spring by Elli Woodward

This lovely story reminds us, child and adult, how wonderful nature is. Little Bear has just woken up from his long winter sleep but there's still snow everywhere. The only thing he can see is a little stone, so he carefully takes it with him and goes in search of friends. As he travels down the valley, spring awakens and children are introduced to the cycle of nature as Little Bear meets the animals. There's a lovely twist at the end of the story and Little Bear finds he has a very special new friend. This lyrical story is beautifully illustrated by Briony May Smith, whose artwork brings the landscape to life, showing young readers all its beauty.

The Ear by Piret Raud

This is an unusual book, perfect for child and adult to share. Based on the life of artist Vincent van Gogh who famously cut off his ear, this is the ear's story. Left alone, she fears the future - what should she do and where should she go? She feels as though she doesn't matter until she meets a dejected frog with a heavy heart who needs a listener - and that's just what the ear can do. Through helping her friends, she discovers a fresh perspective on life.

Sticky by Anna Doherty

Children will love this sticky tale of Badger who gets into a bit of a pickle when he is wrapping Owl's birthday present. That pesky sticky tape goes everywhere but where it should and soon Badger needs the help of his friends... but they don't seem to be able to unravel the problem either, so it's a good job Owl can finally unwrap his present. What is it? Read this hilarious story to find out!

My Mum Always Looks After Me So Much! by Sean Taylor

The Little Gorilla has got to go to the doctor for an injection... and just look at his worried little face in the first of the gorgeously expressive pictures! The illustrations are by David Barrow and they have an unusual and very effective detailed style that portray the story wonderfully. Little Gorilla's mum always looks after him so much. Gorillas are brave of course and the doctor gives him a stick-thing that smells of strawberries for being brave. Oh no! He's left it on the bus... it's a good thing his mum does look after him so much after all, as they set off back to the doctor. A lovely warm story about the love of a mum and her young one.

My Town's (Extra)Ordinary People by Mikel Casal

This is a fascinating and unusual book that will really stimulate discussion and an awareness of the wonderful variety of people all around. In this stylish book, we meet Nico who lives in a small seaside town. It may seem ordinary but as we journey around the town meeting Nico's friends, we meet all manner of individuals, all with their own story to tell. Peter was an Olympic rower; Carla loves to feed the birds; Alexandra makes wonderful objects from clay... and there are plenty more inspiring people to meet in this engrossing book that encourages children to take note of the people around them.

Cat and Mouse by Britta Teckentrup

Who would have expected such a fun book to actually be a very useful way to teach young children about prepositions? Throughout the colourful and stylish pages of this charming book about a cat and a mouse children can explore cut-outs that help teach about prepositions. When the cat sees the mouse, a chase begins - on, inside, outside, through - and-young readers will learn about important prepositions that help them understand where one object is in relation to another. With intriguing cut-outs to enhance the fun, this is an unusual and effective way to introduce this important concept while enjoying the story.

The Song of Spring by Hendrik Jonas

Children will love to share in the sounds in this book as the animals come together to help a young bird find a friend. Now it's spring, it's time for the birds to sing but one bird has forgotten which sound to make. He finds himself making some unexpected sounds - and meeting some unexpected friends! Will the young bird find another bird friend? As the story progresses, so the pages fill up with more and more delightful creatures in a lovely celebration of friendship. Gloriously illustrated!

Hop Little Bunnies by Martha Mumford

The bright yellow cover of this book immediately makes you feel spring-like and this is indeed a perfect spring story. This interactive book is based on the nursery rhyme Sleeping Bunnies. It's spring and it's time for all the sleepy animals to wake up. Young ones will enjoy lifting the flaps and hopping with the little bunnies, bouncing with the lambs, cheeping with the chicks until everyone is awake and ready to enjoy the joys of spring. It's a lovely book to get children moving and joining in with the actions - then stopping. Delightful illustrations by Laura Hughes add to the spring-like feel of this book which will be great in the classroom or at home.

A Song for Bear by Gabby Dawnay

This is one of those picture books where the text just lyrically flows, grabbing your attention and moving you through the book with the greatest of ease. Poor Bear. He can hear all the birds singing their beautiful songs but, try as he might, he just can't copy them. And then, with the aid of his friends, he finds out there are plenty of things he can do... and sleeping is just one of them! A wonderfully upbuilding and confidence building story to share with children to show we are all good at some things. Alex Barrow's simple and vibrant illustrations bring the characters to life in this lovely story.

