Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 25)

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.

Everyone Can Draw by Fifi Kuo

Have you ever looked at a painting or drawing and thought 'I could do that'? Well, as this book shows, everyone can draw, whether they prefer to draw characters or scenery. Celebrating the art of drawing, this imaginative and inspiring book encourages us to find out what works for us and then... draw, draw, draw. Simple and very effective.

Don't Hug the Pug by Robin Jacobs

The baby is encouraged to everything... but not the pug. Why not, you ask? Well, it's quite simple really and if you read this deceptively simple story, you'll find out. It's a sweet story with an unexpected twist at the end, delightfully illustrated by Matthew Hodson.

A Million Dots by Sven Volker

This is one for everyone who has wondered at the sheer enormity of numbers - and they will be even more in awe by the time they've finished! The number on each page is doubled, going from 1 to 1 million in just 44 pages. From the start with a single tree, we are presented with a sum doubling the number on the page before it: 1+1 = 2; 2+2 = 4; 4+4 = 8. In this way, we reach over a million. Each sum is brought to life with a simple graphic illustration in the distinctive style of Sven Völker. The dots form the back of a ladybird, the bubbles in a cup of soda and the water in a swimming pool. On each page, a single neon dot illustrates what one means in the context of the sum. A fascinating concept.

Iced Out by C K Smouha

Three lovely marine characters are at the heart of this charmimg story about frinedship, being adaptable and fitting in. With a little help from a beluga, the walrus and the narwhal learn that it's good to be different. All the pupils in Miss Blubber's class are seals, except for Wilfred Walrus and Neville Narwhal - and it's hard being different. HAppily, when Betty Beluga joins the class, everything changes. She is smart and independent and amazing at football. As a friendship forms, Betty helps the two boys to recognise that being different isn’t always a bad thing! A lovely way to convey an important message, with traditionally-styled illustrations by Isabella Bunnell.

Fly Flies by Ziggy Hanaor

Everyone has their own way to do things, and the important message of this book is that what is right for one may not be the way for others, so be true to yourself. Fly is happily practising her flying in the park, but Blackbird, Seagull, Starling and Hawk think they know best. They take turns giving Fly advice about the best way to fly; Fly tries to take their advice on board, but each time finds that this is not HER way to fly.

The Inner Child by Henry Blackshaw

This unusual and thoughtful little book that will appeal to adults and children equally, explaining why adults behave in the strange ways that they do, and how important it is to preserve the place of playfulness and joy inside all of us.

Prudence and Her Amazing Adventure by Charlotte Gastaut

A book that sweeps the reader off into a wonderful dream world, awat from everyday cares and worries. It's time to go out and Prudence's parents are calling her to hurry up. But she must tidy up her room before going out, and as she tidies, so she is drawn into other worlds. This is a surprise book full of cut-outs and transparent papers to play with, to encourage children to dream and escape from one world to another as they turn the pages. This wordless book with its beautifully intricate illustrations encourages the imagination superbly.

Suzy Orbit, Astronaut by Ruth Quayle

Suzy Orbit was a space engineer and when she and her boss, Captain Gizmo, hear that aliens have been spotted near their space station, they must act fast! But Captain Gizmo is farv from being prepared, so he has to call on Suzy with her spanner and brilliant inventing skills to save the day.. But will he does as she says? Wonderful ilustrations by Jez Tuya are packed with vivid detail to enjoy.

My Friends by Max Low

Being written in the first person gives the book real impact as the story explores friendship. Friends come in many forms - Mossy is a quiet friend, Archibald is a lion friend, Ezza watches clouds, Pepper cooks yummy food, Olga listens to music... and there are lots more to meet too. And many children have one of the most important friends of all - just like Klaus, an imaginary friend! This is a thoughtful exploration of friendship and what it means and it's a great conversation starter. The stunning collage illustrations give even more impact to this sensitive book.

Sneaky Beak by Tracey Corderoy

I love this humorous approach to something that is so much a feature of today's world. Wondering whether we really have chosen the best and been swayed by adverts - we've all been there, haven't we? Bear and Hamster are happily watching TV when the ads come on, and they start thinking about their possessions. And along comes gadget-mad salesman, Sneaky Beak, with all sorts of things to "improve" their lives. But is this really the answer? A fun-filled story with an important message about the dangers of materialism and the importance of friendship. Tony Neal's lively illustrations are full of interest and detail to share together.

Pirates Don't Go To School by Alan MacDonald

Despite his family's opposition, they have finally agreed to let Jake go to school. But chaos ensues when, on his first day, Jake takes Poll the parrot along with him and she escapes. Luckily, all is well and Jake has a great time with all his new mates. Full of rollicking humour and piratical language, this is a wonderful story full of fun - and perfect to reassure young ones with ‘first day at school’ nerves. Magda Brol's illustrations convey a great sense of fun and some wonderful characters are depicted. But will Jake go back for another day...?

