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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.
Two stars of the children’s literary world are at their best in this beautiful and eloquent picture book. The Go-Away Bird grumpily tells everyone to go away – we’ve all been there, little children included – but fortunately when she really needs friends at her side, they come back. The message about the importance of friendship and sharing is expertly and memorably delivered via Julia Donaldson’s lively rhyming text and Catherine Rayner’s vibrant illustrations. Eyes, ears and hearts will be captured by the story and there’s lots to discuss while reading.
Square builds a beautiful sculpture from the blocks in his secret cave. Square’s friend Circle thinks it is perfect and Square tries to make something perfect for Circle too. But making something perfect is hard. What will Circle think of it? In this simplest of picture books, award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen wittily explore challenges and resolve them.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2019 | Full of fun, this is a charming story about friendship and how we find it. All birds find their friends, and their mates, by singing their own special song of spring. But one bird can’t remember the song he should be singing! When he tries, all kinds of unexpected sounds come out. First it’s a woof, then it’s a moo and an oink and a hee-haw and a meow! The little bird has lots of new friends but not the special one that he really wants. Luckily, there’s another little bird out there who can’t remember her song either. When all is resolved the little birds have each other and their lovely new friends too! Witty illustrations capture the little bird’s predicament and journey to happiness.
Satoshi Kitamura’s artwork is immediately recognisable and Hat Tricks is a typically joyful, bold, bright celebration of the imagination. The little rabbit on the cover is Hattie, a gifted magician. Waving her wand – abracadabra, katakurico – she conjures a procession of animals out of her hat – a cat, a squirrel, an octopus, each turn of the page bringing a new surprise until … well, you’ll have to read it for yourselves. Kitamura’s comic timing is impeccable, and there’s a wonderful sense of drama as it all builds to its truly unexpected conclusion. A magical reading experience!
Walls are in the news at the moment, and one runs right down the middle of this book, a sturdy brick one dividing each double page, top to bottom. On one side is a little knight, very cheery in his conviction that his side of the wall is the safe place to be. We readers of course can see what’s happening on the other side of the wall and indeed, some of the creatures there don’t look very friendly. But appearances aren’t everything, and when the little knight discovers his side of the wall isn’t as safe as he thought, he might need a helping hand over the top. It’s a very funny story, and such a cleverly delivered fable of the silliness and dangers of preconceptions. Don’t miss.
There’s lots of lovely fishy fun to be had in this gorgeous, shaped board book by the inimitable Lucy Cousins. Little Fish describes a day out with Mummy Fish and the fun they have playing games and learning new things. Each page is of course bright, bold and colourful, Cousins’ distinctive artwork is always eye-catching and full of things for the very young to spot, count and name. And it all ends, as the best family days do, with a big kiss. A really good first reading experience.
Winner of the 2007 Prima Baby and Pregnancy Reader Awards Best Buy for Toddlers Award | “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.” So begins the story of how a clever little mouse outwits his big scary enemy. The tasty little mouse needs to make his way through the deep dark woods. How will he do it? By inventing the gruffalo, a fearsome creature with terrible claws, terrible tusks and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. It’s a brilliant trick. The little mouse’s self-preservation is a witty scam that delights children time after time.
March 2019 Book of the Month | The Naughty Naughty Baddies are deliciously, outrageously, phenomenally BAD and their antics in this new adventure will thrill young readers. Their attention is caught by a competition poster: prove that alien life exists and receive a toy-tastic reward from the president. Who could resist? Baddie Four comes up with a fiendishly naughty and brilliantly bonkers plan and – for a while at least – they manage to bamboozle the president before being found out. They still have the last laugh though, and children too will be in stitches. The story is great fun and illustrator David Tazzyman reaches new heights of gleefully wild, energetic and scribbly chaos.
March 2019 Book of the Month | The main protagonist of this smart picture book may be a circle, and the co-stars a triangle and a square, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a multi-faceted story. Triangle and Square are playing hide and seek with Circle. They’re allowed to go anywhere except behind the waterfall, because it’s really dark there. Of course someone disobeys and in a carefully composed and very effective drama the tension rises as Circle goes looking for Square. It gets darker and darker, until only all we can see are her oblong eyes. Counting eyes in the dark leads us to the story’s very funny climax and its message that we shouldn’t be frightened of the unknown. Klassen’s illustrations are full of colour and depth despite the limited palette, and this is another very special picture book from a brilliant team.
Peppa loves Easter! Join Peppa, George and all their friends in this sticker activity book, packed with Easter fun. With lots of puzzles and activities, this sticker activity book will keep all little Peppa fans busy. Includes over 100 stickers! Also look out for the new shaped board book, Peppa Pig: Easter Egg.
Poppy and Sam are searching for Easter eggs on Apple Tree Farm. Children will love looking through the peep holes in this charming book to discover the colourful eggs, following fingertrails to trace the flight of a butterfly or bee, and spotting Daisy the cow, Clucky the hen and Rusty the pig along the way.