The Blue Balloon by Mick Inkpen

This classic picture book brought us the first outing for lovable Kipper, 30 years ago - and he is still entrancing young children with his antics. Kipper the dog has found a soggy blue balloon in the garden... but it's no ordinary balloon. It is full of fun, magic and endless possibilities and is at the heart of a wonderfully imaginative tale.The book is made extra-special by the big fold-outs which are ideal for sharing - the classic image of children lying on the floor with a much-loved book in front of them. A timeless story.

No Time for Clocks (Ceri and Deri) by Max Low

The Ceri and Deri stories are enjoyable picture books with great stories and an educational slant. Deri the dog and Ceri the cat are enterprising and inquisitive creatures who like nothing better than undertaking new projects and activities - just like most children. Learning to tell the time is often tricky but, as Ceri and Deri find out, we all need to tell the time to make our lives run smoothly. Luckily, Gwen Green is on hand to give them lots of useful hints and tips on telling the time, all presented in a lively story which will also help develop reading skills. A fun and unusual way to share ideas on telling the time.

Good to be Sweet (Ceri and Deri) by Max Low

The two friends have been given a bag of sweets - but how should they share them out? Dai Duck is on hand to help out... but the results are rather unexpected. Poor Ceri and Deri! The fun and varied cast of animal characters are well depicted through the bright and vivid art style which will appeal to young ones. Full of imagination, this is another lovely book in the series and it's good to see the educational slant which is so well handled in an enjoyable storyline. Ceri and Deri are lovely characters and the repetition in the story is great for children learning to read.

The Secret of the Egg by Nicola Davies

Eggs in all shapes and sizes, in all places and from many creatures, are the theme of this first nature book. Through catchy rhyming text and colourful drawings by Abbie Cameron, children will discover just how many different types of eggs there are - button, purse or pip shaped are just some. So many things begin with an egg - and by the end of the book, children can see them hatch. A book which opens up all sorts of possibilities.

Tad by Benji Davies

Tad is the smallest tadpole in the big pond, and lives there with all her tadbrothers and tadsisters. But danger lurks in the pond - Big Blub. One by one, Tad's brothers and sisters disappear... could Big Blub have got them? Finally, just Tad remains and when danger threatens, she does something she has never done before... and guess who got there before her? Tad may be tiny but she has taken a great leap in this lovely story. With wonderfully colourful illustrations, this is a real joy.

Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

An inspiring book from an inspirational person. Now younger children can read Malala's amazing story in her own words. As a child in Pakistan, Malala wanted a magic pencil that she could use to for good. First it was for the things close to home; as she grew older, Malala saw a whole world that needed fixing. And she realised it lay in her power to help. Illustrated by Kerascoet, this perceptively told story shows how Malala determined right from childhood to make the world a better place. It's a story children everywhere should know.

A Quiet, Quiet House by Georgiana Deutsch

There is a quiet house on a quiet street... but it won't stay that way for long! Gradually, one mouse after another turns up and enters through the red front door. Children will love to peek through the cut-out windows and see just who is inside the house, which is becoming noisier all the time! What is going on and why are all the animals meeting up? Packed with quirky detail, Ekaterina Trukhan's detailed illustrations have plenty for children to spot and talk about. And there's a whole spread at the back of objects to look out for too. A lovely story, enticingly presented.

This is Owl by Libby Walden

This is a Flapping, Tapping, Clapping Interactive Book which is bound to get children involved. We're off to the woods to meet Owl. But, oh dear, he is asleep. Can you wake him up? As children progress through the book with its clever flaps, many shaped and layered for a super visual and tactical appeal, they are asked to carry out various actions to help the story along. There's a special surprise at the end. Jacqui Lee's simple and vibrant pictures are set against a black background making for a stunningly effective picture book that really stands out in a crowded market.

Every Boy's Alphabet by Kate Bingham

Every boy is an action hero in this modern take on the traditional alphabet book. The book is inspired by original paintings by the children of the book's illustrator Luke Martineau and by the woodcuts of William Nicholson. Rather than simply being objects like a standard alphabet book, the book also embraces concepts through the simple one sentence text which accompanies each picture. So, we see the boy eating for energy, surprising with kindness and taking time for reflection. There's lots to talk about and the hardback book is one that will bring lasting pleasure with its high production values.

Every Girl's Alphabet by Kate Bingham

Every girl is up for adventure... and the feisty character in this book has all manner of fun as she romps through the alphabet. The pictures are cleverly matched to the words, often with two or more instances of the letter to reinforce learning. There are also humorous touches, many of which will appeal to adults as well as children. It's all very cleverly done, with author and illustrator (Luke Martineau) working in perfect synchronicity. Again, the book has a lovely retro feel but still manages to be completely up-to-date. These books would make a lovely gift for boy/girl siblings, especially twins.

