In this list we have drawn together some of the most exciting children’s picturebooks published this year. There are books for a range of ages, books reflecting diversity, encouraging confidence and bravery, books about friendship, environmental awareness and having lots of fun too. In the year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landings it is not surprising that so many picturebooks feature the moon or space and we’ve included a couple in our list. We hope our list helps you find new favourite books to share.
Aalfred and Aalbert
Aardvarks Aalfred and Aalbert each live alone. Bird decides they both need a friend. But Aalfred sleeps in the day, and Aalbert sleeps at night so Bird hatches different plans for them to meet, each more ridiculous than the last. But one day, they find each other in the most unexpected way and, from that day on, Aalfred and Aalbert decide to stay happily together, forever.
Hodder Children’s Books
An appealing story about a little boy who has a little dragon called Zibbo as a pet. They do everything together and the little boy’s friends love playing with him too. Their favourite thing is going to parties but unfortunately Zibbo is over enthusiastic about lighting birthday candles leading to hilarious results. This is a picturebook which celebrates difference. The main character, pictured in a wheelchair, leads a full and fun life with his friends and his very unusual pet.
Billy and the Dragon
Billy and Fatcat are on their way to a fancy-dress party dressed as George and the dragon. Billy’s side kick Fatcat is captured by a fire breathing dragon who mistakes him for her missing baby. Billy uses her ingenuity to rescue Fatcat aided by other animal friends, who show different degrees of enthusiasm for the task. An amusing adventure with a lively text, bold eye-catching illustrations and a great layout. Great for reading aloud and lots to talk about in the story and illustrations. Second in the series featuring the indomitable Billy.
See our activity page for Billy and the Beast, the first book in the series
The Bug Collector
Alex G Griffiths
When George’s grandad takes him to the wildlife museum George is inspired by the and decides to build his own amazing bug collection. But he collects so many that suddenly there are no insects flying freely, anywhere! Grandad is very cross with him but together they find a way to create a natural environment to encourage and enjoy minibeasts.
George is an appealing character and his relationship with his grandad is very warm. With a lively writing style and illustrations The Bug Collector is an enjoyable story, and also includes information about mini beasts and their importance in the natural world. Sharing this book might inspire children to observe bugs in their natural environment or even create their own minibeast friendly habitats.
Don’t Worry Little Crab
Little Crab lives with Big Crab in a rock pool by the sea. One day they set off for a dip in the sea. But will Little Crab be brave enough to go in, the waves are so big! A reassuring and lovely story about being brave enough to try something new.
See our activity pages for other books by Chris Haughton
A Bit Lost
Oh No George!
Shh! We have a Plan
Watch the trailer
Lights on Cotton Rock
This is the story of a little girl whose dream to meet an alien and communicate with it comes true. As time passes, she watches and waits for the alien to return. When it eventually does, she must decide whether to leave her home and family or stay where she is loved and needed most. A dilemma to explore in a beautifully illustrated picturebook – some pages, are wordless and in comic strip form making this a great book for telling rather than reading the story and having imaginary conversations between the characters together.
Nathan Bryon, illus. Dapo Adeola
Rocket is fascinated with the stars and space and wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. She is very excited that there will soon be a meteor shower visible and thinks everyone should witness it.
Look Up is an engaging story with an appealing main character, a dash of humour and an important message about how much we miss if we look down (eg at our phones!) and not up at the world around us. The illustrations are gorgeous and add to the storytelling. There are lots of interesting ‘did you know….’ facts for young space enthusiasts included as well.
Armstrong is a mole who is tired of his boring (!) life underground. He likes looking up at the moon and stars and longs for adventure. Very inventive, he decides to build a rocket and set off for the moon. After several amusing false starts he succeeds, only to realise it is boring there too (just no atmosphere!) and quite lonely, so he set off back home. With an exciting theme, bold, colourful illustrations, layout and humour there is lots to enjoy and discuss in this story. There’s a ‘grass is always greener’ theme to talk about too and the suggestion it’s more fun sharing your adventures with others. Full of word play this is a picturebook with lots to appeal to adults as well as children.
Secret of the Tattered Shoes
Jackie Morris, illus. Ehsan Abdollahi
Based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm this version is part of Tiny Owl’s ‘One story, Many Voices’ series. It is an exquisite book, beautifully written and with magical illustrations. It provides an optimistic, alternative ending to the story, with the prince who solves the mystery of the princesses’ tattered shoes rejecting the harshness of the court to seek love and wisdom elsewhere.
Watch the trailer
There’s a Rang Tan in my Bedroom
James Sellick, illus. Frann Preston Gannon
Wren and Rook
A little girl is very surprised to find a small orangutan (Rang-tan) in her bedroom wreaking havoc. Before sending the Rang-tan away the little girl asks her why? The Rang- tan explains there’s a human in her forest destroying her home. This revelation spurs the little girl to action, she decides to protest against the destruction of rainforest habitats.
It combines fact and fiction and raises awareness of the impact of the loss of rainforest habitats. The rhyming text and beautiful illustrations make it a book to return to and enjoy sharing again and again.