The Lollies 2018 - Winner of the Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book | There are jokes galore in Elys Dolan’s brilliant new picture book and they’ll make readers of all ages crack up! Mr Bunny is a tough boss: while he’s in his office keeping a close eye on the profits, his chicken employees are hard at work making chocolate, then eating it and laying chocolate eggs! When he insists on upping production even further, the chickens decide un oeuf is un oeuf, lay down their tools and come out on strike, proclaiming power to the poultry, and demanding better working conditions. Fortunately Mr Bunny realises he needs the workers on his side, and industrial relations are rapidly restored. Bursting with verbal and visual gags, this is a wildly original and rewarding picture book; in fact I’d go so far as to say it is egg-cellent.
As her fans know, what the Little Princess wants, the Little Princess usually gets, and in this story she wants a bunny. After promising faithfully that she will look after it properly, she’s allowed to choose a rabbit from the pet shop, a white one she calls Chalky. But lovely as he is, it isn’t long before new excitements distract the Little Princess and poor Chalky is forgotten. In fact things end happily for him, and for the Little Princess – at least after her daddy has consoled her – though there’s one final twist in the tale. As ever, Tony Ross captures every one of the Little Princess’s volatile moods and emotions brilliantly and the story will have children and adults laughing.
With its comic storyline and bright, bold, minimalist illustrations, The Steves is another bit of picture book genius from the hugely talented Morag Hood. It stars two young puffins, both lively and busy, both called Steve – which is where the trouble starts. The two compete – with increasing determination and bluster – to be top, ‘the Stevest Steve’. Watching their antics as they try to best one another is very funny and the illustrations brim with vitality right to the last page, with its unexpected twist. Children will laugh out loud at what the two Steves get up to, but they’ll recognise all the emotions they’re feeling too. Brilliant!
It's Easter time and Peppa and her friends are going on an Easter egg hunt at Rebecca Rabbit's House. Will they find the Easter Bunny, too? This egg-shaped board book is the perfect gift this Easter. Also look out for the new Easter sticker activity book, Peppa Pig: Peppa's Egg-cellent Easter Sticker Activity Book
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?
Celebrate World Book Day 2019 with this wonderful new picture book, based on the much-loved characters from The Hundred and One Dalmatians. When Cadpig gets lost playing hide-and-seek, she stumbles into the path of evil Cruella de Vil . . .But can her new furry friends help her to escape?
Join ten little bookworms on an amazing reading adventure in this brand-new mini picture book, created especially for World Book Day 2019! Ten little bookworms set off to explore the library. As they munch their way through stories of every kind, each little bookworm is whisked off into an exciting tale. From prehistoric swamps and spooky castles to outer space and jungle treetops, the bookworms discover amazing adventures in every story they explore. Join the little bookworms to find out why making friends with books is the BEST thing you can do!
Peter Mattock’s Visible Maths: Using representations and structure to enhance mathematics teaching in schools supports teachers in their use of concrete and pictorial representations to illustrate key mathematical ideas and operations. Viewing the maths lesson as an opportunity for pupils to develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and relationships, rather than simply to follow fixed processes that lead to ‘the answer’, is increasingly recognised as the pinnacle of best practice in maths education.
A wickedly funny modern cautionary tale from Emma Chichester Clark, the highly regarded, award-winning creator of Blue Kangaroo. Introducing high-spirited Imelda and her long-suffering toy rabbit, Oliver Small! Imelda always gets what she wants, so when Oliver Small goes missing her parents let her have a real rabbit - with extremely surprising consequences! Wickedly irreverent, this stylish and contemporary take ont he cautionary tale is perfect for fans of Eloise and Madeline. Emma is one of today's foremost artists and has created a book to entice every reader.
Rob Biddulph’s new picture book is another typically happy reading experience. Nine dinosaur eggs (count them) are ready to hatch: out pop Otto, Winnie, Hector, Sue, Nancy, Martin, Wilf and Boo. But what about egg number nine? Greg (short for Gregosaurus) hatches a week late, and by then the other little dinosaurs are already settled in their friendship groups and busy playing. Poor Greg is down in the dumps (there’s even a little raincloud over his head in the illustrations) but don’t fear, he’s in for a lovely surprise. There’s so much to enjoy in this wonderful picture book - a story that is both funny and cheering, a clever rhyming text that is great fun to read aloud, glorious illustrations, and things to count on every page. It’s just brilliant and this Cretaceous crew deserve to be loved as much as Spot, Kipper or the Gruffalo.
February 2019 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | What better present can a princess receive than a pudding making machine! Soon puddings and cakes of all sorts are spilling out of the machine as the young Princess Hannah takes control of her fabulous birthday present. But the present has an unfortunate impact on the princess; it reveals that she has never had to share. Luckily, her friends take matters into their own hands and soon they too are pulling the levels and turning the wheels and together they all make the most fabulous puddingly treats – including a giant meringue. The moral is well mixed into this bubbly tale which is vibrantly told in verse by Sally Duran.