Held in Love by Dawn Casey

This warm and heartfelt book, which beautifully epitomises the bond between mother and child, would make the perfect gift for new parents. The book is told in gentle, lilting rhyme with simple and sparse words which effectively express the love between parent and child. The beautiful artwork by Oamul Lu perfectly reflects the theme. A book to cherish and share, with its message of an enduring love.

Dragons in Love by Alexandre Lacroix

I was immediatley struck by the delicately coloured drawings by Ronan Badel, which drew me into the book - there is so much going on and lots of opportunities to talk about the pictures with your child. Drake the Dragon is playing in the park with the children who are his friends when a little girl kisses him on the snout and a fire begins to roar inside him. But Drake is confused because dragons don't know much about kisses and cuddles. Perhaps his dad will be able to give him some advice... Emboldened, Drake returns to the park and finds there are benefits to being a dragon after all... A touching story about new love, family bonds and looking after one another, all beautifully expressed.

Arty: The First Artist in Space by William Bee

Every year, an artist is asked to go into space, but they always say 'no'. Arty the frog is the greatest artist in the world and Mr Grimaldi (who sells Arty's paintings), says Arty will go, much to Arty's dismay. First of all though, there are some tricky tests to get through and then Arty's off. But when he gets there, he finds there's nothing to paint - but he has a brilliant idea. But what will the scientists on Earth think about Arty's idea? Wonderfully detailed illustrations enhance the story superbly and Arty's a cute character who children will adore. Fun and unusual.

Dinosaur Farm by Penny Dale

Who'd have thought it? Dinosaurs down on the farm? But what a brilliant combination - great big farm machines and colourful dinosaurs - a child's dream come true! Our favourite dinosaurs have moved (literally!) to pastures new on the Dinosaur Farm! With wonderfully alliterative text and lots of noises to share, the busy dinos hammer, dig, plough and harvest... all in preparation for a farm show! But will they win the grand prize? The illustrations are quite superb; they are vibrant and full of life and a phenomenal amount of detail, all richly depicted and with lovely touches of humour; so much to enjoy. This is a book children are going to love - I know I do! It comes with a free Stories Aloud smartphone audio book.

Leap Frog by Jane Clarke

Felix is lost. The three big frogs are making lots of noise... but where is the little one? Children are asked to spot him as they are drawn into the story. The jungle's a scary place for a little tree frog, and all the strange noises are making him just a little bit jumpy . . . It's time to find Felix a safe place to sleep . . . and again, children reading have a part to play as they are subtly drawn into the story. They will love joining in with the sounds too. Will they find someone special to snuggle him down for the night? A perfect bedtime story. The story is vibrantly illustrated by the inimitable Britta Teckentrup, whose distinctive style is such a delight.

Bagel in Love by Natasha Wing

Poor Bagel - he loves to dance bt he had nobody to enter the dance contest with. This wonderful book is packed with food-filled puns, baking-related jokes and pastries galore. Bagel tries so hard and your heart goes out to him, but everyone makes gentle fun of him. Everyone else has gone of to the contest and Bagel is sadly tap-dancing alone when he hears tap-tippity-tippitytap-tap-tap. At last, he has a partner and they can enter the contest. It's great fun, gloriously illustrated by Helen Dardik - and with a gorgeously glittery cover and final page - and with a heart-warming message about never giving up on your dreams. Published by Sterling, 9781454922391, February 2019.

Little Tigers by Jo Weaver

See an amazing journey through the eyes of a mother tiger and her two cubs; it's superbly voiced. Their home is no longer safe, so Mother Tiger and her two cubs set off through their jungle habitat, searching for their new home. The cubs have been told about many places by their friends, but sadly these are not right for a family of tigers. Patiently, Mother Tiger tries their ideas as they travel through a superbly evoked landscape depicted in muted browns and orange. Finally, as theday draws to a close, Mother Tiger thinks of the perfect place. A heart-warming celebration of the love between mother and child, perfectly summed up by the comforting picture of the family on the last page.

Your Mind is Like the Sky by Bronwen Ballard

Comparing the mind to a clear blue sky is an effective image for young children... they can relate to a cloud coming along and obscuring the clarity. The puprosew of this book about mindfulness is to show children what they can do when that cloud comes along. Showing a real insight into a child's mind, psychologist Bronwen Ballard and illustrator Laura Carlin show children that worries and negative thoughts are a part of everyday life and can be managed through healthy thinking habits. The delicate illustrations evoke a peaceful mood and the words are calming and perceptive. Practical tips on mindfulness and extra resources for parents are included at the back of the book.

