Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 11)

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.

Miffy at the Zoo by Dick Bruna

Dick Bruna's simple iconic images have wowed generations of children and their appeal never wanes. Perfect for young eyes, the bright colours and simple images are easy for children to relate to. Share Miffy's wonder as she visits the zoo with dad and meets all the animals. The gentle story lines encourage the imagination and stimulate children to express themselves. The rhyming text is ideal to read aloud and the chunky feel of these lovely hardbacks makes them lovely to collect and pass on through the generations. So simple but sheer joy. "Award-winning UK poet, Tony Mitton, has worked closely with Dick Bruna's Dutch publisher to create new translations for the classic Miffy stories that are true to the books' original voice, and yet have a contemporary feel to the language that makes them appealing to the modern young audience. The translations beautifully convey the warmth and friendliness of the original Dutch whilst maintaining a style that is inimitably Miffy."

Miffy's Play Date by Dick Bruna

Miffy's invited her friend Grunty on a play date. Just like children everywhere, they learn to take turns, share and cooperate with each other. Bright simple illustrations are eye-catching and offer opportunity for discussion. There are over 30 stickers to decorate the illustrations in this charming sticker storybook - a fun way to encourage fine motor skills. This is a sticker book, yes, but if done with care it will also be treasured as a lasting story book with a personal touch. It is one of a series of activity books produced by Simon and Schuster which are totally true to the original concept and which enhance its interest.

Fairies of Blossom Bakery: Butterfly and the Birthday Surprise (Cupcake Fairies) by Mandy Archer

There are six fairies at Blossom Bakery and this is the story of Butterfly. They spend their days baking and playing in a very special secret world, full of girly things. It's time for Butterfly's birthday party and she wants everything to be perfect. She's got her dress and her cake and all her fairy friends are working hard to make the day perfect. But then things start to go wrong ... luckily, her friends are on hand to save the day. A lovely girly story which little girls will love - and there's a cake recipe too.

Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle

Another super book from the author of one of my favourite recent books, The Pirates Next Door. The four young dinosaurs have been warned about the big scary Gigantosaurus so they decide to post Bonehead as their look-out. But he is a bit too ready to cry 'Gigantosaurus' and soon the other dino-kids ignore his warnings... but then Gigantosuarus does turn up, all ready for lunch - crunch! What has happened to Bonehead? The rhyming text is perfect for reading aloud and children can learn more about their favourite dinosaurs at the end too. Dramatic illustrations (and a surprise fold-out) with a wonderfully portrayed prehistoric background really bring the story alive.

The Driftwood Ball by Thomas Docherty

The badgers and the otters have one thing in common - they love to dance. Trouble is, they dance very differently. It's time for the annual Driftwood Ball when the badgers and the otters gather to dance. But they don't dance together because they are just too different. Until, that is, otter Celia and badger George decide they want to do things differently - they want to dance together, in their own way. An unusual story, delicately and thoughtfully illustrated and with a lovely sparkly cover.

Dangerous! by Tim Warnes

Mole loves labelling things but he has met his match this time - the labels just go on and on until suddenly, an enormous yawn and terrifying teeth... and mole runs for safety. He is not in danger though but he does seem to have found a new best friend. Trouble is, his new best friend gobbles up all his labels... and matters come to a head. A quirky and unusual story which is a great way to encourage children to develop language skills (although they will think they are just having fun!). It's full of surprises and is a lovely story of friendship.

Who's In The Tree That Shouldn't Be by Craig Shuttlewood

Little ones love the excitement of lifting a flap and discovering a surprise underneath. The surprises in this book are very clever as the animal pictured underneath is totally unexpected - who would expect an elephant in the sky or a peacock under the sea? There is a quirky rhyming text and lots of sub-comments to keep interest alive. At the end, children are asked to recognise all the creatures. The book is made in good quality card so will withstand all the enthusiastic handling is is bound to receive.

Boo! by Tracey Corderoy

An lovely noisy and exuberant book that children will love and which could be used as the basis of a really fun game for a group of children. Hullabaloo loves to creep up on his friends and make them jump - but they don't see the funny side and decide 'no more boos'. Hullabaloo really tries but he is very sad, so his friends relent and say he can 'boo' on his birthday - but everything gets spoilt. Has he ruined his party - well, I'm not spoiling the surprise! Children will love to join in with this story and I can almost guarantee the noise level will rise... and rise... and rise. Bright and full of fun, this is a book to cheer everyone up.

Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower

 Every day, Troll tries to eat the Oliver but the Oliver is too fast, too sneaky, or just too plain clever to be caught. But when things get quiet, and Oliver thinks it's safe when suddenly and unexpectedly, Troll is back and CHOMP! But Olivers don't taste very nice so the Oliver is safe. And the unexpected ending is CAKE! And there's even a recipe for Troll Cupcakes to try out. Troll is wonderfully depicted with the most amazingly expressive eyebrows you have ever seen! And Oliver has a very cheeky little face - and Troll isn't TOO scary!  Enormous fun.

Start To Learn: Words by Toby Reynold

Books like this are a real joy to share with children and they learn so much in a thoroughly enjoyable way. Share this book with a child over the months and you will be amazed at how quickly they learn and how much pleasure they get from recognising and naming objects. This lovely generously sized book introduces the key concept of using words and pictures to support your child's early learning. Using familiar animals, objects and concepts each spread takes a thematic approach, including school, park and fruit. Bright photographs make things easily identified and the questions give a starting point for discussion - but these are just a start, there are so many ways you can incorporate all sorts of learning into the sharing of this lovely book.

