Picture Books

THE WIZARDLING
author/illustrator Binette Schroeder  translator: Siobhán Parkinson
Little Island (2014) ISBN: 9781910411001
Wizzo is in training to be a great wizard, just like his grandfather. Early one morning, instead of working at his wizarding lessons, Wizzo can't resist the urge to take just one teeny little flight. But he must well stay away from Dragon Rock; he promised. Now we all know young wizards aren’t so good at controlling their flight patterns. So where do you suppose he ends up? Dragon Rock, of course! There he meets a newly hatched dragon-girl, Dradru . Dradru is so very hungry. So off they fly, finding a lovely meadow for the yummiest picnic. When they meet Little Red Riding Hood, even more goodies and magic are in store. If only that Big Bad Wolf wasn’t about…..
This is given a truly enchanting story from the genius of award-winning author-illustrator Binette Schroeder . Here is a new magical hero taking us on a wondrous adventure with some time-honoured characters, in a dream-like landscape. The text is lyrical and gently humourous, carrying the reader through the story with ease. And it is translated from its native German by Siobhán Parkinson with an expert eye to rhythm and structure. But it is the illustrations which really make The Wizardling shine. Subtle hues and tints give a perfect rendering of time of day and the storys’ mystical location. As each page is turned, the light in the sky grows as we travel along from very early in the morning into the new light of day. The facial expressions of each character are utterly delightful, giving indication of the mood and content behind the words. Of course, there are very real problems at hand, but each is solved by interaction between the characters, leading the reader to understand that there is nothing we can’t do together. Gentle, exquisite, warm and wonderful, this picture book needs to find a home on your shelf. And it makes a wonderful gift for this time of year (what with Halloween coming up!)



HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDMA
author: Jean Reagan  illustrator: Lee Wildish
Hodder Childrens Books (2014) ISBN: 9781444918120
If you find yourself having to babysit a Grandma, there is a lot you'll need to know. How exactly do you keep a Grandma busy? When you take a Grandma to the park, what things should you let her do there? What kind of food does a Grandma need? And, what about bedtime??? It's very, very important to keep a Grandma happy, so she'll want you to babysit her again and again. Everything you need to know is contained in this book!
Like the previous 'How to Babysit a Grandad' (see review below), this wonderful  picture book warmly address the bond between grandchild and grandparent. The illustrations are contemporary, lively, reassuring and relay the delight and joy in the relationship perfectly.  Written in the style of a 'handbook' for young readers, the story also addresses anxieties and fears that children have when spending time away from their parents, but in a humourous and non-threatening way by placing these fears on the Grandma and bringing the child into the position of being 'in charge'. Imaginative and clever, this is one that children will go back to again and again; and Grandmas will want their own copy! 

THE SCARY SPIDER
author/illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
Dbee Press (2014) ISBN: 9780957191754
A scary spider arrives on the window sill one autumn day. She won't be frightened away, but spins a web to trap her next meal....a big, fat fly. But the fly escapes just in time. And it seems the scary spider doesn't like cakes and buns....
This is a welcome addition to her series of picture books that deal with every day encounters with the natural world. It's just perfect for children (or even adults) with a fear of spiders. The rhyming text makes this an easy read and remember story. Illustrated with Keaveney's trademark vivid, sumptuous, colourful paintings, The Scary Spider is one of those books that will be read over and over. Joyful, beautiful and utterly delightful and one I'll be sharing with the little people in my world.
http://www.doloreskeaveney.com/

BRIAN AND THE VIKINGS
author: Chris Judge   illustrator: Mark Wickham
O'Brien Press (2014) ISBN: 9781847176875
Brian was the smallest boy in the village. He loved nothing more than playing warriors with his brothers and fishing and hunting. One day, they spot a Viking ship drawing near. Fortunately for everyone, while Brian is the smallest, he is also the most clever. Brian concocts a  plan to scare off the Vikings by using the one thing they fear most and the entire village joins in! But will it work?
What an utterly delightful introduction to the life of Brian Boru, who grew to become the High King of Ireland. Using such a legendary character as the centre of a picture book is no easy task. But Judge pulls it off with style and creates a wonderful adventure that even the youngest children will love. It is also important to note that Judge (author/illustrator of such fantastic picture books as The Lonely Beast and The Great Explorer) is the author only of this tale, showing adeptness in the creation an exciting storyline with minimal use of text. The illustration work is expertly handled by Mark Wickham. And what a treasure! The use of colour and line perfectly suit the story and create drama in and of themselves. The colours are bright, without be overly much so, and generally, the pictures give a real feel for the time and place, as well as the action. Overall, this picture book is a huge success. I am delighted to have it on my shelf...and you will be, too!


WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
author/illustrator: Tull Suwannakit
Walker Books (2014) ISBN: 9781406353808
As Little Ellie and Granny are on the way to town one morning, Little Ellie asks for a story. "Deep in the woods no far from here...." Granny begins to tell her the story of Grandma Bear and Little Bear and their wonderful, exciting trip. But these are no ordinary bears. They wear hats and wellington boots and go on adventures. And maybe the story Granny tells isn't just a story!
I admit it. I'm a sucker for stories about grandmothers and their grandchildren. Especially when they are done as well as this one. The illustrations are both contemporary and timeless. With subtle colours and depiction, what is offered here is more than a simple story. It relates the wonders of the relationship between generations with fun and charm. The art of story-telling is truly brought to life as Little Ellie and Granny have the most amazing adventure. Delightful, imaginative and utterly amazing, definitely one to you need to have on your shelf!

OPEN VERY CAREFULLY (a book with a bite)
author: Nick Bromley illustrator: Nicola O'Byrne
Nosy Crow (2014) ISBN: 9780857630841
So...we're just settling down for a nice quiet read of 'The Ugly Duckling', when what happens? A crocodile(!) falls into the story and, boy, is he furious! Well, wouldn't you be if you'd fallen into the wrong story? Not belonging has really upset him, so the crocodile begins to eat his way out of the book. He chews on the pages. He even eats the letters! (It seems his favourites are 'S' and 'O'.) Should you slam the book shut and put it back on the shelf....or are you brave enough to peek between the covers?
This is an absolutely brilliant, fun, vivid...and the children just love it! It helps children play with the notion of 'story-making' while taking them on a raucous journey. The illustrations are just as fanatstic as the storyline. A new favourite of mine!

TROLL AND THE OLIVER
author/illustrator: Adam Stower
Templar Publishing (2013) ISBN: 9781848773523
Every day, Oliver goes to the shops. Every day Troll is lurking....waiting... one day, he will get to eat the Oliver!!! But Oliver is too fast, he's too clever and he's too sneaky. Just on the day when Oliver thinks Troll has given up and he has won; CHOMP! Troll eats the Oliver! But fortunately for Olivers everywhere, Olivers taste disgusting! What will poor Troll do? He's so hungry. The Oliver has a brilliant idea... cakes taste delicious!
This picture book is utterly brilliant! A funny, well-written, intriguing story, children delight in it. The illustrations are contemporary, whimsical and fresh, filled with surprises on each page. A tale of both caution and friendship, it comes with a recipe for Troll cupcakes at the end; which, by the way, are much more delicious than Olivers. Highly recommended fun for the entire family!

THE STORY MACHINE
author/illustrator: Tom McLaughlin
Bloomsbury Childrens (2014) ISBN: 9781408839331
Elliott is a young boy who loves to find things. One day, while searching for 'things', he finds a mysterious machine...a machine the likes of which he has never seen before. Elliott has no idea what the machine is for; it doesn't plug in, it doesn't make the same sounds machines normally make and there is no on/off switch. Quite accidentally, Elliott discovers that the machine makes letters. It must be a story machine! Elliott isn't good with letters and words...but he is good at pictures and some of the letters LOOK like pictures, especially when you put them together in different ways. And pictures make stories, as well as words!
This is a wonderfully illustrated, gentle and fun story of a small boy, his imagination and a typewriter in the digital age. Even the youngest among us will be captivated by the tale. The illustrations are  simple, clear and, with it's subdued colour palette, very befitting of the narrative. The story is fresh and magical in it's own way. I just love this one!

HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDAD
author: Jean Reagan  illustrator: Lee Wildish
Hodder Children's Books ISBN: 9781444915884
Babysitting a granddad is great fun, but you have to know… what to feed him (ice cream topped with cookies; olives on fingertips), how to entertain him (put on a scary play) and what to do with your granddad on a walk and when he gets tired (have him read a really long story…over and over). Everything you need to know is in this book! Including the hardest part of all; how to say goodbye so your granddad will be happy to have you babysit him again and again.
Written in a ‘how-to’ guide format, this story shows a typical day ‘babysitting’ Grandad, from the time he rings the doorbell (and it’s time for you to hide) through to goodbye time. There are several very touching moments that speak to a child’s anxiety about being left with a sitter in general; such as what to do when the parents are leaving and how to handle naptime. These moments are echoed in the story and that repetition gives a reassurance and stability. But with Grandad as the central focus, this picturebook takes on stronger significance, giving genuine insight into the bond between a child and a grandparent. The joy and humour throughout the text are perfectly relayed in the illustrations. They are warm, contemporary and lively, making the book one that young children will go back to as they explore what it means to be a grandad-sitter and what it means to be a grandchild. An utter delight!
(published online in Inis Magazine; November 2013 
 http://www.inismagazine.ie/reviews/book/how-to-babysit-a-grandad)

