If you’re looking for suitable books for your 3 and 4 year old, our extensive list of expert recommendations is sure to put you in the right direction.
Across pages as bright and boldly coloured as the little Kiwicorn’s horn, this book celebrates all that small children are and can be: polite and peaceful, gentle and good-hearted, big dreamers, independent and individual. The left hand of each spread poses a question, to which the answer given on the right hand is always ‘I am’. Just to underscore this and remove any shadow of doubt, the final spread presents us with a mirror, so that young readers can actually see themselves in the pages. The Kiwicorn is a very appealing little character and this is a fun, positive read.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 |Winner of the UKLA 2018 Book Award 3-6 | An EmpathyLab Read for Empathy book 2018 | Simplicity is the charm of this picture book story of the unlikely friendship between very different vegetables. Lee is a very green pea and so are all of his friends except for Colin who is a very orange carrot. Colin can’t do all the things that the pea-friends can do such as roll or bounce. Nonetheless, it turns out that they can all be very good friends. Julia Eccleshare's Picks for January 2019: Lark by Anthony McGowan Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood Dear Zoo Snuggle Book by Rod Campbell Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy Billly and the Minpins by Roald Dahl Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen The Skylark's War by Hilary McKay
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | What is the perfect pet? The zoo keeps sending all kinds of animals but, lift the flap and readers will see they are too big, too tall, too jumpy, too grumpy or too scary. Sadly, each of them is returned. Finally, the zoo sends the perfect pet and everyone is happy! With bright, bold artwork, a catchy refrain and a whole host of favourite animals, Dear Zoo is a must for every child's bookshelf.
Join Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tittlemouse and lots of other animal friends inside. Peter Rabbit 123 is accompanied by Peter Rabbit ABC and is published by Frederick Warne & Co., publishers of Beatrix Potter's Original Peter Rabbit books.
You can’t go wrong with a book for children about pants and this one is particularly satisfying and giggle-inducing. The poor octopus narrator of the story has a problem – he doesn’t have any underpants, ‘there’s nothing on below’. None of the shops he visits seem to cater for an octopus after pants, it seems he has just too many legs. His attempts at online shopping are a failure too – a delightfully literal imagining of ‘online’! At last though the staff of the Under-Sea Emporium come to his aid with a helpful and creative suggestion. Delightfully silly, and the story is told in deft rhyme that make it great fun to read aloud. Claire Powell’s vibrant illustrations are full of extra jokes and details too.
A board book edition of the picture book classic that follows Mr Bear's quest for a peaceful night's sleep! A timeless storybook classic full of bright colourful pictures that accompany a simple, repetitive text. Children will delight in all the wonderful sound effects and Mr Bear's reaction to the noises that stop him going to sleep until...you'll find out when you read it to your toddler. The familiar noises, repetition and beautiful illustrations make this delightful picture book an all-time favourite with children and adults everywhere.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | It’s bath time for Baby Bear but he is determined to fit in a quick trip to the moon beforehand. Can he do it? Sure he can. Finding a space rocket under the stairs, a helmet in the kitchen and some boots by the door Baby Bear is soon off and away floating high in the sky, up through the stars and all the way to the moon. A gloriously imaginative story brought to life in Jill Murphy’s wonderful illustrations.
Walker Books’ new Minibombo range already has a reputation for stylish, contemporary picture books: in the cleverly conceived The Dog Book readers are invited to look after their very own puppy. The more interaction readers have with him, the better, so you’re invited to name him, wake him up, give him a good scratch, train him to sit and throw him a ball for him. It’s lots of fun, and no wonder the puppy is ready for bed again after a busy day. Despite the simplicity of images and layout, this is a sophisticated little book that celebrates and subverts the nature of the picture book. There's a companion title for cat lovers too!