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon

Penguin was looking for love but he found ... a mitten, and sets off to find the owner and does some knitting too. Knitting is popular - on the other side of the iceberg, Bootsy the penguin is busily knitting. But where has their wool gone? The two penguins set on on an exciting trek to solve the mystery and find that they have more than just wool to keep them warm. It's a charming story of friendship, love and looking out for one another. The illustrations are utterly adorable and I thoroughly enjoyed this warm-hearted story.

Dino-Mummy by Mark Sperring

Dino-Mummy is very special and looks after her two dino-babies superbly. From getting up onwards, she is the best at everything she does and brings excitement to everyday activities. A lovely celebration of mothers everywhere and the perfect book for mothers and children to share - and perhaps for children to give to their own perfect mummy. Brightly coloured and full of the love and fun that makes families, it's a super book.

There's a Dinosaur in My Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri

Amelia has a dinosaur in her bathtub... or has she? Pierre, the French dinosaur with a black moustache, is very good at hiding - so good, that the rest of the family never see him... Amelia and Pierre have lots of excitng adventures together - they travel to the moon, eat giant ice creams and sail to magical lands. But, as we all know, French dinosaurs only stay for the summer so sadly, Amelia must say goodbye. A lovely story about the power of the imagination and the joy it can bring.

Cuckoo! by Fiona Roberton

The cover is eye-catching in its simplicity and that drew me into the book straightaway. Poor cuckoo - he isn't like the other birds in the nest, so he bravely sets off to find someone who undertands him. Perhaps he belongs with the sheep, the frogs or cows - but sadly don't understand him either! Will he ever find someone who is just like him? A lovely story about belonging, told appealingly and with a quirky sense of humour that will be appreciated by adult and child alike.

Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson

There are lots of things Horace and Hettie the hedgehogs enjoy doing together, but just imagine how difficult it is to hug when you are a hedgehog! They tried all sorts of ingenious ways to cover their prickles so they could hug but nothing quite worked... until finally, they found the perfect solution. It's a charming story, quirky and unusual - refreshing in its originality. The illustrations are a delight - I fell in love with these two delightful creatures and their lovely setting. And now, when the age-old question of 'where is my odd sock?' is asked, you will know the answer...

Oi Frog by Kes Gray

All creatures have their own places to sit - cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs - so, naturally, frogs should sit on logs. But not this frog - he says logs are uncomfortable and ants to try something different. A hilarious rhyming story which has animals sitting on more and more unlikely things, all in the interests of rhyme. There's a twist in the end, when frog asks what dogs sit on... I will leave you to work that one out for yourself!!! Quirky and amusing, perfectly pitched for young children, this is great fun and the bold use of colour adds another dimension to its appeal.

Princess Stay Awake by Giles Paley-Phillips

Princess Layla just won't go to sleep, no matter who her parents call on to help them get some peace and quiet. It seems there's only one answer -get Grandma on the scene. She has an extremely clever and very simple answer which succeeds brilliantly. A story that will be loved by grandmas everywhere and perfect for them to share with their grandchildren - at bedtime, of course! The catchy rhyming text and action-packed pictures combine to make an excellent read.

Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot illustrated by Arthur Robins

This needs little introduction - the much-loved about mischevious Macavity which first appeared in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. This celebrates the 75th anniversary and it's great to see it brought to a whole new audience. Perfect to read aloud - just pause long enough for the children to shout out 'Macavity's not there!' Arthur Robins' entertaining illustrations capture the humour perfectly and add a fresh dimension to the poem.

Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon by Rachel Valentine

The sparkly gold stars on Marmaduke's wings mean that the cover demands you pick this book up. Marmaduke's not like all the other dragons - he is orange, not purple and his ears are too big. What's more, he never even tries to fly. And when he wants to protect a princess, she wants a real dragon. Princesses can be different too, so when he finds Princess Meg who wears trainers and breaks into dance at the most inappropriate of times, they realise they need each other. A delightful celebration of friendship and being true to yourself - and a sparkly surprise inside too.

Boris Gets Spots by Carrie Weston

The friends have had an exciting morning - and the visit from Farmer Gander who tells the children all about his farm is a great opportunity for discussion. But Boris has come out in spots - it must be chicken pox. Miss Cluck asks Mr Gander and Buttercup the cow to take the poorly animals home and she is left in an empty classsroon. At least she gets the chance to make some honey-oat cookies as a welcome-back treat to give to Boris and his friends when they come back to school, fully recovered - and Miss Cluck is even glad to hear their noise. A bright lively story.

Oscar Got the Blame by Tony Ross

Of course Oscar didn't do it, whatever it was - it was Oscar's friend Billy who dressed the dog in Dad's clothes, put frogs in Granny's slippers and made rather a mess getting breakfast. Why did Oscar get the blame then? The trouble was, nobody else could see Billy. A light-hearted and hilarious story with Tony Ross' wonderfully silly illustrations. A superb story that will hit the right note in many families - a child with an imaginary friend is a child with an imagination and that can only be a good thing.