Molly Moon's Mission by Duncan Beedie

Molly the moth is a very determined little creature. Much as she loves her home and her family but she yearns, she longs for adventure and especially, she wants to go to the moon. Now that's a long journey for a little moth, but Molly is not to be deterred. After a few false landings, Molly finds herself caught up in a marvellous adventure... and then returned safely home. But there's more to come, as thios lovely determined little character shows in a lovely story about never giving up on dreams. Charmingly illustrated by Laura Carlin.

The Way Home for Wolf by Rachel Bright

Little wolf cub Wilf is very cute but he's also very obstinate and he won't accept help from anyone. But when the pack sets off in search of a new home, our dear little cub isn't quite as strong as he thought and soon he finds himself lost and alone in the chill of the Arctic night. But help is at hand and soon little Wilf learns the value of friendship as the animals (a surprising variety all found in the snowy Arctic) come to his rescue in this lovely rhyming story about friendship and helping one another. Jim Field's delicately coloured illustrations are the perfect foil to the text.

The World Book Day Monster by Adam and Charlotte Guillian

World Book Day has become a huge phenomenon with children around the country dressing up to celebrate books and reading. Anna's dad takes her to the bookshop where she finds a very special book, all about a magical musical monster, so that is her costume decided. The trouble is, when she goes to school in her monster costume, no one knows what character Anna is supposed to be... but the problem is solved in a surprising way. Wonderful rhyming text captures the excitement of this special day - and also highlights the dilemma of choosing a less-known book. There's a lesson here - one of the benefits of World Book Day should be to introduce children to new characters. It's a lovely book to celebrate the joy of books and reading, and of sharing your favourite with others.

Slow Samson by Bethany Christou

Samson the sloth is very polular and he gets lots of invitations to parties... but he never actually gets there! The problem is that he's far too slow to ever get there on time; not only is he just ... slow... but he also stops to help his many friends. When Samson finally makes it to a party the cake is eaten and the party games are finished. But Samson has some very resourceful friends and together they come up with a cunning plan in this charming tale of friendship and helping others. A lovely story.

Stay, Benson! by Thereza Rowe

Just what does Benson get up to when Flick leaves the house every day? Does he stay at home like a good boy? No, he definitely doesn't! In this clever picture book with its cut-outs to encourage children to explore with Benson, we join him as he gets into all sorts of trouble, chasing the squirrel, the cat, the ball... and watch out for that picnic! Will he get home in time? Colourfully illustrated, this is a simple but fun story with the enticing extra element of cleeverly shaped cut-outs to delight children.

When the Crocodiles Came to Town by Magda Brol

What are the crocodiles doing in the boring town of Dullsville? They look different. They act differently and don't obey the rules. And they eat differently - sticky, yucky ice cream! They are definitely unwelcome but just as they are leaving town, two even less welcome visitors arrive and steal everything they can. And that's when Dullsville realises it needs its two brave and loyal crocs... It all goes to show we shouldn't prejudge, and the story is delightfully told with vibrant illustrations and plenty of humour.

The Mega Magic Hair Swap! by Rochelle Humes

It seems to be a fact of life that, whatever our hair, many of us wish it was different - and best friends Mai and Rose are no exception. Mai has dark curly hair and Rose has straight fair hair... and guess what? They'd like to swap. And then, a magical coconut grants the girls their wish, and they are thrilled. That's just to start with though and soon things change - in fact, they want to go back to the way things were... Rachel Suzanne's lively illustrations blend with the simple text to bring us a book that highlights the importance of being true to yourself and happy with what you have. Be proud of yourself is the message.

William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks

​ I love William Bee's books - and so do children! They are simple in concept and execution but very effective. This book has fabulous detail on all manner of trucks which will intrigue young readers, who will fin d something new to spot every time they return to the book. There's a mind-blowing selection of trucks, with trucks for every purpose you can imagine - and many you wouldn't even dream of! There's the amphibious truck, the cafe truck, the snow blowing truck and even a jet-powered truck. It's a superbly imaginative world and the illustrations are packed with details to explore and enjoy, with lots of delicate touches of humour to delight young and old. The book is beautifully produced on bright white paper which sets off the bold colours perfectly. The text races you through the book in a highly enjoyable way. This is a book for children to pore over, to absorb and to delight in.

Where Are You, Puffling? - A Skellig Adventure​ by Erika McGann

The little puffling thought it was a perfect day for an adventure, but her puffin parents can't find her anywhere. It turns out that she has been a very busy little puffling and they follow her exploits as they learn how she has helped all the creatures she met. When they finally spot their fluffy, black chick, there's a problem. She's on a boat out at sea - and she can't fly yet. Happily though, she has been such a helpful little puffling that all the animals work together to rescue her. Charmingly illustrated by Gerry Daly (whose uncle had the original idea for the book). this is a lovely story about friendship and helping each other.

