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

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.

Fudgy Goes to the Farm by Sarah Marley

Join Fudgy Bear as he visits the farm and meets lots... and lots... and lots of animals. There are many different ducks, lambs and rabbits to spot, as well as all the other animals. Find out the noises they make and what they like to eat and then answer the questions in the fun quiz at the end. Fudgy Bear is a perfect cuddly companion for home but he is also an adventurous and outgoing bear, who loves learning and sharing his experiences. Take a look at Fudgy Bear's website to find out more about Fudgy, to keep up-to-date with his adventures and to purchase your very own Fudgy Bear. Educational, interactive and innovative, this is a great new series.

Tinga Tinga Tales: Why the Lion Roarrrs by Claudia Lloyd

In a modern take on traditional stories, Tinga Tinga Tales are based on African stories. The vivid and unusual pictures are inspired by the Tingatinga artwork from Tanzania. Once upon a time... the lion had no roar and the animals all make fun of him. So he travels to the great cave of Tinga Tinga to see if he can find his roar and get crocodile to let all the animals share the waterhole. The text flows and twists across the pages with their wonderful illustrations. These really are quite stunning and make the book outstanding. Go to www.wegivebooks.com/africa to find out how reading this book can help children in Africa receive books.

Mrs Rainbow by Neil Griffiths

Another wonderful story from Red Robin Books, again available with a CD. Hear Neil read his story (complete with sound effects), check comprehension with the quiz, enjoy the fun activities and find out more about the author. Mrs Rainbow's house is... well, what would you expect? Every room is a different colour and her garden is a veritable rainbow of colour. Children will enjoy exploring all the rooms in the house and discussing what they see there. Sadly, those grey and boring people at the Planning Department insist her house is painted grey, like the rest of the village. But the villagers aren't happy and they come up with an innovative solution. It all goes to show that a group of people working together can be a force for good.

The Scarecrow Who Didn't Scare by Neil Griffiths

Neil Griffiths is a wonderful storyteller and I am always thrilled to receive a new package of his books for review. Farmer Wallace has been busy making his scarecrow. But the birds took no notice... nor did the rabbits, or the mice. What would the farmer do when he sees his field? Follow the seasons as it all ends happily as the scarecrow and the animals make friends and find out they all have an important role to play. The watercolour illustrations by Vicki Leigh, with their lovely expressive animal faces, complement the story perfectly. You can buy the book with or without the CD, but I recommend you buy it as it adds great value to the story, with Neil reading the story (along with some lovely sound effects), a chance to meet the author, quiz time (which helps children's comprehension skills) and lots of seasonal sounds.

Sock It! by Neil Griffiths

Socks! Who would have thought they could be such fun! The apparently simple rhyming story is cleverly structured to ensure the language is child-friendly and it introduces lots of adjectives related to colour, shape and size. Look out for the hole in the toe at the end! Look out for the unexpected - I am glad to know I am not the only one who's washing machine eats socks! Enjoy the detail and humour in the illustrations, especially the faces on the socks, as you share this story with your child... or your class.... or at the library. Fun and colourful.

 Dinosaur Dig! by Penny Dale

A counting book for every child who loves dinosaurs and (or) diggers. Count from 1 to 10 with a group of colourful and friendly dinosaurs as they dig a big hole... but just what is the hole for? There's a fun surprise at the end as the reader finally discovers what it's all in aid of.... I love the fact that the dinosaurs are all shown and named before the story, then children can identify each dinosaur as it appears. And then, at the end of the book are all the big machines for children to identify too. Bright busy pictures full of detail will capture children's attention as they enjoy this romp through a digging project.

 George's First Day at Playgroup

George is starting at playgroup today, but Peppa isn't really sure whether she wants him there. But Dad asks her to look after him and she helps him through his first day. A reassuring read for young children, both for those new to playgroup and for older brothers and sisters who are just a bot worried about their sibling coming along to 'their' place. These friendly characters are just right to introduce children to new situations - they will enjoy the gentle story and the bright illustrations.

 

Mr Benn - Red Knight by David McKee

Mr Benn - the very conventional looking bowler-hatted man who disappears into the back of a fancy dress shop and has some amazing adventures. In this story, he asks for a suit of red armour. Once he has donned it, he goes out through a different door and meets a dragon - a dragon who needs Mr Benn's help to put right a wrong. But just before the celebratory party, Mr Benn is ushered back through a door..... The intricate artwork is full of fascinating detail and the black and white illustrations make a fascinating foil for the 3D colour pictures. This is the first in the series and it's great to see these delightful stories brought back for a new generation.

The Bear and the Wildcat by Kazumi Yumoto

This is another very different book from Gecko Press, who specialise in unusual books from around the world. The bear is inconsolable when the little bird dies, but the book how the understanding of a friend and the bringing back of good memories can help find a way through grief. It is a sensitive and touching book for adults to share with children - not one for children to read on their own, but a book which has a valuable part to play in helping children come to terms with loss. The delicate monochrome illustrations perfectly complement the feel of the book.

Hector by Mark Barry

Subtitled 'A dog who draws his dreams', this is the story of a day-dreaming dog who loves to make pictures. Those pictures positively leap off the page at you - the deep vibrant colours, enhanced by the shiny paper really make this book stand out. Lots of talking points in the detail of Sarah Aspinall's collage type pictures, too. With some help from his friends (and plenty of sandwiches to keep them going!), the red car is finally complete - but the journey would be no fun without his friends, so off they all go. An enchanting story about friendship and how much can be achieved, with a group of delightful characters.

Bouncy Bouncy Bedtime by David Bedford

A lovely bouncy story book that will encourage even the most reluctant toddler to go to bed - even the words bounce around the pages! Follow an enchanting array of animals as they all make their way to the pillow-soft bed in the sky. Alliterative text flows through the story as we meet all sorts of sleepy creatures on their way to bed. Soft muted colours in the illustrations by Russell Julian, especially when the animals are finally all safely tucked in, convey a restful atmosphere. I enjoyed the fact that the animals aren't actually named, so children will have fun identifying their favourites. The ideal bedtime story as all the animals run out of bounce and succumb to sleep - just like your little one! 