Elmer and Snake by David McKee

An old favourite who continues to appeal and to remain as fresh and relevant as ever. The elephants want to play a trick on Elmer but they can't think of one! So they ask wily old Snake to help them... For a picture book, there is a good amount of text so there's enough of a story for children to get involved. As ever, the illustrations are a delight from the brightly coloured patchwork Elmer (who gets a little pale during this story) to the detail there to be enjoyed and discussed on every page. A super book to share with your child.

Z is for Moose by Kelly L Bingham

Z is for moose - how can that be? Already you know this is going to be an alphabet book with a difference. Zebra is compiling an alphabet book - surely that can't be too difficult? But Zebra has a few problems with Moose - Moose gets very impatient and keeps trying to get into the story and then, oh dear, he misses the letter m. Now what? He does get cross and we see this humorously depicted in the next few letters. Finally, Zebra has a very clever idea to keep Moose happy There are surprises all the way through this delightful book. Cleverly done, with lots to look at and enjoy together.

Mr Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Mr Wuffles is very... well, some people would call him fussy as he ignores all the toys people buy for him. Now Mr Wuffles has the perfect toy and he's ready to play. But it's not really a toy at all. It's something much more interesting... what can it be? An almost wordless picture book that encourages the reader to use their imagination. The pictures are bold and unusual with lots going on. It's a great way to stimulate discussion and to encourage children to put their own take onto the story.

Zoom Zoom Zoom by Katherina Manolessou

Get ready for bedtime with this colourful 5-4-3-2-1 countdown to blast-off. Monkey and Bird can’t sleep, so they’re off on a magical journey to the moon, passing meteors, alien hands, moon buggies and yellow ladders. Finally, they find a big red spaceship button that will zoom zoom zoom them all the way home. A fun and vibrant way to learn to count with two friendly characters and beautifully designed illustrations that bring fresh life to a favourite rhyme.

I Love Mum by Joanna Walsh

Smiles, games, baking, walking out and lots more things in a fun-filled day with mum. And there is nothing better than doing all these things with mum. A charming celebration about the love of a mother and her little ones - in this instance, a tiger and her cubs. A warm-hearted story perfect for a comforting and reassuring bedtime read.

The Hans and Matilda Show by Yokococo

It's the school show and Matilda gets the starring role. But naughty little Hans decides to wreak havoc with the other acts to make them a bit more fun. But wait a minute - just who is Hans? We find out when, to escape the angry cast he runs into the magician's wardrobe. Oh look - he's transformed into Matilda and this wins Clumsy Tony the prize for best act in the show. The interesting twist makes this story fun.

I am Cat (Mini edition) by Jackie Morris

As the cat sleeps, so it dreams. Wonderful dreams of being a tiger, a cheetah a lion, a jaguar, a lynx, a puma, a snow leopard, a Scottish wild cat, an Asian fishing cat, and the rare Amur leopard. And after all that, he wakes, to tell his dreams to the child who is stroking him. This unique book is a wonderful depiction of the cat family in all its guises, with stunning illustrations of all the cats. At the end of the book is a double page spread giving factual information and a drawing for each of the cats, making this book an excellent introduction to the cat family. An unusual concept, brilliantly executed. The mini edition is charming.

Pom and Pim by Lena Landström

Pom and Pim have a very busy day. Some things are good luck but in aday of mixed fortunes, it seems that they easily turn into bad luck - the ice cream gives Pom tummy ache; the balloon bursts. It's a day of mixed fortunes but things all turn out right in the end when Pom finds a good use for the broken balloon. Cleverly told with minimal words but very expressive pictures.

Watch Out for the Crocodile by Lisa Moroni

Tora and Dad are off on holiday and it promises to be an exciting change from Dad's boring routine of working, drinking coffee, sitting at the computer, and talking on his mobile. But somehow, Dad doesn't see all the exciting wild creatures, even when they are right there in front of him. Then it turns out that Dad too does have a vivid imagination and they see all sorts of things... or do they? The delicate illustrations echo the feel of the book beautifully and give lots to look at and discuss.

Mrs. Mo's Monster by Paul Beavis

A monster is at the door - a monster with a one-track mind: food. But he's met his match in the feisty old lady called Mrs. Mo. With Mrs. Mo's help, the monster is surprised to discover that he can do more than he ever thought — but woth Mrs. Mo's help he finds he can do more than he ever thought. A good book to share with children who are reluctant to try something new. And there's a surprise at the end as the tables are turned... /td>

The Herd Boy by Niki Daly

Picture books can be fun or they can be thought-provoking and give an insight into another world; this book definitely falls into the latter category. Malusi, an African herd boy from the Transkei region of South Africa, watches over his flock all day. Then on the way home he has an amazing meeting - with Nelson Mandela, who asks the boy what his dream is. He replies that he wants to be President, just like Mandela who was also a herd boy. An inspiring and aspirational book. The book includes an endnote about the link with Nelson Mandela and a glossary of African words, making it an excellent way to learn more about the country. The atmosphere of the region is beautifully evoked in the pictures with their primitive but movement-filled style.

We Have Lift-Off! by Sean Taylor

The animals have had enough so they decide to escape from Farmer Tanner's polluted and mucky farm, and his ill treatment of them. They build a space rocket and in turn the animals set off for test flights - but the rocket keeps returning to earth, as the poor animals aren't quite as clever as they think. Then Farmer Tanner discovers the rocket. Is this the end of their cunning plan? You'll have to read this insightful story to find out. It's fun and lively with a wonderful cast of animals all shown well through the vibrant and action-packed detailed illustrations.