A tale of sausages and their fight for freedom, this rollicking picture book will have everyone laughing. We begin with ten sausages, of course, but as their friends go pop and bang, some of them decide to hop out of the pan, with varying degrees of success. Poor sausage number two ends up down the drain, while there’s an even worse fate for sausage number four – the liquidizer. Sausage number eight is eaten by the cat but the silliest sausages of all are numbers nine and ten, who hide themselves in the hot dog roll! Michelle Robinson’s energetic storytelling creates something funny or surprising on every page, and it’s great fun to read aloud. Tor Freeman gives each sausage its own personality, no mean feat, and makes us sympathise with them even while we’re laughing.
Fans of David McKee’s friendly little elephant – and let’s face it, who doesn’t love Elmer? – will thoroughly enjoy this fun activity book. Each page is a feast for the eyes, busy scenes of Elmer’s friends with various challenges for readers. There are things to spot, characters to find, and lots to count too. Though there isn’t a story as such, the book is still brimful of the warmth and conviviality that are Elmer’s trademarks, and of course it’s always a pleasure to gaze at McKee’s fabulous illustrations.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | A fun way of looking at prejudice that quickly makes it clear that even if someone is different to you the two of you can still be friends. Here, the Reds, who are round and eat red apples, are happy to be red. And the Yellows, who are square and eat bananas, love being yellow. How can the two groups ever get to like each other? And then there are the Blues who wear blue bow ties and are shaped like triangles and love being blue. They are different again and no one likes them at all. The arguments between the groups get sillier and sillier as they squabble over everything and make a lot of daft rules. Will they ever get to like one another? Then A Different comes along. Where will he fit in? Suddenly difference seems fine and what colour you are doesn’t seem to matter so much. Lots to think about as the expressive colour block characters work out how to live together.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | | A classic title that is loved by all, Badger’s Parting Gift is still as special and as important as when it was first published 35 years ago. Badger is very old. While he misses some of the things he used to be able to do when he was young, he is not afraid of dying. He warns his friends that one day he will go down the Long Tunnel and he encourages them not to be too sad when it happens. But, when Badger doesn’t come out from his home one day, all the animals are very sad. To help them to get over their deep emotions they each think of the special things they did with Badger. Sharing their memories brings great comfort and helps them to come to terms with the absence of their very special friend. A wonderful book for the very young – and their parents.
One small hop for a rabbit . . . One giant leap for mankind. The iconic, original tale of Peter Rabbit, with a beautiful limited edition cover to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Dinosaur roar, dinosaur squeak! This fabulous rhyming book of opposites is deservedly recognised as a classic, celebrating its 25th anniversary. A herd of dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments race or lounge across the pages, described in satisfying text that is just perfect for reading aloud, even over and over again. The dinosaurs are brighter and more eye-catching than ever in this new edition produced from rescanned artwork, and a rampant T-Rex is resplendent on the cover with tactile, shiny scales, teeth and claws. One to be gobbled up with a munch, munch, scrunch! Roar!
Irresistible for anyone mad about trucks! There’s so much to learn about the extraordinary world of trucks and truck-mad William Bee is the man to explain it all. There are steam trucks, amphibious trucks, rescue trucks, snow plough trucks, fire engine trucks and much, much more. Gloriously bold illustrations celebrate the wonders of trucks while the texts adds some useful details.
Best-selling and glorious Guess How Much I Love You has delighted children – and adults - for a quarter of a century. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare want to tell each other just how much they love each other. But how do you measure love? Luckily, the two Hare’s know just how much they mean to each other. And Anita Jeram’s illustrations convey that brilliantly.
Enter a magical world filled with unicorns in this enchanting sticker book, with scenes to decorate including a cloud castle, woodland waterfall and lots more. There are over 300 reusable stickers of unicorns, flowers and other adorable creatures, and a fold-out back cover to store stickers when not in use. The perfect gift for unicorn lovers.
This fun book is a playful way for young children to develop their counting, observation and pen control skills. Spot the differences between tower cranes, join the dots to finish building a house, count bricks and lots more. Durable, wipe-clean pages mean children can revisit their favourite activities again and again.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2019 | The best-selling author of The Gruffalo deploys a story-telling device equally full of cunning in this witty story about the way a King is tricked into doing some work. The King demands his favourite meal – fish and chips. The Cook is frightened of all things he needs to do to cook fish and chips; he’s too frightened to fish because he might get his apron wet, or dig potatoes because he hates worms or to chop up the potatoes because he might cut himself with a very sharp knife. But is that just a ruse? Soon the King is cooking his very own fish and chips – and loving every moment of it! David Robert’s blustering King and wimpy Cook are a delight.
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 Skylarks' 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.
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!
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.
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