Terry and the Brilliant Book by Nicola Kent

Terry and Sue ALWAYS give each other books as birthday presents, so when, one year, Terry upwraps a book, he's really disappointed. He doesn't know what to do with it. Finally though, he starts to read it - and he can't put it down, even when he and Sue go to the cinema. Poor Sue - she really wishes she has stuck with the ball! But next day, the tables are turned when Sue starts reading the book... Soon, the two friends realise that there's nothing better than reading books and they join the library and share their new-found joy. There's still time for the odd game of ball though! This is a wonderful celebration of the joy of reading and it should be shared with every child - and just look at all the different sorts of books shown at the end. It's superbly illustrated and exudes sheer joy throughout.

Claude: All About Keith by Alex T Smith

Claude is now the star of his very own TV series, with 52 episodes on Disney Junior. This brand-new story is based on the ever-popular series about Claude, an ordinary dog who has all manner of adventures when Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes go out. Now the star of his very own TV show on Disney Junior with 52 episodes. Claude and his faithful friend Sir Bobblysock are out for a peaceful walk in sunny Pawhaven when they hear "WAAAAAAAAAAH!" The little duckling is lost and it's up to the two friends to find his mummy and they have lots of adventures with little Keith before he is back with his family... in a very surprising place, eventually! Full of gentle humour, this is a delightful story.

The Colour of Happy by Laura Baker

The little boy has got a very special present for his mum but he has run through a whole gamut of emotions before getting it. Showing just how quickly a toddler's mood can change, each emotion is depicted by the bold use of a different colour for each, and effectively illustrated by Angie Rozelaar, who picks up the emotion of the story perfectly with her simply and effectively coloured pictures. The simple text flows rhythmically across the pages and reads aloud perfectly. The book offers lots of opportunities to discuss common emotions, including anger, jealousy, hope and pride - as well as learning colours.

The Perfect Sofa by Fifi Kuo

Panda and Penguin love their old sofa but the springs poke through and it's not comfy any more, so Panda suggests getting a new one. So they hit the shops, but things don't go well... they are too big or too small, too hard or too soft, too boring or too bright. Will they ever find perfection? After a long tiring day, they return home to... the perfect sofa. A superbly illustrated book with minimal text that manages to convey so much to children - to make the most of what we have, to share and talk about things; and to recycle. Penguin and Panda are warm friendly characters with a strong bond, who care about each other and listen to one another. We can all learn from this!

Eva and the Perfect Rain: a Rainy Irish Tale by Tatyana Feeney

Umbrellas don't always fit the bill! Eva has a new umbrella so she's thrilled to wake up to a rainy day... but first of all, it is soft gentle Irish rain, too soft for her umbrella. It doesn't get better - it's too windy, too thundery or too drizzly. Finally, she finds perfection in a sun shower and a rainbow shines making it the most perfect rain of all. A joyful book which embraces rain in all its guises, welcoming and celebrating it as imaginative Eva thoroughly enjoys herself. I love all the synonyms for rain on the inside covers - do share these with children.

In Blossom by Yooju Cheon

This simple and nostalgic book reflects the beauty of blossom time in the delicate simplicity and warmth of the story. A park bench... a cat eating lunch... a dog reading a book. As the sun twinkles and the breeze blows, all it takes is a falling petal for a friendship to blossom. This is a delicately illustrated and told story of the joys of spring and finding a new friend; a story that leaves you with a warm glow and an appreciation for the beauty of nature.

Grobblechops by Elizabeth Laird

Rumi was a 13th century mystic poet and philosopher and this book is based on one of his classic stories. Amir doesn't want to go to bed, in case there’s a monster hiding under the bed. When his father tries to reassure him, the little boy comes up with a very philosophical thought - what if the monster has a mum and dad too? so Dad reassures Amir that if the monster family comes to play, then the parents will have a good old chat whilst Amir makes a new friend. It's a lovely take on a common fear and it will alliviate the worries of many children if parents share this reassuring story at bedtime. It's sumptuously illustrated in rich colours and engrossing detail by Jenny Lucander.

I Am So Clever by Mario Ramos

This is an entertaining twist on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. When the big bad wolf spies the little girl off to her grandmother's house, that's today's menu settled... or is it?with Red Riding Hood for dessert. But Grandma's out, so the wolf dons her nightie and, by accident, sets out to the woods. He meets some very familiar characters on the way and realises that perhaps this wasn't quite such a clever idea... will Little Red Riding Hood prove to be the more clever after all? Cleverly told, the story will leave you guessing...

