Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 21)

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

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

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith

This is just brilliant! Who can resist the superb rhymes and cumulative hilarity of the spunky hanky-panky... winky wonky donkey? Not me, that's for sure and judging by the positive reviews flooding the internet, nobody else can either! It's a simply hilarious picture book which makes the most suberb use of words to entertain all ages - it's a story you will be happy to read over and over again. Children will love to join in and there's so much for them to share - and perhaps to add their own versions too. The wonderful illustrations of the donkey and his bird companion by Katz Cowley are the perfect complement.

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Long Winter's Sleep by Jane Riordan

This mini picture book is a lovely way to introduce Winnie-the-Pooh to young children; Jane Riordan has captured the spirit of the lovable bear and his forest friends very well in this reassuring tale. There's a cold wind blowing through Hundred Acre Wood, and it's time for all the friends to retreat safely indoors. But they hear strange noises out in the Forest and venture out to see what's happening... and get a lovely warming surprise.

 

Happy to be Me by Emily Dodd

We are all different and we are all special - and that's what Emma Dodd celebrates in this affirming and positive picture book.

   
   
   
   
   

Polar Bear Island by Lindsay Bonilla

Kirby is a fun-loving penguin and when she arrives on Polar Bear Island, she brings her fun approach to life with her. But misearble Parker, the mayor, is determined to keep things just as they are - only polar bears allowed. Parker gives in and allows Kirby to stay ... just one night. As she introduces Flipper Slippers, life becomes far more fun and she's able to help out too, so will Parker learn to see how great it is to make new friends? Cinta Villalobos' gorgeous illustrations depict the animals superbly and they are so expressive. A lovely heartwarming and happy story about friendship and acceptance. Published by Sterling, October 2018, ISBN 9781454928706.

Swami on Rye (Max in India) by Maira Kalman

Max the dog is a thoughtful, perceptive and caring creature and when his beloved wife Crepes is about to have puppies, he sets off on a journey to get Crepes the smelly snacks she craves... and gets side-tracked. Will he get back in time? He finds himself on a wild journey to India, full of life and vibrancy, where he visits the Temple of Doubletalk, meets a chatty guru named Vivek Shabaza-zaza-za, and has other adventures. And back in time to meet his new (and surprising) family. Clever use of typography makes this a book which appeals on several levels, and offers something new on re-reading. The glorious vibrant illustrations capture the colour and emotion to perfection.

Christmas Comes to Moominvalley by Tove Jansson, Alex Haridi and Cecilia Davidsson

This beautifully embossed and silver foiled collectible adaptation of a classic story will come out year after year to be enjoyed over and over again. It makes the perfect gift for Moomin fans of all ages; those who want the nostalgia of their own childhood and new fans alike.It retells Tove Jansson's classic story The Fir Tree, in which the Moomins are woken up from their winter sleep to be told that 'Christmas' is coming. But what is Christmas? This is the first time the story has been told in picture book format, and the retelling is perceptive and emotive, capturing the spirit of the original perfectly. The text is complemented by delicate, painterly illustrations full of character and seasonal detail, based on Jansson's original drawings and colour plates. A seasonal intorduction to the loveable Moomin family and friends and their special values of tolerance, kindness and integrity, perfect for the time of year.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! BY DR. SEUSS

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason…” He decided he has had enough, so he hatches a plot to make himself look like Santa Claus and then steal Christmas. Full of glee, he looks on to see what happen, but to his amazement, Christmas goes ahead. There must be something more, he thinks, so he returns Christmas - and so Dr Seuss teaches readers the true meaning of Christmas in his own inimitable fashion. Wonderfully rhymed and exquisitely illustrated, this is a Christmas classic.

Sonam and the Silence by Eddie Ayres

Be prepared for an emotional read with this touching story. Young children will enjoy it as a simple story but it will have real meaning as children get older, especially for those who have been affected by war, and hardship of any kind. Sonam lives with her family in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan - a dark and silent world. But that changes when she follows a magical melodious sound to a walled garden - the sound is the sound of music but music is forbidden, so how can she hold the magic? The book is testament to the transcending power of music and the story is powerfully echoed in Ronak Taher's vibrant illustrations.