Thank You for  Looking After Our Pets by Tim Hopgood

Look after the pets while you go on holiday? No trouble... but hang on a minute - these are no ordinary pets! Just look at the size of Cuddles' teeth... and Elsie and Edna take up rather a lot of room on the sofa... and who's this dancing on the stairs? Plenty of humour in this fun story about a fascinating menagerie of pets - and even the plants are unusual! The bright, bold illustrations are very eye-catching and will appeal to children's sense of fun.

Noisy Neighbours by Ruth Green

All Sid the Snail wants is a nap in his favourite tree but his woodland neighbours are so noisy they keep him awake. Sparrows are chirping, foxes are singing, ducks are quacking, squirrels are playing - well, you get the picture. What is he to do? In a story rather reminiscent of Goodnight Owl, but with a much more sociable ending, everyone finds a solution. This book has a charming old fashioned feel and young children will warm to the simplicity of the illustrations and love to hear the rhythm when the book is read aloud. A fun bedtime story!

The Mini Classic Collection

5 classic picture books in mini hardback book format - ideal for little hands and great to take on holiday for that essential bedtime story, and with all the charm of the originals. Includes Tell me something happy before I go to sleep; Mister Magnolia; The owl and the pussycat; Willy and Hugh and Again. My only reservation is that I expected them to be in a slipcase, so I was slightly disappointed to find that there is just a piece of thin card part-surrounding the books - a slipcase would keep the collection together. Nonetheless, this would make a lovely gift.

This is Lulu by Camilla Reid

Lulu has become a popular character and built up an enthusiastic following - and deservedly so. She is an enchanting character, with whom little girls readily relate. In this story, we follow Lulu through the day as we visit her house, learn about her favourite toys, meet her friends,go out with her, and finally see her go to bed at the end of a very busy day. Plenty of interactive fun, with lots of flaps to lift and questions to answer to encourage exploration and identification. I love the subtitle - 'A book about being quite little'. Ailie Busby's illustrations are full of interest and give lots of opportunity for discussion. A great addition to the series. 

ABC UK by James Dunn 

Think of the things that make the UK unique and you are bound to find some of them in this entertaining little book.The choice of topics is fascinating and delves far beyond the obvious  -adults will be entertained as they share this with children. The vivid illustrations by Helen Bate are clever and quirky, with an unexpected twist to many of them. Use this book as a great opportunity to discuss some of the features of our unique country, and to ask children to expand on what they see in the pictures. It will appeal to a wide age range, as there is a simple sentence on each page, with a longer description for each letter at the end of the book. A super book to give as a gift to visitors from abroad.

 

Little Bo Peep: Nursery Rhyme Crimes by Priscilla Lamont 

 

Ever wondered what those naughty sheep really got up to when Bo Peep lost them? Well, now you can find out! The trouble started when Bo Peep wanted the sheep to play hide and seek - but sheep don't do games - but finally they mastered it, a little bit too well! The watercolour illustrations are quite delightful and the whole book is a joy to read. Bo Peep herself is a refreshing change from expectations. Look out for Tom, Tom the Piper's Son (Nursery Rhyme Crimes) as well.

Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! by Simon Mayor and Hilary James

This is one in the Sing and Read CD books series from innovative publishers Top That. The turkey is an absurd bird, and the thing he most dreads is the farmer's Christmas dinner. The rhythm flows through the story, making it great to read aloud and share. Children love to sing and will enjoy the words and music to the story included at the end. The illustrations are great fun, full of details that repay close attention, so make sure you share the pictures with children when reading this book aloud. The authors are talented musicians, who have worked for BBC TV and Schools radio programmes.

I'm a Parrot by Simon Mayor and Hilary James 

Children will have great fun following the story of a parrot who loves to say things twice and this is a super read aloud story for children to join in with. The stories are full of puns - and don't miss those in the pictures, either. An entertaining storyline and brightly coloured illustrations make this a fun story in itself, but the addition of the sing-along CD lifts this book and gives an additional dimension. Sheet music is included so children can play and sing along. The ukelele music is great fun too. These books are great value and make excellent use of the benefits of singing for extending vocabulary and the enjoyment of reading. Hilary James and Simon Mayor have a super music website for children athttp://www.childrensmusic.co.uk/

Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

Surely all wolves in children's fiction are supposed to be bad? But Rolf is a lovely little wolf, who is kind to his friends, eats all his vegetables and enjoys making cakes. In this hilarious story, Rolf meets a big bad wolf, and tries to become a wolf himself. It doesn't work, so he tries to persuade the big bad wolf to become a good wolf - the bad wolf promises to do so - tomorrow and that's the rather sad twist on the tail of this story. I suggest you read this story before you share it with your child - it is very funny but...

999 Tadpoles Find a New Home by Ken Kimura

There's plenty of room for all the little tadpoles, but the problem starts when they begin to turn into frogs. So Mother and Father decide to take them to a new home - in one long line, one after the other, because it is a very dangerous world out there. And then - the hawk picks up one frog - but he hasn't bargained for them all clinging together and drops them - right intoa lovely big pond.. Read-it, read-it say the frogs. An original book, with simple illustrations, good for introducing children to numbers and capacity - and a super read-aloud story.

The Tiger-Skin Rug by Gerald Rose 

A wonderful story for reading aloud! A tiger tires of his hard life in the jungle and decides to change places with the rajah's tiger-skin rug so he can feast on the palace leftovers. But the family become suspicious when the rug seems to grow. Will he be found out and have to leave? All is well, when he foils a robbery at the palace and becomes part of the family. Wonderfully illustrated - I love the drawing of the poor tiger hung on the line to dry, and his expressions are super. A lovely character who will be a great hit with children, who will revel in this quirky story.

Can't Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard 

This just has to be a perfect bedtime story - but be prepared to read it again and again until your child falls asleep! We've all tried it, haven't we? But Ava takes so long to fall asleep that it's the sheep who get tired. They try all sorts of animals  but each has its problems and finally the sheep realise there is only one answer... The various animals are all beautifully and adorably depicted in Mike Wohnoutka's vivid illustrations which reflect the story so well and really bring the animals alive.