Everyone Walks Away by Eva Lindstrom

This emotionally charged book is all about loneliness, exclusion, and belonging. Frank is all alone when everyone else is having fun. It's the same as always. But once home, he makes some jam with a very unusual ingredient and then invites other people to share it. Will they come over? It's simply told with delicate and evocative illustrations that convey the emotion of the story to perfection. A story to make you think.


The author of the much-loved Poo Bum books has more likeable characters in the form of Simon and and little brother Casper, now seen on Milkshake! A gentle family-oriented story about who’s the biggest.., and all about being a good big brother. This story is one in the best-selling series about Simon, the cheeky rabbit who knows just what he wants. Stephanie Blake brings us lovely insights into the world of childhood, and tells the stories through the medium of friendly creatures.

Dinosaur Adventures by Fran Bromage

Four stories have been brought together in this colourful and generously sized book. There's T rex: the Big Scare; Diplodocus: The Dippy Idea; Velicoraptor: The Speedy Tale and Ankylosaurus: The Clumsy Club. There are lots of other dinos to meet in the stories too - there's Gal the Gallimimus, Peggy the Stegosaurus, Travis the Troodon and many more. The stories are fun to read, and they will also help children learn about different dinosaurs and their key characteristics. The bright artwork and engaging storylines are ideal for young children, and I think these are stories that will be returned to over and over again - everyone will have their favourite dino!

A Little Bit Brave by Nicola Kinnear

Logan likes to stay at home and he's always turning down his more adventurous friend Luna's invitations to go out. But the time comes when Luna has had enough, and when she stomps out, Logan just has to go and find her. Luckily, he's a well-prepared rabbit and he's packed all the right things for his big adventure. When he gets out there, he discovers what an amazing world it is and makes lots of new friends. It's a funny and reassuring story about overcoming fear and about friendship, superbly illustrated and with a host of lovely animal characters. A promising debut picture book.


This rhyming story is perfect to read aloud and children will respond well to the rhythmic text that flows so well. It's Show and Tell time and Tommy Fox has a box - a box full of frogs. But things don't go to plan when they all jump out at school when Tommy sneezes; there's chaos in the classroom and high jinks in the hall. Can Tommy get the frogs back in the box? Finally, he does but... oh, no! The hilarious story is delightfully illustrated with bold vibrant pictures by Claudia Boldt. A lovely story that will have children clamouring to join in with the fun.

Frockodile by Jeanne Willis

Cliff has found a dress and pearls, which he tries on, but when the hyenas laugh at him, he pretends he's dressing up for a play. But there is no play. Luckily, Cliff has a very good friend in Freddy, who comes to his rescue and creates a show. But can Cliff put on a good perfommance? This is a funny rhyming story about inclusion, supporting your friends and family and being true to yourself. It has a wonderful and totally unexpected ending. Adults will read the story from a different perspective to children, and there's humour here for older ones too. Superbly illustrated by Stephanie Laberis.

I Can Fly by Fifi Kuo

The little penguin sees all the other birds flying in the sky and wishes he could be like them. He tries so hard to copy them and you really feel for this determined little bird, who has so much appeal. Sadly, he just can't manage it... but then his dad shows him that he can fly - underwater! The lovely delicately drawn and coloured illustrations have an appealing child-like quality to them and the simple text is very effective. A gentle and reassuring story, full of love and determination.

Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond

The little rabbit is making a cake. But he has run out of berries, so off he goes to search some out. It's a dangerous world out there, though, as our little rabbit discovers, when he crosses seas, deserts, forests and more... and all the time, he says he doesn't need help. But does he really? Finally Mini Rabbit finds a berry - and finds his way safely home to a lovely surprise. The wonderful illustrations are really the star of the story; they are detailed and fascinating to study, telling the story alongside the text to utter perfection. A lovely heart-warming story of adventure and a safe return.

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

I love this book for the insight it gives into a child's world and the way children think. It's raining hard and when Francie and her mum, who is pregnant, stop for a picnic, the car windows steam up. It's such a common event, often we don't even think about it, but this book makes a delightful story from this simple occurence. As the car windows steam up, Francie presses her little finger on the window, spelling out "Daddy" and "Mummy" and leaving one space free, ready and waiting for the name of her soon-to-be sister. This is gently and warmly told, giving a lovely picture of a close family.The watery theme is well expressed in the delicate illustrations, which are excellently observed. Perfect for any family awaiting their new baby.