Why Can't I Be a Dinosaur? by Kylie Westaway

Today, the little girl is a dinosaur... but today is Aunt Daisy's wedding and Nellie has to be a flower girl. Mum, Dad and baby Riley are all busy getting ready for Aunt Daisy's wedding and no one has time to listen to Nellie, even though she has plenty of amusing reasons and excuses for not dressing up as a flower girl. Luckily Nellie might just have a brilliant idea ... Why Can't I be a Dinosaur? is a warm-hearted and entertaining story about a very determined little girl and a loving family who accept her for what she is.

Painting Everything in the World by Gita Wolf

In this unusual book, people from the Rathwa tribe in Gujarat create a ritual wall painting as a way of worshipping their gods Pithora and Pithori, depicted as horses. The creation of Pithora paintings is considered a form of worship, to keep away ill-luck and invite good fortune. To paint is to mirror - and honour - all that has been created in the universe. It's a fascinating look at another culture, presented in simple picture book format by Rathwa artist Harsingh Hamir.

Lots of Frogs by Howard Calvert

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

When I Grow Up by Julie Chen

It's good to have dreams and aspirations, as this book shows. As parents, we know the importance of that special time at bedtime, when children share their thoughts as they relax after the day ; here, a little boy shares with his mum his dreams of what he might be when he grows up. He could be a painter, a musician, a mountain climber, a mayor, a teacher, an astronaut... There is so much he could do - but why does it take so long to grow up? The whimsical illustrations by Diane Goode reflect the boy's thinking and give us a child's-eye view of his aspirations.

The Rescue of Bunny Wunny by Emma Chichester Clark

Described as 'a wickedly funny modern cautionary tale', this really is a fabulous story - a classic in the making. Meet Imelda and her long-suffering toy rabbit, Oliver Small. Imelda is, dare we say it, rather spoilt; infact, she's horribly spoilt. Her parents do everything she asks and one day, Bunny Wunny has had enough.and hides. Nothing will satisfy Imelda but a real rabbit... but she certainly gets more than she bargained for. A wonderfully told tale, superbly illustrated - don't overlook the subtlety of the illustrations.

Silent Night illustrated by Lara Hawthorne

The classic Christmas carol is given new life by the lovely contemporary illustrations. Children will rediscover the nativity story in all its glory – from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels – as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. This is a gorgeous book for the whole family to share during the festive season. The illustrations are packed with glorious and intriguing detail, and they are perfect to expand on the carol and give additional information. It's perfect to sing along to - the full carol is given at the end of the book, along with some background material.

Tiger Walk by Dianne Hofmeyr

Tom's been to the art gallery and he's inspired to draw a tiger. He's in for quite a surprise when, that night, the tiger comes to life and takes Tom off on an amazing adventure. Tom is scared, but the tiger reassures him and finally Tom's fears disappear. Wonderfully atmospheric illustrations by Jesse Hodgson reflect the story perfectly, with some lovely animals to meet and get to know. This is a lovely reassuring story about overcoming bedtime fears - a perfect story to share.

Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Monster by Rhiannon Fielding

Maybe you have a little one who, just like little monster, would rather do anything but go to bed. . . If so, here's the perfect bedtime story to share with your child. A gentle countdown takes you from ten down to one as Belch the monster tries to settling down for bedtime. The trouble is, there's so much going on... The rhythmic rhyming text is lovely and soothing to read aloud. As you read through the story, the colours of Chris Chatterton's lovely illustrations change, darkening into nighttime to give a calming, relaxing feel to this gorgeous and reassuring bedtime story.

There's a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher

This fun interactive book is great to share with your child - and a lovely way to show just how much fun books have to offer. There's a monster right inside this book and children need to read aloud and follow the interactive instructions to help free the pesky monster by tilting, spinning and shaking their book. It's a great way to encourage them to follow instructions and it will have them shouting aloud in joy as they do as they are instructed. After all that fun, there is a calming wind down end - perfect to send your own little monster off to sleep. It's wonderful fun.

The Elephant that Ate the Night by Bing Bai

First impressions count, and I love the delicately drawn cover illustrations and the heavy feel of the book which comes from the top quality glossy paper which does full justice to Yuanyuan Shen's gorgeous illustrations. The Dark Mushroom Forest gets very dark at night and the little animals are scared... but perhaps help is at hand in the unlikely form of . Awu the elephant who loves to eat darkness... he sucks it right up his trunk. The trouble is, that when there's no darkness left anywhere, all the animals start to feel very tired and yawn a lot. It's all up to Awo to put things right. This is a lovely bedtime story, full of beautiful images and reassuring thoughts, to send children happily off to sleep.