Guji Guji by Chen Chih-Yuan

A "crockduck"is an unlikely addition to the duck's family but he is valued for his differences and the special qualities they give him. Of course, the mother duck loves all her babies but she has a soft spot for Guji Guji. When thew crocodiles turn up, they make fun of Guji Guji for being different, and then try to get him on their side. But he has the answer..... This story celebrates being different  and makes it a positive experience. The topics of identity, loyalty and family and serious but there is a lightness of touch which makes this very readable.

Silly Doggy by Adam Stower 

One day Lily looks out of her bedroom window and gets a fantastic surprise.It's a doggy - but rather a large one! Nevertheless, Lily determines to look after him and we are shown a series of charming episodes where she plays with Doggy. Sadly a zookeeper comes to collect Doggy......but the next day Lily finds 'Kitty' an escaped tiger in her garden, and we are left to imagine all the wonderful times Lily will have with Kitty - I think this is a super way to encourage children to imagine what might happen. Beautifully illustrated, this is a really funny story.

Mine! by Rachel Bright 

Sharing. Such a common problem and almost every child has an issue with it at some point. Funny Bunny is Frankie and Fifi's favourite toy and he goes everywhere with them - but the twins are finding it hard to share. 'He's Mine. No, he's Mine'. and poor bunny lands up with no ears. What's to be done? Grandma has the answer, and everyone is happy....well, almost everybody! This is a really funny story, which explains to toddlers just how sharing can actually be a whole lot more fun.

 Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

 A little boy and a penguin are the greatest of friends and they are happiest when they are doing things together. Until, one day, Penguin feels he must try to fly but nothing seems to go right. Is the answer at the zoo...the airport... the circus? How the two friends find each other in the nick of time is a beautifully told in words and pictures.The pictures are well spaced on the pages, meaning that each has real impact and pace you through the book. A sensitively told story with an element of sadness, which is lifted when the two friends get together again. Lots of opportunity to discuss the importance of love, friendship and loyalty.

Anton Can Do Magic by Ole Konnecke 

Anton can do extraordinary magic with his magic hat.  Not only does he make things disappear, but he makes them reappear! He tries to make a tree vanich - but it's too big; then he makes his friend Luke disappear - but where has he gone? This is an easy story for young children to follow with the minimal text and the clever illustrations that allow them to see, in a very simple form, exactly what is going on. An unusual book which is lovely for sharing.

Unfortunately by Alan Durant 

The jungle can be a very dangerous place, even on a nice summer's day when it appears quite safe to the boy strolling through it, whistling and carefree. Just how many times can one little boy (and his friend) escape what looks like a very grisly fate? Well, fortunately, there seem to be endless ways to escape from what look like impossible situations, but unfortunately... This book is full of hilarity and the unexpected - who would believe so much danger lurks unseen? The text flows through the stunning illustrations which are by Simon Rickerty, a new illustrator. Great fun.

Little Bee by Edward Gibbs

The tactile cover of this book is a great first impression - children will enjoy tracing around the title. Each creature is fleeing because he is being chased by a bigger creature, until the hunter is asked at the end 'Big Hunter, Big Hunter, why do you flee?' 'Because'.... well, you will have to find out for yourself! A perfectly constructed story with few words and its very simplicity makes it very appealing. Simple yet bold illustrations echo the theme of the story perfectly and the expressions on the faces of the animals are just wonderful.

A Day with the Animal Doctors by Sharon Rentta

What a wonderful story! It had me chuckling all the way through and I can't wait to share it with children. Terence goes off to the animal hospital with his mum, a doctor, for the day. In the wonderfully detailed illustrations, we follow him around the hospital - there is the boring waiting room, some animals who have had some very strange accidents (a giraffe with a crick in the neck; and a leopard who has lost his spots, for starters). And it gets better and better - the maternity ward is just brilliant, with all the baby animals  in their cots. All the reality of a hospital but put across with enormous humour and with illustrations absolutely crammed with amusing detail. I thoroughly recommend this book - do get your child a copy; you won't regret it.

One Fluffy Baa-Lamb Ten Hairy Caterpillars by Nick Sharratt

This is a lovely counting book which counts up and down on opposing pages - as we gain a lamb we lose a caterpillar.  Brilliant read aloud rhyming text 'Two racing-car-lambs, nine skitter-scatterpillars' flows from page to page with some really clever plays on words that will amuse adults and children alike. Lift the flaps on each page to count the caterpillars as they cavort alongside the lambs - and a stunning pop up on the last page. Illustrated in bold colour, these sheep and caterpillars will really appeal to young children. A super book.

George's Dragon by Claire Freedman and Russell Julian 

Of all the pets in the pet shop, George just knew he had to have Sparky the dragon. He starts off by being a great friend, but there was a problem - he just kept on growing, and he had a bit of a tendency to scorch things... and to break things, so George's parents decided he had to go back to the pet shop. George and Sparky were devastated, but then came Sparky's chance to save the day. A heartwarming story of friendship, illustrated in vibrant shiny colours, which will touch every child's heart

Here Comes the Poo Bus by Andy Stanton 

All aboard the poo bus! But beware, this isn't just any ordinary bus. Uncle Toad may seem a friend as he collects the insects for a special trip on his bus of poo, but when they reach the seaside, the insects, who have been enticed on board the foul-smelling bus by Toad, are in for a nasty surprise. The front cover warns that 'This is the most revolting rhyme you'll ever read' - and that is the truth!

Turtle and Me  by Robie H Harris and Tor Freeman

A cuddly turtle makes a refreshing change from the more usual cuddly toys. The little boy has had turtle right from the day he was born - when turtle was way bigger than him. They have shared all sorts of adventures and Turtle always made the little boy feel better. Over the years, Turtle has got rather the worse for wear and finally, the little boy has had enough of him - or has he? Charming illustrations depict a warm and loving family, with plenty of intriguing details to discover. A lovely story to reassure children who think that perhaps they should grow out of their cuddly toys but really don't want to - and why should they?