Quill Soup by Alan Durant

As you read this story, you will realise it is familiar - in a good way. It's an African version of the traditional story of Stone Soup. When Noko, the porcupine, arrives at a village, all the other animals hide and won't offer him food and shelter. Cunning Noko comes up with a plan - he will cook a pot of soup from the quills off his back. Soup fit for a king. Funnily enough, the animals now have plenty to contribute... It's perfect to discuss with children, to draw out the full meaning of the story. The wonderful vibrant illustrations by Dale Blankenaar leap off the page celebrating all the vibrancy of African culture - they are wonderful. The story celebrates sharing, working together and kindness in a lovely way.

Think Big! by Kes Gray

Humpty Dumpty was sitting on a wall (of course) but this time, he's joined by his nursery rhyme friends. They are talking about what they want to be when they grow up. When Humpty tells them he wants to be a boiled egg, they don't think much of the idea. So, one by one, they come up with all manner of ideas - a musician, a detective, a footballer are just some - to encourage Humpty to be more ambitious. Then disaster strikes (in the most amusing way) and Humpty has a different idea... It's wonderfully told, packed with humour, and superbly illustrated with zest and vibrancy by Nathan Reed. Best of all, it encourages children to think big themselves. Such fun - I love it and so will children, especially as they meet so many old friends!


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 MOOsic Makers by Heather Pindar

This book, as you might guess from the title, is packed with puns, which are guaranteed to appeal to children - and which will elicit a few amused groans from parents! Nutmeg and Celery love their MOO-grass music and are very talented, so when Farmer Joni needs a new barn roof, they set off to raise money. Will MOO-grass music be enough or will they have to change their tune? With bright lively illustrations from Barbara Bakos, this is a fun story about working together and sticking to what you love.

Don't Eat Pete by Sue Walker

Be careful how you choose your babysitters! Be wrned by the cautionary tale of Moll, who asked Uncle Boll to puppy-sit her pug, Pete. Moll made sure there was plenty of food to satisfy Boll’s notoriously huge appetite and she made sure she reminded him not to eat Pete. But Boll is always hungry, and Pete looks very tasty... But the tables are turned in a surprising way! Carlo Beranek's lovely illustrations depict the animals beautifully, with gorgeously expressive faces. Told in catchy rhyming text, this is a laugh-aloud story.

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree​ by Jamie L B Deenihan

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is a well-known saying that epitomises having a positive outlook on life - and this uplifting book has a really positive vibe. The little girl in the book wanted a gadget for her birthday, so she is very disappointed to find that Grandma gives her... a lemon tree. But she does as she is told, following the narrator's careful instructions, and finds that she has actually got just what she wanted, just not in the way she expected. With lovely colourful illustrations by Lorraine Rocha, this is a cleverly written story with a very satisfying outcome for the little girl, showing the virtues of patience, friendship, following instructions... and setting aside those electronic devices for a while. Published by Sterling, May 2019, ISBN 978145493817.

The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones

There's no doubt about it - not in Badger's mind anyway... badgers are best. "If it’s not black and white then it’s just not right!" he says. But what if he’s wrong? When he sets out to make all his woodland friends a bit more, well, badgery, there are some surprises in store. A simply told story about acceptance, difference and learning to say sorry, which conveys its message with kindness and thoughtfulness. Charmingly illustrated by Carmen Saldana.

Bug by Robin Koontz

Bug was called Bug because she loves insects (and drawing). So when the class are promised a trip to the science museum if they do well in the maths test, she's desperate to go. The trouble is, she's hopeless at maths. She needs to find a way to get better... quickly. Bug comes up with a really clever solution, using a bit of imagination and her love for drawing. This is a lovely story, and the drawings by Amy Proud are delightful, showing Bug's character superbly. Published by Sterling, May 2019, ISBN 9781454923565.

Billy and the Dragon by Nadia Shireen

Billy is at a fancy-dress party with her loyal sidekick Fatcat. They are happily tucking in at the buffet table when down swoops a fire-breathing dragon who kidnaps Fatcat. So loyal friend Billy must set off on a brave rescue mission, with some help from all the friends at the party. Vibrantly illustrated, this is a well-paced story with lots of touches of humour. Full of charming characters, and strong on friendship and looking out for each other, this is a fun story.

This is Frog by Harriet Evans

With its striking shocking pink cover and attractive tall format, this book immediately stands out from others. Described as a whopping, hopping, non-stopping interactive book, young readers will be quickly captivated by the simple text and by the glorious illustrations by Jacqui Lee. All the way through, readers are encouraged to copy Frog's actions, engaging them totally in the story and making the book wonderful to share with a small group. It's simple, yet really effective and captivating for young children.