Puddle Hunters by Kirsty Murray

When the rain stops it's time to go puddle hunting. Ruby and Banjo try the garden, the street, the park and finally find the puddles waiting by the river. Splosh! plosh! And the dog joins the fun too! And, even better, cosily tucked up at home, it starts to rain again... more fun tomorrow. This is a wonderful reflection of the sheer joy of childhood, of finding fun in the simplest of things. The watercolour illustrations by Karen Blair set the story off to perfection, mirroring the happiness of the text.

The Snow Rabbit by Georgiana Deutsch

The lovely tactile glittery cover will immediately attract children's attention, making the book stand out from others. Bear is always grumpy, with a furry frown, a sulky scowl and a grizzly growl. What will it take to make Bear smile? Could it be... a snow rabbit? Or maybe even... a friend? Alison Edgson's lovable illustrations (complete with touches of glitter) capture the animals superbly, along with theiur emotions which are so clearly expressed. So many emotions are found in the book, and they offer an excellent opportunity to discuss feelings with children - happiness, grumpiness, kindness, worry... and lots of friendship to make everything better. A lovely story - one to stop any child from being grumpy!

I'll Love You Forever by Owen Hart

Through the passing of the seasons, Polar Bear and Cub explore the beauty of their home in the Arctic. On the way, Polar Bear constantly reassures Cub, through the gentle rhyming text, that no matter what changes occur in nature, the loving bond between them will never be broken. The book reflects the changing seasons in the Arctic wonderfully through Sean Julian's delicate watercolour drawings - it's a good way to introduce this to young children. A comforting book, perfect as bedtime reading.

IT'S CHRISTMAS BY TRACEY CORDEROY

Cute little Archie, the lovable star of many of Tracey's books, is really excited about Christmas... but nothing is quite Christmassy enough for him, so he 'helps' mum and dad by adding his own finishing touches. But things don't go to plan and soon poor Archie, despite the very best of intentions, has caused havoc. Luckily, everything is sorted out in the end and the family enjoy the best Christmas ever. The bright lively illustrations by Tim Warnes are full of festive fun.

LAST STOP ON THE REINDEER EXPRESS BY MAUDIE POWELL TUCK

Christmas is very much family time. It can be hard for children who are separated from family members; here we have a book which shares feelings and helps understanding and acceptance of the situation. Mia's Daddy is far away and she is sad. But then Mia discovers a mysterious post box and she is soon off on a wonderful adventure. Readers are drawn into Mia's journey through the peep-through pages, flaps and atmospheric illustrations from Karl James Mountford. The cut-out peep-through cover is enticing, drawing in the reader. Sensitive and touching, the book is an excellent way to encourage young children to articulate their feelings and to give adults the opportunity to talk and reassure them.

A Pirate Christmas by Suzy Senior

Joe and his pirate dad along are fed up, stuck on their boat missing the pirate Christmas party across the water on their friends' ship; all that fun and they're not there to enjoy it. But when Joe and his dad discover a dusty old picture book of the story of the first Christmas and settle down to read together, they discover a different kind of treasure. A virbantly illustrated story which links the traditional and a fresh twist; the illustrator is Andy Catling.

The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel by Tracey Corderoy

Bear has just settled down for a calm, cosy Christmas when along comes Frog, expecting to join an amazing celebration at the Extravaganza Hotel. Sadly, he's got things a bit wrong, so it's up to Bear to see what he can do. And he succeeds in bringing some magical elements to entrance Frog and to live up to what Frog was expecting - and that's what friendship is all about. This is a gorgeous story that shows how the simplest things can mean a lot.

MOON BY BRITTA TECKENTRUP

The superb collage-style illustrations from this renowned illustrator are perfect to depict the changing phases of the moon; they are really atmospheric. Young ones will learn why the moon shines in the night sky as they see the moon waxing and waning above the world full of busy night-time creatures; from turtles laying their eggs on white sandy beaches, to migrating birds using the moon to navigate their way to sunnier climes - there is so much going on. The die-cut moon shapes which are found throughout the book ((showing a lovely silvery moon) give a great opportunity to talk about the changing cycles of the moon.

Yellow Submarine The Beatles

Republished to mark the 50th anniversary of the film, this vibrantly illustrated book captures the feel of the film to perfection. It immediately draws the reader in, telling the story at a fast pace that will engage everyone. A colourful land of music and laughter called Pepperland –lay beneath the sea - until the Blue Meanies chased all the magical music away. So began the classic 1968 film Yellow Submarine. A timeless masterpiece of film, iconically captured in image and text and bound to appeal to both original fans and a whole new audience - it's perfect to share.