I Spy with My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs

Children have always loved I Spy books and games so these books from  Brubaker, Ford and Friends (a new imprint of Templar Books) will be warmly received.  Bold, almost single colour illustrations feature on each page, as the child looks through the hole and guesses which animal is blue, grey, white, yellow, orange, red and green, with the help of a clue on each page ... and there is a little twist at the end. A good way to encourage children to develop their natural curiosity and give them the satisfaction which comes from a successful guess.


 

I Spy Under the Sea by Edward Gibbs

Two in one! An I spy book and a counting book. A simple clue on each page and a hole to peep through will help children with their guesses as they spy and count 7 clown fishes, 6 sea horses, 5 crabs and more, down to one scary shark. Bright bold illustrations will capture children's attention while they learn about some of the wonderful creatures in our oceans. A good introduction to nature for the youngest of children. 

Counting Birds by Alice Melvin

This is a very unusual and appealing counting book, beautifully illustrated by Alice Melvin; I love her unusual style, which  manages to appear simple yet be full of detail. . It stands out from others by reason of its lyrical verse and the quirky settings for the birds - the flying ducks on the wall, and the bird mobile are just two examples. We are taken through a spring day - gradually the birds awaken, then enjoy the day and finally settle to sleep again - and then the owl wakens.  Not only will children learn their numbers (and it's good to see a counting book going up to 20), they will learn about our birds too. A lovely bok for sharing which will repay many visits.

Dora Plans a Party by Susan Hood

Dora is hugely popular with young children, especially girls and they will be thrilled to have another story to enjoy - over 2.4 million books have already been sold!  Count down as gradually the party bags are stolen. Rhyming text and simple repetitive text is ideal for young children, and the vibrant colours are guaranteed to hold their attention. Childrren will enjoy spotting Swiper in all his different guises. Boots turns up for his party - but, oh no - where have the party bags gone? But all is well and children will have great fun spotting the bags hidden on the last page.

Daisy Plays Hide and Seek by Ellie Sandall

Poor Jake! He can't find Daisy the cow anywhere, and the reader feels so sorry for him as he looks everywhere. By the time he was about to give up - I don't know about Jake, but I felt a tear coming! Daisy is a magic cow - like a chameleon, she can take on the colours of the things around her and that makes her impossible to find. Lovely onomatopoeic  language flows through the book and the delicate watercolour illustrations complement the text perfectly. Lots of visual fun in the pictures too - what is Jake's toy? What is on the front of the jumper? Children will love to spot Daisy, as they learn to look for the shape, not the colour. A lovely gentle picture book to share and discuss.

Kipper's Birthday and Other Stories by Mick Inkpen

Three books in one, produced to celebrate Kipper's 21st birthday - the title story; Kipper's Beach Ball; and Kipper and Roly.  Kipper and his friends are all endearing characters, simply drawn to appeal to young children. Kipper is a playful inquisitive creature who will strike a chord with children, who love to follow his adventures. In Kipper's  Birthday, he seems to have missed his birthday - but did he? He finds a fun toy in his cereal in Kipper's Beach Ball; and lands up with a new pet in the final story. These are simple gentle stories, full of fun and friendship and children will readily identify with the situations. A children's classic with lasting appeal.

Cat on the Mat and Friends by Brian Wildsmith 

One of the authors/illustrators I best remember sharing with my own children is Brian Wildsmith - his vibrant use of colour in beautiful patchwork-style drawings really stayed in my mind. It is wonderful to see these books reissued for a new generation. Four stories are brought together in this collection - Cat on the Mat; Toot Toot; All Fall Down; and The Island. Simple story lines and catchy repetitive  text will appeal to young children and are great for reading aloud and for children to join in - they can identify the animals in the first story and enjoying making the sounds throughout. A writer who hits the mark perfectly for his audience.

The Happy Book by Malachy Doyle 

Simply conveyed, this book is full of important messages, put across in a way that will promote plenty of discussion about behaviour. It is about sharing, giving and bringing happiness to others, and all this is conveyed through a really simple text - very clever. each simply says which we should do more and which we should do less. Plenty of detail and friendly characters in the illustrations give parents and teachers plenty of opportunity to draw out thoughts from children without putting words into their mouths. We should all take note of the ways to be happy - adults and children alike. A simple yet thought-provoking book.

 Bug and Bear by Ann Bonwill and Layn Marlow

Bug woke up happy and wanted to play; Bear woke up grumpy and was too tired to play. A familiar scenario perhaps? Bug is just like an irritating child, buzzing around and persering, so Bear goes off to his cave to sleep. He feels guilty for not playing with Bug, so can't sleep - but by that time, Bug is sleepy.....  Illustrated in lovely soft relaxing colours and depicting an appealing cuddly bear and a slightly spiky looking bug, the pictures complement the story excellently. We meet lots of other friendly animals through the story too. A charming gentle story about friendship and how true friends will do something they don't really want to do, for the sake of friendship.

   
   
   

Sometimes by Rebecca Elliott

This story follows on from 'Just Because', where we met Toby and his sister Clemmie. Toby looks after his sister really well, despite her disability. In this story, he visits Clemmie in hospital and together they have some wonderful adventures and hospital becomes a completely different place. It shows us how powerful love is and how wonderful a close relationship between siblings can be. The story is realistic - we see how Clemmie suffers but her courage and that ofher brother shine through, giving the book a really positive and upbuilding feel. Rebecca's vibrant illustrations simply leap off the page at you and bring the characters to life. A wonderfully emotional yet encouraging book.

 Zoo Girl by Rebecca Elliott

This is a book of very few words but Rebecca's dramatic illustrations, with stunning use of colour, almost tell the story all by themselves, and allow the reader to put their own interpretation on events. THere are also wonderful opportunities for discussion as there are few pre-conceived ideas. A sad little girl is all alone at the beginning of the story, watching families and friends together. But when she is left behind at the zoo, she finds she has lots of wonderful friends. And, best of all, she finds she is WANTED. A reassuring read, this would be a good book to share with those fostering or adopting and also with children who are feeling a bit left out. An excellent book for classroom use.

 

Baby Badger's Wonderful Night by Karen Saunders and Dubravka Kolanovic 

As day slipped away and darkness fell, Baby Badger began to get a bit frightened. But Papa Badger told him that there was no need to be afraid and took him to explore the night. He finds that there is colour, even at night, and that the stars are always there to light the world and guide us home - and he meets some friendly nocturnal animals. Beautifully illustrated in gentle colours, this is the perfect bedtime story for anyone who is even a little bit afraid of the dark, sensitive and reassuring and lovely rhythmic text.