 THE SNATCHABOOK
author:Helen Docherty  illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Alison Green Books ISBN: 9781407116549
"In every house, in every bed a bedtime book was being read..." And so it was and always has been; until one day, all the animals discover that their books are disappearing.... right in front of their eyes! Little Eliza Brown, all cosy and warm in her burrow stays awake to find who (or what) is stealing the bedtime stories. It's a Snatchabook.... a lonely little Snatchabook who only wants someone to read to him. Once the books are all returned to their rightful owners, the animals
This book is an utter delight, quietly told with detailed, wondrous illustrations that perfectly match the text. An entire cast of favourite fairy tale characters feature throughout. The introduction of a new and unique magical creature makes this story an instant favourite. There is much to see; much to talk about. The well-written, accessible text is happily read over and over. Not only will children love it, but it is an important one for parents (and teachers) to share as it emphasises the importance of storytime and reading together, and demonstrates compassion, even to the youngest reader. Beautiful, fascinating, adventurous... one to add to your permanent collection and enjoy for years to come. 
http://www.helendocherty.com/books/the-snatchabook/

 JOURNEY
author/illustrator: Aaron Becker
Candlewick Press 9780763660536
When a lonely girl, desperate for her family to notice her, draws a magic door on her bedroom wall, she sets off on an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. With her red marker, she creates a boat, a balloon, a magic carpet; and she travels through a world of wonder, beauty and danger. She is captured by an evil emperor, and it only only take an act of pure bravery and uncommon kindness that can set her free. But what will it take to get her home and safe?
Some books are meant to be treasured and pondered again and again. This intriguing and amazing picture book instills an immeasurable sense of enchantment as it takes an ordinary girl on an extraordinary voyage; not only through a magical world, but also through the intrigues of the heart. Journey is without text. However it's lyrical and exquisite illustrations tell a story that is timeless and far beyond anything words can say. It is a testament to the story-telling skill of it's creator. A rare and beautiful gift for anyone, of any age. Aaron Becker's website is called 'Storybreathing'. That certainly describes the incredible quality of this book! 
http://www.storybreathing.com/ 

SONG OF THE GOLDEN HARE
author: Jackie Morris
Francis Lincoln Children's Books 9781847804501
The boy and his family are different from the others. The others hunt the hares, hoping to find the elusive golden hare. But the boy and his family rescued orphaned leverets, keeping them safe from the hunt. The boy and his family hold the secret of the song of the golden hare and will wait all their lives, if needs be, for the moment when the old queen leaves and her child takes her place. But the hares are on the move, and the hunters are out. Can the boy and his sister keep the old queen safe? Can they protect the young hare? Will they be able to sing the song of the golden hare?
This is an absolutely stunning book! The storyline is warm, gripping and moving. The illustrations are simply exquisite. Delicate and intricate, each page is a work of art on it's own. Woven in to the story is an awareness and wonder of the natural world.  There is something inspirational about this picture book, for many reasons... in it's artwork, in it's story and in it's characters. Song of the Golden Hare was written to be a classic and one the entire family will cherish for generations. For more by Jackie Morris, you might try I Am Cat, Tell Me A Dragon and Little Evie in the Wild Wood.
 AUNT AMELIA
author/illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Macmillan Childrens Books 9780230764811
Mum and Dad are going away for the night. This puts one little girl and boy in a very bad mood. They don't want to be looked after, especially by Aunt Amelia. To make matters worse, Mum and Dad have left a list of all kinds of boring instructions...don't do this, don't let them do that. Horrible!!! But, Aunt Amelia, it seems, is a bit different from what they expected. She's a lot more fun! Maybe Mum and Dad will go away more often!
Rebecca Cobb is fast becoming my favourite picture book author. The illustrations are bright, colourful, contemporary and charming all at once. The story is engaging and heartfelt. A typical situation most children find stressful becomes a cheerful rollick that leaves them wanting more. You are going to love Aunt Amelia! From the author of the wonderful Lunchtime.

AMY'S THREE BEST THINGS
author: Philippa Pearce / illustrator: Helen Craig
Walker Books 9781406339574
 When Amy goes to stay with her granny on her own for the first time, she packs everything she will need, including her three best things. On the first night, Amy’s little mat becomes a magic carpet on which she flies home to check on her mother, her baby brother and her dog. The second night, her tiny wooden horse grows to just the right size and whisks Amy back to peek in the windows and see that everyone is just as she left them. But on the third night, when Amy wakes to the sound of thunder and lightning, her little boat sails her to her house only to discover her family isn’t there. Tearful and afraid, Amy goes back to Granny’s and finds her family waiting for her.
I do love all of Philippa Pearce's books and when she is teamed with Helen Craig, it's pure magic!This gentle, magical story is simply perfect for a child dealing with fears of the unknown; something we all need help with from time to time. Through the use of familiar objects, we see a little girl find comfort. The repetitive night-time action adds the reassurance of routine that demonstrates you can face your fears and all will be well. Somewhat traditional in approach, this is a wonderfully written tale by one of the giants of children’s literature and imaginatively, evocatively illustrated by another. I can’t think of a better book to take on a first stay away from the security of home; or as a soothing bedtime story to wash away the ‘busy-ness’ of the day and settle into dreamland.
(review originally published: Inis Magazine, July 2013 http://www.inismagazine.ie/reviews/book/amys-three-best-things )