THE ADVENTURES OF EGG BOX DRAGON BY RICHARD ADAMS

We could all do with one of these! Whatever you've lost, Egg Box Dragon will find it. He's retrieved missing footballs, glasses and watches aplenty. His reputation has spread so far that the Queen herself has requested his services. But what has she lost? And will there be trouble when she spots a hole in the royal hedge? A cute story about a very lovable dragon, with adorable illustrations by Alex T Smith.

The Antlered Ship by Daskha Sater

A fantastical story which sees a questioning fox setting off on a seafaring voyage with an unlikely but somehow credible crew of deer and pigeons. When a fabulous ship adorned with huge antlers is looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find the answers he craves and other foxes who think like him. Finally, in this heart-warming story, he learns the best way to find a friend. The art by the Fan Brothers is quite amazing and captures the atmosphere of the story and the characters of the animals to perfection. It's good to see a map on the endpapers, allowing us to follow the ship's journey.

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow by Nicki Greenberg

All the reindeer are sleeping, getting ready for the big day - except Ruby, who wants to get a head start. But it all goes wrong when the sleigh is too heavy, and she crash-lands at George and Amelia's house a day too early. So Ruby abandons the presents to join them in the school concert... and then realises she has forgotten something! A hilarious festive rhyming tale to delight children. The lovely glittery cover gives the perfect feel.

Moo and Moo and Can You Guess Who? by Jane Millton

Moo and Moo first starred in Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too, and now they are back to delight readers again with another lovely story. This time, the friends are due to give birth, despite the previous traumatic happenings - and all turns out well as their calves are born on the same day - friends forever. Delightfully illustrated by Deborah Hinde. The author lives on a farm - with the real-life Moo and Moo.

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies

Told from the perspective of a very confused and distressed child, this emotive book gives a real insight into the way children feel when war devastates their lives. It's a story that will remain with the reader long after the book has been read. Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came. Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone. Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious... Rebecca Cobb's subtle illustrations capture the little girl's feelings and the devastation that takes place. Ultimately, the message is one of hope; an important book and one which will help develop empathy. "When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter this country in 2016, Nicola Davies was so angry she wrote a poem. It started a campaign for which artists contributed drawings of chairs, symbolising a seat in a classroom, education, kindness, the hope of a future. The poem has become this book, movingly illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, which should prove a powerful aid for explaining the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers."

I Do Not Like Books Any More by Daisy Hurst

It's a title that makes you want to read on to find out 'Why?'. This is the second title featuring cute monster siblings, Natalie and Alphonse. They love books and stories and Natalie is learning to read. But when Natalie tries to read all by herself for the first time, she gets very frustrated because the letters just look like squiggles, and she isn’t so sure any more…. Perhaps this isn't a good idea after all! But then, she finds that there is a real purpose in lrearning to read and feels the pride that comes with learning something new. It's the prefect book to snuggle up with and share with a child just starting to read, to reassure and enthuse them.

The Sloth Who Came to Stay by Margaret Wild

Amy's family are always in a rush; they never seem to slow down, and don't have time to talk or play. But one day, Amy brings home a sloth she has found in the park, and as we know sloths are very very slow. Things start changing very, very slowly and gradually the family starts to see what has been missing. A thought-provoking about enjoying the little things in life, and taking time to appreciate them. Delightfully illustrated by Vivienne To, who captures the changes that take place.

Storm by Sam Usher

This is one in a lovely series of books that celebrates a very special relationship between a boy and his grandad. It's blowing up There's a storm on the way and the boy and his grandad decide it's the perfect day for kite-flying. But where is the kite? Looking for it evokes all manner of of wonderful memories of previous adventures together - and all the while the storm rages outside, described in gloriously alliterative language. Finally they find it and it's off to the park where they join in with a marvellous riot of kites, and they are up, up and away. A story full of joy, about making treasured memories from simple pleasures.

Aleph by Janik Coat

Perfect for sharing with little children, this is an unusual and almost wordless picture book. Through its instantly appealing large simple graphic images and contrasting colours, it moves the child from basic shapes and familiar objects to a wider world, full of story, character, and wonder. This rich and surprising book finishes with a playful picture dictionary that refers back to the images, creating a lasting and memorable experience. A lovely way to stimulate the imagination and a book that would work well with older children to encourage story-telling and description.

