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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.
Pre-schoolers will have lots of fun on Treacle Street, the setting for Kate Hindley’s new and very appealing lift-the-flap board book series. In this adventure, the residents are looking forward to a special show given by the little bunnies who attend Prima’s Dance School, but poor Prima Pavlova is worried: her star performers have all gone missing. Readers can help her find them by opening various flaps – there are bunnies under the cake cover, hiding in the dressing room wardrobe and – gloriously – inside the grand piano! Fortunately, they’re all in the right place when the curtain goes up. Kate Hindley’s characters are irresistible, and she creates a lovely sense of community for Treacle Street. These chunky board books and their sturdy flaps are perfect for little hands and there’s lots for little eyes to spot too.
January 2020 Book of the Month | With a concept based entirely upon the universal truth that as soon as somebody tells you not to think of something, you immediately do so and the quite philosophic concept of visualisation of language heard or read, this book will have young( and old) readers in stitches. Stamped with a No Silliness Allowed warning on the front cover, we can anticipate plenty of silliness ahead despite the firm instructions from the very serious scientist introducing the amazing book that has the power to show a picture of the reader’s thoughts. Sadly, it all goes wrong for him as soon as he uses pink elephants as an example of what not to think about and quickly escalates as he thinks of more terrible scenarios involving elephants, mice, panties and their bottoms. The explosive finale causes him to order the reader to put the book down and “Don’t even think about” picking it up again…..This is bound to be instantly disobeyed in every home and classroom! The zany illustrative style is perfectly suited to this story and the clever use of the only white space being within the speech bubbles immediately emphasises the instructional and increasingly shouty nature of the scientist’s words. Both great fun and a creative inspiration, this is a must have purchase!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2020 | Award-winning illustrator and commentator Posy Simmonds is brilliantly entertaining in this touching story about the death of a pet. Sophie and Nick love their cat Fred very much. They and all the neighbours remember him fondly as one of the laziest cats in the world. Now he’s died and Nick and Sophie discover there is a whole other side to their beloved cat. Far from sleeping all the time, it turns out that he is one of the most famous cats in the world! That night, as all the cat’s in the neighbourhood come out to give Fred a rousing send off, Nick and Sophie learn the true story of their beloved pet. A review from Andrea Reece; This is a really special book, three cheers for Andersen Press for bringing out this new edition! Sophie and Nick are sad when their cat Fred dies and in a poignant scene, the family buries him in the garden. As far as they knew, Fred was a lazy old thing who spent most of his time asleep. Not so! Sophie and Nick find out who Fred really was that night, when they’re woken by the neighbourhood cats who have come to give ‘Famous Fred’ a proper send-off. The two children join in with the cats’ tribute – a wonderful ‘caterwauley-wailey-woe’ – and dance all night at the wake. It’s all described in Simmonds’ sparkling, beautifully observed comic-strip and is funny, touching and true. An anthem to the secret life of cats, this is also a meditation on loss and the importance of sharing memories.
Small person in the family with a fondness for vehicles? They will love this book! Though there’s no real story as such, it’s action-packed, every page crammed with brightly coloured vehicles going about their business on equally bright backgrounds, a friendly animal character at the wheel. ‘Which bus would you catch?’ asks the first spread, which presents us with ten different buses to admire; ‘which truck would you drive?’ comes a bit further on. Trains, trucks, tractors, bicycles, boats, diggers, rockets, cars and emergency vehicles all get their moment in the spotlight, with questions and challenges on each page as well as speech bubbles, jokes and descriptions to read out. Bright, busy and so much fun, this will keep littles ones absorbed for hours. Fans of this will also enjoy William Bee’s equally bright and distinctive Wonderful World of series.
January 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a lovely ‘what if’ challenge in this quirky and inspiring picture book. Little Nara is an expert hat maker, creating beautiful hats for the animals in her forest studio. One day she receives a letter from a new customer – can she make a hat for Mr Mountain no less? She rises to the challenge, trying out various different materials before finding exactly the right way to make a hat for a mountain. The story unfolds beautifully, and it makes a great tale of friendship, creativity and ingenuity. There’s lots to discuss while reading and this could prompt interesting STEM conversations or projects too. This is Soojin Kwak’s debut and she is definitely an illustrator to watch.
A reassuring read that explores the ways in which all things, whether teeth, a bad mood, music or nits, come to an end – except one. Alemagna’s distinctive drawings are overlaid with tracing paper in a way that allows elements of the pictures to disappear and reappear.
There are lots of reading jokes in this book within a book, within a book: pirates and robbers settle down with their favourite stories and the Three Bears discover Goldilocks reading their favourite book (after having eaten their porridge, of course). It’s all written in bubbly rhyming verse matched with vigorous illustrations which make extensive play of the central joke.
Michael Foreman’s dazzling watercolours bring the beauty of the natural world into readers’ hands in this outstanding picture book, reminding us all how precious our planet is, and how we need to care for it. A little girl watches the sun rise and then the moon as it follows, and thinks of all the creatures under the sky. With her brother, she explores the seashore and together they create a mini-world in a rockpool. This shows them just how fragile nature is, and the threat it faces from pollution. Together brother and sister clean the pool and determine to ask other children to help. First published thirty years ago, One World is recognised as a classic, and its message is even more important today. A beautiful, inspiring and timely book.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | 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.