Unicorn Club by Suzy Senior

Unicorns - magical and mysterious creatures who are just right to extend children's imaginations and perfect for picture books. Combine that with the attraction of a tree house, and you've got a book full of appeal for young ones. The dazzling illustrations by Leire Martin are perfect to showcase the story and the characters in this heartwarming tale about the joy of new adventures. I love the way the illustrations are so expressive and full of fun. A lovely imaginative story full of fun and humour.

Life on Mars by Jon Agee

An intrepid yong astronaut is the lovely hero of this charming story. He is determined to prove there is life on Mars, so he sets off, all alone, just with a pack of cupcakes as a gift. But when he gets there, he sees nothing but a nearly barren planet... perhaps the others were right all along? But children will love to spot ... well, what will they spot? Finally, he spies a single flower and packs it away to take back to Earth as proof that there is indeed life on Mars. Ready to set off for home, he decides to eat the cupcakes but wait... A delightfully illustrated story about following your dreams.

We Found a Seed by Rob Ramsden

I love the retro feel of the delicately illustrated cloth cover of this book. Out playing one day, two children find a seed and decide to keep it safe. But how do they make it grow? Finally, it grows, flowers... and leaves even more seeds. Children will love to look out for the ladybird in the delicately detailed illustrations. When it flowers and dies they find it has left them lots of new seeds to plant. Perfect to get children interested in gardening and introduce them to the plant life cycle and seasons. Part picture book, part early nature book, it's a lovely way to show young children the cycle of the seasons and the wonders of nature.

Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng

This dramatically illustrated picture book stars Little Nell has worked hard to make an invention that will help clean up the pollution in the Big City. But she soon discovers that it can be hard for a girl to get the attention of the people in charge. A wonderful picture book about little girl with a determined spirit who just needs a little help to make the world a better place for everyone. An empowering book that shows how little things can support big changes, and that everyone can follow their dreams and make an impact.

Ivanhoe Swift Left Home at Six by Jane Godwin

At the age of six, Ivanhoe Swift decided it was time to set off and see the world, armed with just a few necessities. As he travels, part of the way with Maisie Jane, he marvels at the wonders of the world... but not everyone he meets is friendly, and he is sad when he loses his kite. Happily, Maisie Jane comes back to help and soon Ivanhoe has the joy of being reunited with his parents. A Yi's illustrations capture the little boy's wonder, and the comfort of returning to the safety of home.

The Truth About Dinosaurs by Guido Van Genechten

This wonderfully imaginative book will really stretch children's imaginations and credulity, and give them plenty to think about. Of course, virtually everyone thinks that dinosaursare extinc but are they? But is it true? Young readers will be amazed to find out that perhaps they are still alive, and maybe even living right with us... This is the tale of an ordinary chicken whose family photo album reveals the long withheld truth about these fascinating creatures - it's time to meet a very special chicken.

Flock (A Tree Creeper Adventure) by Gemma Koomen

The Tree Creepers live in a great tree on the edge of the wood. Sylvia prefers to be alone rather than play noisy games with the other Tree Keepers. But that changes when, one day, she finds a baby bird in her favourite hiding place, and the two become friends. Sylvia comes to learn that sharing is good and life-enhancing. This beautiful book highlights the importance of community and friendship. This is a lovely traditional-style story and a perfect introduction to stories that introduce families of little creatures who live hidden lives alongside the human world.

Supertato Carnival Catastro-Pea!​ by Sue Hendra

This popular series always delivers and children won't be disappointed with the latest addition with its cast of zany characters. It's carnival time in the supermarket and the veggies are ready to celebrate. But, guess what - Evil Pea has other ideas, with a devious device that could ruin the whole thing. Can Supertato and the veggies stop their colourful carnival from turning into a carnival catastro-pea?! Brilliantly bright illustrations by Paul Linnet set the story off perfectly.

Ready, Steady, Race by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

A wonderfully rhythmic rhyming story that simply races the reader through with wonderful use of onomatoepia and vivid adjectives - it's perfect to share and read aloud, with children joining in with the sounds - swoosh, whoosh, skimming, gliding... Who will win the fast and furious race? Join Race Car Rani, Jonas Jet, Speedboat Sam, Trini Train and friends as they zoom towards the finish line across land, sea and sky. Vividly illustrated by Ed Eaves, children will love this bright colourful book and its friendly vehicles.

I Love My Teacher by Giles Andreae

This is a justifiably popular series, one which always picks up on topics close to children's lives, drawing them in to the books and making them feel a part of them. This sweet and simple story is perfect for children looking forward to starting school. It follows a typical school day, from morning greetings to hometime, all written in the first person. Perfect for sharing with your little one so they know just what to expect when they start school.Illustrator Emma Dodd works in perfect harmony with the author, so the friendly, approachable illustrations complement the story to perfection.

Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers

This wordless picture book encourages readers to give free flow to their imaginations as they concentrate on the pictures, deciding for themselves what they think is happening. Papa Monkey and Little Monkey are on their way.but the busy street is so slow... Little Monkey loses patience and jumps onto the fire engine. Up the ladder from there and he joins a TV crew... and that's just the start of a marvellous journey. The pictures are packed with detail with lots of clever and humorous quirks to relish. It's a great way to develop vocabulary and encourage story-telling, especially when shared with a favourite adult.

Encyclopedia of Grannies by Eric Veille

Children ask lots of questions - Why do grannies always tell us to speak up? Why do they have creases on their faces? Are grannies flexible? How do you cheer up a sad granny? How old are grannies, actually? Eric Veillé explains it all in this offbeat book for the extended family to chuckle over--no matter what kind of grandma you have, are, or would like to be. Quirky and unusual, this is the perfect book (of course) for granny and grandchild to share, and an ideal gift from one to the other; it's a great way to the two generations to get to know and understand each other better.

Nits by Stephanie Blake

Children respond well to simple illustrations set against bold backgrounds (think Dick Bruna), and Stephanie Blake has got this concept off to perfection, coupled, of course, with witty text. In the latest in the series, Simon discovers girls — and nits. Perfect for when that tricky subject crops up at school, bringing an element of humour to the situation.

Song of the River by Joy Cowley

Cam the mountain boy has always wanted to see the sea and in this evocative story, he is enticed by the river toi follow it to the sea. The river leads him from its shallow beginnings through forest, farms and towns, growing all along the journey through the North American landscape. The dramatic illustrations by Kimberly Andrews are packed with detail, encouraging readers to explore the world of the river and the land surrounding it.

The Pirate Who Lost His Name by Lou Treleaven

This is a story about... well, I can't tell you his name, because he's forgotten it. I can tell you that he is a pirate - a very piratey pirate. He had everything a pirate was supposed to have - a sword, a parrot and a wooden leg. The only thing he didn’t have was a name. Too embarrassed to admit it, he sets off in search of it, meeting an incredible and wonderful cast of characters along the way in this hilarious story. With illustrations by Genie Espinosa, this is a fun-filled tale of a pirate in search of his identity.

I, Pod by Rebecca Lisle

Stone Age boy Pod is back for another Stone Age adventure, again illustrated by Richard Watson. Pod is in trouble when one of his inventions puts baby Nim in danger, but it’s okay because she knows exactly where to put the blame! Pod is a lovely character who always has fun, and young children will enjoy following his exploits and respond well to getting to know the character through a series of books - it's always a good way to encourage children to re-visit the previous titles.

The Noisy London Book by Marion Billet

Whether you're building anticipation for a trip to London, would like a lovely memento of a visit, or just want your child to learn more about our capital city, this is a lovely book for young children, to introduce them to the excitement of London, all told in rhyming text. The detailed pictures encourage children to spot and observe, and offer lots to talk about. There's also a jewel thief to spot on every page. The sounds are a great addition - hear the buses beep, listen to Big Ben and cheer for the Queen.

Harry in a Hurry by Timothy Knapman

This book brings us a lovely twist on the well-loved fable of The Tortoise and the Hare. Harry the Hare is always in a hurry and the world passes him by in a blur - Gemma Merino's charming illustrations show this superbly. But when Harry accidentally hurries his way into the local pond, and Tom the Tortoise fishes him out, Harry finds he has to slow down. In doing so he not only finds a new friend, but enjoys a whole new world of experiences. The story beautifully and effectively conveys an important message to us all - slow down and appreciate everything around.

Rabbit Races Ahead (Twit Twoo School) by Lydia Monks

It’s an exciting day at Twit Twoo School - Sports Day. Rabbit has decided that she is going to win every race, and has been practising very hard. She does keep on winning - but what has happened to her friends? Will Rabbit learn the message in time to save her friendships? There's an important message gently conveyed in this delightful story - kindness is more important than winning. The story offers excellent opportunities to talk about this with children and encourage them to have empathy. The illustrations are delightful - full of life, colour and expression to enhance the story.

Cloud Forest by Vistoria Turnbull

Showing the power of the written word, this is a moving and preceptive story. A child’s Umpa teaches them to read and to follow the words, out the garden gate and all the way to the sea. Every day is a new adventure. They visit castles in the air, feast with friends and sail away on the rains. But then one day, Umpa isn’t there… The dramatic style of the full-page integrated illustrations, with their other-worldly feel, make them really effective and supportive of the storyline. A touching story which shows the importance of books in helping keep memories of loved ones close.

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