The Hungry Goat by Alan Mills

The goat is always hungry... and he will eat anything and everything. Hios greed leads him into all sorts of strange places and his diet is certainly very mixed - pigs swill to frying pans, broken glass to barbed wire. His master is initially very proud of him until one day, the greedy goat eats something his master values; trouble ensues and there's a very surprising ending. A comical rhyming tale, delightfully illustrated by Abner Graboff.

The Mud Monster by Jonnie Wild

The Mud Monster was the scariest of all the creatures in the jungle - but none of them had ever seen it; they just knew that it was huge and they knew it was horrible. But none of them had actually seen it. Until one day... could this be the fabled Mud Monster? It seems not, and as this hilarious story unfolds, we find out just who is covered in mud. The story is superbly illustrated by Brita Granstrom with fabulous detail and wonderfully characterised animals. The book includes fascinating information about flamingoes. Written to raise awareness of African wildlife and the importance of animal conservation, the author's royalties will be donated in support of wildlife habitat conservation projects in Africa.

MY FRIEND SLEEP BY LAURA BAKER

Does your child have night terrors? Even if they don't though, this is a lovely reassuring story for every child, to help them relax into sleep - and to help allay any fears. The story follows a hild through a dream journey with her friend Sleep, who takes her into magical wonderlands. Sometimes, they are a little scary, but with Sleep by her side, the little girl learns to conquer her fears. Hannah Peck's muted-colour drawings continue the dream-like theme. A gentle, reassuring story which soothes and comforts.

The Big Race by David Barrow

Aardvark may only be small but she is very determined, so she enters the Big Race despite the sniggers of the larger animals. It's a long and arduous race bt Aardvark keeps on going until a surprising twist in the story has her racing to the finish... but will she win? Young readers will love the colourful African creatures, including a crocodile, a cheetah, a buffalo and an African hoopoe. A heart-warming, amusing celebration of the importance of taking part rather than winning. Perfect to read before school Sports Day!

Alice's Wonderland Tea Party by Poppy Bishop

Alice is having a tea party - but unlike her namesake, she wants it to be just an ordinary tea party where everything runs smoothly... like clcokwork, even. But with the guests she has got coming, that seems an unlikely hope. White Rabbit brings clocks, Dodo brings an upside-down cake... and the Cheshire Cat's tart disappears. With one disaster after another, will they ever get to eat? With lots of flaps, pop-ups and peep-throughs to explore, children will love to meet their favourite characters and they will revel in the lively illsutrations by Laura Brenlla. A lovely gift.

Not Yet a Yeti by Lou Treleaven

I knew I was going to love this book as soon as I saw the gorgeous illustration on the cover - and I wasn't disappointed. Lou Trevelyan's entertaining and wonderfully humorous text couples perfectly with Tony Neal's charming illustrations to bring us the story of George, whose family are all yetis... but George has other ideas. George doesn't want to chase ramblers or make people scream with terror - but that's what yetis do. George has a MUCH better idea... Luckily, he has some very understanding parents who let George be who he wants to be in this lovely tale of understanding, being happy to be different and acceptance. The illustrations make excellent use of colour and contrast, with brightly coloured George quite different to his white-clad family.

Grandma Bird by Benji Davies

Noi is going to stay at Grandma's for the summer but he's anxious about being somewhere so isolated... and Grandmas has some strange habits. Feeling neglected, Noi stes off to explore on his own and soon finds himself at the heart of a dramatic rescue. Will he get back safely? Happily, it's Grandma to the rescue... and what's rescued comes as quite a surprise. This rescue triggers a new relationship in this heart-warming book with its gloriously evocative and detailed illustrations which capture the remoteness of Grandma's life. Benji Davies writes sensitively and lyrically and this is a worthy successor to The Storm Whale.

The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth

Just like many other children, the little boy was afraid of the dark. But most children can't do anything about it... unless, of course, you are this little boy - a future king. So when he becomes king, he bans the dark completely. Soon the country is transformed and everything seems good - initially. But then the people realise they can't sleep in the light, but they are not allowed to turn the lights off. To distract them, a firework display is planned, with surprising consequences. The clever illustrations accompany the story to perfection and offer lots of intriguing detail. A clever and beautiful story about the power of people working together for good and how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.

