Great Summer Reads...part four: PICTURE BOOKS!

This particular post puts me in great danger of going on for hours. I am a huge fan of picture books. I happen to believe that we push our young children away from picture books and into 'chapter books' far too early, or at least that we expect them to leave picture books behind in favour of 'proper reading' at too young an age. You are never too old for a really good picture book. So, I'll try to be concise, if possible. So it was off to the bookshelf to find a few of my favourites for the summer months.

author/illustrator: Maurice Sendak
It needs no introduction. It needs no explanation. This is a lifelong favourite and is one I think should be read over and over again. This book has everything; love, loyalty, facing your fears, being who you really are, having a great adventure, dreaming big dreams and coming home 'where someone loved him best of all.' Where the Wild Things Are is a book for life.

author/illustrator: David Wiesner
An inquisitive and intelligent boy is at the seaside to collect and examine flotsam; those things washed up on the shore...old toys, driftwood, sea glass... anything and everything. He wants to see what they really are, learn their secrets and stories. Quite unexpectedly, he finds an old underwater camera washed up in the seaweed with an intriguing story of it's own. 'Told' completely in pictures, this is one of the most unique and beautiful picture books I've ever found. Perfect for us all to ponder during lazy summer months.

author/illustrator: Levi Pinfold
One day, a black dog finds it's way to the home of the Hope family, frightening first Mr. Hope, the all the rest of the family in turn. As each member sees the black dog, their fear causes it to grow and grow. Everyone is terrified and doesn't what to do. Everyone, that is, except for the youngest, Small Hope... she knows exactly what to do. Winner of this year's Kate Greenaway Medal, this book is just wonderful. Exquisitely drawn with a beautiful story line, one for the whole family. You just might learn something!

author/illustrator: Virginia Lee Burton
Here's one from my own childhood. (See, I told you picture books are life-long reads.) A Little House was built out in the countryside. She was small and well-built and stong and she was much loved by her owners. But time moves on and families grow and move away and the city encroaches. She finds herself alone and neglected in the centre of the urban sprawl, falling into great disrepair....until one day...... a stunning, warm and wonderful story. The Little House is now 70 years old! (I am NOT 70 years old.) Also, check out Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by the same author.

author: Drew Daywalt
illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
When Duncan opens his crayon box, wanting to colour, he finds no crayons... only letters, all of which say the same thing; "We quit!". The crayons are all at odds with each other (well, not green... green has no complaints.) and are refusing to colour anymore. Whatever will Duncan do? Great story with exceptionally wonderful illustrations by the one and only Mr. Jeffers. This is a keeper!

author/illustrator: Eric Carle
A very cross, bad-tempered ladybird picks fights and starts arguments with every animal he meets. But soon, he discovers the importance of friendship and being kind and turns into a much nicer, much happier ladybird. Not only does this book show the meaning of friendship, it it demonstrates the movement of the sun across the sky and the passage of time. Another great classic from the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A wonderful story for the smallest of children and the entire family.

author: Julia Donaldson
illustrator: Alex Scheffler
As the vile and villainous Highway Rat rides the countryside stealing everyone's food, life is not safe for the other animals. They are starving; they are terrorised... whatever will they do? But justice comes for the Highway Rat in the form of a very clever duck. From one of the best-loved author/illustrator teams in the business, we have a rollicking tale based on the classic Alfred Noyes poem 'The Highwayman.' One for everyone to read, memorise and enjoy time and again.

author/illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Does this sound familiar? It's lunchtime, but one little girl is simply too busy to eat. Besides... she's not really hungry. Along come a crocodile, a bear and a wolf who are starving! Don't worry... they don't eat children. Children taste disgusting! But they are more than happy to help her finish her lunch. Beautifully illustrated story about fun, friendship and eating your food! Love it!

author/illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Another real classic from my bookshelf... and an absolute favourite of my children when they were young. Nora is the middle child, and big sister Kate and baby brother Jack get all their parents attention. How can she get some time from her parents? MAKE LOTS OF NOISE! When that still doesn't work, Nora crashes out the door... and things get very, very quiet. It's only then that the family realise that a Noisy Nora is far better than no Nora at all. The joyous final page completes the story to perfection and all is well in the family once again! Rhyme, rhythm and Wells' fabulous illustration style make this one of the best stories for family sharing.

author/illustrator: Niamh Sharkey
Everyone wants a road trip during the summer months, and this one is brilliant. Mavis and Marge are certainly not like the other animals in the farmyard. They have dreams, they have ambitions, they want to go travelling. So off they go! They go over the hills, they cross the sea... they even go to the moon. But suddenly, home seems so very far away and it's the very place they really want to be. From the author that gave us the Hugglewugs... thoroughly enjoyable. A fun and fabulous read!

Okay... there's 10 for you to consider. As I said, I'm in great danger of going on and on and on... so I'll leave it there for the moment. Rest assured, there are many more. Which picture books do you read over the summer months?


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