2017 looks like another great year for picture books. As you probably know, I believe that picture books are possibly the most important books in a childs' reading life. They not only enchant and entertain young children, but they help them in many ways; exposing them to art at a very early age, helping them to hone their observational skills, explain the world to them, help them to develop concepts of what they want the world to be, developing visual literacy and creative thinking, etc. Most of all, they bring about a feeling of safety, cosiness and that they are loved, cared for and they have someone who is truly interested in them. The memories you create when you read to a young child stay with them for the rest of their lives. Now, here's a few to share...
Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrations by Christian Robinson is out now in paperback. This lovely tale of a boy and his grandmother, who are taking their weekly bus journey across the city is filled with wonder and delight.With vibrant, enticing colours and images with a lively illustrative style, the feel of community and the warmth of relationship comes through in a genuine way, without being overly idealistic. There is much to see and it opens a world that, sadly, some will experience only on the pages of a book. How To Find Gold by Vivienne Schwarz has great dialogue and an exciting plot as Anna and Crocodile embark on a treasure hunt.This adventure requires much planning, strength and courage as they craft a map to take them to the treasure and take off across the seas. A charming book with great characters that shows us how to be brave and bold and teaches that things are much better when you have a good friend by your side.
I love The Glump and the Peeble by Wendy Meddour, illustrations by Rebecca Ashdown! Lively, bright, enthusiastic illustrations perfectly accent a story that is reassuring and just plain fun, while teaching that it is important to be more open and true to yourself. Quirky and colourful, this is one to read again and again.
Mary Murphys' Picken offers a brilliant split page book to help the littlest ones learn about mix and match....and about the joy of creativity! Adorable, brightly coloured animals can be combined in numerous ways to create and wonderful array of farmyard animals and will keep young children (and older ones, too!) enthralled for hours!
here's A Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart. Grandma likes to tell Nora some tall tales, and Nora is very aware of that. But there is NO WAY there could be a tiger in the garden...or is there? Bright, colourful, and fresh, this book boasts stunning artwork and a clear influence from The Tiger Who Came To Tea...with an original twist that you are going to love. In The Everywhere Bear, Julia Donaldson and illustrator by Rebecca Cobb join forces again to give us the unexpected adventure of a classroom bear. When he gets washed down a drain and wooshed out to sea, who knows where he will end up? But can he make it back to Class One? These two work wonderfully together and their previous The Paper Dolls is still one of my favourite Julia Donaldson books. Expert story-telling and beautiful illustrations make this a winner.
Edie by Sophy Henn is absolutely gorgeous! Little Edie just loves to be 'helpful'. She helps her Mummy get up bright and early; she loves helping Daddy get everything they need at the shop; but, mostly, she really loves helping her little brother learn whats what and how to share. Beautiful, stylised illustrations and a bit of a nod to the Olivia books by Helen Falconer make this a book that everyone will absolutely adore. Will Mabbitts' I Can Only Draw Worms is a super-funny, incredibly silly story that encourages you to use your imagination and to understand that worms are not boring! They have loads of adventures....of course, the story-teller can't draw those. He can only draw worms.
The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright gives us all a positive message about facing up to change. Kevin the Koala wants everything to stay just the way he likes it. That's how he's happiest; that's how he feels secure. Of course, things do change and Kevin learns that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you just have to be brave. Beautifully illustrated with one of the most endearing, memorable characters I've seen in a long time.
In March, one of my favourites, Jonny Duddle returns with The Pirates of the Scurvy Sands. A sequel to the (completely brilliant!) The Pirates Next Door, this is a role-reversal of the original story, with the Pirates taking centre-stage as they tell their side of the tale. It's always good to get a different perspective and with Duddles' marvelous characterisation and intricate, lively illustrations and story-telling, this is a must-read....as are all the others!
Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson is the story of one small book-lovers' search for the perfect reading nook. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. The bright and contemporary illustrations and a rhythmic, expressive text make for a fun and sympathetic read for that age old problem. We're All Wonders by R J Palacio adapts one of the best books ever written (Wonder by the same author) to picture book format, making it accessible to a younger audience. And it loses one of its' powerful, beautiful, uplifting message of tolerance and kindness.
And that's just a taster!