Firebird by Saviour Pirotta

The Firebird - not an easy story to retell in a form suitable for young readers but Saviour Pirotta has succeeded brilliantly. The firebird has been stealing King Vaslav's golden apples so the king must find a way to catch him - and the reward is a quarter of his kingdom. Prince Ivan determines to prove himself and this is the story of his quest. Catherine Hyde's stunning illustrations are evocative and unusual and their mystical touch is perfect for the story.

Counting Chickens by Polly Alakija

Frances Lincoln excel at bringing us books which give a real flavour of other cultures and here is another superb book. Tobi has a hen, the finest in all the village. His friends all have their own animals and one by one they give birth - one calf, two lambs, three kids, four kittens, five puppies and six piglets. But although Tobi's hen is sitting on seven eggs, nothing happens... finally, they hatch and by the following year, there are so many chickens Tobi can't count them all. The last page offers children a colourful counting challenge - how many chickens are there? An unusual counting book with intriguing illustrations full of fun, life and colour.

The Strongest Boy in the World by Jessica Souhami

Kaito is stronger than all the other boys in his village. He is the best wrestler in the village so he sets off to the city to face a bigger challenge in the world-famous Sumo wrestling tournament. But on the way he plays a trick on a girl he meets - but Hana turns the tables on him as she is even stronger. Hana offers to train Kaito – with amazing results. An interesting story which shows things aren't always what they seem and we shouldn't pre-judge. Clear bright illustrations are just right to express the story.

Dinosauritis (Flip the Flap Dinosaur Tale) by Jeannette Rowe

Has your child got dinosauritis? Then they will love this colourful picture book. An entertaining story told in rhyming verse about Darwin who has a passion for dinosaurs - and he amazes the world with his knowledge. But then, along comes Sally Dolomide whose knowledge quite puts Darwin's into the shade. Then the children get ill - what can be the problem? Colourful flaps adorn every page and are a key part of the story As well as the story, children will enjoy bonus dinosaur themed games and puzzles, fun facts and jokes.

Ayu and the Perfect Moon by David Cox

A stunningly illustrated book which tells the story of young Aya performing the traditional Indonesian dance, the Legong. The Legong, as the book tells us, is a traditional Balinese dance performed at the time of the full moon. The books gives a colourful insight into the culture of Bali and the illustrations are full of detail to study and enjoy. The book will make an excellent classroom resource - both an enjoyable story and a way of introducing another lifestyle.

Let the Celebrations Begin (Walker Classics) by Margaret Wild

An unexpected topic for a picture book, but one which is handled with great sensitivity. It is the story of Miriam who lives in Hut 18, bed 22 - in a concentration camp. The younger children know nothing different but Miriam remembers how things used to be. Here there are no toys so Miriam and the women come up with a special plan ready for the day when the soldiers open the gates and they are freed. The focus of the book is on the creation of the toys and the people - the grim life of the camp is just hinted at. A thought-provoking book which will form an interesting basis for discussion.

In a Minute, Mum by A. H. Benjamin

We've all heard it, haven't we? 'In a minute, Mum'! Rory always puts things off and it drives his fami9ly mad! And it's not just a minute either - things take much longer. Something needs to be done to make Rory change his ways. So it's decided that Rory will have to find out what it's like to be on the receiving end... A humorous story which is great for sharing, especially with children who may suffer from the same problem. Nicely told.

Where Are You Banana? by Sofie Laguna

Roddy's dog Banana usually goes out with the family but he has to be left behind when they visit Aunt Celia. But when they get home, Banana has disappeared!  Poor Roddy is distraught and sets out searching  -finally, he finds Banana in a drain. With some help from his family and a friend, he finds an ingenious way to rescue his beloved pet. It's a lovely warm story about a child's love for his pet, excellently illustrated with lots of interesting detail to flesh out the story.

Let's Paint! by Gabriel Alborozo

A super celebration of the joy of painting. Full of inspiration, it will encourage any child to 'have a go'. From exquisitely detailed paintings to crazy kaleidoscopes of colour, art is as essential as the air we breathe and much more fun - and the whole gamut of emotions aroused by paintings are explored. As you would expect, the book has lovely ilustrations which are an inspiration in themselves - I would love to read this book to a class and then let them loose withy paints and brushes. Unusual and fascinating.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett 

It's a cold grey day in a dull, grey town when Annabelle discovers a box of brightly coloured yarn. She knits a cosy jumper for herself, then one for her dog withe the left-overs - but there's still some left. So Annabelle knits and she knits and she knits and soon the whole town is covered with brightly coloured knitting. And then the evil Archduke wants to get in on the act, but he doesn't have that one essential element... magic. An intriguing and unusual story which leaves you thinking.

The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories by Anca Sandu

This is such fun! Meet Cat, Fox and Bear: detectives extraordinaire, who are on the hunt for the Prince's bedtime stories which have been stolen, along with every single book in the kingdom. Who is the thief? Could it be the Big Bad Wolf? Or Wicked Witch the culprit? Maybe the Trolls? An enjoyable romp through fairytale land with lots of familiar characters - and a cuplprit who doesn't appear in any stories - until now. THree lovable detectives and plenty of fun to enjoy..