LITTLE MOUSE'S BIG BOOK OF BEASTS
author/illustrator: Emily Gravett
Macmillan Children's Books 9780230745384
Little Mouse is back and has found a new book. This time it's filled with all manner of scary beasts. But Little Mouse is not afraid... he boldly goes about the business of removing or changing the scariest bits... mittens for the lion, ruby red lips on a shark.... and suddenly the beasts aren't so scary after all. Emily Gravett is an absolute genius! All through this wonderful new picture book, there are flaps to lift, jokes and pure joy. The illustrations are both charming and contemporary... and always surprising. Just like it's predecessor, Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, this one is perfect for sharing with the whole family! Love it, love it, love it!

LION VS. RABBIT
author/illustrator: Alex Latimer
Picture Corgi  9780552565417
Lion is really mean! He picks on all the other animals... he gave Buffalo a wedgy, stuck a silly note on Zebra; he even stole Hyena's lunch monkey! All the animals are really frightened of him, but they are tired of being bullied. So they put an advertisement up on the internet. Help finally arrives in the form of Rabbit. But can a small rabbit really win in a contest with a lion?
This is a wonderfully funny and cleverly worked picturebook that gives understanding and information about how to deal with bullies. But more than that, it is utterly delightful. A welcome addition to your picturebook shelf, with illustrations by the author that make the story accessible and entertaining. From the author of The Boy Who Cried Ninja and Penguin's Hidden Talent; Alex Latimer really understands what it's like to be a child!

ZOE AND BEANS: HELLO OSCAR!
Author: Chloe Inkpen/ illustrator: Mick Inkpen
Macmillan Press   9780230763685
Zoe has found a guinea pig at the back of the garden…. and another guinea pig! And a tortoise, and a chameleon that changes colour, and a noisy parrot that only says ‘Hello Oscar!’ no matter how hard Zoe tries to get him to say her name. But where have they all come from? Could they have crawled through the hole in the fence? Behind that hole, there is another surprise for Zoe!
Mick Inkpen (of Wibbly Pig fame) and daughter, Chloe, have created Zoe and her dog, Beans, to address and enchant the world of toddlers. Vibrant illustrations and minimal text work together here to create the story of our young friend, Zoe, as she finds a host of animals creeping through her garden. The natural curiosity of children is well evident, as Zoe seeks to find out what each animal needs, fostering a basic environmental interest.  A nice contemporary twist is added when she rushes back inside to Google what it is chameleons eat. The lively, toddler-friendly pictures could tell the story on their own, not only giving beautiful depictions of the animals, but illustrating a range of emotions from delight to curiosity to frustration, and ultimately back to delight as Zoe finds a new friend. But the simple, clear text, well designed in conjunction with the illustrations throughout, give it the repetitive quality that a picturebook for young children needs to become a firm favourite. For two- and three-year-olds, Hello, Oscar! is engaging and delightful.
(published Inis Magazine http://www.inismagazine.ie/reviews/book/zoe-and-beans-hello-oscar )

DOT TO DOT...
authors: Malcolm Cossons/ illustrator: Neil Stevens
ISBN: 9780500650158
Thames and Hudson, Ltd
A little girl called Dot in London shares a birthday with her grandma in New York, also called Dot. Both of them are planning a big birthday surprise for the other. Follow little Dot as she attempts to hand deliver a birthday card to Grandma Dot, . Then... flip the book over and learn all about Grandma Dot's plan to make a surprise visit to London. The big question is, will Grandma Dot make it to London in time for the big birthday; and will little Dot even be there? Adventurous and heart-warming, each character is determined to create a special memory for them both. This is an absolutely charming and gently exciting story. The illustrations have a decidedly retro feel, and the whole design of the book will bring up reminiscences of books from our own childhood times. Flip-books are rare indeed these days, making this a truly unique gift. I absolutely love it!

LUNCHTIME
author/illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
ISBN:  9780230749535
Macmillan Children's Books
It's lunchtime! But one little girl isn't hungry at all and has too many other things she wants to do. A crocodile, a bear and a wolf stop by and they are starving!!! And since children taste awful and the little girl isn't hungry, they share her lunch. But wait.... her lunch is all gone. And maybe she is a bit hungry after all....
This is an extremely charming, wonderfully illustrated story about friendship, sharing and... well... food! Any child can relate to this little girl, as can any parent. Sure to be a favourite as soon as you pick it up, I highly recommend this beautiful and fun picture book from one of the most delightful, new illustrators around.
http://www.rebeccacobb.co.uk/ 