You can’t have too many ‘love’ books for very young children and this one is particularly charming and original. It begins with a line we all know, but maybe haven’t given enough thought to: ‘I’ll love you till the cows come home’, before heading off into zany territory – the cows are coming home ‘from a trip to the moon through skies unknown’, Other unusual ‘I’ll love you till’ measurements follow, such as ‘I’ll love you till the sheep set sail’ and ‘I will love you till the frogs ride past on big-wheeled bicycles going superfast’. The animals look very content and happy on their various journeys home in Kristyna Litten’s illustrations and this is lovely to read aloud too with its gentle rhymes. Indeed, the whole book maintains a perfect equilibrium between humour, imagination and a warm sense of love and security. Perfect bedtime reading.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | Badger is so old that he knows he will soon die. He tries to prepare his friends for this event, but when he does die, they are still grief-stricken. Gradually they come to terms with their grief by remembering all the practical things Badger taught them, and so Badger lives on in his friends' memories of him.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | The Girls is a glorious and uplifting description of female friendship. It stars four girls and simply but beautifully describes in words and pictures their enduring friendship as they grow from little children into adults. In just 32 pages we get to know the girls really well: adventurous Lottie, practical Sasha, clever Leela and Alice, who can always make them laugh. As a result, we follow the ups and downs of their lives with real interest. The book’s message about the comfort, joy and support friends provide is delivered with real charm and this is a story which will reassure all young readers about what they can achieve and which will inspire them for their futures.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2019 | | This is the 30th anniversary board book edition of this bestselling title which well-deserves its classic status. It has become the staple of pre-school life across the globe. Told in a simple rhythmic text that's full of action and it is matched by Helen Oxenbury’s wonderful illustrations which perfectly capture the fun and the wide range of emotions of the family day out that the story encompasses. Celebrating 30 years of Bear Hunting - visit www.jointhebearhunt.com for everything a bear hunter could need including activities, videos, competitions and tour dates. The book has sold in nearly 30 countries and in over 20 languages.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | Everyone, children too, knows what it’s like when sadness unexpectedly comes to call, that sense of gloom that is hard to explain, and almost impossible to shake off. The situation is very skilfully depicted in this picture book, which also provides ideas and strategies for ways to cope. A young child is shown opening the door to a doleful, shapeless creature and the two become so close they are almost one. But the invisible narrator has suggestions for ways to help Sadness, so that one day, when the child wakes, it’s gone. The story is very affecting and will be useful to children who have a particular sadness in their lives as well as those who feel it for no reason they can articulate. An important and rather beautiful book.
Walker Books’ new Minibombo range already has a reputation for stylish, contemporary picture books: in the cleverly conceived The Cat Book they could have created the nearest thing on a paper to owning a pet. First readers are invited to name their cat; next turn the page and there he is, curled up and asleep. Call out the name you’ve just given him, turn the page again and he’s awake. Readers are next instructed to stroke him, tickle his tummy, then squash his fleas. There’s lots involved in looking after a pet and by the end of the book cat and reader will be ready for a rest. The story plays with ideas of reader and author, and wittily celebrates the infinite possibilities of picture books. There’s a companion volume for dog lovers too!
This Christmas-set story has the charm and depth to fill a year’s worth of reading. A woman is knitting a toy cat as a Christmas present for her daughter. ‘Why was I made?’ asks the cat – a question it repeats lots of times on an adventure that takes it out of the house and into the snow. Everything questioned – the stars, the wind, the river – has a different answer but it’s the sun’s that satisfies the little cat. David Lucas’s illustrations, predominantly purple, pink and blue, and often framed by patterned borders, conjure up a sense of things hand-made, and the story will set children thinking about life and love.
Out walking, Elmer the Elephant is in a reflective mood, taking his time to soak up the sounds, smells and sights around him. He spots shapes in the clouds and in the sandstone rocks, he listens to the noise of the river crashing over a waterfall, notices the raindrops in a spider's web that look like sparkling diamonds and smells the scent of wild flowers. The other animals hurry past, far too busy to stop and enjoy these natural wonders. Fortunately Elmer meets his cousin Wilbur and they both stand happily together to watch the night-time draw in. This is a gentle introduction to mindfulness, a celebration of being in the moment and making time to appreciate the world around us.
It might be the middle of summer, but the Little Princess demands SNOW. Lots of festive fun with our feisty princess and perfect for toddlers and parents to share together particuarly as children will learn they can't always have everything they want. When the Queen goes on a trip and sends back a photo of her feeding some penguins, Little Princess decides she wants snow too. The whole palace tries all kind of things - from sandmen instead of snowmen to mudballs instead of snowballs. But this little royal won't be satisfied until she gets what she wants... and sometimes not even then!