 My Special Bedtime Bear by Claire Freedman and Daniel Howarth

This is an enchanting story. I loved it, right from the descriptive and melodic text on the first page. Mummy Bear goes to fetch Little Bear at bedtime and, as they wend their way home through the darkening wood (just watch it get darker!), they see lots of other baby animals getting ready for bed - lovely pictures depict some really adorable scenes. Mummy Bear tells Littlle Bear that his bedtime is extra-special to her, but he can't work out why. Can your child? A really feel-good story, full of affection and just perfect for bedtime reading, sensitively illustrated.

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Ping and Pong Grow by Amy Trevaskus

This is a wonderful series of books, designed to grow with your child and encourage imagination. Many of us have or had imaginary friends but sometimes this was discouraged. Ping and Pong are here to show us all, adults and children, that imaginary friends are a wonderful way to share adventures. In this story, Ping and Pong go with Lucy to help out on her grandparents' allotment. Learn about growing vegetables and how much fun it can be, as well as sharing the loving relationship Lucy and her grandparents have. Find out about these lovable friends on the Ping and Pong website, where you can also buy the books.

Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie

Daisy is entertaining a somewhat unusual guest at home, but as usual, Mum and Dad just won't listen. Sound familiar? So Daisy has to talk to the rhino and she finds out he is lonely and missing his fdamily too. But Mum and Dad get a surprise when they take Daisy to the zoo and there really IS a purple rhino missing. So, in future they do listen to Daisy - take note, all you parents! A lovely story with a very funny ending. The illustrations are full of humour, as is the text. Just imagine a rhino in a rubber dinghy... or riding a bike! Great fun but with an important message.

Topsy and Tim Meet the Firefighters by Jean and Gareth Adamson

Like all children, Topsy and Tim have all sorts of new and exciting experiences, so who better to guide children through these? In this story, they meet the firefighters during an exciting visit to the fire station. Children can spot the dangers in a house which is a super way of learning. There's a puzzle at the end and a map, which is great for learning early mapping skills. See their webite for more about the fun pair - www.topsyandtim.com.

Naughty Toes by Ann Bonwill and Teresa Murfin

Trixie and Belinda are two very different sisters, especially when it comes to ballet. Belinda is a born dancer, but poor Trixie is not. Even her hair isn';t like a ballerina's (and in a lovely twist, it's Dad who does the girls' hair!). But Mr Tiempo, the piano player, sees that Trixie can shine, and gives her a gift which uses her gifts. A reassuring story about the fact we are all good at something and we can't shine at everything. The delicate and detailed illustrations are a little out of the ordinary and echo the story beautifully. 

 When Titus Took the Train by Anne Cottringer

Who would have thought that a train journey could be so very exciting? It's not every day that you meet bandits and dinosaurs, and are in peril from boulders and rapids. But then Titus does have a VERY vivid imagination and he finds his journey is full of excitement - although the guard thought it was very quiet. I think this vividly illustrated adventure is just perfect for little boys and will encourage them to dream up all sorts of adventures when they travel. Perfect to read aloud, the story races along. I love the child-like drawings at the end, too.

Queen Victoria's Knickers by Jackie French

All Lizzy's friends seem to have relatives who have done something remarkable, but her life is very ordinary... until her Mum is asked to make knickers for Queen Victoria. But what should the knickers be like? Tartan... or balloon shaped... or maybe even with a built-in warming pan! A hilarious story, with really funny illustrations by Bruce Whatley which show the prim and proper Queen Victoria in all sorts of unlikely situations. This will be a guaranteed hit with children who will love to ask for the book about knickers. Unusual and great fun.

 Fortunately, Unfortunately by Michael Foreman

A simple request, you'd think, but you wouldn't believe the adventures Milo has when Mum asks him to return Granny's umbrella to her. He gets into all sorts of strange situations - fortunately, there is always a good side - but unfortunately, there is a downside too... Vibrantly illustrated, you just wonder what weird scrape he can possibly get into on the next page! And it all ends on a cliffhanger! Great fun.

Bears on the Stairs by Julia Jarman and Lynne Chapman

Encourage your reluctant child to go to bed by promising to read them this entertaining story - it will strike a chord with almost all parents! There's a little bear at the bottom; a bigger one in the the middle and a HUGE one at the top and they just won't let the little boy past. But are they real? Mum and Dad will find out... This is a lovely story and the illustrations are full of fun and life, depicting a very happy family. A perfect bedtime story

The Tale of Georgie Grub by Jeanne Willis and Margaret Chamberlain

'This is the tale of Gerogie Grub who would not give himself a scrub...' Georgie's poor mum just gave up trying to get  him to have a bath, with hilarious consequences. Nobody would sit next to him in the classroom - and finally he was sent home from school. But Mum wouldn't have him in the house, so the only place to sleep was the rubbish bin - but we all know what happens to rubbish bins...  A very enjoyable cautionary tale with flowing rhyming text and really funny illustrations. Children will love this one.

 

 I Want to do it by Myself by Tony Ross

We all know and love the Little Princess for her feisty independence, so here is a lovely story which lives up to expectations. She is going camping but, despite lots of offers of help, is determined to do it all by herself. But she is a very forgetful Little Princess - and even forgets whether she has forgotten things! Full of a wealth of delightful characters and very funny illustrations, this reassuring story will really hit the right note with independent toddlers who know just how much they want to do things themselves, but can't quite get it right. Guaranteed to become a firm favourite.

Wanda and the Alien by Sue Hendra

Two lovable creatures adorn the front cover of this book and I was immediately taken by them - they looked so adorable! Wanda meets an alien and they work together to repair his rocket, even though they don't speak the same language. Wanda wants him to meet her friends but where were they? They were hiding but, like Wanda, they learn to share and accept differences. Lovingly illustrated in vibrant colour, this is a most attractive and appealing book. 