Go to Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard by Steve Cole and Bruce Ingman

The new babysitter is having rather a lot of trouble with Joe and Ellie - they just will not go to bed as playing is SO much more fun. The  new baby sitter tries all sorts of threats but the children don't believe her - until she threatens them with a lepoard and they see him coming into their room... This is a superb story with a real twist in the tale that will catch everyone by surprise; I certainly didn't expect the ending! The illustrations are super and the use of lots of different fonts adds another level of interest. Great fun.

Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy

Very Little Red Riding Hood is very little.But she's very determined and she likes everything to be done just as she wants - just like many toddlers! She's off to Grandmama's for a sleepover with some cakes, Red Teddy, her blanket and she's got her tea set. A case of mistaken identity could have lead to trouble but all turns out well. A clever version of the old favourite, enchantingly told in toddler-speak. A witty and enjoyable inter[retation which is most enjoyable.

I Totally Don't Want to Play! (Hugo & Bella) by Ann Bonwill

I love the way Ann Bonwill picks up the toddler voice so cleverly in her books and her characters can be recognised by anyone who has anything to do with toddlers. Hugo the hippo likes his routine - he does everything with Bella. So he is very put out when Bella finds a new friend, Cressida the crocodile, especially when everything at the playground seems specially made for two. But then they find something they can all enjoy together and all is well. A delightfully told take about one of the biggest challenges that faces small children, told with real empathy and understanding and perfect to read aloud and share when the tricky situation arises.

Forever by Emma Dodd

A gentle and touching picture book about the love lasts forever between parent and child - the beautiful message in Emma Dodd's Forever. Featuring stunning illustrations of a polar bear family embellished with foil, this makes a handsome addition to Emma Dodd's ever-popular baby animal series. Both words and pictures are simple but this just serves to emphasise the message more strongly. The perfect bedtme read to send your child off to sleep feeling safe and secure - and loved forever. A lovely idea for a gift book.

What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis

The parody song 'What Does the Fox Say?' is one of those modern-day phenomena - a YouTube sensation which has already had over 212 million views. We all know that Dog goes woof. Cat goes meow. Bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak... But do we know what the fox says? The lyrics are illustrated with a cast of quirky and unusual animals as the story explores what a fox might say - is it hatee-hatee-hatee-ho? Or boo-boo-bop-weydo? Or even jacha-chacha? No. it's.... well, if you are one of the viewers, you will know!

The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin

Elliott makes a discovery - it's a machine but there's no on/off button so how does it work? When he finds out, he discovers the machine makes letters - maybe it makes stories too? But Elliott's not very good with his letters - wait; the machine makes pictures too and Elliott is good at pictures. Pictures make stories. A wonderfully imaginative story book about the simple joy of a typewriter in a world of hi-tech machines.

I Love You Night and Day by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

This will make a lovely gift book for parents, grandparents, god parents... anyone who has a place in a young child's life. "I love you wild, I love you loud. I shout it out and I feel proud. I love you night, I love you day. In every moment come what may." The pages in this fabulously warm and reassuring picture book are bursting with exuberance, warmth and humour. This celebration of love with its reassuring rhyme about loving everywhere, all the time ends with a reassuring bedtime picture so is a perfect bedtime read. The delicate illustrations set the text off perfectly.

Crayon by Simon Rickerty

Blue and red - do they always have to remain separate? When the colours start colouring on the wrong side it seems the friends might fall out - until they decide there is more fun to be had when the colours mix. So begins a colourful squabble that takes an unexpected turn. It's an amusing story that will, hopefully, have your child reaching for the crayons. The simplicity is appealing and the illustrations delightful.

Wimpy Shrimpy by Matt Buckingham

Poor Wimpy Shrimpy is too scared to play. He thinks about all the (unlikely) things that could go wrong - he could get squashed by a ball, orget  his legs tangled playing hopscotch so he falls over. But he's missing out on all the fun and when nobody asks him to play, he realises how lonely he is and decides that perhaps playing is safe after all. The bright bold illustrations are eye-catching and this is the perfect picture book for building confidence in three to six year olds.

Wanda and the Alien to the Rescue by Sue Hendra

Soon to be seen on TV, Wanda and her best friend, the alien, are back for another adventure. What's that funny noise? Wanda and the alien are playing together when they hear a funny noise - a spaceship? A robot? An Oober Joober bird? None of those - it's a lonely little creature who has lost his mummy. They take him home, but how should they look after him - he has his own very firm ideas! Eventually, the little creature is reunited with his mummy - and the friends get a few visitors! It's a lovely story about friendship with stunning vibrant illustrations - I can't wait to see how this transfers to TV.

Millie Shares by Claire Alexander

Sharing - one of those issues which many children find hard. Reading stories like this is an excellent way to get the message across in a gentle and friendly way. Monkey is Millie's very special toy so when her best friend Lily wants to play with Monkey too, Millie takes all the toys - and monkey - and plays with them by herself in the playhouse. But it seems as though it's much more fun outside, but can she learn to share? I love the illustrations which just show the friends and their toys against a plain white background - this clear simplicity allows the message to come across strongly. A good book for playgroups and nurseries.

