Tag Archives: Picture books

New reviews: Picture books to brighten your day

I don’t know about you, but glancing out the window is enough to make one feel a little fed-up with gloomy overcast skies. I can’t wait for the cold, frosty winter sun to come out but until it does, reaching for a picture book or two always works to bring a smile to my face! Especially these lovely titles.

The Three Happy Lions by Louise Fatio, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin is the third title in this very happy series! This time, the third happy lion is a baby and as he grows up his parents begin to wonder which career he should choose. Perhaps a fireman? A policeman? Or a pet? And of course, there’s always the circus…Whichever one he chooses, you can be sure it will be a marvellous adventure getting there, beautifully told and illustrated! Published by Scallywag Press.

Sophie’s Stories by Devon Holzwarth brings the magical world of stories to life with every book that Sophie opens transporting her on a new adventure. How on earth can she go to sleep when stories are so exciting? Vibrant illustrations will bring young imaginations to life, alongside the charming narrative, which shows just how truly magical stories are. Published by Alison Green Books.

The King’s Birthday Suit By Peter Bently, illustrated by Claire Powell is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes. Prepare to be amazed as two smooth-talking tailors promise King Albert-Horatio-Otto the Third a stunning new outfit for his birthday…It’s a right Royal Stitch-Up! Young readers won’t fail to be entertained with this hilarious story that leaps to life through fantastically funny illustrations. Published by Bloomsbury.

Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees by Catherine Jacob, illustrated by Lucy Fleming shows every little garden explorer just how they can help the insects in their gardens, especially the bees! Betsy Buglove uses her magical magnifying glass to show her grumpy neighbour Stan why it’s not a good idea to pave over his garden and scare away the bees. Gorgeous illustrations, a delightful rhyming narrative and fabulous bug facts will bring much-needed sunshine to all who read Betsy Buglove! Published by Scholastic.

The Wall and the Wild by Christina Dendy, illustrated by Katie Rewse is another picture book bringing the magic and wonder of nature to life! As Ana grows perfectly-sized plants and flowers in her garden, throwing all the uneven shoots and seeds over the wall, little does she realise the wild she is creating over the wall. The beautifully muted illustrations shot through with colour, show the power of nature to delight and survive, and how through it we can entice wildlife to our gardens. A lovely story. Published by Lantana.

Stop That Dinosaur by Alex English, illustrated by Ben Cort is a rollicking, rhyming roar-some romp, with a gran-napping brontosaurus. What can the little girl do when a dino steals her granny? Follow the adventure as she chases them through the parkm, fields and forests and finally finds out why the dino did it! Full of fun and with a sweet twist at the end, children will want to read this colourful story again and again. Published by Bloomsbury.

The Queen on Our Corner by Lucy Christopher, illustrated by Nia Tudor tells the story of a young girl who is the only one who ‘sees’ the homeless woman on the corner of the street. In her eyes, the woman is a warrior queen who has fought many battles but sadly lost her palace. It’s not until the woman sounds the alarm and saves the street from fire, that everyone sees her, and helps to make her home again. An important story about noticing everyone around us, especially those in need who all have their own story to tell. Beautifully told and beautifully drawn, a lovely addition to any bookshelf. Published by Lantana.

When Cucumber Loses His Cool by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Tom Knight shows even the coolest of characters can sometimes lose their cool! Join Kevin the Cool Cucumber as he raps his way round the veg store helping everyone keep it together; but what happens when Red Pepper steps up with his own song to share? Kevin is not impressed; but as we see with the fun, rhyming narrative, it’s ok to have your own song to sing, and soon all the veggie friends are happy together. Great fun and full of beans (pardon the pun) this is a fab story to read aloud and share. Published by Scholastic.

The Longer the Wait, the Bigger the Hug by Eoin McLaughlin, illustrated by Polly Dunbar is a story we can all relate to, as we meet Hedgehog and Tortoise, who have been waiting for a very long time to see each other. Hedgehog gets more and more upset as hibernation has ended and Tortoise is nowhere to be seen and life is just not the same without him. But when they finally meet again, an extra-big hug awaits! A very simple, sweet narrative accompanied by gorgeous illustrations – each of which is a hug in itself – shows just how wonderful it is to be reunited with the ones we love. An absolute delight of a picture book. Published by Faber.