Daddy Lost His Head by Quentin BLake and Andre Bouchard

Whatever has happened to Daddy's head? He was such a nuisance without it and the family searched everywhere. They couldn't find it, so they made him one. It was very realistic, but the trouble was, it had no brain. Mum throught this was great, as he just did as he was told - including doing all her work. And then came the day they took him to the toyshop and he asked for everything they wanted. But, when Dad finally found his head, they realised they really like him best with it. A hilarious, anarchic story brilliantly brought to life by Quentin Blake.

No! by David McPhail

This almost wordless story conveys a strong message which is accessible to all through the dramatic and thought-provoking illustrations. A small boy sets out to deliver a letter and witnesses acts of war on his journey. But he has had enough when he reaches the letter box and is set on by a bully. 'NO', he says. On his return journey, things are very different. The lack of words opens up a huge opportunity for discussion at home or in the classroom, giving everyone the chance to express their views and feelings. A very sensitive and thoughtful book which expresses the hope that the playgrounds of the world (on whatever scale) will become safer and friendlier places for all.

The Octonauts and the Decorator Crab

The Octonauts are a new pre-school show for CBeebies and the books, are published by Simon and Schuster, capture the feel of the TV series excellently.  The Octonuats explore the undersea world in amazing vehicles and come to the rescue when called on. In this story, they are called on to help find out why the crew's belongings are going missing from the Octopod. Brightly coloured ilustrations and snappy text will keep children amused and build on their enthusiasm for the TV series.

The Octonauts and the Whale Shark

This colourful book introduces the crew at the start, tells the story of saving the huge shark by venturing inside and ends with a "Captain's Log" which gives information on the whale shark. Facts about the creatures also feature throughout the book.The friendly characters show the importance of friendship, helping one other and sharing across in an clear and entertaining way.

Milly the Meerkat by Oakley Graham

Meerkats are hugely popular at the moment, perhaps thanks to a certain TV advert! They are adorable creatures and this book lives up to expectations. Milly learns an important lesson, reminiscent of the lesson learnt by Aesop's The Boy who Cried Wolf. One day, Milly is bored, so she cries 'snake' and then laughs as all the meerkats run to help..it happens again... and again. But the third time nobldy believes her. Luckily, all is well and she learns that friendship can help, but she must tell the truth. Beautifully illustrated in lovely warm colours, this is a most attractive book. The text is great fun as well as conveying an important moral tale.

 

Hic by Jaclin Azoulay

Oh dear! Poor Snuffletrump - everyone seems to have forgotten it's his birthday and he just can't stop hiccoughing. Children will love to follow his attempts at stopping the hiccoughs - he tries drinking milk standing on his head, juggling eggs and more... but nothing works until the surprise at the end. The illustrations by Fenix depict the story wonderfully and the facial expressions are adorable. A great story to read aloud and share, as children join in with the hiccoughing!

Pandamonium by Dan Crisp 

While the zookeeper sleeps, the animals have a wonderful time enjoying the party, until a terrible stink puts paid to their fun - 'But just then the skunk (who was dressed as a punk), did such an unsavoury thing'. Wonderful flowing rhyming text grabs the reader and draws you through the book as you meet lots of animals and learn about their characteristics. Mark Chambers' illustrations are a delight as he brings the animals to life. A lovely read-aloud story.

 Little Grey Donkey by Nicole Snifselaar

Another lovely picture book from TopThat, as ever beautifully presented and illustrated. This story tells how Little Grey Donkey overcomes his fears and goes to find his friend Serafina. He encounters lots of obstacles but his friendship for Serafina gives him the courage to overcome them all. Thoughtfully illustrated by Coralie Saudo, I particularly liked the nigh-ttime picture, with all the beady little eyes and lights showing - simple but effective. A lovely book to share with children who have fears, to show they can be overcome.

 

Hullabaloo by Gordon Voake 

All the animals are making 'a hullabaloo at the zoo' in this hilarious story. Children will love to hear about all the wonderful antics in this pacy rhyming story. Each spread develops on to the next page so children will have great fun following each animal through the story - but who is missing at the end?. The repetition in the text makes for great sharing aloud as children join in. Fenix' wonderful pictures are full of life and interest.

Banana Skin Chaos by Lilli L'Arronge

The domino effect! Revel in the hilarious possible consequences of just one dropped banana skin in this colourful book - who'd have thought a simple action could lead to such chaos?  The little boy's sister warns him not to drop his banana skin...  so does all this actually happen? The town is thrown into total chaos in this madcap book - I love the way the action escalates page by page from one thing to another...to another... with the final page showing all the disastrous consequences. There is so much detail, so much to look at and discuss and the questions at the end of the book are a brilliant way to encourage observation and comprehension. Take time to share and enjoy this book with your child and you will both have great fun.

Who'd be a Fly by Neil Griffiths

Venus was VERY VERY hungry... perhaps she could eat a stripy snail... or a wasp... or maybe a nice dung beetle... but no, she can't eat any of these. Finally she finds something delicious to eat, but, oh no! Look who it is! A shiny surprise greets you at the end. As well as a fun story, this is a chance to learn about mini-beasts and it will be a good classroom resource to support teaching. Doug Nash's brightly coloured cartoon-style drawings really bring the story to life.

 

Florence was no Ordinary Fairy by Neil Griffiths 

Neil's books are perfect for young children, with their child-friendly repetitive language. Many of them tackle sensitive issues in a caring and thoughtful way and this is no exception. Florence was not like other fairies. She didn't like anything fairy-like...except fairy cakes, and we all know what eating too many fairy cakes does! So the Queen sends her to a fairy fitness farm. The story helps children understand, in a fun way, the value of a healthy lifestyle and the fact that outward appearances are not important. Enjoy the fun cartoons while sharing this book.

Grandma and Grandpa's Garden by Neil Griffiths

Grandma and Grandpa loved their garden and spent many happy hours there together, but happiness came to an end. This touching story brought a tear to my eye and is a perfect book to share with a young child who has lost a loved one. It is full of hope, love and importance of sharing memories and feelings. Gabriella Buckingham's beautiful watercolour illustrations really bring the story alive and provide plenty of opportunities to identify flowers, plants and vegetables. A sensitive approach to a difficult subject, written by a gifted storyteller. 