Froggy Day by Heather Pindar

This charming picture book works well on many different levels - it's an amusing story which can also be used to develop literacy skills, observation and numeracy (how many frogs on the page?). The forcast says it's going to be a froggy day... and soon it's raining frogs. Those pesky frogs are everywhere - in the shops, at the park, holding up the builders... At last the froggy day ends, but look out, as it's going to be sunny tomorrow! A wonderfully silly book, enlivened by Barbara Bokas' equally silly illustrations. Great fun.

What Was I Scared Of? by Dr Seuss

Perfect for reading under the bedclothes, with a glow-in-the-dark cover (charge it up in the light first, though), this may be Dr Seuss' scariest book ever! Meet the pair of empty trousers, with nobody inside them. Our hero is normally fearless but these empty pale green panst certainly have him spooked! Can he face up to his fears and make friends? Of course he can, with an unexpected ending. First published as part of The Sneetches and Other Stories collection, this all-time favourite story of Dr. Seuss’s is now published on its own.

THREE LITTLE MONKEYS BY QUENTIN BLAKE

What a combination! Words by Quentin Blake and illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark - the result is bound to be superb, and I wasn't disappointed. They have joined their talents to perfection to tell us the story of Hilda Snibbs and her three very naughty little monkeys, Tim, Sam and Lulu. They cause chaos and Hilda finds herself wishing she didn't have them... but beware of what you wish for! A glorious riot of a book, full of fun and a sheer delight from start to finish, with some unexpected twists and subtle changes in the picture style which reflect the mood of the story.

Can You Find It? by Surya Sajnani

This striking large-format board book will keep young ones occupied for hours... and adults will be happy to help if needed! Every spread focuses on a different colour - there's yellow and green, purple and red and more. On one side is a jumbled mosaic picture in shades of the colour with objects carefully hidden (some easy to spot and others not so easy); on the facing page are the pictures if the objects to spot - all in the theme colour, of course. There's also a shape to spot on each page, adding an extra learning opportunity. Beautifully produced, this lovely book offers endless opportunities for discussion and for encouraging observation about the colourful world around us.

The Rabbit, the Dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O'Byrne

It must be the advent of winter, bringing us books about the dark! Rabbit doesn't want to go to bed, so decides to trap the dark so it stays light - what a lovely idea with these evenings drawing in! So Rabbit tricks The Dark and traps it in a biscuit tin. But Rabbit is only thinking of himself - many creatures need the dark. Now he can stay up all night long... but starts to get hungry and The Dark reminds Rabbit that you can't have a yummy breakfast of toast and honey and fresh orange juice unless you've been to bed? Now Rabbit is getting a bit grumpy, but refuses to give in until The Dark shows him a beautiful surprise in a pop-out from the biscuit tin which changes Rabbit's mind. And one final thing... what is it children love at bedtime? I love this story - it will really make children see the good side of night and Rabbit is such a lovable character. Superbly told and beautifully illustrated to show light and dark.

This Book Just Stole My Cat by Richard Byrne

Ben and his cat are playing chase when suddenly the cat disappears... into the pages of the book. And not just the cat; his friend Bella disappears too and so do the rescue teams. Only one person can help - the reader! Can you rescue Ben and Bella from the naughty book? It's a ticklish problem. The succinct text, coupled with story-telling illustrations makes this good for children to read alone. Superbly imaginative and inventive, this is another delightful story from an acclaimed author.

Mummy Time by Judith Kerr

A much-celebrated author shows how she is very much in tune with today's world, even though her early writing includes her acclaimed books in the Out of Hitler Time Trilogy, equally in tune with the period. We've all been there, haven't we... just wanting a bit of me-time. This mummy is having her me time... but her child is revelling in the lack of supervision as the story and pictures switch almost seamlessly from one to the other. Full of warmth, whimsy and wit, this is very much a contemporary tale, but it also has all the best features of a traditional picture book - and it reflects the very special magic that can only happen when you’re with Mummy. Wittily observed and definitely a modern-day fable - and maybe another future classic, like so many of this author's books. With lovely illustrations to match the text, this book can't fail to be a success.

Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther

The Little Bear wants not one, but three stories for bedtime. Story one is the story of the Night Guardian, who lives in the woods and makes sure all animals go to bed. The second story is about the brave girl Zhara who seeks the forest's most delicious blackberries. In the third we meet Bo, the little man with the big overcoat, who finds it hard to sleep. The warm pink tone of the illustrations are soothing and restful, ideal for bedtime. It's the perfect bedtime story for all those children who ask for just one more story, as they are all here. Just as, finally, Little Bear falls asleep, so will your child, and maybe those new friends will be there in their dreams.

Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin

Each villain has his or her own two page spread, with a personality outline one side on a huge fold-out sheet rather like a newspaper extract. On the facing page there's a colourful picture of the villain, along with all manner of pop ups and cut outs to enjoy. There's the wolf, the giant and the witch. This is very much a book for adult and child to share, due to the large size and fragility of the pop-ups, wonderful though they are. So make the most of your time together, enjoy sharing the secrets of fairytale villains with your child (these are generic villains, not specific ones), and the joy of introducing them to the world of fairytales. Each villian is accompanied by a story with a twist. It's a superbly produced book, full of fascinating details to absorb young and old. Unusual and absorbing.

How to Become a Knight (in Ten Easy Lessons) by Todd Tarpley

Sir Simpleton has 'kindly' volunteered to help young Sam to become a knight, as the king is looking for a new knight. The trouble is, that Sir Simpleton definitely lives up to his name and it seems that Sam is cleverer than his teacher, so how will he master the tricks of the trade? Sir Simpleton puts on a chicken suit instead of armour, mistakes a cow for a dragon, confuses the king with the court jester... and more. The brilliant colour illustrations by Jenn Harney cleverly integrate the different elements of this hilarious story. Published by Sterling, August 2018, ISBN 978-1454923305.

How To Hide A Lion At Christmas by Helen Stephens

This is a lovely series which really stretches children's imaginations as they enjoy seeing the lion in all manner of unlikely situations. Iris' family are going away for Christmas. We already know that Iris takes her lion everywhere - even to school. But even she can't take a lion on a train... can she? Luckily the lion has other ideas and he sets off on a festive, snowy adventure to find Iris - and has a very close encounter with Father Christmas! A charming, heartwarming story.

How To Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller

The tables are turned in this book - it's the parents who are the fussy eaters, not the child! Matilda longs to try new foods but her parents like to stick with boring things like chicken and burgers Matilda can only try new things when she's away from her parents - so can she change them? Not to be daunted, Matilda secretly sets out to learn how to cook, so she can be more adventurous and encourage her parents too - and it works. But there's a new challenge ahead for Matilda... Great fun and a good encouragement to parents whose repertoise may be a little set. Illustrated by Hatem Ali. There's also a Macaroni family recipe for quiche that young cooks can try! Published by Sterling, August 2018, ISBN 978-1454925620.

The King Of Nothing by Guridi

The king is very proud, despite the fact he rules over... nothing. Until one day, the unexpected happens - something turns up. The King of Nothing is a witty parable about personhood and power, about getting your way or not getting your way. It claims to be a playful book of first philosophy and fundamental psychology for kids, brilliantly executed and illustrated by Guridi, a renowned Spanish artist and author for children. Unfortunately, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book as the entire text is upper case - not good for young readers. It is however, beautifully produced, in hardback landscape format to make it that bit different.

Oi Duck-billed Platypus (Oi Frog and Friends) by Kes Gray

The bright colours of the pictures and backgrounds give this series instant child-appeal. I love Jim Field's expressive depictions of all the animal friends - he gives them so much character and personality. This is the story of animals with impossible to rhyme names and, as readers of previous books will know, the animals have to find somewhere that rhymes with their names or they won't find a seat! But ever-inventive frog soon has the answer - use the animals' first names and soon everyone is sitting comfortably... until it comes to the kangaroo! Laugh-aloud humour which will have young readers in fits of giggles - and improve their rhyming ability, too. It's the perfect follow-up, extending the clever idea to perfection.

The Space Train by Maudie Powell-Tuck

Jakob has found the long-abandoned space train but it’s old, battered and broken. Can it ever be restored to its former glory, when it criss-crossed the universe. Granny remembers its days of glory, so with her help, and that of Derek the robot chicken, can Jakob fix the train? At first, things don't work out but trying again works and soon the friends are zooming off. This is a wonderful space adventure, with superbly intricate illustrations by Karl James Mountford, complemented by lots of differently shaped flaps to lift, all revealing even more excitement. There's a peek-through cover too. It's highly imaginative and a bit different (in the very best way) and I really enjoyed it and I know space-mad children will too.