With thanks to all the publishers for sending me these books to review, which will be finding new homes via my local foodbank.

National Non-Fiction November: Cicada Books

Cicada Books is a New York Times award-winning children’s book publisher based in London, who specialise in beautiful, high-end books for children aged 4-11. Their books are often unique, quirky and always engaging, with eye-catching artwork. Today, I am delighted to share a whole host of gorgeous non-fiction titles published by Cicada on the blog, in celebration of National Non-Fiction November.

Map of You by Sophie Williams helps middle-grade readers colour and draw their way to inner peace in this charming wellbeing activity book. Full of helpful advice with opportunities for self-reflection , this delightful book will engage readers and support their development, through lively illustrations and heart-warming positivity.

Atlas of Amazing Architecture: The Most Incredible Buildings You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of by Peter Allen celebrates buildings all over the world from neolithic monuments in Northern Europe to traditional Japanese architecture to the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Beautifully presented with detailed artwork, this is a vibrant, wonderful journey across the world and will open the eyes of young readers to the awe-inspiring architecture all around us.

The Young Cyclist’s Companion by Peter Drinkell, illustrated by Thomas Slater will give any young cycling enthusiast the ideal treat and explain all the essentials from bike maintenance to road safety to cycling techniques. Combing colourful, quirky illustrations with photographic images, this informative book will have young readers itching to get out on their bicycles!

Cat Eyes and Dog Whistles: The Seven Senses of Humans and Other Animals by Cathy Evans, illustrated by Becky Thorns is a step-by-step guide through the biology of the senses, bringing to life the remarkable world of communication in all it’s forms. Did you know that smells can trigger feelings and emotion in a way sight and sound can’t? Did you know that a cow has 250,000 tastebuds, compared to a human’s 5,000? A lively and engaging narrative gives brilliant insight, accompanied by colourful and equally lively illustrations. It’s time to make sense of the senses!

History of Cars by Elliot Kruszynski introduces the knowledgeable Professor Wooford McPaw, who takes the reader on a journey through the history of the motor vehicle. Reminiscent of classic book The Busy World of Richard Scarry, quirky characters help Professor Wooford show how the car has changed over time from the age of steam to cars of the future! This book will delight car enthusiasts young and old; readers will love Professor McPaw and be waiting with anticipation for his next canine adventure.

Find out more about the wonderful world of Cicada Books here.

BLOG TOUR: Scaredy Bat by Jonathan Meres illustrated by Anders Frang

Today is my stop on the blog tour for a delightful new picture book, Scaredy Bat by Jonathan Meres, illustrated by Anders Frang published by Little Door Books.

It’s morning in the Dark, Dark Wood and Little Bat can’t sleep. He doesn’t like the light. But when Big Bat and Middle Bat call him a Scaredy Bat, there’s only one thing to do….

Meet Little Bat, a brave little chap who’s out to prove just how brave to his fellow bat friends. This delightful story turns the idea of ‘things that go bump in the night’, on its head and suddenly it’s the daylight that’s scary! Determined to show he’s not afraid of the light, Little Bat takes a leap of faith and discovers it’s not so bad after all. In fact, he discovers the Dark Wood is almost as fun in the day as it is at night!

With a gentle narrative accompanied by charming illustrations bringing nature to life, Scaredy Bat will have young readers asking for more bat-antics! Sure to be a firm favourite at bedtime – and reassure little ones that everyone gets a bit scared sometimes.

With thanks to Little Door Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. You can follow the rest of the tour here:

BLOG TOUR: Pinkie and Boo by Chae Strathie illustrated by Francis Martin

Today, I’m rounding off the wonderful blog tour for Pinkie and Boo by Chae Strathie illustrated by Francis Martin, published by Little Door Books. Introducing a feisty young girl and her toy monkey, this story is bound to delight readers young and old alike!

Pinkie loves being the smallest in her family, but the arrival of a baby means everything is about to change. It seems like the tiny new addition to the family will get all the attention . . . and Pinkie isn’t happy about that. To cheer her up Mum and Dad give her a lovely toy monkey called Boo. But it turns out there’s much more to him than meets the eye – at least in Pinkie’s imagination. Their outrageous efforts to regain some attention lead to a whole lot of mess and mayhem, but everything works out happily in the end.

