Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 9)

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.

ABC London by James Dunn

An unusual alphabet book which takes an interesting range of topics to cover the alphabet - places, people and things. A is for Art, B is for Brick Lane, C is for Changing of the Guard... This is a fascinating look at the mix of things which go to make up our great capital city. I'd enjoy using this as a classroom resource as it would make a fabulous wall display with an alphabet theme. The collage pictures by Kate Slater show the vibrancy and variety of the city - unexpected inclusions include Elephant and Castle, fashion and Portobello Road - and make sure you take time out to see the link between the pages - very clever. The glossary at the end gives additional information about each subject. A super book.

Counting Sheep: A Bedtime Adventure! by Kathryn Cave

Counting sheep - boring! Counting pythons and pirates, vampire bats and ghosts is a lot more fun, as Tom finds out when he can't sleep. Readers are led on a wild and woolly counting adventure that goes all the way up to a hundred - but only some numbers are included. It's a quirky and unusual take on a counting book with lively illustrations that offer lots to look at, and flowing rhyming text that's just right for a cosy bedtime.

Animal Opposites by Petr Horacek

A bold and striking way to learn about opposites, which makes them really easy for children to remember. The big flaps lift to reveal some very clever paper engineering as the animals jump off the page for the reader - I especially liked the porcupine. As well as learning opposites, children will also gain knowledge of a wide variety of animals. It's a fun way to learn and the stimulating presentation of the book will encourage conversation and interaction. I like the strong card of the pages which make this suitable for young readers (with care, of course). Bright and engaging, this is a super book.

Frank n Stan by M P Robertson

Like many little children, Frank would dearly love a brother or sister. As his Mum doesn't seem to be obliging, he takes it upon himself to create his own brother - junk modelling brought to a fine art. His creation, Stan, soon becomes an integral part of the family and Frank and Stan do everything together, until someone else comes along........... There's a definite Heath Robinson feel to the illustrations which are fun and quirky - and which I think could inspire some great creations. An unusual and comical story of invention, families and loyalty.

Granny Marmalade and Uncle Tractor by Julian Warrender

Written with a real passion for the countryside and for the changing seasons, this is an excellent way to introduce children to growing, finding and cooking food - an experience that, sadly, many of today's children do not get. Granny Marmalade and Uncle Tractor are based on two people who grow food and produce marmalade (among many other things!). The book shows the close relationship between the land and the production of food and also includes plenty of ideas for using and cooking with the produce. In this age, where so many children don't know where their food comes from, this is a lovely book to help redress that balance and introduce children to the wonders of the world around us. Gavin Rowe's delicate and finely detailed illustrations set the story off perfectly. A delightful and unusual book.

Barbapapa by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor

Barbapapa is a strange creature who grew in Francois' garden - but he was too big to stay so it's off to the zoo. Barbapapa has a strange gift - he can change shape at will, so he slips out of his cage, but finds himself lonelier than ever. He has a strange appeal - the poor creature looks so sad, you can't but feel sorry for him. Happily, all is well in the end and he finds he can help others with his gift. The illustrations are charmingly old-fashioned and extremely expressive. Although the text is translated, the pictures are full of French words so children may miss some subtleties.

Barbapapa's Voyage by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor

Poor Barbapapa is lonely - and this lovely, lovable creature will have you sharing his loneliness through the delicate drawings that express his feelings so perfectly. He decides he needs a Barbamama to keep him company, so off he goes on a long journey to see who he can find - I love the picture of the children cycling off, towing his cage. After a fruitless (but fun) journey, they return to find... Quirky, unusual and irresistible.

The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

The crayons have gone on strike! When Duncan goes to do some drawing, he finds a series of letters from some very discontented crayons. The letters are hilarious and very clever - adults will appreciate them just as much as children. Luckily, Duncan comes up with a creative solution. I love Oliver Jeffers illustrations - they are just like children's drawings and young children will delight in seeing the world as if through their own drawings. And, hopefully, they will be inspired to draw some of their own illustrations. A stand-out book, clever, unusual and full of inspiration and imagination. Highly recommended.

Bing: Get Dressed by Ted Dewan

Bing is here to show toddlers that all the little 'problems' they encounter in everyday life are quite normal and nothing to worry about - and this book succeeds in doing that very well. Bing is an appealing character and little ones will readily identify with his struggles to get dressed in the right order. Simple and reassuring books that show, whatever happens, it’s just a Bing thing, a normal occurrence, and nothing to get upset about. Plenty of repetition in the text helps young readers and the font is unusually large so this too will help word recognition. Bibg is due to debut on TV in 2014.

Mog and Bunny and Other Stories by Judith Kerr

A super collection of stories about one of children's fiction's classic characters. Mog (and her favourite toy, Bunny) has been a firm favourite with many children since her debut in 1970, and parents (and grandparents)will love to revisit the stories as they share them with a new generation. The stories included are: Mog and Bunny; Mog and the V.E.T and Mog and the Granny. The simple storylines with plenty of repetition in the text make the books good for children learning to read. These gentle stories about Mog and her warm loving family are perfect for reading at bedtime and are an ideal gift for Mog fans.

Where's Tim's Ted? It's Time for Bed! by Ian Whybrow

It's all quiet on the farm and it's time for Tim to get ready for bed. But, like many another child, there is someone he just can't sleep without. So, in the middle of the night, Tim goes to find Ted. But none of the farmyard animals have seen him but they all join in the search and all is well when they find that Mrs Piggy has him safe and sound ... but then there's another obstacle to overcome. An exciting adventure which gathers pace through the story, but yet reassuringly safe within the familiarity of the farmyard. The quixotic cast of animal characters are cleverly depicted by Russell Ayto's lovely drawings which bring the story alive, matching the momentum throughout.