Bob and Rob by Sue Pickford

Bob is a dog and he's really really good; the trouble is, his owner is Rob, who is really, really bad. But Bob is loyal and helps his owner with robberies, just like the other burglar's dogs. When Rob finds his haul is just children's toys he is disgusted, but Bob feels sorry for the children and returns the toys - and there's a very happy ending for Bob who finds a new family; the ending for Rob is not so happy... It's a hilarious story, told with a nice touch of humour and brightly illustrated.

Off to Market by Elizabeth Dale

All aboard! Joe's bus on its way to the market and it's getting very crowded. There are adults and children, boxes and coats and even some chickens and two goats! And still the people come... did you ever see such a crowded bus? When the bus reaches a hill it just can't go any further. and Joe asks some of the people to get out - but they won't! How can they lighten the load and get to market on time? Luckily little Keb, who is right at the back of the bus has a bright idea.... A fun and witty story, packed with vibrancy and colour.

Mi and Museum City by Linda Sarah

An unusual book - and my review copy came with some delightful extras. Who could be bored, living in a city full of museums? Mi could - he thinks that the museums are full of boring things looked after by boring people. But then he hears a sound which changes things for him when he meets Yu and together they set out to revolutionise the city. An unusual story with an engrossing layout that has the reader going back and forth across the pages to absorb all the intricate details. It repays close attention as there is so much to enjoy, and there's a super poster with an A to Z of the city museums - the detail is amazing.

Meet the Parents by Peter Bently

A celebration of all the things parents do for their children - not just the boring things that they tell children to do but the fun things. They are useful for mending, for building on, for using as a sofa, for eating up left-over food - all sorts of things in fact. It's a fun-filled story about all the lovely things parents do and the joy they bring to the family. A lovely positive book with lively illustrations.

Scruffy Bear and the Lost Ball by Christopher Wormell

What do you do when you see a ball? Kick it, of course - and that's just what Scruffy Bear did when a bright red ball came towards him. But, oh dear, its owners aren't very pleased when it lands up in a tree. But all is well, because plucky Scruffy Bear can climb trees... or can he? Perhaps not, when they are very high and are home to all manner of cross creatures. You will warm to this indomitable little bear, who refuses to give up and the book ends with him making lots of new friends. I love the illustrations and their depictions of all sorts of lovely creatures.

Lulu Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn

A wonderful book to introduce children can be to the magic of books. When Lulu goes to the library with her dad, she chooses books that mean she can go anywhere she likes and be anyone she likes. The text is accompanied by vibrant paintings showing Lulu enjoying all her exciting adventures. I'd love to share this story with children before they visit the library to encourage them to delve into the world of books and let their imaginations free. This book is made extra-special by the accompanying audio CD which has the story read in 19 languages, each with its own individual star. This makes the book brilliant for sharing in multi-ethnic classrooms so everyone can share the joy of books on equal terms.

My Friend Amy by Anna McQuinn

When they are at school and playing together, Monifa and Amy have lots in common. It's different though, when Monifa visits Amy's home and finds out that some things are very different.  This book presents a believable friendship between two girls from different backgrounds without being preachy or 'worthy'. In our multicultural world, it is essential that we all, young and old, have an understanding p-f other cultures and this is a good series for any school library. The information is both relevant and interesting to young readers and theunusual and bright style of the pictures gives the book instant appeal.

My Friend: Jamal by Anna McQuinn

My Friend - an excellent series to help children understand both the differences and the similarities between children from different places around the world. Joseph tells us about all the things he and his friend Jamal like to do - growing up together, they have lots in common. Joseph visits Jamal at home and finds out about his cultural and religious background, and the presentation of the book is good to help all children understand more about other backgrounds. The friendships depicted in the books are real and show how valuable friendship is in promoting understanding. A well-written series.

The Pirates Next Door Sound Book by Jonny Duddle

Rollicking fun with the family of pirates who have settled for a while on dry land in Dull-on-Sea , which is - you've guessed it - a quiet seaside town where nothing happens. At least, it was until the Jolley-Roger family took up residence. Tilda decides to make friends with this unusual family who set the town into an uproar - meets the NIMBYs of Dull-on-Sea! It's a hilarious rhyming tale with a lovely twist in the end - and a wonderful invitation for Tilda. There's good in everyone! The illustrations are packed with detail and full of fun - a story to entertain adults as they read it to their children. And best of all - children can interact with the story as they press the appropriate sound button and bring the story to life with a cannon firing, a seagull squawking and more - including, of course, pirates saying "Ooooh Aaaah"' Great fun.

A Dog's Day by Rebecca Rissman

Clever! Do you want to read the story of the day as seen by Rusty the dog or as seen by Rosie his owner? Just flip the book over to choose. Rusty has an exciting day out in town - but not everyone is pleased to see him! On the other hand, poor Rosie is looking everywhere for him... luckily, he's left some clues and soon the pair are happily reunited. It's an excellent concept, allowing children to see two sides of the story and they will get very involved as they see how the two stories match up.

Clara's Crazy Curls (Fiction Picture Books) by Helen Poole

We need to be careful what we wish for! Clara wishes for the tallest hair in the world, and tries out her mum's pot of 'Big, Beautiful Hair' and gets a bit of a shock! The consequences are described in catchy rhyme which has you wondering what will befall our heroine next. The vibrant illustrations (and especially Clara's gorgeously ginger mop of curls) and wonderful expressions captured make the books really appealing. The book gently and humorously conveys a message about honesty.