What a delightful story! Full of humour and insight into the very real scenario of the arrival of a new sibling – one that many will relate to. Pinkie is understandably worried about the new baby and her vivid imagination (involving seagulls and wizards) only serves to make her more so!  When Boo the toy monkey arrives, he stuns Pinkie by coming to life – but she’s so pleased to have someone to share her problems with. Boo suggests all sorts of ways to make things better- making special drinks with all manner of ingredients from the fridge; drawing special pictures on the walls (oh dear..) and collecting all Dad’s best flowers from the garden!

The humorous narrative brilliantly brings to life this ever-so-tricky situation accompanied by lively, bold illustrations that capture the chaos and the determined Pinkie’s frustration. Empathy abounds as Mum and Dad discover the mess – but thankfully make things right for Pinkie and Boo. An entertaining read and a great story to reassure families expecting a new sibling, I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Pinkie and Boo!

With thanks to Little Door Books for sending me this book to review.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

BLOG TOUR: Ten Little Dogs written and illustrated by Ruth Brown

I’m very pleased to welcome author and illustrator Ruth Brown to the blog today, in celebration of DAY THREE of the blog tour for her latest picture book published by Scallywag Press, Ten Little Dogs.

Ruth is sharing the ‘inside story’ of this delightful picture book featuring a count-down of man’s best friend. You can’t help but fall in love with the four-legged friends that appear on each page, and try and spot the difference as they slowly ‘disappear’ as you count-down. Gorgeous illustrations and a rhyming narrative bring the bouncing dogs to life. It’s a celebration of all the antics dogs can get up to from chasing butterflies to paddling in the sea and romping in the park! I’m pleased to share a guest post from Ruth sharing insight into the creative writing process behind the book.

Welcome to the blog Ruth!

“Ten Little Dogs is a counting book like millions of others, some use addition and some subtraction. I used the same plot device in my book “Ten Seeds” – start with 10 seeds – decrease to 1 flower which produces 10 seeds. Satisfyingly circular. I wasn’t originally going to use dogs in this latest book, I’d planned to use a variety of animals – birds, butterflies, caterpillars, mice, slugs, frogs etc and it started –

“10 plump pigeons pecking grapes from a vine.

Along came a fox – and then there were …….

9 blue butterflies resting on a gate.

Up jumped a cat – and then there were ……..”

and so on through my list of animals. But having written it, I realised that I had created a catalogue of unremitting predatory deaths. Now, I have no qualms about revealing the truth about dear old Mother Nature’s darker side to 5 year olds. At that age, I remember the fascination of finding small dead animals, the ritual of burial and the happy hours spent arranging daisies round the grave. (Normal childhood curiosity……….hopefully?) But when creating a picture book it is important to have an uplift at the end – not necessarily a happy ending, but resolution on a positive note, an element of hope.

In my story as it stood, yes, the pigeon could possibly escape the jaws of the fox but could a slug outrun a leaping frog? I don’t think so. In the make-believe world of picture books, no matter how bizarre and unrealistic, the stories have to adhere to their own mad logic and if, as I’d planned, my animals had all ended up miraculously alive in the meadow it would have been wrong. The ending would have to have been – The End …they are all dead. A bit harsh and not much fun.

So back to the drawing board. I decided to use just one species of animal. I often write about cats but using them in this instance would mean the opportunity for adventurous scenarios would have been limited – you don’t often see cats paddling in the sea – so I decided to use dogs. Puppies actually, but the title of “Ten Little Puppies” set the wrong tone. These were ten independent, adventurous little dogs. I know it’s unusual to see ten small dogs alone in a field minus owners and you’d probably called the RSPCA if you did, but remember this is picture book world. Finally I had the plot, the text and the characters and the story flowed, it came naturally to a satisfying circular conclusion, with all the dogs happily playing in the park……. and none dead. Then I had the pleasure of doing the pictures – always my favourite part of the process. Who said creating children’s books was easy?”

With thanks to Scallywag Press for sending me this picture book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t miss the rest of the tour:

  • 26 April: My Shelves are Full @erinlynhamilton
  • 27 April: This Mummy Style @Thismummystyle
  • 28 April: The Book Activist  @bookactivist1
  • 29 April: Margaret’s Reading Shelf @booklib61 & Get Kids into Books @GetKidsin2Books
  • 30 April: Jane Sandell  @SeasideReader & Miss Cleveland is Reading @MissNCleveland