The Lion and the Mouse (Turn and Tell Tales) by nahta noj

This is one in a series of retellings of Aesop's Fables. The well-loved story of the Lion and the Mouse is given a new dimension with the use of various die-cut shapes which interweave through the story in a cunning way which will intrigue young readers who can lift the page to release the mouse from the lion's claws, then, later, turn the page to make the mouse release the lion in return. Bright bold illustrations with superb use of colour make this an eye-catching book.

The Littlest Bird by Gareth Edwards

Aaaaaah! I couldn't resist that, the cover of this book is just so cute and the book continues in that vein. "There were seven green birds in a beautiful nest at the top of a tree where the view was the best." But it was a very small nest and the Littlest Bird was fed up with it so she sets off in search of the perfect nest... but it turns out to belong to a rather large creature, so she sets off back home. It's a sweet story, cosy and heartwarming and wonderfully illustrated with some of the most vibrant pictures I have seen in a long time.

Pop-up and Play Farm: A pop-up gift book by Jannie Ho

Emily and Jack are helping to get the animals ready for the big farm show... but where is Emily's dog Scout? There's a surprise for everyone when they find her. Even I was amazed at the huge pop up farm at the end of the book, let alone the look of wonder on the face of the two year old I was sharing the book with - superb and lots of opportunities for imaginative play. There are lots of moving details to entrance children, like the wheels on the tractor which go round, plus 15 press out pieces to use with the farm and to encourage children to enjoy make-believe play.

Poppy Cat TV: Poppy Cat's Counting Adventure by Lara Jones

Make learning to count fun for young children as they join Poppy Cat as she plays in the garden, goes to the beach and has a yummy picnic with her friends! Every page has plenty to spot and count, from butterflies to seashells and for an extra challenge some of them are hidden away behind fun flaps and secret peep-holes! Children will love discovering and counting all the beautifully illustrated things that Poppy Cat encounters on her adventures. This bright and colourful board book is perfect for teaching inquisitive toddlers to count.

Hugless Douglas Finds a Hug by David Melling

Hugless Douglas has always been irresistible but now he is even more so with this superb puppet book. The book features a good sized puppet with a bright red scarf who pokes his head through the pages as you tell the story of his hunt for a hug, stretching, waving, clapping and then opening his arms REALLY wide... It's a lovely opportunity for toddlers to learn left and right, up and down and many more as they join in with the hapless Douglas in this wonderful celebration of friendship. A brilliant way to engage children with books.

Sugarlump and the Unicorn by Julia Donaldson

Sugarlump the rocking horse wants to see the world and his wish is granted by a magical unicorn who turns Sugarlump into a real horse. But life in the wider world isn't quite what Sugarlump had expected and he realises that what he has left behind was the best place of all ... luckily, just as it looks as if Sugarlump will never be happy again, the unicorn comes up with the perfect answer. There's a quiet lesson here for us all, about making the most of what we have. Children will revel in the glittery pages as they follow Sugarlump through his adventures and Lydia Monk's vibrant illustrations set off the rhyming text ideally.

The Colours of the Rainbow by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

An interesting way to convey a very important message; the message that, although people all over the world are different, we all combine to create a wonderful image - and the book uses the image of a rainbow to demonstrate this. We are all human beings and we should celebrate our differences and the fact that we all have so much in common, so let's get together and build a rainbow. An excellent book for sharing with individual children or a class and for promoting discussion.

How to Babysit a Grandad by Jean Reagan

I love this book! Little ones so often have a very special relationship with their grandads, and this is a real celebration of that. Written in a how-to style which definitely puts the child in charge, the narrator gives important tips for 'babysitting' a grandad, including what to eat for snack, what to do on a walk and how to play with a grandad - all the ideas are hilarious but I'm not giving them away here - read the book to find out for yourself. The illustrations by Lee Wildish are equally hilarious and will appeal to child and grandad.It's a perfect present, either to a grandad or for grandad to take along next time he's called on to babysit.

I Love You by Giles Andreae

A new book in what is developing into a charming series of books for toddlers to share with their favourite adults. Full of warmth, reassurance and love this is a warm look at a child's world and all the things they love: friends, grandparents, toys, games, delicious food and the moon and stars up above! Emma Dodd's child-friendly illustrations are perfect for young children with their simplicity and friendly faces. It's a lovely book to share as you and your little one talk about all the very special things in life.

Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver

A toucan is a colourful bird and this is a suitably colourful book! Toucan can do all sorts of things - "can you do what toucan can?" Children will love this story and will delight in trying out all the various ideas. The tongue twisters escalate through the book and children will love it if you try to read faster and faster... The hilarious characters, bright pictures and action-packed pages are full of fun and this is great to read aloud.

The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers

A classic idea brought to life in an appealing new story. Poor little Rabbit has a problem - wherever he goes, a big black rabbit follows him. Rabbit is so frightened he runs runs into the deep, dark wood - and then he finally shakes off his pursuer but encounters another scary creature. As he runs out of the wood, there's a surprise ending that children will love. A beautifully illustrated story which looks at fears and first impressions and friendship. It's just a bit different and all the better for that.

Stick! by Andy Pritchett

A very simple story which tells a tale very cleverly with just six words. The little puppy has got a stick and all he needs now are some friends to play with - but all his friends have other things on their minds and we see the poor little pup get more and more dejected until, finally, he finds friend(s). The illustrations are equally simple but very clever. A charming story of friendship that shows perseverance pays.