 

Ten Sleepy Sloths by Neil Griffiths

Sing along to this counting book to the tune of Ten Green Bottles and share a lovely experience with your child or your class - they will love to join in and the simple language makes this easy for them. But it's not quite so simple! In a clever twist, children will have to do a sum to work out how many animals remain. This book is packed full of all sorts of animals, all wonderfully illustrated with great humour by Judith Blake - the pictures are huge fun! Downloadable resources to support the story are available from www.redrobinbooks.com. And the book is available with an audio CD from August 2011. 

 

Tallula's Atishoo by Neil Griffiths

What could be better than a lovely wallow in the mud - if you're a hippo, that is! As it gets hotter, so Tallula pushes herself further into the mud, with the inevitable consequence that she gets stuck. Oh dear - can her friends help? But all the big animals can't help, and then along comes a tiny fly with a very clever idea. Lovely vibrant illustrations complement the story beautifully and there is plenty of opportunity for talking about all the animals, not to mention the fun of reading and making lots of animal noises!

 

Jack and Boo's Bucket of Treasures by Philip Bell 

I like the way this book is illustrated - colourful children are superimposed on photos of seaside views, making this an unusual book. Join Jack and Boo as they spend a day searching for treasure washed up by the tide onto the beach. This is an ideal book for children to take when they go on the beach - as well as an enjoyable story, each page illustrates some of the common things found on beaches. It perfectly captures the excitement children feel when exploring and highlights how much fun can be had on the shores of our own country. Try out the ideas at the end of the book with your own family. Go to www.beachybooks.com to find out more.

Big Dog, Little Dog by Ruth Martin

This is a lovely pop-up book about friendship. Big Dog and Little Dog try all sorts of things to do together, but nothing is quite right for both of them. One is too fast, the other is too slow; one climbs high, the other falls down... and so it goes on. Each attempt is brought to life in a lovely pop-up and bright illustrations as the pups go through the day and finally find something they can enjoy together. I love the expressions on the pup's faces and my favourite pop up is the waggy tale. Even quite young children will love to share this with mum and dad.

 

The Django by Levi Pinfold

This unusual picture book gives us an insight into gypsy life in the early 20th century, inspired by the life of Jean 'Django' Rheinhart.. What is a Django? you may ask - and so did poor little Jean, whose life was turned upside down by the naughty exploits of the Django, and Jean gets the blame every time. One day, he has had enough - but then finds he is very sad when the Django disappears. His father has a marvellous present for him though and he enjoys the wonderful gift of song and music. Wonderfully detailed pictures bring a whole fresh world to life in this unusual and captivating story.

 

Mr Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo by Kevin Waldron

Why are the animals glum all day? It's because they think Mr Peek was talking to them when he said 'you're getting fat...you're wrinkly...you stink...' but it's all a misunderstanding. Mr Peek is really talking to himself, because he is upset that his jacket is too tight... but then it's all put right and as he goes round the zoo again, all the animals hear a much more positive message - but Mr Peek is oblivious to it all. This book has a lovely old-fashioned feel (it reminds me of my childhood books), with text that flows around the pictures, keeping the reader engrossed in the story.

 

Creepy Crawly Calypso by Tony Langham 

This book is a great way to wear off some excess energy! Jump and jive from 1 to 10 with a band of energetic mini-beasts and learn to count at the same time. Flowing rhyming text beckons you on through the book, as you meet a group of very unusual instrumentalists - but just imagine, centipedes playing the piano; perfect! Brilliantly coloured illustrations by Debbie Harter bring the musicians to life. Find out more about the creepy-crawly creatures of the Caribbean in this lively book and join in with the song (words and music included) and enjoy the calypso CD. This book crosses many categories - picture book, non fiction book and music book - and succeeds on every count.

Starting School by Caryn Jenner and Arthur Robins

The large format of this book means there is pleny of space to include an immense amount of detail. It starts off on a really positive note - 'Lucky you. You're starting school soon.' Cartoon style illustrations and speech bubbles take the reader through a day at school, covering such important issues as routines, playtimes, the toilets, lunches and school rules. This book gives parents and carers an excellent opportunity to familiarise a child with school and to share any concerns. Make sure you introduce it to your child well in advance of starting school and you will have plenty of time to alleviate concerns and ensure a happy start to school. An excellent book - do take a look. 

Basher's ABC by Simon Basher 

This is a beautifully produced and illustrated ABC book. Alliterative rhyming text introduces each letter in a very memorable way. Who can forget the image conjured up by 'Jasper juggles juicy jellyfish'? Cheerful characters dressed to suit each letter guide us through the alphabet. Bold illustrations on pastel backgrounds make this an attractive book both for sharing or for children learning on their own. Lots of fun to look out for in the pictures.

Don't Panic Annika by Juliet Clare Bell

'Annika is a panicker.' And so are lots of children, so this will be the perfect story for you if you have a child who panics - and many of them do on occasion. her family all rally round with ideas to help her, but still she panics...until one day, there is a real emergency and Annika copes brilliantly bu applying all the skills she has learnt. A lesson for us all perhaps? Annika is a really appealing character and she is beautifully illustrated by Jennifer E Morris. A reassuring read that your child will relate to and love.

The Pink Bicycle by Gillian Lobel 

It is important to reassure children when  they are facing new experiences and books are a great way to do this. They give you the opportunity to sit down and share with your child, who can then raise concerns in the context of the story. In this story, Sunita has outgrown her red bicycle and reluctantly goes withe her father to choose a new one - but it has no stabilisers. Only when Blue Rabbit needs help, does Sunita master the new bike. Lovely expressive illustrations complement this reassuring story, which shows how children need support and help from those around them to conquer new things.

Sammy Goes Flying by Odette Elliott 

Poor Sammy! He has always dreamt of flying and now his brother and sister are going to an aircraft museum but he is too little to go. But Grandma saves the day with a surprise trip. This would be a lovely story to share with a child who thinks she is missing out, to reassure them that there are lots of ways dreams can come true. This is a warm-hearted story, with a strong family background. Lots to talk about in the pictures by Georgina McIntyre - full of colour and action.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

Yum, yum - a great big juicy strawberry, but who is going to get to eat it? Will it be the Little Mouse or will it be the Big Hungry Bear - or will it be someone else altogether? A lovely story to read aloud and share with beautiful detailed illustrations that include plenty of talking points. I love the range of expressions on the mouse's face. Extend the value of this book with a CD and a big book to share with a class - these are available on the Child's Play website.