The Boy from Mars by Simon James

This is a wonderfully imaginative story about Stanley, a little boy who misses his mum. When she went away, he decided to go to Mars. A little Martian boy took his place - a rather naughty little Martian boy who did, however, look rather like Stanley... He wouldn’t eat his dinner, wash, or clean his teeth - and there was trouble in the playground. What will happen when mum gets back? Will the martian still be there, or will the real Stanley get back in time? Reassuring and thoughtful, it's excellent for families where one parent has to work away from home.

Ambulance, Ambulance! by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock

"Why is the ambulance racing through the streets?" That's a question a child may well ask, and this reassuring book is just right to give the answer. Ideal to read aloud with its pacy rhyming text and sounds to make, this is good for home and school use. It explores the work of paramedics and ambulance crews. When there's an accident, the crew at the ambulance station jumps into action, responding to the call out to a boy who has fallen off his bike. They take take him to the hospital for treatment, along the busy roads. It's an excellent way to show how ambulances and their crews help us, with plenty of opportunity to talk about what is happening.

You Can't Cuddle a Crocodile by Diana Hendry

Older siblings with pesky little sisters will love this book! Everyone knows that little sisters can be a handful, and this one more than most. Every day, she is a different animal - She's a monkey, a bear, a camel, a penguin, a crocodile and a lion. Her very patient and long-suffering family are very pleased when Freya comes back again... but what's this at the bottom of the garde? Full of humour and gloriously illustrated by Ed Eaves, this is a lovely picture of family life.


Friendships are powerful things, and those forged in childhood can be the best of all, as this touching book well shows. Four little girls, all very different, meet under an apple tree and form a lasting friendship. As they grow up, they are always there for each other, through success and failure, using their strengths to help each other. The illustrations by Jenny Lovlie manage cleverly to keep showing the separate identities as the girls grow up, and they are beautifully detailed and absorbing. A superbly meaningful story about friendship; we should all pay heed to the message and look after our friends.

The Kiss by Linda Sunderland

A kiss is a very special thing, and when Edwyn blows his Grandma a kiss that brings smiles, laughter and dancing, she wants to share it with those that need it. But a greedy rich man, who thinks money buys everything, wants the kiss all to himself. So he steals the kiss, but soon it loses its magic... A touching story that really makes children think about the true meaning of love and sharing. The wonderfully expressive drawings by Jessica Courtney-Tickle set off the story perfectly, with expressive characters and a warm feel.

Hugs and Kisses by Sam Hay and Emma Dodd

There are two sides to every story - literally, in the case of this book! The whale and the octopus are both looking for love and kisses and hugs, but the whale is too big and the octopus is too tangly, so although they have lots of friends, they can't find hugs and kisses. Big Blue Whale is feeling small. Everyone has someone to hug except from him! Join them on their journeys from opposite ends of the book until they meet in the middle in a wonderfully intricate - and totally joyful - pop-up. Vibrant illustrations capture the beauty of the undersea world, the friendly creatures and the pretty plants. The novelty value makes this book stand out and it's lovely to share.

Daddy Fartypants by Emer Stamp

What child could resist? Of all the embarrassing things fathers can do, farting has to be top of the list! Even worse, Daddy Fartypants never says sorry for his bottom blasts but always blames someone else. But it seems he's not the only one with the problem... just imagine if your teacher had the same problem! When she blames Daddy Fartypants, he realises that it's not fair to blame others and soon he's a reformed character, much to his son's relief. A hilarious story superbly illustrated by Matt Hunt.

Harold Snipperpot’s Best Disaster Ever by Beatrice Alemagna

Harold is almost seven but he's never had a birthday party because his parents hate parties. This year, poor Harold is really upset, so his parents call in Mr. Ponzio, the neighbourhood fixer, who promises an absolutely extraordinary party. It certainly is extraordinary - there are hordes of animals who cause utter havoc. The end is really unexpected and totally heartwarming - good really does come from what seems bad. Unusual and beautifully told and illustrated.

Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura

This is a beautiful book from a much-admired picture book author, brought to us by new publisher Scallywag Press. Hattie the rabbit is not a magician's rabbit but is a magician herself, who conjures an amazing succession of animals out of her hat. Children will love to spot the visual clues and guess what's coming next (there are some unexpected results!) as the animals get bigger and bigger. Will the elephant ever get out? Finally, Hattie produces a wonderful place where they can all live together happily. Both text and pictures are simple and so are perfect for young children to appreciate and enjoy. It's great fun. "Scallywag Press was founded in 2018 with the purpose of bringing entertaining and memorable books to a worldwide audience. We love distinctive, amusing and quirky art, and are looking to publish work by talented newcomers as well as by some of our favourite authors and illustrators with established reputations. We'll be re-issuing classic titles too. Our books are printed on high quality paper from sustainable sources and aim to give pleasure to handle, look at and read."