Bye-Bye Baby Brother! by Sheena Dempsey

This is the ideal book for an older sibling who feels that his little brother or sister is getting all the attention. Mum always seems to be busy with the baby and Ruby gets tired of waiting... and Rory the dog isn't quite as good as Mum!  So the imaginative Ruby comes up with some ways to make the baby disappear - with some very clever adverts!  But then Mum joins in and they all have an exciting adventure - then it's baby's naptime and Mum is there for Ruby. The delightful illustrations are full of interesting detail and are a joy to talk through. The theme is well handled and the young reader will feel that here is someone who really understands how she feels - very clever.

We Want a Pet! by Richard Hamilton

The kids are determined to have a pet; their parents are equally determined that they won't have a pet. The children come up with plenty of arguments for; the parents with arguments against - all in hilarious rhyme which reads aloud beautifully. Then the children find an excellent alternative crawling around the grass, so in come spiders, millipedes, worms, slugs... All are going to be carefully trained but things don't quite go to plan... but will the children win out? A lovely story full of detail and fun in the illustrations.

The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet by Tom Fletcher

This story is out of this world! When Danny and Dinosaur set off for space but Danny forgets Dino's lunch box, disaster looms when the very hungry dinosaur eats everything in sight, including their means of getting home - the rocket! Poor Danny is in tears - will they have to stay in space for ever? But the clever dino has an answer - poop! A hilarious story that combines all sorts of elements children love - space, dinosaurs and, of course, poop! Very, very clever with its witty rhyming text and superbly complementary illustrations.

Nat the Cat's Sunny Smile by Jez Alborough

Jez Alborough has created some of the best picture books around and here is another superb book to enjoy. They are books to cheer you up with their catchy text and lively illustrations and this story about Nat, who bounces out of bed with a happy smile does that perfectly. But although she has packed a picnic for her friends, they are feeling grumpy and sad, and poor Nat starts to lose her smile... but smiles are very catchy things and all is well as the friends enjoy their picnic after all. And there's a lively song to enjoy at the end.

Billy the Goat's Big Breakfast by Jez Alborough

And another thoroughly enjoyable book with Nat the Cat. Nat's invited them to breakfast but Billy Goat turns up rather too early and he just can't wait to start eating - with hilarious and embarrassing consequences. He can't keep it from Nat so he has to confess - but all is well as the resourceful cat puts things right. I love the way the story flows with the catchy verse and children will enjoy singing along with the song at the end.

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, illustrated and abridged by Alexis Deacon

The well-known story of The Selfish Giant is given a fresh approach with atmospheric illustrations and a short text, just right for young children. The Giant has a beautiful garden, but he won't let any of the children play in it. Winter comes and never leaves, until the power of love brings Spring and joy into the Giant's garden and his heart. As the garden springs into life, so the illustrations too become full of colour.

Tree Fu Tom: Magical Storybook

This is a special Tree Fu Tom storybook with its hardback format and soft padded cover - plus lots of stickers depicting all the characters - perfect for all avid fans. Take a journey through Treetopolis and meet all of Tom's friends in Tree Fu Go! Then discover just how much magic and mischief can be caused by one little pebble, in Twigs and the Wishing Pebble. Also available in paperback format are Tree Fu Tom: Rancher Tom and the Baby Beetles - looking after beetle eggs isn't as easy as it sounds! and Tree Fu Tom: The Mushas Make a Stink which finds the Mushas trying to spoil Sap Day. All, the books are full of bright attractive illustrations and are attractively laid out to be eye-catching and appealing. Fans of Tree Fu Tom will be thrilled with the variety of books available about him.

The Best, Best Baby! by Anthea Simmons

An adorable story about sibling rivalry - and sibling love. The perfect gift for a toddler with a new baby in the house - or, better still, for the new baby to give his older sibling. There are lots of things that the new baby can't do, and lots of things he can do - not always good. This warm and realistic book is beautifully illustrated by Georgie Birkett and adults sharing the story and pictures with their older child will find it opens up many valuable opportunities for discussion and reassurance. Lovely!

The Fabulous Foskett Family Circus by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

Roll up, roll up for the Fabulous Foskett Family Circus! Meet a varied cast of characters in the Foskett Family, first created by Quentin Blake to adorn the walls of a hospital mental health ward for older patients. There are Milly and Willy who perform with young Fred, who does a back flip and lands on his head. Uncle Phoenix Foskett who blows smoke rings, Jess and Bess with their conjuring tricks, not to mention singing dogs and birds and performing parrots. The delicately coloured action-packed drawings are full of fun. John Yeoman, who of course has collaborated with Quentin Blake many times, has produced the perfect rhyming storyline to complement the pictures. A book which will appeal to young and old and which will give many hours of pleasure.

Don't Spill the Milk! by Stephen Davies

I was immediately drawn to this book by the vibrant colours on the cover - and the book lives up to its promise. Up and down she climbs, all the time reminding herself not to spill a single drop - the repetition is perfect for reading aloud and for children to join in. She gets it there safely but when disaster befalls, she finds that the bowl contained something very precious.... With its authentic setting drawn from the author's own experience, this is an excellent way to introduce children to a different culture - a culture where, for a family to get milk, they must milk their own cow. The vibrancy of Niger and its people is stunningly brought alive by the illustrations.