December 2018 Book of the Month | Santa turns to modern gadgets to deliver his presents in this gentle, humorous story. He still uses reindeer, though the sleigh has been updated to a nice old open-topped car, but resorts to a jet-pack in busy cities - well, it makes parking much easier - and he keeps a check on deliveries via an iPad. His best laid plans go wrong though when he drops it but fortunately the little girl he’s delivering to is a digital native and can fix it for him. The story may hinge on modern technology for its drama but there’s a charmingly vintage feel to Angela Perrini’s illustrations and the final message - one of kindness and generosity- is thoroughly traditional.
Take the very young on a trip into the high mountains in this excellent first information book. Each page features a stunning pop-up depicting one of the animals native to the mountains, from wolf to bear, from Bald Eagle to a Rainbow Trout, particularly beautiful and dramatic in rich reds and greens. The animals are introduced via lines of verse while elsewhere on the page short lines of text convey interesting and intriguing facts. The pop-ups are not only beautiful but sturdy enough to stand repeated readings, and this is a book to inspire the very young.
This funny, heart-warming picture book will put everyone in the right mood for Christmas. Bear’s plans for a nice, simple festive season are interrupted by the arrival of Frog. Frog thinks he’s come to the Christmas Extravaganza Hotel and is ready to enjoy all the attractions its brochure promises, from supersonic sleigh rides and singing Christmas trees to an all-you-can-eat North Pole breakfast. The trouble is, he’s misread the map and is as far from the hotel as it’s possible to get. When kind, generous Bear offers to provide a special Christmas break instead, it results in comfort and joy all round. This fresh, original story delivers the true Christmas message about love and sharing and is totally charming.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Witty, a bit silly, with irresistible characters, fabulous illustrations and a serious point to make, Giraffe Problems is an outstanding picture book, one that will easily stand repeat readings. Edward the giraffe stresses about his neck, a lot. He compares it unfavourably to all the other necks around and does his best to disguise it (most memorably with a mountain of scarves and bow ties). Only when he meets Cyrus, a creature also frustrated by the size of his neck, does he come to terms with it, making a special friend in the process. Lane Smith’s textured, brushy artwork is a perfect match for Jory John’s sharp and very funny text, and this is a picture book to entertain and amuse readers of all ages.
The tension mounts in this amusing and engaging picture book as hotel guest Mr Snore ascends floor by floor to find a comfortable room in which to sleep. Multi-occupancy seems to be the norm, and each room he’s offered already has a sleeping resident – a mouse, a pig, spiders … At last he falls asleep in a room on the 13th floor and only the readers see whose room he’s sharing! The illustrations are full of details and little extras that remind us just how busy and unusual this hotel is. Great fun!
Featuring artwork from the animated special, this fun-filled guide to all things Christmas is packed with craft activities, recipes and stickers galore.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2013 | A simply told story with a delicious and irresistible mischievous twist in its ending. Poor Bear! He has lost his hat. He asks everyone if they have seen it but no one can help. Where can it be? Just when Bear has given up all hope he spies it. And someone else is wearing it. Poor Rabbit! Where is he once Bear has his hat back? With its spare, building text and beautifully simple illustrations this tells its tale wittily.
This lovely story of friendship and understanding plays out to a soundtrack of monster rock and roll! Dave’s days of romping through the countryside and causing chaos are long over. Banished to Echo Rock, the old monster spends his days alone, with only his guitar for company. At least that is until Percival arrives, six years old, dressed in his knight outfit and ready for a fight. But once Dave points out that monsters have feelings too, they become firm friends, with a shared liking for classic riffs and watching the jousting on TV. When the townspeople turn up looking for a fight, Percy has to teach them a lesson too. Great fun to read and Sara Ogilvie’s delightful illustrations are full of life and energy.
What a very special picture book this is, strikingly illustrated by the super-talented Maisie Paradise Shearring and with a story that is utterly child-centred while still giving parents lots to think about. It opens in a playground, a familiar scene, where a mother tells her child to go and play with the little boy in the sandpit. Children neither want nor need to be told how to play, or who to play with, as her son makes clear in no uncertain terms. After all, the boy in the sandpit may be a monster in disguise. A fabulous imaginary adventure follows, which takes us underground into a monster's lair, where hordes of other children are held prisoner. It's a brilliant depiction of the power of a child's imagination, and an ingenious and very funny story. As far as the concept and illustration go, this is the best monster story since Not Now Bernard.