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

Yes, there really is a wall in the middle of the book (in the middle of every spread, to be precise), and the young knight is certain the wall will keep his world safe. But he is so busy guarding the wall that he doesn't see the danger creeping up behind him. Just in time, he is plucked from danger... and finds himself the other side of the wall. Is it so bad after all? The little knight is such a lovable character, and the illustrations almost tell the story by themselves, they are so evocative. On the surface, it's just a cute story, but it has a deeper meaning about acceptance - hence its endorsement by Amnesty International. Scallywag Press promise us beautifully produced books, and that is something that really struck me when I received the books. High quality paper and gently coloured illustrations give a lovely feel that makes reading a real pleasure.


It should be bedtime for Oliver, Barney and Ella but instead, they are off on an adventure. Ella wants to go to the jungle, Barney hankers to be a pirate, but Ella has a secret wish . . . to see a dragon. So when a hot-air balloon floats up to their window, they are eager to set off. The balloon whisks them away to magical lands - and out of danger when necessary. They see pirate teddy bears, tigers and fantastical creatures but will they ever see a dragon? Finally, in the darkening sky, they see... A wonderfully imaginative tale that will certainly send children off to sleep with sweet dreams. A timeless story to read over and over again.

Think Big by Kes Gray

Humpty Dumpty was sitting on a wall (of course) but this time, he's joined by his nursery rhyme friends. They are talking about what they want to be when they grow up. When Humpty tells them he wants to be a boiled egg, they don't think much of the idea. So, one by one, they come up with all manner of ideas - a musician, a detective, a footballer are just some - to encourage Humpty to be more ambitious. Then disaster strikes (in the most amusing way) and Humpty has a different idea... It's wonderfully told, packed with humour, and superbly illustrated with zest and vibrancy by Nathan Reed. Best of all, it encourages children to think big themselves. Such fun - I love it and so will children, especially as they meet so many old friends!

Chatterbox Bear by Pippa Curnick

Gary the bear is a chatterbox - he just can't help himself, regardless of where he is and who he is with, he just keeps talking. As nobody wants to listen, he sets off in search of new friends and finds himself on an island full of birds. But when he finds they don't understand his language (they don't speak Bear), he learns that there are other ways to make friends and communicate. Soon, they are communicating using eyebrows! And then along comes Dog... does anyone speak Dog? All about friendship and understanding, this is a lively and uplifting picture book that is full of fun andjoy.

Jungle Jamboree by Jo Empson

The jungle creatures have been invited to a jungle jamboree... but who will be the most beautiful? They all decide they are not beautiful enough so set out to change themselves. Meanwhile, unimpressed, a little fly flits contentedly through the pages - can your child spot him everywhere? Vibrant illustrations show how the animals decorate themselves but then - disaster! The clouds decide to have a bit of fun and soon the animals are back to their old selves. But Fly has a surprise in store and helps out in the darkness. The judges and all the animals decide that kindness is the most beautiful thing of all. It's a lovely story with a pointed message for us all, told with gentle humour.

Wisp: A Story of Hope by Zana Fraillon

This is a moving and emotional story about Idris, a child refugee, born into a world of tents and fences. This has been his whole life. Beautifully illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith, whose illustrations capture the darkness of Idris' world, then brightened by glimmers of hope. When the Wisp arrives, those who knew another world are able to recapture memories - but Wisp has no such memories... Magically, the Wisp holds out a promise. It's a sobering message, movingly told, with hope at its heart.

Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish by Lara Hawthorne

Alba the fish is over a hundred years old; she has always collected objects from the sea bed but she starts to notice the seas are changing. Along with her, we learn that this is the result of pollution. Alba determines to do her bit to help, and this message strongly shows that we all have a role to play and every single one of us can make a positive impact. The gradual loss of colour, and then its return, is tellingly depicted in the telling changes in the colours of the stunning illustrations. THey are full of detail and well worth looking at to learn about the world of the coral reef and its creatures. It's effective and thought-provoking - an excellent way to highlight the dangers of marine pollution and to encourage children to think about the effects of plastic

The Sea Saw by Tom Percival

Most parents will have experienced this - a heartbroken child when a favourite toy is lost. This emotional and understanding picture book, Sofia loses her beloved teddy after a day at the beach. She never gives hope of getting it back and, miraculously, the sea saw it all and cared for Sofia's teddy ... but I'm not going to spoilt the ending. The stunning use of artworks from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is simply brilliant. The Press Release included far more detail and I would love to see this information included in the book, so adults especially can understand the clever illustrations. An unusual and very special picture book, lyrically and compassionately written.

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