Isabel's Noisy Tummy by David Mckee

A book by David McKee is always going to be fun - and this is no exception. Poor Isabel - she just can't help her tummy rumbling. Her classmates think it is hilarious and everyone has ideas to stop it but nothing works. Until the class visits the zoo and Isabel's growling tummy saves them all from a hungry tiger. After that, to the children's disappointment all is quiet until one day there is a new noise... Bold, colourful illustrations and a wicked sense of humour combine to make this book a certain hit with all children. Good fun.

Alone in the Forest by Gita Wolf

In this unusual picture book, Musa sets off from his village to collect firewood, alone for the first time. When he hears a loud noise he is fearful and his imagination runs riot. What happens to Musa and how he learns to deal with his fear is explored in this powerful yet sensitive visual story of the psychology of fear. Typography, book design, contemporary tribal artwork, and narrative combine in this new children's title from Tara Books. Artwork by the talented Bhajju Shyam, the celebrated Gond folk artist from India.

Pop-up Numbers: 3-D Fun with Figures by Courtney McCarthy

Number challenges are interwoven with five pages of brightly coloured pop ups featuring even more numbers. Children will really have to concentrate to answer the questions and make sure they spot everything - odd numbers, triangles, red shapes and more to spot. Number puzzles too - 'how many ways can you make the number 15', for example. This is an interesting and unusual way to interest children in numbers. Beautifully engineered but very delicate so needs careful handling - it's recommended for children of 4+.

The Wheels on the Bus by Britta Teckentrup

This is a perennially popular song for young children who love it for the actions and repetition. Now they can enjoy a colourfully illustrated version of the song as they peep through the pages to spot a range of friendly animal characters. Follow the bus on its journey round the town to finally reach the playground and enjoy spotting all the details in the pictures.

Hickory Dickory Dog by Alison Murray

It's time for Zac to go to playschool, but he doesn't want to be separated from his doggy pal Rufus. So, when Zac goes to playschool, his pup goes too and joins in with everything! And Rufus has great fun - painting time, lunchtime, even garden time.. and there's something to show for every activity, resulting in a very messy pup! An engaging story, with its warm, retro art style, is an entertaining introduction to playschool. The repetition of hickory, dickory... makes it a lovely read-aloud.

Rastamouse and the Micespace Mystery by Genevieve Webster

The Easy Crew have received a call from the President. A geek-a-mouse has hacked into the Mouseland bank and stolen all the money! Just how will the President pay for the treats he’s promised the baby orphans now? Luckily Rastamouse has a plan, and it doesn’t look like the gadget-loving Mister Flash is going to stay at large for long. Fast-moving rhyming text and vividly coloured pictures are bound to appeal to young readers. Publication 12/09/13.

Do You Speak English, Moon? by Francesca Simon

bookThe moon is a friendly approachable thing to many young children and here we join a young boy as, when he is getting ready for bed, he looks up at the moon and wonders whether it can speak English as it shines all over the world. He tells the moon about his day and asks the moon all sorts of questions - it's not lonely falling asleep when you share your day's adventures with the moon. Ben Cort's delicate and detailed illustrations show a lovely friendly moon shining down as the imaginative little boy shares all his favourite things. A super bedtime story, gentle and reassuring.

Baby Jake Splashy Adventure (Baby Jake Story Book)

Baby Jake is a hugely popular CBeebies character and young children will love to read about his adventures. All the familiar characters from the show are here for children to spot through the story. The catch phrases are here too 'Oh no, you're not going to are you Baby Jake?' and children respond well to hearing these and love the familiarity. Baby Jake has a colourful adventure under the sea, including a ride on a huge whale before returning safely home to bed after a magic time.

Momo and Snap (Child's Play Library) by Airlie Anderson

This unusual story is told through the colourful active pictures and a series of sounds. It's wonderful to read aloud and a super way to encourage children to mimic sounds as they copy 'huh', 'oo-er', 'plink', aieee' and many more sounds. It's a hilarious story about what starts as a competitive relationship between a crocodile and a monkey turning into a relationship where they need each other's support against a bigger enemy. A lovely story to share.

It's Not Your's It's Mine! (Child's Play Library) by Susanna Moores

This is a lovely story to read at home or in the classroom when there's any trouble about sharing to show children that sharing can bring real benefits. Blieka has a ball - a very special ball which was a present and she won't share it with anyone. Until, one day, something is wrong with the ball and she needs the help of her friends and she finds out that sharing can be both useful and fun. The bright illustrations with their restricted colour palette are quite delightful.

Pi-Rat by Maxine Lee

Meet an intrepid band of pirates who are scared of nothing at all... or are they? Children will love joining Pi-Rat and his crew on their adventures on the Soapy Dodger in this hilarious tale with a totally unexpected ending. Children always love pirate stories and this one is a gem as the anticipation builds. The engaging pictures are packed with things for little ones to spot and I foresee lots of pirate accents being put to good use!

Three Little Dinosaurs by Charles Fuge

Three delightful little dinosaurs, Scratch, Lofty and Sniff, star in this imaginative story. The three friends love to play together but what they really want is to be able to fly. When they learn that they need to be high up to fly, they climb the volcano – but, oh dear, they just can’t take off. But then along comes someone who is really good at flying – and very kind as well – and the friends’ dreams come true. Three lovely friends find out that dreams can come true in this bright and entertaining picture book which will appeal to all young children and most of all to those who love dinosaurs.

Things you never knew about Dinosaurs (Meadowside Picture Books) by Giles Paley-Phillips

I bet you didn’t know that dinosaurs play tennis, ice skate, play the guitar and much more. With vibrant illustrations by Liz Pichon, this is an imaginative foray into a very different dinosaur world. Packed with action, the catchy rhyming text races you through the book and makes a great read-aloud story… but there’s a surprise at the end – BEWARE!

Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown

Such a simple story line with a minimal number of words, and yet an affecting and moving story about a little boy and his desire for a dog - and a dog who loves the little boy and wants to be with him always. Imaginative and thoughtful, the story shows that sometimes problems can be resolved in an unlikely manner if the will is there. The beautiful artwork coveys the story perfectly.

Florentine and Pig and the Lost Pirate Treasure (Florentine & Pig) by Eva Katzler

Eva Katzler had the inspired idea of writing books to help children be creative, enjoy simple pleasures and get messy - and this is the result. It's a miserable day and Florentine and Pig are stuck indoors - but this enterprising pair can always come up with some bright ideas.They are off on a pirate ship taking lots of tasty goodies with them to enjoy on the voyage. All the recipes are found at the end of the book -'Ooooh aaar pirate pasta' anyone? The story is great fun and incidentally perfect for any child just learning their prepositions! This is a super and very child-friendly book to encourage reading and a love for imaginative play at the same time.

Jo-Jo the Melon Donkey by Michael Morpurgo

The master storyteller at work again - and this time his wonderful story-telling is to be enjoyed by a slightly younger audience - although the story is more substantial and more engrossing than many a picture book. Poor Jo-Jo - day after day, he trudges around the streets of Venice carrying his heavy load of melons, unappreciated by anyone, until... no less a person than the Doge's daughter notices him. From that, a touching friendship evolves and Jo-Jo is able to save the city when danger threatens. Love and appreciation are the messages given by this lovely story, embellished by the atmospheric illustrations by Helen Stephens.

Rich Witch, Poor Witch by Peter Bently

This book is a delight to read aloud, with its hilarious storyline and catchy rhyming text. Twin Witch Rose and Witch Rita are relaxing at home when the king arrives at Rita's front door looking terribly worried. The princess is refusing to smile! Will Witch Rita be able to solve the problem by conjuring up all sorts of expensive goodies? Perhaps Witch Rose will save the day with a very different approach - something simple but very effective; something we all need. The vivid illustrations by Jim Field are full of life and fun, just like the story.

It's Following Me (Picture Flats) by Sheri Radford

What can it be? Something is following little kitty wherever she goes. Can your child guess what it is? Enjoy the rhyming text and enjoy the charming pictures - which include some little friends you wouldn't expect a cat to have! The pictures (by Gareth Llewhellin) are clever and full of fun, and the cat's expressions are delightful - right down to the surprise ending - ouch!

Two Stubborn Pirates (Picture Flats) by Oakley Graham

Enjoy this rollicking sea shanty about warring pirates Redbeard and Bluebeard. Redbeard has stolen Bluebeard's map and the story follows a series of piratical mishaps as Bluebeard tries to get it back. Children will revel in sharing the refrain, making this the perfect read-aloud book for home and classroom. Kimberley Scott's bright bold illustrations are full of cleverly observed detail and children will love the surprise at the end.

A Day with the Animal Builders by Sharon Rentta

Things get off to a bad start when Donkey treads in the wet concrete on his first day on the building site - and that's just the start! The penguins' dream home is going to be amazing - but only if Donkey can be as skilful as the rest of the builders! But when disaster threatens, Donkey is the one who can help! It's full of fun and the hilarious illustrations are full of quirky detail to enjoy. Just one niggle - the cover is very thin so the book will not last at all well - shame.

Eat Up, Emlyn by Angela Morris

Emlyn is getting smaller - he won't eat his dinner. His brother is big and strong, and Dad plays rugby for Wales. It's time to go and see Nain - she'll know what to do. Nain's cawl is extra special and succeeds in tempting Emlyn to eat, so he grows up big and strong and plays rugby for Wales - and nain's cawl becomes in great demand!

The Bunny that Couldn't be Found by Angela Mitchell

The palace is turned upside down when the princess's Johnny Bunny goes missing - the guard search everywhere and all they find is a pesky dog - a dog who can't understand why they keep calling his name then ignoring him... A hilarious romp that children will love as they spot Johnny Bunny all over the place.

The Pet Itch by Elli Woollard

Mossy the Monster wants nothing more than a pet, and all the well-meaning suggestions of his family are well and truly rejected - in hilarious rhyming text that children will relish. Finally, they come up with a scheme that is bound to work... Elina Ellis' bright illustrations are just gruesome enough to entice children - an unusual and enjoyable book.

Little Evie in the Wild Wood by Jackie Morris

A stunningly illustrated modern-day fairy tale. Little Evie ventures deeper and deeper into the wild woods with her basket of jam tarts... but who are they for? The suspense builds and then Evie meets the wolf... The darkly evocative illustrations leave plenty of scope for the imagination and the poetic language combines perfectly with the illustrations by Catherine Hyde to create a little masterpiece which depicts both beauty and dark mystery.

The Very Messy Mermaid by Tracey Corderoy

Little mermaid Twinkletail is the very neatest mermaid ever - and all because her parents can't abide mess. Because they love her, they plan a birthday party, but what starts off impossibly neat magically turns into the best party ever, with a little help from Twinkletail's fairy godmother. a lovely girly tale embellished with gorgeously detailed illustrations by Kate Leake.