Maybe the Moon by Frances Ives

This is the story of Eric, a little boy who moves from his contented forest life to the big city. It's a totally different world from all that he loves, but Eric has a wonderfully positive approach to life (from which we can all learn), and he is soon seeking happiness despite the strange new environment. As he looks up at night, he realises that, wherever we live and whoever we are, we all share the same moon. The author's beautiful illustrations, full of life and joy, depict every detail of Eric's life in great detail, and show his determination to enjoy it all. The rhyming refrain is perfect for reading aloud and children will love to join in. An enchanting story with a really positive message. This is a beautiful and magical start to LOM ART's new fiction picture books programme, with lyrical text matching evocative pictures.

What's for Lunch, Papa Penguin? by Jo Williamson

Penguins love fish, don't they? So Papa Penguin and Pippin run the best cafe in the Antarctic - on the menu there's fish for breakfast, fish for lunch, fish for dinner, and even... fish ice cream! So when Pippin says he's fed up with fish, our stars set off on a long journey around the world in search of something different. Join the intrepid pair as they find out, during a hilarious journey what others eat. Will the new menu be a success though? Fussy eaters (and their mums and dads) will especially enjoy this entertaining story... and its unexpected end.

Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards

Mindfulness is very much a current phenomenon, with many schools and parents recognising its value in our hectic world. This book will be especially good for a relaxing bedtime read, or for sharing with young pupils during quiet time. It encourages children to explore their emotions, and poses questions to help them explain their feelings. There are simple activities included too, to help children focus. the beautiful illustrations by Katie Hickey reflect the peaceful nature of the book; there's plenty within the pictures to stimulate thoughts and conversation. This poetic story will encourage everyone to relax - adults too!

Where Happiness Lives by Barry Timms

This hardcover book has a lovely traditional feel to it that really appealed to me - plus an enticing cut-out on the cover to entice young readers. Grey Mouse is happy in his little home; there are plenty of other mice around and all he needs. But one day, he spots a grander house, belonging to a white mouse and he's filled with envy. But the white mouse isn't happy either... so it's off to an even grander home. Here, the friends learn an important lesson - to love what you have. Gorgeous illustrations by Greg Abbott are shown to full benefit by the lobely flpas which show even more to appreciate. An important message about being happy, content with what we have - and friendship, told in charming rhyming text.

We Are Together by Britta Teckentrup

I love to share books with peep-throughs with young children - they always find such pleasure in them. As we enjoy each page of the book, so more and more children, from all around the world, are added through cut-outs that open up page by page. This simple but very effective book shows the power of collaboration and the importance of working together to support one another. Illustrated in Britta Teckentrup's trademark collage style, the book shows people, animals and nature in harmony, promoting inclusion and care for others.

Itchy, Scritchy, Scratchy Pants by Steve Smallman

Five cold Vikings set out on an adventure... but they can't go anywhere until they find some new pants (the old ones were set alight!). But are knitted knickers better than no knickers at all. When the Yeti offers them some fluff, can your child spot the prob;em? Illustrated with verve and joy by Elina Ellis. A rollicking rhyming story which children will relish.

The Queen's Lift-Off by Steve Antony

This really has turned into a great series, as Steve Antony's pokes gentle fun at our esteemed monarch. The books are so well done, and this is no exception. It seems that the Queen has been everywhere - round the UK and across the world. So now she's off to space on a whirlwind tour, visiting Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune ... and she didn't leave out Pluto. Full of wonderful touches of humour, this is great fun. It's one of those books that adults wil be happy to have requested over and over again!

The Day Henry Met  a Dog by Gilly

Dog is sad and lonely, and really wants a best friend. Dog knows just what a best friend should be and Henry decides he knows just how to be that friend. So off the pair go on amazing adventures - under the sea, into space and to the deepest jungle). Their adventures are exciting but somehow not what Dog wants. After all the adventures, they find out just where to have the best time as friends. A lovely story about adventures and friendship.

Oscar the Hungry Unicorn by Lou Carter

An eye-catching glittery cover is a lovely introduction to the book and it will immediately attract children's attention. Oh dear! Oscar the Unicorn has eaten his stable so he needs to find somewhere else to live... the trouble is, Oscar eats anything and everything so nobody wants him around - and can you blame them? He tries everywhere, and finally ends up trying to eat the troll's bridge... big mistake! But it all ends happily ever after when he tumbles into Princess Oola's boat and finds that she has always wanted a unicorn. Vibrant and amusing illustrations by Nikki Dyson capture Oscar and friends to perfection. A lovely story.

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