WHY PICTURE BOOKS MATTER: Somewhere To Go, Adventures To Have


Here we are in August, trying to squeeze in that last moment of summer holiday before we (fingers and toes crossed) get the kids back to school. But it is difficult. Traveling away from our immediate surroundings is, and in these pandemic times, should be restricted. We need to stay safe and well! And maybe you aren't in the position to go anywhere! But we are all restless, particularly when thinking about what to do to give our children some joy, to have adventures. Picturebooks can help! There's a big, wide world out there, filled with laughter, excitement and wonder...and who knows? Some of these may inspire you to have some adventures of your own....even if you have nowhere to go.
The Walloos' Big Adventure by Anuska Allepuz (Walker Books ISBN: 9781406362411) takes us away from their small, rocky island on an tropical-exotic island adventure all of Little Walloos' own devising. The entire clan gets pulled in, just as excited about sailing away as Old Walloo and Little Walloo. But when they get to the tropical-exotic island, they have a big surprise in store; just as every great adventure should be. And speaking of islands, have you had an Irish island adventure? Where Are You, Puffling? by Erika McGann and Gerry Daly (O'Brien Press ISBN: 9781788491457) is the perfect "day-out", if not. Travel to the Skellig Islands in co. Kerry and discover what happens when a curious little Puffling wanders off on an adventure and her parents can't find her! You'll meet lots of her other wild friends along the way. There's always help nearby for a little lost Puffling! (Available as gaeilge, as well: ISBN: 9781788491877).
The wildlife around us have adventures too, you know; always full of drama, excitement and fun. Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soames, with perfect illustrations by James Mayhew (Graffeg Ltd ISBN: 9781912055062) brings us on a journey through a day in the life of an urban fox. Filled with gentle humour and great personality, we see the city from a fox-eyed-view and learn much about the lives of urban foxes, our relationship with them and the other animals they meet along the way. I know you'll love Gaspard! Nothing could be further from the urban adventures of a fox than the migratory flight of a hummingbird. Hummingbird by Nicola Davies and Jane Ray (Walker Books ISBN: 9781406379273) interweaves a generational-family story while giving real insight into the life of hummingbirds. A mesmerising story coupled with Rays' exquisite illustrations make this an adventure not to miss. Leap, Hare, Leap by Dom Conlon, illustrated by Anastacia Izlesou (Graffeg Ltd ISBN: 9781913134921) starts us off in the countryside, not so far away, then spins us across the globe as Hare leaps to outrun dangers, as well as meet her worldwide relatives.. It's poetic text and wonderful, rich illustrations combine to introduce parts of the natural world new and unfamiliar, while also weaving this amazing tale.
Perhaps you'd prefer a little jaunt across town on a bus? In Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrations by Christian Robinson (Puffin ISBN: 9780141374185), young CJ starts this journey with his Nana, and feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction. Why can't they just drive a car like everyone else? But with Nanas' gentle excitement and encouragement, CJ discovers there's so much to see, so many new people to meet and so much beauty that he'd been missing. Speaking of cross-town jaunts, watch out for those Bunnies On The Bus by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Ben Mantle (Walker Books ISBN: 9781406394016) On a warm, sunny day in Sunny Town, with everyone enjoying the quiet, easy pace of the day, a riotous, chaotic journey unfolds when the Bunnies take control of a bus! Rocketing through town with Little Bunny at the wheel, they are creating havoc without a care in the world. There is so much detail packed into these pages and these bunnies are bonkers! This is one bus ride you won't forget!
But nothing beats a journey of dreams and imagination. How To Be On The Moon by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books ISBN: 9781406383102) is a warm, clever, creative picturebook filled with adventure and excitement. Anna decides to take her best friend, Crocodile on a trip to the moon. While Crocodile isn't so sure, they come up with a plan and use all their skills to get them there and back. Filled with witty dialogue and imaginative play, embracing a sense of freedom and fun. Remember, adventures are always better when you go together. But sometimes, you do venture out alone. Nell and the Circus of Dreams by Nell Gifford, illustrated by Briony May Smith (OUP Oxford ISBN: 9780192765932) tells us the story of young Nell, who follows her little chick Rosebud when it runs off. While searching for Rosebud, Nell finds something else; a magical circus filled with lights, colours and happy sounds, with Rosebud as the star of the show. When it is time to go and while she is sad to leave, Nell discovers that she can take the magic and joy with her and it will last forever.
Summer adventures (or anytime adventures) would not be complete without old favourites. Remember, although you make know these two well, they will be brand-new to the young children in your life; and they are classic picturebook adventures, so you MUST have the on your shelf to read over and over and over. We're Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books ISBN: 9781406386776) is over 30 years old and just as warm, wonderful, fun as ever. Join one family as they excitedly tromp through long, wavy grass, splash through the river and cautiously venture through the dark forest in search of a bear. They're not scared! But a big surprise awaits them when they make it to the cave. The rhythm, rhyme and joyous adventure is always a huge hit with kids at storytime. They can't wait to join in! A perfect adventure for dull days at home. And of course...my absolute favourite ever; the absolute classic Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Red Fox ISBN:9780099408390). When Max puts on his wolf suit and makes too much mischief for his mothers' liking, he is sent to bed without his supper. But then, in his very own room a forest grows and before you know it, Max sets off in a private boat to where the wild things are. Amazing, bold, imaginative, adventurous; it speaks to the heart of being a child...your little wild things will love this so much. 
And for a brilliant adventure of your own, can I suggest a trip down to your favourite bookshop? Most are open now, and if not, will value your online support and be happy to help in whatever way they can. Who knows what marvelous picturebook adventures you'll find there? Bon voyage!


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