Penguin on Holiday by Salina Yoon 

I loved the little penguin in Penguin and Pinecone - such an endearing character, and here he is in a new adventure. He decides it's time for a holiday and what could be more of a contrast than a tropical beach getaway? But things are very confusing - you can't skate, sledge or ski on sand. But just as he is about to give up and go home, Penguin meets someone very special who reminds him that it's not where you go on holiday, but who you go with. Another lovely story about the importance of friendship.

Just Right For Two by Tracey Corderoy

Tracey has a real gift for creating the most adorable characters and here are two more. Dog thinks he has everything he needs - his big blue suitcase is packed full of all his treasures. But one day, Mouse comes along and he and Dog have lots of fun together. After, Dog feels lonely and realises that there has been something really important missing from his life all along... This is a charming story about the importance of friendship, delightfully illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw who has captured the emotions of the book perfectly.

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Noi and his father live in a house by the sea but Noi is often lonely as his father works. When he finds a baby whale washed up on the beach after a storm he takes it home to care for it. But a whale cannot be hidden for long and soon Noi's father persuades him to let the whale return to the sea. But an important lesson has been learnt and the father understands that his son needs companionship, so the two spend much more time together in this touching story.

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson

I love books with such intriguing titles - they really make me want to read the story! This is just as hilarious as it sounds - make sure you read it next time you are preparing to wash a woolly mammoth! The book starts off really well with an amusing collection of toiletries pictured and the humour is maintained throughout, both by the text and illustrations. Bathing a mammoth is a tricky business right from the start, as he may drink all the bath water - but the perfect solution is found Wonderful - I really enjoyed the end.

Picnic by John Burningham

Wonderful - a new book from John Burningham. His trademark style never dates and is a refreshing change from some of the more complex picture books. A simple story - a boy and a girl have a picnic, simply illustrated. Yet still full of fun as they meet new friends and have adventures on the way - and there are plenty of things for the young reader to spot to engage them with the story. And there's a clever bedtime twist at the end...

Bobbo Goes To School by Shirley Hughes

Were ever children's book characters more endearing than Shirley Hughes'? She manages to get right inside a child's mind and portray their feelings and concerns wonderfully. This is more than simply a 'first experience' book, although it is a good way of showing children what school is like. There is more of a storyline to it, as Lily is having a bad day and throws Bobbo on top of the school bus just as it draws away... but luckily, all is well and after plenty of excitement, the pair are reunited in this reassuring story.

Mr Bloom's Nursery: The Super Veggies!

Raymond is sad when the postman delivers the wrong comic but can Mr Bloom and the other Veggies show him that Super Spud is just as good as Captain Asparagus? Also available is Mr Bloom's Nursery: Colin the Scooter Bean which features a daring scooter jump! The colourful images from the TV make these attractive and appealing to young readers/viewers. Find out in this fantastically funny superhero story! Mr Bloom's Nursery is a popular CBeebies programme which aims to encourage children to get involved and inspired by nature. It ties in excellently with the current movement to get children more involved with gardens, growing and the natural world.


Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

We know that Dog loves Books and Drawing from the first two books about this lovely creature, and now we find out he loves counting too! Dog can't get to sleep but counting sheep doesn't help. So he decides to see what other animals he can count and he is off on an adventure, finding friends and numbers in unexpected places. A very unusual counting book, which introduces some fascinating creatures - new friends for Dog, who are each linked to their very own number. Clever and quirky - a joy to read.

Do Not Enter The Monster Zoo! by Amy Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie

This is the story of a brave little boy who takes on what seems an impossible task - running a zoo full of huge, scary monsters. At first they seem scary, but soon enough he has learnt to keep them all in their place. Full of imagination, this hilarious adventure encourages young readers to have confidence and stand up for themselves,

Yucky Mucky Manners by Sam Lloyd

This is such a great way for children to learn about the importance of manners. Children will love to find out about the very bad manners of the jungle animals in this hilarious story - picking noses, bare bums and talking when someone else is are all examples of jungle manners... perhaps children have better manners than these creatures, after all! A hilarious story.

Ernest & Celestine: The Picnic by Gabrielle Vincent

These two friends are a delightful pairing - there's Celestine the mouse and Ernest the bear and together they have some lovely adventures. This time, Celestine is disappointed that the picnic is called off because of the rain, so the two friends decide to imagine it's not raining... It's a lovely imaginative story, paired with gentle watercolour illustrations which set of this lovely traditional story - and even the binding has a nostalgic feel, making this a book to treasure.

Dear Zoo Spin and Say by Rod Campbell

The ever-popular Dear Zoo in yet another innovative format which ensures that this favourite story keeps fresh and popular. The interactive format is perfect to engage young children and they will enjoy recognising the familiar (and some new) characters from the book. As they spin the wheels, children are introduced to a range of early learning concepts, including numbers, colours and adjectives and spotting the images from the book will give lots of pleasure. The strong board pages will last through lots of enthusiastic use and the concept is excellent for encouraging discussion.

Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou! by Julia Donaldson

An entertaining story from the ever-popular Julia Donaldson, whose books never fail to delight. A gentle ghost tries to scare a little girl but when he can't even wake her up, he knows he needs help! Luckily, there are lots of very noisy friends on hand - there's a cow and an owl, a baby and a cockerel all trying. The book gives lots of opportunity for children to join in with the noises, so I can't promise it's a peaceful bedtime read! But what I can promise is that children will find it a whole lot of fun.

A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law

Discover the amazing and fascinating sea creatures who live in the hole in the bottom of the sea. This vibrantly coloured book is based on a traditional cumulative song, with each verse introducing a new creature and showing its place in the food chain. Children love this style of story with its repetition and I can see this as a wonderful classroom and performance resource. The illustrations are full of colour and detail - super opportunities for children to create their own artwork. The enclosed enhanced CD includes video animation and audio singalong.