Time Together: Me and Mum by Maria Catherine

A charming book about all the special times a little boy shares with his mum. Just a few (but carefully chosen) words and colourful pictures which encourage sharing and talking. A simple book but heartwarming and full of fun moments.

Bear, Bird and Frog (Bear and Bird) by Gwen Millward

Friendship, sharing and getting on together are the themes of this story. Best friends Bear and Bird live together in the middle of a beautiful forest. But when Frog turns up unannounced, Bear forgets about the plans he and Bird had so Bird is sulking because his big plans have been spoilt. But when Bear and Frog find themselves in trouble Bird has to come to the rescue. The pages are full colour and the delicacy and detail of the illustrations make them full of appeal. A good book to read aloud, especially when talking about sharing and looking out for each other.

Yikes, Stinkysaurus! by Pamela Butchart

Meet Stinkysaurus - the smelliest dinosaur in the wolrd. Of course, dinosaurs are scary - they have big claws, they have spiky tails... but the smell of Stinkysaurus has them all rushing for cover. So they decide that he just must have a bath. All is well and he finds lots of friends - but there's a twist in the tale of this story which is all told in catchy rhyming text. Joyful and vibrant, Sam Lloyd's stunning illustrations are some of the most colourful I have seen - they almost jump off the page at you and they are full of amusing details. Great news - it's the first of a series.

What Are You Playing At? by Marie-Sabine Roger

An interesting book which turns gender stereotyping on its head. Boys don't dance - that would be ridiculous! Girls do not play with cars - proper girls are just not interested in driving. I think we are all guilty to a greater or lesser extent so this book will make us all think. The pictures tell a different story - we see women playing football and men working in the kitchen. This shows that in real life men and women do a whole range of things and we should never pigeonhole anyone. Striking layout, with excellent photos and big flaps, boldly coloured. Plenty of opportunity for discussion with this simple but positive book.

Tree Fu Tom: Twigs and the Wishing Pebble

When Twigs finds a magical pebble that grants his every wish, he can't believe his luck! But of course, as we all know, things are seldom what they seem and soon there's trouble.The mischievous Mushas steal the pebble and wish for a flood of stinky slime to swamp Treetopolis. It's time for some Tree Fu moves to save the day! Children love to copy the actions and it's a great way to encourage movement and coordination. The book is brightly coloured and appealing and children enjoy seeing their favourites form TV brought to story form - it's a good way to encourage a love for books.

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

Of course, we all know the importance of not breaking rules... but it's more difficult when we don't understand why. And that's the dilemma that faces two boys in this unusual and somewhat dark fantasy picture book. Each spread has a rule and a picture of the rule being broken - and the consequence. By turns, these events become darker and more sinister as the boys push their games further and further. It's interesting and it's unusual but I find it hard to see what age group will enjoy it most.

Octonauts Creature Report

The Octonauts have brought exciting and imaginative adventures to many fans through their wide range of books and toys and now children can meet 50 amazing creatures as they enjoy the Creature Reports and add their own touch with the colourful stickers included. The book is full of fascinating facts - a narwhal's tusk is actually a tooth; aggregate anenomes multiply by splitting themselves; cuttlefish can change colours but are colour-blind... There are two pages on each creature, full of illustrations and facts all presented in a lively and engaging manner. There are over 150 stickers included to complete the reports compiled by Captain Barnacles, Peso, Kwazii and the rest of the Octonauts.

There's a Diplodocus at the Door! (What If a Dinosaur...?) by Aleksei Bitskoff and Ruth Symons

If you've ever wondered what would happen if dinosaurs were still around, now you have the answers! What if Diplodicus used your loo? What if Diplodocus went to a restaurant? What if Diplodocus needed a shower? A series of amusing and engaging scenarios, complete with hilarious illustrations, provide an excellent and imaginative vehicle for lots of facts about the Diplodocus. The presentation and question and answer format combine to make a great way to help children remember key facts and they will love the entertaining layout. There are four books in the series and with their eye-catching bright covers, they will make a lovely set for young dinosaur fans.

The Great Moon Confusion by Richard Byrne

Aldrin the raccoon thinks he knows everything - but when Rabbit is puzzled, Aldrin doesn't know the answer - but he doesn't want to admit his ignorance. He decides the issue needs a 'proper investigation' and he comes up with some very fanciful ideas over the next few days as, gradually, the moon gets smaller and smaller. He blames two bears called Hubble and Lovell but it turns out that they know a lot more about the moon than Aldrin.An entertaining story that will help children take their first steps towards understanding why the moon grows and shrinks.

Colours Book (Usborne Lift-the-Flap-Books) by Felicity Brooks

I love this book - there's so much here to amuse and teach young children. It starts with colour flaps to lift and then the colour train poses lots of questions. Spot different coloured objects in the forest and match the colours of the penguins' bow ties. A busy town, colour mixing and counting and then hide-and-seek. A brilliant range of activities and all, of course, illustrated in vivid colour. There are over 60 flaps to explore in this excellent colour book which offers hours of fun.

Just One of Those Days by Richard Penny

So familiar - we've all had them, haven't we? A day when nothing seems to go right. A girl and her father want to make the most of their eagerly awaited Saturday together but things go wrong right from the start. Worst of all, her cherished friendship bracelet is missing. But she's an optimistic girl and never gives up, so when she and her father spot the fireworks display, off they go - and there's a magical end to the story. It's a gentle story, thoughtfully told, which has a positive and upbuilding message and wonderfully depicts the strong love between girl and father. The delicate illustrations by Harmke Wijbenga are crammed with detail and convey the feel of the story ideally. When things don't quite go right - never give up, and a surprise could be in store!