Ruth Brown has taken Anna Sewell’s classic Black Beauty, one of the best-loved books of all time and turned it into a handsome picture book. Her painterly style is just right for Beauty’s story and her rich, full-spread illustrations perfectly capture the major incidents in the horse’s life, from the peace and quiet of his carefree days as a foal through the drama of his escape from the stable fire, and the misery of his later years pulling carts through London’s busy streets. The story still has important lessons for readers about the treatment of animals, and Ruth Brown is faithful to that element of Sewell’s book too. This will be enjoyed equally by those new to the original and those who already love Black Beauty’s story.
This absolutely stunning book turns the alphabet into a wild exploration of the animal world as readers are presented with 26 different creatures across colourful pages, all featuring pop ups or peep through cut outs to make this unforgettable. Questions to readers, as well as its ingenious layout, make it a superb interactive reading experience – ‘Who is prettier than an ant?’ asks the text: ‘A butterfly’ is the answer. ‘Who has more legs than a butterfly?’ a caterpillar, and so on. Some of the questions are delightfully quirky: ‘Who is more wobbly than an iguana?’ (Can you guess?), but each one, combined with the striking artwork will draw the reader into the wonderful world of the Animalphabet.
There’s a real feel of Christmas magic to this delightful picture book. Like many children, Mia’s parents live apart and as Christmas approaches she’s really missing her daddy. Then she spots a mysterious post-box – turning the knob on the front opens the door to a wonderful world, where she can take the reindeer express and fly all the way to see her daddy. Many of the pages feature little doors and delicate cut-outs allowing readers to peep into the next page, and the illustrations – predominantly pink, red and green - conjure up a sense of cinnamon and gingerbread. Mia is home again for Christmas, warm in the knowledge that love reaches everyone, no matter how far away they are.
Christmas without presents or Easter without eggs? - unthinkable! Whilst Santa has his army of elves to help him, the poor eggs-hausted Easter Bunny has to do all the work himself. He makes the eggs, delivers the eggs and doesn't even get a thank you. So the fed up Easter Bunny plans a cunning chocolate vendetta to cause havoc in Santa's factory and spoil all the presents....but fortunately Father Christmas is partial to a little chocolate. What's Christmas without chocolate after all?
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2018 | Christmas is coming and there is war in the shops! In every supermarket in the town all the Christmas treats are being smashed up as soon as they get into the shops. Beautifully decorated cakes and biscuits have been sent flying and even Christmas puddings have been heaved off the shelves. Who’s the spoilsport who is ruining Christmas? The trusty Mince Spies are sent in to watch the shelves and they soon discover the surprising culprits! It takes the intervention of Santa Claus himself to make everyone feel better and for Christmas to become fun again! A thoroughly ridiculous and hugely enjoyable Christmas adventure.
A message from Anthony Browne, one of the UK's most brilliant and respected Picture Book Illustrators, who was Children's Laureate 2009-11:
"Picture books are special – they're not like anything else. Sometimes I hear parents encouraging their children to read what they call proper books, books without pictures, at an earlier and earlier age. This makes me sad, as picture books are perfect for sharing, and not just with the youngest children. As a father, I understand the importance of the bond that develops through reading picture books with your child. We have in Britain some of the best picture book makers in the world, and I want to see their books appreciated for what they are – works of art." Picture books, he said, are "perfect for any age".
The books in this genre will have more story than those books featured in the Baby and Toddler genre but still with lots of stunning imagery to share with your child and for them to enjoy alone.
As children begin to communicate more readily and are a little more dextrous then you’ll find they want to occupy their mind with books that are a little more challenging, perhaps even with more pages and more of a storyline.
The picture books in this section with a greater range of text to accompany some absolutely stunning imagery provide a terrific next stage.
Titles in this section will be refreshed each month with a range of new and older titles that we feel should not to be missed by any young child.
Click here to read some helpful tips from top childrens' publisher Egmont.