We Love You, Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Hugless Douglas goes from strength to strength. Douglas wants what everyone else seems to have - a best friend So he sets off on a best friend hunt with Flossie the sheep and meets lots and lots of acquaintances on the way. Is he missing something - perhaps what Douglas is looking for is right under his nose... A lovely story about friendship and being there for others. Warm and reassuring.

Ten Little Pirates by Mike Brownlow

Ten little pirates set out to sea in search of adventure. But the seas are full of danger and gradually our friendly pirates disappear one by one... This rhyming story counts backwards from ten to one and is perfect to share with young children who are learning about numbers. They will love to shout out the number as you turn each page. As well, the vibrant and amusing illustrations are packed with detail and things to count. With its bouncy, rhythmic text and lots of great sound words, this piratical adventure is perfect for sharing again and again.

Abigail by Catherine Rayner

Counting is Abigail's favourite thing. But some things are hard to count - Zebra's stripes and Cheetah's spots just won't keep still. Happily, a solution is found and Abigail finds herself teaching all her friends to count - but once it gets dark, will they have to stop counting? The illustrations capture the animals and the atmosphere wonderfully in this perfect bedtime read which has a stunning fold-out night sky ending.

Fish Food by Andy Mansfield illus by Henning Lohlein

A simple thing like the unusual size and shape of a book can make all the difference - this is a long thin book! There's a reason for that - it allows maximum impact for the clever paper engineering which takes you to the bottom of the sea as the creatures chomp, gulp and crunch. The story tells of an underwater food chain - a little sea worm is about to become fish food; but what about the little fish who swallows him; and the even bigger fish that swallows the little one? The story progresses to its inevitable end with a super pop-up surprise. Great fun.

Olive and the Bad Mood by Tor Freeman

Today's a bad day for Olive and she's feeling grumpy and all her friends seem to be upsetting her. Already she has lost a button from her dungarees, fallen flat on her face and had a ball kicked at her! So she is mean to her friends and the big bad mood spreads. A trip to the sweet shop is just what Olive needed - but why are her friends still grumpy? A delightful story about friendship and how things can go just a little bit wrong...

Little Red Riding Hood by Alison Jay

As we all know, Little Red Riding Hood goes to visit her grandmother and finds a rather large scary wolf in her bed. After a frightening moment, the wolf is captured by a woodsman and granny is let out of the wardrobe. Look carefully and you'll spot the story of Hansel and Gretel being played out in the background and there are elements of other fairy tales too. The crackle-glazed paintings which are such a trademark of Alison Jay's work are quite stunning - they are packed with detail and each one offers endless opportunity for discussion. The first scene, the teashop in Fairytale Village, is full of well-known characters - how many can your child spot? A wonderful book to share and enjoy as a family.

The Royal Baby by Tony Bradman

After the fairytale wedding, everyone wanted to know when there would be a royal baby; and when it was announced that the princess was going to have a baby speculation was rife. Who would it look like? What would it be like? But the prince and prioncess aren't worried by any of this - they just want their baby to be safe and well. Set in a timeless kingdom, this is a funny and heart-warming story that celebrates the joy and excitement of a new baby... and leaves an unanswered question! A light-hearted touch and subtle pieces of humour make the story a delight.

I Am Not a Copycat! by Ann Bonwill

An unlikely pairing - a hippo and a brid - but one that works really well in these books which explore their friendship and deal with situations familiar to toddlers. Hugo is off to to practise his water ballet routine at the local swimming pool and is annoyed by Bella who copyies everything - even down to the costume. And the copying continues at the pool - but with unexpected results when it seems that they are stars! But when it comes to the celebration, will they still want to be the same? A ddelightful story which will really appeal to children.

My First 100 Words from TickTock

Books like this are perfect for encouraging toddlers to develop language and observation skills - they love to spot the familiar objects and gradually they learn to recognise the shapes of the words. The book is divided into a range of sections, including Things that go, Clothes, Food and drink and Animals. Bright photos set against colourful backgrounds capture the attention. The heavy grade paper means the book is ideal for little hands as it won't tear easily. Helpful suggestions at the back of the book help parents to 'fast track' literacy.

Seaside by Alain Gree

I love these books by Alain Gree with their old-fashioned feel. What could be more exciting than a trip to the seaside? The busy pictures are full of interest with lots for child and adult to discuss - discussion is prompted by the informative text and the many ideas suggested and questions asked. Many of the pictures are labelled too. I like the inclusion of a page on seaside safety - it's excellent to introduce this to young children. It's a book which really draws the young reader in and it has a lovely traditional feel. Published by Button Books June 13; ISBN 9781908985101.

Exploring by Alain Gree

Another perfect book for the summer, to encourage children to explore the world around them. There's lots of information here about our country and about other countries around the world, all illustrated with Alain Gree's lovely nostalgic illustrations which are a refreshing change from the bright colours of so many books - of course, there's a place for both. The simple pictures show a child's eye view of their world and the clear font encourages word recognition. There's lots to discuss and questions to involve the child. Published by Button Books June 13; ISBN 9781908985118.


Baggy Brown and the Royal Baby by Mick Inkpen

Baggy Brown was very special - he was known as Number One and he was due to be presented to the Royal Baby, daughter of King and Queen of Thingland. But things went wrong in the factory and he finds himself with Alfie. Alfie loves him very much but when he finds out that they Royal Bear is missing, Alfie decides to take him to the palace... will Alfie be able to keep his beloved bear? A lovely story with a very pleasing and humorous twist at the end.

