Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 23)

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 Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson

The fine Go-Away bird sits aloof in her nest, thinking herself better than all the other birds. They all try to make friends, as the story tells us in Julia's trademark rhymes and flowing alliterative words, but very rudely, the Go-Away bird tells them to ... Go Away. But she's met her match with the Get-You bird who won't go away. Luckily, the other birds show what true friends they are... If you're thinking the book looks a little different from previous Julia Donaldson books, that's because she has teamed up with an illustrator new to her - Catherine Rayner. The partnership works seamlessly, with the wonderfully vibrant and detailed pictures with their expressive creatures, setting off the story to perfection. A lovely heart-warming story, based on a real bird living in Africa.

Ducktective Quack and the Cake Crime Wave​ by Claire Freedman

Full of humour, this is a lively and engaging story about everyone's favourite - cake! Just imagine - all the cakes and sweet things in town are disappearing. Ducktective Quack and Constable Crackling need YOU to help to solve the mystery. It's a brilliant way to get children to really engage with the book as they follow the clues in Mike Bryne's witty pictures to see if they can find the culprit. It does seem that there is someone who is behaving oddly... Wonderful rhyming text grabs the reader and races you through the story to the eventual delivery of the thief into the hands of the law.

Dare by Lorna Gutierrez

Dream - trust - dare - inspire. Who and what do you want to be and do? A simple and inspiring poem flows through the book, encouraging inspirational poem encourages children everywhere to be just what they want to be. Lively and action-packed illustrations by Polly Noakes bring it all to life. Whatever you want to be, this empowering book encourages you to be different and to stand up for yourself.

Super Snail by Elys Dolan

Kevin is no ordinary slug despite how he appears by day, because at night he becomes a fearless, shell-wearing Super Snail by night. Mind you, he does live an extraordinary life for a snail - he even has a butler and a very swish home! Despite this, Kevin must prove his worth to the legendary League of Heroes, using the power of slime! It's time for him to step up and avert disaster. Will he discover his true, slimy superpower and defeat the evil villain, Laser Pigeon? A hilarious story packed with humour on every page and superbly illustrated, with jokes a-plenty.

When I was a Child by Andy Stanton

Celebrate the very special bond between grandparent and grandchild in this moving and lyrical story. Grandma flies off hand in hand with her granddaughter and they float through an imaginative world of all her memories, real and imagined, when there was butterfly and daffodil ice cream, and the child shows that there is still magic everywhere. It's a magical evocative world and they explore and find wonder in even the simplest things. With glorious illustrations by David Litchfield, this is a book that encourages the reader, young or old, to slow down and marvel at all the wonders around us, and shows how the young can give older ones a fresh perspective.

THE QUEEN'S LIFT-OFF BY STEVE ANTONY

This really has turned into a great series, as Steve Antony's pokes gentle fun and never disrespectful 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 will be happy to have requested over and over again!

Everybunny Dream by Ellie Sandell

This is another great series, and the bunnies are perfectly irresistible. Ellie Sandell manages to capture so much character in each one through her lively illustrations. The bunny family have had another busy day and are settling down to bed... but wait! Who's here in the dark? Soon there are lots more friends to listen to the bedtime story - a very familiar story! Soon it's time to sleep and dream... The gently lilting quality of the story makes this the perfect bedtime read.

The Little Green Hen by Alison Murray

The author has taken the story of the Little Red Hen and given it a new twist for today's world. The Little Green Hen lives in the apple tree and she cares for it zealously. But Peacock, Cat and Fox have far more important things to do and don't help. Then comes the day that a storm floods the countryside and the apple tree is the only shelter and the Little Green Hen welcomes them in in the spirit of true friendship. The wonderful illustrations are full of quirky details and touches of humour which reflect the qualities of the creatures. I like the way so many picture book authors are including a gentle environmental message as a talking point in their books - it's a great way to get young children to think about our world and the impact we have on it, and that message will become firmly embedded, to the benefit of everyone.

Shampooch by Heather Pindar

Just look at Shampooch - she's just been groomed and she looks beautiful! It took a mere 3 hours 42 minutes and now she's off to the park to show everyone how stunning she looks. All her doggy friends try to entice her to play but she won't... and then she sees a beautiful kite and is whooshed off her feet. Disaster! But, wait! It was such fun she wants to do it all over again - and all the friends join in, to the dismay of their humans. Superbly illustrated by Susan Batori, this is a lovely story about dogs doing what they do best - having great fun. With its expressive use of language, it's a great read-aloud story.

Joseph's Cradle by Jude Daly

The ancient tree was the very heart of the traditional African village - children played on it, adults sheltered under it. But one sad night, the tree blew down. Everyone takes some of the tree but it's Joseph who makes something special - a beautiful cradle for his new baby, Sisi, and for all the village babies that follow. He also sows a new tree. But, much later, a terrible fire strikes the village and the cradle disappears. Is Joseph's cradle lost forever? A lyrical story, one inspired by a true story, of hope, community, love and looking to the future with a positive outlook.