The Tiny King by Taro Miura

Unusual was the first thing that came to my mind - and unusual is good because it makes a book stand out. Once upon a time there was a tiny king who lived in a big castle - a very sad and lonely king whose life is dull despite all he has around him. But one day he meets a big princess and asks her to be his queen and his life is transformed into a riot of colour and busy-ness. It's a clever story with a heart-warming message.

When Charley Met Grampa by Amy Hest

A simple warm-hearted picture book that could well become a classic. Grampa's coming by train for a visit and Henry with his pup Charley are off to meet him - pulling a sled for Grampa’s suitcase because it's a snowy day. But Grampa doesn’t know how to be friends with a dog... Happily, Charley is able to save the day when Grampa's hat blows away and soon the two are firm friends. Helen Oxenbury's illustrations depict a wonderful range of emotions, especially Charley, who can look SO dejected. It's simple and its charming and the illustrations are the perfect match for the story.

Friends by Eric Carle

With his trademark simplicity, Eric Carle tells a touching story of friendship - a story inspired by a friend he had and lost. Once there were two friends who were always together... until one day, the girl moved away. The determined little boy is not going to be separated from his friend and he sets off on a quest that takes him across a swift cold river, over a tall mountain, through a broad meadow and a forest full of dark shadows. He sleeps under starry skies and dreams of floating on clouds... and finally, the friends are reunited with a VERY happy ending. Imaginative and touching - a lovely story.

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty

Children all around love their bedtime stories - but what is happening? All the storybooks in Burrow Down are disappearing! We are shown all the young animals enjoying their stories and this shows just how powerful stories are - but where are they going? Young rabbit Eliza is determined to solve the mystery and she meets - the Snatchbook, a poor young creature who has nobody to read to him. He puts all the books back ... and finds he has lots of new friends to share stories with. This is a wonderful story that shows the importance of that well-loved institution - the bedtime story. It's a precious time for adult and child to share and this book shows just how important it is. The wonderful illustrations introduce a whole host of characters too - so share this lovely book as your child's bedtime story.

Dinosaur Doo by Andrew Weale

Dinosaurs and poo - a winning combination! This laughter-filled rhyming story features colourful dinosaurs big and small, all with one essential need - to poo. Spark's village is bombarded with dinosaur poo so he sets out on a mission to stop the naughty dinosaurs - his answer is a dinosaur loo. But the problem is not over... Children will adore the illustrations which show the poo shooting out in all directions and the very ingenious dinosaur-loo. It's great fun.

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by James Mayhew

This is a super series for young ballet fans - it gives them an insight into the stories in a simple form, with information at the end about the ballet. Ella Bella Ballerina is carried into the magical world of the ballet as she listens to the music box in this imaginative story - and finds she has a very important part to play. The colourful illustrations bring the story to life. A delightful book, great fun to read and it would be the perfect gift for a child off to enjoy this wonderful ballet for the first time.

Monkey World: The Thunderbolt Express by Matthew Porter

All aboard for a magical - and very exciting - train ride with Jango Jenkins and his Dixieland Band plus Oscar the magician, Miss Trixie and her pug dog Napoleon. But what started as an ordinary journey goes very wrong. The pug goes missing...the bridge ahead is missing...and the handle on the train brake is broken. Only in Monkey World can the solution to this pickle involve shedding all weight to attempt to fly the train across a river full of crocodiles. An amusing story with bright engaging pictures that children will enjoy. Sasquatch Books, ISBN 9781570618772, published November 2013.
The Mountains of Tibet by Mordicai Gerstein Another beautifully produced book from Barefoot Books, with delicate evocative illustrations packed with atmospheric detail - each is a mini work of art. A Tibetan woodcutter dreams of exploring the world but he is so busy with everyday life that he never leaves his valley. When he dies, he has a choice - to become part of heaven or live another life. He chooses to live another life and is taken on a wonderful journey. Yes, the theme is death, but it is an amazingly uplifting and positive story, simply told, which will help children understand and accept.

The Little Red Hen by Mary Finch

We all know the story - the lazy animals can't be bothered to help the hen grow, carry and bake her wheat and they are disappointed when she won't let them share her bread. They learn their lesson though and finally enjoy some bread together. This a a vividly illustrated retelling of the classic tale with illustrations by Kate Slater which make excellent use of texture to give a real depth to the pictures. The story-telling and pictures combine to draw children in to the story and engage with the characters - and when they have enjoyed the story, they can listen to the audio CD while they make bread using the recipe in the book.

Stick Man (Snow Dome Gift Edition) by Julia Donaldson

Stick Man is a much loved story telling of his courageous journey back to his family tree. Poor Stick Man - a dog thinks he is just an ordinary stick and this leads Stick Man on an extraordinary trail to return home to his family. This imaginative story already has a huge number of fans and this new edition with its snow globe (cleverly made without liquid to be absolutely safe) will gain even more fans - a perfect gift. Such a lovely character and, oh, what adventures he has - all, of course, wonderfully illustrated by the inimitable Axel Scheffler.

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