Wild by Emily Hughes

A touching short story with a very traditional and nostalgic feel. The little girl has known nothing but nature from her birth, having been brought up by birds, bears and foxes. Can she adapt to the strange life she has been taken to - a world of concrete with no green. Sensitively written, with a delicate touch and perfectly complemented by the detailed illustrations.

Hannah's Night by Komako Sakai

A beautifully written story about a little girl who wakes up at night and explores her house. The only other creature awake is the cat, Shiro and the the little girl makes sure Shiro has a share in her adventures. The storyline, and especially the delicate blue-tinged illustrations, beautifully capture the nocturnal feel of the book. I'm not sure it's perfect bedtime reading though, as it may give children the wrong idea! A simple story which has been made into something special.

Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett

When you are a very little mouse, big beasts could look very scary - but when you're as enterprising as Little Mouse, you'll find a way to stop them being scary. Little Mouse has found a new book, and this time it’s full of scary creatures. Undaunted, he bravely sets about removing or altering all the scariest bits: cosy mittens to cover the lion’s claws, ruby lips to replace the shark’s teeth -- and he even pole vaults out of the way of the bear! Full of flaps, jokes and Emily Gravett’s trademark wit, with a brilliantly satisfying ending, this is a worthy successor to Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears.

I Love Woolly (Woolly & Tig) by Brian Jameson

This is based on the TV show about Tig and her toy spider Woolly which explores the feelings that children have when faced with new experiences. Tig is really looking forward to Angel coming to play but she's unhappy when Angel plays with her toys. But Woolly is on hand to explain just why Angel had to go home when Tig wouldn't share. The book is an excellent way to encourage children to discuss their feelings and it includes suggestions for adults for ways to use the story to help their child talk about new experiences. It's a bright colourful book which will instantly appeal to children and I like the way Tig is used to show how to turn pages correctly!

Toys in Space by Mini Grey

One summer night the toys were left in the garden. The Wonderdoll starts to tell a story and the toys realise that, not a star but a spaceship is approaching and they are all off onto a magical adventure. They find that toys have been collected from gardens all over the earth, in Hoctopise's search for his Cuddles, but they insist he returns them all - and then they return home too, after a wonderful party. An unusual and very funny story with a happy ending.

We're Going On A Picnic by Pat Hutchins

This is one of those wonderful stories that just flows and is a sheer delight to read over and over again. Children love the repetition and the opportunity to join in - but you need to share the pictures with your child or they will miss the whole point of the story. It's the perfect day for a picnic so Hen, Duck and Goose pick their favourite fruits and set off to find the ideal place for a picnic. But they just can't agree where to stop and as they trudge on, the pictures show us that they are not the only hungry ones...A hilarious story which children will love.

Fairies of Blossom Bakery: Cupcake and the Princess Party by Mandy Archer

This is the first in a new series girls will love, all about fairies, friendship and baking. When an important messenger arrives at the Blossom Bakery on opening day asking Cupcake and her fairy friends to make a cake for Princess Crystal, they can't wait to get started. But things start to go wrong and as the pressure mounts, the fairy friends realise they need to work together to make the magic happen. It's a charmingly presented book, with a pastel pink background, a silvery cover and softly coloured pictures.

Fairies of Blossom Bakery: Cookie and the Secret Sleepover by Mandy Archer

After baking with her friend Cupcake in the first story, Cookie enjoyed it so much that she organises a secret sleepover just for them. But what will she do when she's invited over to Button's house on the day of the sleepover? Will she tell them about her secret? The books in this lovely series about friendship and baking series feature a map at the front, so children can follow the adventures and find out where they happen. The delicate illustrations are full of detail and each book includes a very special recipe - this has a recipe for mini chocolate-dipped hearts.

Borka: The Adventures Of A Goose With No Feathers (Collectors' Edition) by John Burningham

John Burningham's stories show a real gift for making the reader think and ponder on the meaning of the story, and this must be one of the secrets of their enduring popularity. Mr and Mrs Plumpster had six fine young geese: Archie, Freda, Jennifer, Oswald, Timothy and Borka - but Borka was different; he had no feathers. When winter came the other geese flew off leaving Borka all alone... Borka stows away on a boat and finds herself at Kew Gardens... look out for her when you are next there! Beautiful artwork and a simple but moving story combine to make this a classic, celebrated with this very special Collectors' Edition in hardback and a 50th Anniversary paperback - Borka: The Adventures Of A Goose With No Feathers

You're A Rude Pig, Bertie! by Claudia Boldt 

Bertie is the most rudest pig you'll ever meet and, not surprisingly, he alienates all his friends. But that's all set to change when a beautiful bunny and a disastrous party - and a dream about a toothbrush - lead Bertie to a startling realisation which completely reforms him. The delightful pastel drawings are a real joy and enhance the thoughtful story perfectly.

The Big Hearted Book by Nicholas Allan

A book full of love and a celebration of true friendship. Babette and Bill are the very best of friends,joined by a ribbon of hearts. When Babette falls ill, the two friends are parted and they are both broken hearted, but discover that even when they can't see it, the ribbon of hearts it is always there pulling them together. This could have been overly sentimental, but not in the least - it hits just the right note. Written in association with the International Children's Heart Foundatio this is a touching story that will comfort anyone affected by illness. The mission of the International Children's Heart Foundation is to bring the skills, technology and knowledge to diagnose and care for children with congenital heart disease to developing countries.

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