PRIMROSE
author/illustrator: Alex T. Smith
ISBN: 978 1407109664
Scholastic 4 April 2013
Princess Primrose's life can be pretty dull. She isn't allowed to climb trees, splash in puddles or the Royal Fountain, or dig up vegetables in the palace garden. Then, one day, Primrose's royal Grandma comes for a visit. At first it looks like life will be even more prim and proper, until everyone discovers that the real reason for Grandma's visit to to remind everyone that you should never say no to good fun... even if it isn't proper behaviour for a princess. This is a brilliant, happy picturebook for will delight every member of the family. Lively illustrations and wonderful characters throughout, it's also a great reminder of the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

THE DISGUSTING SANDWICH
author: Gareth Edwards
illustrator: Hannah Shaw
ISBN: 9781407131450
Alison Green Books; 4 March 2013
Poor hungry badger! When a boy drops his sandwich in a sandpit, Badger is just not fast enough to grab it. But he follows the sandwich on it's journey as it gets squashed, squished, dropped in a puddle and slithered all over by slimy slugs. Will he ever get a chance to have a meal? And if he does, will he even want it? It could be simply too disgusting!This is an utterly delightful, completely entertaining story. The illustrations are contemporary, bright and full of character and life. The writing itself is marvellous... filled with beautiful alliteration and loaded with information on animal behaviour through to hygiene and food safety.... a great one to share that will amuse boys and girls alike.

EXTRA YARN
author: Mac Barnett
illustrator: Jon Klassen
ISBN: 9781406342314
Walker Books; 3 January 2013
Annabelle lives in a dreary little town. One cold, dark, dreary day, she discovers a box of yarn and decides to knit herself a jumper. There is still some yarn left over, so she knits a jumper for her dog, as well. But there is still extra yarn. In fact, no matter how many jumpers she knits, there is always extra yarn. Once the whole town is decorated in their rainbow coloured jumpers, it doesn't take too long before the evil Archduke hears of the miraculous box of never-ending yarn and must have it for his own! Of course, things don't turn out quite the same for the Archduke...... I absolutely love this book! It's gentle, yet exciting writing tells a miraculous tale to be read over and over with out getting tired of the story. The illustrations are timeless, yet contemporary. This book is destined to be treasured by the entire family!

SPELLBOUND: tales of enchantment from ancient Ireland
author: Siobhan Parkinson
illustrator: Olwyn Whelan
ISBN: 9781847801401
Frances Lincoln Childrens Books; 2012
Get carried away on a magical journey through Ancient Ireland is this expert and eloquent retelling by Siobhan Parkinson. Learn how beautiful Etain becomes a butterfly and what becomes of her. Hear of Fionn Mac Cumhaill's great mercy in sparing the life of a white doe, who is in fact an enchanted princess. And what of the children of King Lir, who have been magically changed into swans by their evil and jealous step-mother... Seven tales from old Ireland grace these pages, told in their original format for younger children to grow with. The exquisite illustrations perfectly compliment the stories and add to their enjoyment. This is a book for the entire family to treasure for years to come. While there are many collections of Irish myths and folk tales, this is by far one of the best. A gift for us all!

 
 FLOTSAM
author/illustrator: David Weisner
ISBN:  9781849394499
Anderson, 5 July 2012
This book is absolutely stunning! A Caldecott Award winner, it is everything a picture book should be. Flotsam tells the very simple story of a young boy playing on the beach.  And it tells the story entirely without words.He comes across an old, very, very old, waterproof camera containing the most extraordinary photographs.  Words are not needed here, and in fact, would only be a distraction and entirely in the way. Flotsam is one of the books that children young and old will spend hours pondering over, lost in it's pages and taken away into another world entirely, while at the same time, opening up to the present world with new vision and awareness. It is completely absorbing and enchanting. Truly, truly beautiful!


THE DUCKLING GETS A COOKIE
author/illustrator: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9781406340099
Walker Books, May 2012
The Pigeon (from Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus fame) is back, and this time he's brought his friend the Duckling along with him. When Duckling, with her bright eyes and beautiful manners asks politely for a cookie, of course she gets it. But, oh-oh, Pigeon finds out and isn't happy at all about this! In fact, Pigeon is outraged!!! What does a poor Pigeon have to do to get a cookie???!!! A wonderful, funny tale of Pigeon and manners and friendship. Brilliant!

FROG AND TOAD ARE FRIENDS (Essential Picture Books Classics)
author/illustrator: Arnold Lobel
ISBN:  9780007464388
Another blast from the past with Frog and Toad Are Friends in the Essential Picture Book Classics range! This picture book/beginner reader contains five of the wonderful, warm and very, very funny Frog and Toad stories from the pen of Arnold Lobel. Together Frog and Toad tell stories, write letters, find buttons, go swimming and basically sort out life and friendship... Frog and Toad are always there for each other, each when they have a bit of a falling out. The gentle, exquisite drawings perfectly compliment a text which has delighted children for generations now. Just as delightful and applicable as they were when they were first published, the Frog and Toad stories are timeless. A must for every family bookshelf. (Also check out Lobel's marvellous Owl At Home.)