The Wolves Who Came for Dinner ​by Steve Smallman

All the animals wonder how the wolf and the lamb can be such good friends - surely Wolf will eat Hotpot the lamb? The two friends invite all the others to tea - but they are scared and run away. In a lovely tale full of twists and turns, and plenty of touches of humour, eventually all the animals, including several more wolves, learn to be friends and live in harmony. The lively illustrations by Joelle Dreidemy are full of colour and action, and some very lovable creatures. It all goes to show that appearances can be deceptive and we need to look beyond the stereotypes to live happily together.

My Funny Bunny by Christine Roussey

The little boy has always dreamed of having a dwarf rabbit, so when his uncle gives him a present, he knows it's a dream come true... but is it? But this rabbit is nothing like he'd hoped for, and the little boy loses it completely, screaming and sobbing and getting in a furious temper. And all the while, the funny bunny sits quietly by him. Soon the boy realises that here is something special, whatever he looks like - and the pair become friends for life. This is an empathetic cleverly told story of a little boy who can't control his temper, and a rabbit who helps to break the pattern. It will resonate with all parents whose children are prone to tantrums, and provides an excellent basis for discussion. The delicate drawings are full of emotion and feeling, making the book accessible for the younger reader.

My Tree and Me: A Book of Seasons (Growing Hearts) by Jo Witek

A multi-layered brightly coloured cut-out on the front cover introduces this book alluringly draws the reader in; progress through the book and the holes decrease. A little girl has an unusual friend - a tree. She shares her life with him through the seasons, talking to him, playing with him and enjoying the shade he casts, and looking after him too. A gentle story which offers children plenty to think about. The Growing Hearts series celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, from conquering fears and expressing feelings to welcoming a new sibling.

The Green Giant by Katie Cottle

Bea Green and her sausage dog, Iris, are in the country, visiting Grandad. Grandad loves his garden; Bea loves to do... nothing; Iris loves to explore. She leads them to the old greenhouse next door, home to a giant - a giant made from plants and greenery. The giant explains that he has escaped from the grey city, because there were no plants there. When Bea leaves her new friend and returns to the city, he gives her a pack of seeds - and she transforms the city. A charming and thought-provoking book that highlights our concern for the environment, greening our cities, guerrilla gardening and making the world a better place. Lots of important messages, effectively presented for young children.

THE STEVES BY MORAG HOOD

Who came first - Steve or Steve? When Steve the Puffin meets Steve the Puffin, their rival claims to be the first and best Steve will have young children in fits of giggles - and adults recognising the way children everywhere will argue over the most trivial of things! Their claims become wilder and wilder until finally, they are reconciled... and then, when all seems resolved, along comes... Steve! Bold and simple illustrations are full of charm in this short but effective and very enjoyable story.

LITTLE BEAR'S SPRING BY ELLI WOODWARD

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

In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon by Frann-Preston Gannon

This wonderful cumulative story starts with a little frog singing all on his own. He realises that he needs more sounds, so he asks all his friends to join in; but still there's something missing. It's only when a tiny firefly joins in that the song finally sounds perfect. This lyrical story flows superbly, making it a lovely soothing bedtime read. The enchanting illustrations with all the lively animal friends are a pure delight. It all goes to show the importance of working together, the value of friendship and especially how even the smallest of voices can make an impact - a lovely message, beautifully conveyed.

A Twin is to Hug by Andrea Antinori

Whether you know some twins, or know parents and would-be parents of twins, here you have a perfect gift idea. Or just treat yourself if you are a twin to celebrate that very special bond twins have. Always together, a twin is your friend and being a twin can be great! This book celebrates that lifelong bond with all its positives, but also acknowledges there are downsides - twins have to share, and take turns, and be compared. It’s not always easy, but for better or worse, a twin is a friend who will always be by your side. Charming illustrations put that bond into pictures that will give young twins and their families plenty to talk about and share. A lovely book.

Happy to be Me by Emma Dodd

This uplifting book encourages each one of us to be happy about the way we are. Told through the simplest of text and with bold expressive illustrations, young children are encouraged to appreciate their bodies and the wonderful things they can do. In today's image-conscious world, one of the best things we can do for our children is build up their self-esteem - and this book starts that from a young age. The simple, rhyming text and bright colours will instantly appeal to children, and it's fully inclusive, with a wheelchair-user, a child with a hearing aid and characters with glasses, giving lots of opportunity for discussion.

The Flute by Ken Wilson-Max

This is the second in a series full of rhyme and colour that introduces musical instruments to young children, It's perfect for sharing with your little one as the lyrical words, short text and vibrant pictures capture the sound and feel of the flute. Catell Ronca's illustrations are brightly coloured and full of detail reflecting the power of music to reflect moods and reach our hearts.

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

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

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