Many new picture books are published for children every year. It is often hard to know how to choose. Here is a selection of some of our current favourites. You and your child will meet a range of appealing characters in these beautifully illustrated picture books and discover amusing, intriguing and thought provoking stories. We hope you enjoy them.
Goodnight Already! Jory John, Benji Davies (illus)
Harper Collins, 2015
Bear desperately wants to go to sleep, but Duck (his neighbour) desperately wants company. Goodnight Already is an amusing story with two appealing characters, poor sleep deprived Bear and irrepressible attention seeking Duck.
This book would be great fun to read together when children are familiar with the story taking turns being Duck or Bear.
Watch a trailer here
Grandad’s Island Benji Davies
Simon and Schuster, 2015
Syd spends a lot of time with Grandpa but doesn’t know about the magic door in his attic. One day Grandpa takes him through the door on an amazing adventure, across the ocean to a beautiful tropical island. Unfortunately Grandpa decides to stay leaving Syd to return alone realising he will no longer have Grandpa’s company. A card delivered by toucan post reveals Grandpa is still thinking about Syd even though he is far away.
This is a stunning, magical picturebook with wonderfully detailed illustrations and a poignant yet uplifting story. It suggests the close relationships young children may have with grandparents and the importance of shared memories. The story can be seen as an allegory for loss but also demonstrates how we can be in each other’s thought even when far apart.
Honk Honk Hold Tight! Jessica Souhami
Frances Lincoln, 2015
“Honk Honk! Hold Tight!” calls the boy with a golden goose to the growing line of characters, each one stuck fast to the last, after attempting to steal a golden feather. He’s off on a quest to make an unsmiling Princess laugh, in response to the King’s offer to share his kingdom with the first person to succeed. This is a wonderfully lively and humorous retelling of an enduring folktale with its roots in Europe and the Middle East. In this version, the Princess decides who she will marry! A great book to read aloud, children will enjoy joining in with the reading, acting it out with toys and friends, and retelling the story in their own words. The crisp, bright collage illustrations will inspire children to make their own, too.
Imaginary Fred Eoin Colfer, Oliver Jeffers (illus)
Harper Collins, 2015
Fred is an imaginary friend, summoned, when the conditions are just right, by lonely children. (You need a little electricity, luck or even magic). Unfortunately when children find a real friend they don’t need him anymore and he fades and is forgotten. Fred dreams of finding a friend who would need him forever. One day a boy called Sam summons him and Fred finds the perfect companion until one day Sam meets Sammy. Is this the end of their relationship? Happily when Sammi arrives with an imaginary friend of her own Fred finds a perfect companion.
This is a story about loneliness and the importance of friendship, with lots to talk about whether or not your child has had an imaginary friend. Imaginary Fred is a great collaboration between Eoin Colfer the Irish children’s laureate and amazing picturebook maker Oliver Jeffers. The delicate illustrations perfectly evoke the feelings of the characters and the idea of an imaginary friend who fades when no longer needed.
Max at Night Ed Vere
Max is a sleepy kitten getting ready for bed. After cleaning his teeth he wants to say Goodnight….to the moon, but Moon is nowhere to be seen. So Max goes in search, climbing higher and higher. Eventually, with some help from Wind blowing Cloud away, Max sees Moon and they can say goodnight to each other. Reassuringly Moon tells Max he can hear him say goodnight from his room and a satisfied and even sleepier Max goes back home and is soon curled up fast asleep.
This is a delightful picturebook with an appealing character, stunningly beautiful colour pages and a satisfying story, a perfect bedtime read for under threes.
See also Max the Brave.
Please Mr Panda Steve Antony
Hodder Children’s Books, 2015
Mr Panda has some doughnuts to share and offers them to a series of ungrateful and greedy animals. Eventually a racoon sets herself above the rest by being much more polite and is duly rewarded.A simple story about sharing and politeness. Watch a trailer here
Buy Please Mr Panda
Robin’s Winter Song Suzanne Barton
Robin wakes one Autumn Day to find a flurry of activity as the finches get ready to fly south and Squirrel buries his nuts. Winter is coming and everyone is preparing. Robin thinks Winter must be very scary. After snuggling up to Bear in his cave Robin wakes to find a magical transformation, snow has fallen, winter has arrived and it isn’t scary at all. He has lots of fun with the other creatures until signs of Spring arrive and he realises there are more exciting changes in store.
This is an appealing and beautifully illustrated picturebook which explores the magic of the seasons through the eyes of a young robin experiencing his first winter. There is plenty to talk about in the illustrations and lots to learn about animals too. Bear’s ‘one sleep’ till winter is over for example, is an interesting introduction to hibernation. Sharing this story as the seasons change will give lots of opportunity for children and parents to observe changes together and talk about what they see in the natural world.
Space Dog Mini Grey
Jonathan Cape, 2015
At a time far in the future Space Dog is lonely and looking forward to going home after a long mission sorting out inter planetary problems. Unexpectedly, he receives a distress call from Astrocat, his sworn enemy. When Space Dog rescues Astrocat he finds they get on really well, Astrocat can play Dogopoly and he is an amazing cook. In no time they are working as a team to sort out an explosive ketchup situation on planet FryUp42 and to save Moustronaut (another sworn enemy) who has been captured by the Cheese ants. When it is time to go back to Home Planet the three decide to head for the Unknown Zone so that they can stay together as friends rather than return home where they must be sworn enemies.
This is an imaginative and witty space story with fascinating detail in the wonderful illustrations. This is a universe in which ketchup bottles are volcanoes, whole planets can be made of cheese and Space Dogs and Astrocats can sort out interplanetary problems. A story about resolving differences friendship and working as a team.
What the Jackdaw Saw Julia Donaldson, Nick Sharratt (illus)
What the Jackdaw Saw was written by Julia Donaldson with a group of deaf children during her term as children’s laureate.
Jackdaw wants to invite friends to his party. He flies over land and sea but wherever he goes he is confused to see a creature touching its head and no one seems interested in his invitation. After getting caught in a storm he crashes into a tree and asks a wise owl why no one warned him. The owl tells Jackdaw everyone was warning him; by touching their heads they were signing danger. Jackdaw quickly learns the sign for party and invites everyone to come. Soon he has lots of guests and the party is in full swing.
Nick Sharratt’s bold and colourful illustrations bring the text to life and extra detail, for example hinting at the approaching storm. The repetitive story pattern and rhythm make the book fun to read aloud and join in.
This is an enjoyable story with lots to talk about for both deaf and hearing children. The end papers, with illustrations showing how to sign more of the words from the story, invite all readers to have a go.
Where’s the Elephant? Barroux
Children will enjoy searching for the elephant, parrot and snake in the rainforest illustrations.
A story told almost entirely through pictures, as the pages turn the forest gradually disappears and the animals lose their homes. In a twist at the end the animals escape captivity and head off to find a new home.
There is a lot to talk about here, in particular about endangered animals and the world’s rainforests. When children know the book well they might enjoy imagining they are one of the animals and telling the story of their escape from the zoo and what might happen after the story ends.