The Adventures of Lowly Worm
author/illustrator: Richard Scarry
Lowly Worm has certainly had an eventful life... full of adventures with all of his friends in Richard Scarry's many, many books.. What Do People Do All Day, Funniest Story Book Ever, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go... he's been in all of them and become one of Scarry's most beloved characters. Now he has a storybook featuring himself! Follow Lowly Worm as he gets lost on the subway, helps Huckle find the perfect birthday gift for Mother Cat, and rides in a hot air balloon. I've always loved Ruchard Scarry's books and Lowly is a particular favourite of mine. Scarry's books are packed full of stories, information, wonderfully drawn illustrations and characters that are memorable for life! This is one more of those books; the kind you will find children pouring over again and again, examining the pages, noting the detail and totally engrossed in wonderful stories.

 Author/Illustrator: Dolores Keaveney
I wanted to point out two very lovely, wonderful picture books by Irish author, Dolores Keaveney.
If I Were A Bee
Told in a rhythmic and repetitive rhyme, If I Were A Bee takes us on a journey through all the possible activities of a honeybee making its’ way across garden, field and meadow. The text is wonderful, but what really makes this book is the brilliant, lively illustrations which tells the story on their own. Younger children can be seen pouring over the pages again and again, each time noticing something new. If I Were A Bee is clearly a labour of love and a pure joy.

Jenny The Little Brown Hen
Another gift from Dolores Keaveney is the wonderful picture book , Jenny the Little Brown Hen. Jenny lives in the farmyard and she has friends, but no one who is like her. Jenny is lonely until a striking and elegant rooster moves in. And before too long, they have six lively baby chicks to keep them company. Jenny will never be lonely again! The illustrations are rich, contemporary and textural, and perfectly accentuate this story about friendship, loneliness and happiness. This absolute delight of a book has also been translated into the Irish language, ‘Jenny, an Cearc Bheag Dhonn.’



AGAIN!
author/illustrator: Emily Gravett
publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780230745360 It's little Cedric the dragon's bedtime, and there's just time for his mother to read him a bedtime story. But as all mothers know, it's never that easy. Cedric always wants to hear his favourite book...again and again and again! Mummy is tired, but that doesn't matter to Cedric. What happens to a young dragon when he loses his temper? This book is another gem from Emily Gravett. The tone and the plot are familiar to all parents and children alike. The illustrations are charming and quirky, and work in perfect harmony with the text. AGAIN! is sure to become one of your bedtime favourites.... but, maybe have a fire extinguisher handy. Simply wonderful!

CATS AHOY
author: Peter Bentley illustrator: Jim Field
publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9780330518802 
When Alfonso the cat hears of a boat coming into the harbour with it's biggest catch ever, it's just too much to resist! He hatches a plan and gathers all of his cat friends. Together, the grab a  'ghost ship' and go after more mackerel than they ever imagined, which the highly gullible fishermen seem all to happy to offload. But what will the residents of the small fishing village think? Peter Bentley has a truly unique story telling style, told with an infectious, delightful rhyme. This is a story the children will want to hear again and again. The illustrations are bold, colourful and absolutely hilarious. Set to become a read aloud favourite, Cats Ahoy is just wonderful! 


Otto the Book Bear
author/illustrator: Kate Cleminson
Publisher: Jonathan Cape (7 July 2011)
ISBN: 9781780080031
Otto is a book bear. His home is his own book and nothing makes him happier than when people read and share his story. But Otto also has a secret! When no one is around, Otto leaves his book and has adventures exploring the house. Then one day, something terrible happens. His people move house, leaving Otto alone without anyone to read is book. Otto sets out on his biggest adventure. He must find a new home, new friends, and new people to read his story.
The pictures themselves tell the story eloquently, adding much to the simple clear text. Otto’s character is purely lovable, kind and sharing, and a bit mischievous. This is a wonderful book to share with the whole family, expressing a love of books and reading. Kate Cleminson gives us a lovely story of sharing, joy, of losing and finding again... and, of course, of books!



WANTED: THE PERFECT PET
written and illustrated by Fiona Robertson
Once there was a boy called Henry, who wanted (more than anything in the world) the perfect pet... a dog, of course. So Henry places an advertisement in the paper. Surely, this will get him the perfect pet.
And once there was a lonely duck, who lived far away and wanted the perfect friend...... 
This picturebook follows the touching and humourous journey towards friendship. It's whimsical, original graphic illustrations are purely delightful, and not only add much to the storyline, but tell the story quite eloquently on their own. A perfect book to share (or to secret away for yourself!)