 Winnie in Space by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

Winnie the Witch is a hugely popular series, with world-wide success. In this story, Winnie decides it's time to travel in space. Follow Winnie and Wilbur on their exciting journey. But disaster strikes when they stop for their picnic - it seems that space rabbits only eat metal, and they eat up all Winnie's rocket. Will they ever be able to get home? This is a wonderful, colourful journey through space, with plenty to look at, enjoy and discuss on the way. Full of humour and colour, children will love this.

I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy

The bold black and white pictures in this delightful animal tale are perfect for capturing the attention of even quite young babies. The repetition in the story is also perfect for little ones. This book is ideal for sharing one-to-one, with the opportunity to suit action to the text - 'I tickled the baby', 'I sang to the baby' and finally 'I kissed the baby'. Perfect visual and aural stimulation with an interactive element, babies will want you to share this book with them over and over again. A really unusual and charming book.

The Lost Music: Gustav Mole's War on Noise by Catherine Meyrick

Gradually, the neighbourhood around Gustav Mole got noisier...and noisier... and noisier. he could hardly concentrate on composing and his children all gave up their music studies - and they started to make a noise too. So Gustav sets off on a quest to help the world rediscover music. Follow him and his enchanting family as they travel around the world, discover some wonderful music and bring it home. A wonderful reminder of the importance of music to us all and a superb introduction to the music of the world.

The Little Penguin (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

This is one book in a series of 13 called 'World of Happy'. Each one addresses a key issue common in the lives of all young children and a fun story is used to illustrate the concept. The Little penguin is the story of a penguin who doesn't like the water. His mother gently reassures him and acknowledges that we all have fears, and the little penguin puts his trust in her and overcomes his fears. A lovely reassuring story to share, with children, enhanced by the charming illustrations by Janet Cronin. Each book in the series has a page for children to complete, showing how they responded to the advice in the book . I highly recommend this series, both to cover issues of concern and to pre-empt them. Have a look at the fabulous website at http://www.worldofhappy.com/home

The Thanking You Sharks (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

'Hic', 'Burp'... opens this book about good manners. The greedy sharks eat everything they can and then BELCH as loudly as they can. Then one shark suggests that they should say 'thank you' to all the fish they have eaten instead. A lovely story but one which carries an important message - a perfect gentle way to learn. The your child can complete the page which asks for polite words, thus reinforcing the message.

 

 The Lovely Whales (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

This is a story about love and happiness. Find out what is the secret of the universe and why whales are the biggest creatures on the planet in this lovely story. Then your child can complete the page naming some of the people she loves.Listen to Giles Andreae talking about the books.

 

 The Dog Machine (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

Children will love this story, set in a world where all the dogs are organised down to the last detail - even to 'the business that a dog might leave behind'. Finally, the dogs rebelled against the king, and proved that every dog is different and that is why their world is a wonderful place to be. We are all different too and children can celebrate their differences by completing the page at the beginning.

 

The Dance of Wallowy Bigness (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

Poor hippopotamus - she just wanted be to able to dnace gracefuly, but she just couldn't. Until her friend the crocodile came up with a good idea. A lovely story about being beautiful inside  and a vital message for us all to make the most of what we have got. Children are encouregaed tolist the things that make them happy.

 

Two Monkeys (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

There were two monkeys who grew up together. One was a prince, and one his servant boy. But, as the Prince grew older, the Queen decided that he should keep more princely company. And soon the Prince forgot his first and truest friend. A story about true friendship.

 

Cow Party (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

A party was announced to find the King a Queen. All the cows except one got themselves all dressed up, but the one wanted the King to see her just as she was.  And this was just what the King wanted. Moral - be yourself! Lovely colourful illustrations make this little book a real pleasure.

 

The Knitting Gorilla (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

The big gorilla was delighted to have a son after six daughters and was determined he would grow up big and fierce. But the little gorilla liked nothing better than...KNITTING! The big gorilla was so ashamed but came to realise what is really important and soon all the gorillas followed his lead. What makes you what you are? Ask your child to complete the page - very thought-provoking.

 

The Ministry of Niceness (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

A story about spreading happiness - and what could be more important? In the land of cats, the Ministry of Coolness ran everything. But there was one cat who was just plain nice. Gradually, the cats warmed to his niceness. Can you guess what Ministry is running the land now? Encourage children to  reflect on how they make people happy with the help of this delightful book.

 

 (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

Another thought-provoking book in the World of Happy series. This is a story about looking after our world. Simple text and super illustrations help us to share this vital message with our children in a fun way. Is it 'stuff' that we all need, or what is it? Ask your child to answer the question 'I think the world would be happier if....' - and maybe revisit the answer in a year or two and see if anything has changed.

 

Tortoise Football (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

Playing together. What an important lesson for children to learn and this story is a lovely way in which to do so. The tortoises were playing football - without football ther world was nothing - but then the football was kicked to the other side of the river and they couldn't get it back. Until, that is their captain had a wonderful idea. A lovely story about trust, cooperation and working together.

 

 

The Pink Cricket (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

I love the cover illustration of this book - like all the series, it is an embossed cover, which makes a really attractive start to the book.There are two things everyone knows about crickets; first, they are green - I bet you knew that. The secodn thing is that they play the violin - did you know that? But there's an exception - the pink cricket who plays the drums, despite the jeering of his friends. He is determined and proves that we can all follow our dreams and succeed.

 

The Elephant and the Spider (World of Happy) by Giles Andreae

We all have fears - yes, even elephants. This is a delightful story of how sheer determination helped the elephant to overcome her fear of spiders. A really reassuring read, illustrated in bright colour to capture children's attention, this is another excellent book in the World of Happy series, which address all sorts of common isues children (and adults) face. Your child can have the satisfaction of completing the page detailing hard things they have achieved.

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