THE TIGER-SKIN RUG
author/illustrator: Gerald Rose
Tiger is getting old, thin and sad. It is far too difficult for him to catch the food he needs. So, one day, he seizes the opportunity to take the place of an old tiger-skin rug in the Rajah’s palace, where he begins a life of luxury, in secret. But his days of living undiscovered in the palace come to an abrupt end when three robbers burst in and Tiger has to save the Rajah! And he proves that Tigers who live in captivity can have happy endings, too.
This charming picture book is a pure delight. In this perfect read aloud story, the bright, contemporary illustrations lend a light comic touch and give form and expression to the characters, and fast-paced action to the tale. This is Gerald Rose at his best!  A not-to-be-missed offering from the Kate Greenaway Medal winner that is a happy edition to every bookshelf.

 BOY WHO CRIED NINJA
author/illustrator: Alex Latimer
Grampa to believe him? Then Tim comes up with a very simple, yet remarkably brilliant idea to prove himself. 
This book is a pure delight! It's a funny, improbable, fast-moving cautionary tale that not only speaks of the importance of telling the truth and of having faith and trusting those you love (no matter how unlikely it may seem.) It also speaks very clearly about the importance of believing the truth when you hear it. Simply wonderful!




    
It's A Book! is a wonderful, quirky picture book that explores the validity of printed media in an on-line world. An IT-savvy donkey queries a book-loving monkey about the strange object in his hand and exactly what you are supposed to do with it. After quizzing the technical requirements of the book (Do you need a password? Can you blog with it?) only to be told repeatedly, 'No. It's a book.'; we finally find the donkey absorbed in reading. Told with a minimum of language, charming yet simple, clear illustrations lead us on a journey back to the printed book. A great picture book for all ages.
There's also a great trailer for 'It's A Book' (by Macmillan Publications):
youtube.com/watch?v=x4BK_2VULCU 


WOLF WON'T BITE
author/illustrator:  Emily Gravett
The latest offering from Emily Gravett, a take on the old 'Three Little Pigs' story,  is just brilliant.sparce in it's language, this is classic Gravett. Humourous, delightful, and, yes, cautionary... this book is everything that makes Emily Gravett one of the best picture book author/artists available to us today. Wonderful!



LADDER TO THE MOON
author: Maya Soetoro-Ng   illustrator: Yuyi Morales
This beautiful picture book simply took my breath away. A young mother tucks her little girl, Suhaila, into bed after answering her questions about wonderful, caring and loving Grandmother Annie. That night, Grandmother Annie comes down through the sky and takes Suhaila on a ladder to the moon. There she shows her all the world, the beauty and the trouble. Together they give aid and kindness to all the people in need, showing them the joy of life and giving SuhailaSoetoro-Ng is Barak Obama's half-sister.... not that it should make any difference one way or the other.)


Crunch, Munch, Dinosaur Lunch
author: Paul Bright   illustrator: Michael Terry

Ty Tyrannosaurus is the biggest, baddest dinosaur around, with his terrible roars and his big, big mouth and his enormous appetite. His little sister, Teri, absolutely adores him and follows Ty everywhere he goes. But when Ty goes hunting, Teri is a big, big problem. When Ty finally gets the message across that Teri is a pest, and stomps away leaving Teri to cry and howl alone, Teri nearly becomes another dinosaur's lunch! That is, until big brother Ty save the day and discovers that, maybe, being adored by a pesky little sister isn't so bad after all. The bright, expressive illustrations create a lively, colourful land and perfectly illuminate the rhythmic text of this story. 'Crunch, Munch, Dinosaur Lunch' is an absolutely wonderful and humorous tale that exposes the trials and tribulations and triumph of being a big brother. Sure to become a firm favourite, especially for those families who find themselves living with sibling rivalry, I whole-heartedly recommend this brilliant picture book for the whole family to share.

THE POLAR EXPRESS
author/illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
choses the gift of his hearts desire..... a bell from Santa's sleigh.
Written 25 years ago, this book has grown into a classic, with good reason. Beautifully written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express speaks of the pure magic and delight of the season. It leaves behind a world of materialism and cynicism and conjures a moment of belief and wonder. While it was made into a film a few years ago, I thoroughly recommend, in fact I insist, that you read this eloquent, gentle picture book, and share it with the entire family. The simplicity and innocence of the story and the beauty of the illustrations will warm your hearts on cold winter nights. The Polar Express is a powerful seasonal tradition in our house. It's tender message speaks most poigniantly to those of us who can no longer hear the perfect clarity of the bell.
The Polar Express has had numerous reprintings since 1985. It is now available as a paperback picturebook with CD read by Liam Neeson.


 The Heart and The Bottle   author/illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
The Heart and The Bottle is now on the short list for the DAA Irish Children's Book of the Year, and throroughly deserves to be there. I love this book! It's a bit of a departure, in a way, for Oliver JeffersJeffers explores love and loss in this lovely, life-affirming tale. But it does more. Most books for children dealing with grief focus on the one who has departed. This book explores how loss aftfects the girl as she grows into life and what becomes of her. It explores how life itself calls to her (to us all) and gives it's moments to be reclaimed... and to become full of wonder again. Absolutely beautiful!


In Search of Happiness
author: Juliette Saumande  illustrator : Eric Puybaret
Alexander lives with his Grandfather in a very safe and lucky place called Prudence. No one in Prudence is ever unhappy... "they never took chances, they were never disappointed." But Alexander is not happy. One day, when a beautiful songbird, Paradiso, lands in front of him and offers to take him to the Land of Happiness, a great adventure begins for Alexander as he takes of in search of happiness. At every stop along the journey, he pauses to write back to his Grandfather and tell of his progress. But, where is the Land of Happiness and will Alexander ever arrive? This is a warm and well-written fable style picturebook written by Juliette Saumande. While the story is a familiar one, in the telling is a quality genuine and unique that truly sets it apart. Stylized, exquisite illustrations by Eric Puybaret (illustrator of 'Puff, The Magic Dragon) perfectly accent this tale as it carries the reader along. A wonderful and timeless picturebook to be treasured.

On The Road With Mavis And Marge
author/illustrator: Niamh Sharkey
Two farmyard friends decide to give into their wanderlust and take off in a brilliant 'free-range' adventure with some surprising results. And along the way, they pick up some pretty unique friends. A bit like 'Thelma and Louise' for the pre-school set, "On The Road With...." is a fun and wonderfully amazing picture from the wonderful Niamh Sharkey, author/illustrator of some of my other favourites such as 'The Ravenous Beast' and 'Santasaurus'. The illustrations are bold, fanciful and contemporary. The story is wacky, entertaining and gives you something to think about. This great choice for my picturebook of the week is published by (of course) those wonderful folks at Walker Books.


 Up And Down    author/illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
I am so in love with the latest offering from Oliver Jeffers, Up And Down. In this picturebook, Jeffers has returned to our old friends from Lost And Found, the boy and penguin, a truly winning formula. The boy and the penguin have a wonderful friendship and enjoy all their time together, until penguin begins to dream of flying. While the boy strongly advises him against this notion, the penguin ignores the boy's words... and wanders off, believing he is about to get what he dreams of. Don't worry, it all comes good in the end. Jeffers eloquent and economical illustrations guide us through this latest journey and communicate more than words ever could. Please, please read this book!



 A Bit Lost     author/illustrator: Chris Haughton
This story is quite reminiscent of 'Are You My Mother?' by P.D. Eastman. A young owl is sitting next to his mother, beginning to doze a bit and topples off his perch. When he hits the ground, he realizes he's a bit lost. Never fear! Squirrel is there to help and knows exactly where his mother is.... or not at all. As he and squirrel meet all sorts of creatures in the forest, none of which are his mother. But thanks to the assistance of a knowledgable frog, it all comes good in the end. The entire cast are treated to biscuits.... and little owl begins to doze off again. The brilliant, simple and clear palette of the illustrations tell the story in and of themselves. The economy of language makes this a classic picturebook which will stand the test of time. Eloquent, charming, and not at all twee, this book is a true gift!



Hugless Douglas     author/illustrator: David Melling
Douglas is a big, brown, furry super-cuddly bear. He wakes up one morning in need of a hug and sets off to find the perfect one....but none of the hugs seem quite right. And with the mayhem he's causing, how will Douglas ever find the right hug for him? David Melling's story and illustrations give a wonderful story for hug seekers (of all ages.) My choice for picture book of the week.
(Melling is the author of 'The Kiss That Missed', 'Good Knight, Sleep Tight', and the wonderful series for beginner readers 'Goblins.)




Cave Baby   author: Julia Donaldson illustrator: Emily Gravett
My picture book of the week has got to be Cave Baby by Julia Donaldson and Emily Gravett. Just out today, this book is pure delight. It tells the story of a cave baby who finds himself in trouble with Mum and Dad when he draws on the walls. What child hasn't been in that situation? Late that night, a wooly mammoth grabs him from his cot and takes him through the fields and the jungles...but to where? Surely not to the big brown bear! With the magnificent story-telling skills of Donaldson and Gravett's perfect illustrations (that tell the story of their own accord) This book is simply wonderful.


Frogs Do Not Like Dragons  
author: Patricia Forde  illustrator: Joelle Dreidemy
I'm putting this under picture books, though technically it's an early reader from the Blue Bananas series. This is due to the marvellous contemporary and quirky illustrations by Joelle Dreidemy that perfectly accentuate a great story by Galway County author Patricia Forde. When little sister Lola locks herself in the bathroom and refuses to come out, the police, a fireman, a plumber and even Lola's own family can't solve her problem. That's because a witch has appeared, gotten very cross and conjured up lots of frogs....and, as Lola knows well, frogs do not like dragons. Told in the voice of big sister Natalie, the story takes us on a brilliant journey through a common problem faced by families everywhere; with a unique twist. Utterly delightful, I am very pleased to report that there will be more Lola stories in the future. 
Check out Lola's own blog on Patricia Forde's website.
http://theworldaccordingtolola.com/