Celebrate Valentine's Day - and love - with the number 1 bestselling Crayons! Love is yellow and orange. Because love is sunny and warm. Discover all the bright colours and subtle shades of love with this charming new book, featuring everyone's favourite colouring crew. The perfect gift for that special someone on Valentine's Day - or any day of the year - and a must-have for fans of The Crayons.
Greta Thunberg is the inspiration for this heartfelt and moving allegory. A little girl lives happily in a beautiful forest until the actions of neighbouring giants start to threaten her home and the wild animals who share it. The fictional Greta, like her real-life counterpart, begins a strike and is gradually joined by more and more people until the giants take notice. In this story they change their ways and everyone lives happily. Simply but powerfully the story explains the impact of human activity on the climate and our world, but reassures children that there’s something they can do: within notes about Greta Thunberg at the end is her quote, “No one is too small to make a difference.”
Another hilarious helping of bonkers supermarket superhero adventure, and possibly the best yet in this brilliant picture book series. Evil Pea is up to his usual tricks and when he manages to freeze Supertato things look bad: putting Operation Freezification into action he transforms the supermarket into a winter wonderland – to the surprise delight of the veggies! But Supertato is able to free himself, with the help of some chilis, and soon the supermarket shelves are turned. Great fun, wonderful to read and very cleverly illustrated and designed, Evil Pea Rules deserves a place in every shopping basket this Christmas.
Children’s mental health and wellbeing are a high priority for all schools and parents. This wonderfully reassuring book is from the award-winning Rachel Bright, teamed with illustrator Chris Chatterton who has created the most adorable little dinosaur: The Worrysaurus. Parents will immediately recognise the behaviour of a natural worrier - the child that likes to plan ahead and to have thought of everything before setting out to enjoy a lovely picnic. But it is not long before the overthinking gets out of control and a suggestion from a similarly nervous lizard feeds his anxieties just as children can do to each other. But Worrysaurus has a very helpful strategy in place and he remembers his mother’s advice. He has a tin of precious things in his bag and, going through them one by one, they give him the strength to set the butterfly of worry free. Even tiny children know all about the feeling of butterflies in the tummy so this is universally relatable. He shares a lovely picnic with the anxious lizard and they learn to live in the moment instead of worrying about what might happen. While this can simply be read as an enjoyable rhyming story, it will be most useful to prompt discussion and sharing. It will work well for this purpose with children in Key Stage One and Two making it a very useful purchase indeed.
The story follows little Turtus as he hatches and makes his way towards the sea along with the other little turtles. However, he does not feel that he is like his brothers and sisters and this is confirmed as his journey continues. Eventually, he encounters his mother who explains that his father was in fact a giant land tortoise and assures him that he will meet him one day. This is a charming picture book using an effective, fairly natural and simple rhyme format which tends to appeal to young children. The illustrations are varied and appealing and match the text extremely well. Intrigue draws us in at the onset with the mystery of what is a 'Turtus' and reappears at the end of the tale when the reader is left with the expectation of eventually meeting Turtus' father in the next book. The story is also effective on other levels with its educational value and as an introduction to the fact that we are all different and can have a variety of different family situations. My granddaughter is 7 and really enjoyed this story and wants to know what happens next! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Most people like good, but Sofia likes better. When her Abuelo (Grandad) hurts himself on a mountain of rubbish outside their local landfill site, she determines to take action and turn ‘Mount Trashmore’ into a park. It’s not easy, and she needs all her courage to enter City Hall and put her ideas to the grown-ups in charge. With the help of friends and neighbours, Sofia proves that everyone has the power to change their world. It’s another uplifting and positive story in the thoroughly excellent The Questioneers series, and go-getter Sofia is a wonderful role-model for us all. Credit to David Roberts for his typically stylish and action-packed illustrations too.
This is an absolutely visually beautiful book. It teaches, in short verses, about the wonders that we can find when we go exploring outdoors. One main theme is the respect that we should have for all living things and their environment. The illustrations are in gorgeous watercolour, what a talented artist! There is so much to look at and discuss and easily relates to the child's experiences when out and about. Fun verses encourage the reader to match the rhymes. A superb follow up to the previous book 'What Wonders Do you see when you Dream?' Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Join Fox, Pig, Rabbit, Bear and all their friends in the Tales From Acorn Wood Little Library, including four early learning books based on the bestselling preschool series by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, creators of the modern classic The Gruffalo.
The Mr Men are going on a fun-filled trip to the Emerald Isle! Mr Quiet has always spoken few words, but Mr Chatterbox has decided to take him to kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland in the hope he'll learn to chat more! Join the Mr Men and Little Miss as they visit the Titanic Experience, climb the Giant's Causeway, go fishing in Galway and enjoy the Kilkenny Arts Festival on their way to Blarney Castle. But will Mr Quiet be granted the gift of the gab when he kisses the famous Blarney Stone? Mr Men and Little Miss Celebrations introduce children to all the exciting occasions that people celebrate including birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, sporting events ... and even a trip to the moon.
February 2020 Debut of the Month | A celebration of the wonder of reading! Mabel HATES books. She gets given loads of them but has no interest at all in reading them. But, one night, the books piled up in her room come alive. The stories jump out of their covers and off the pages so that they can show Mabel their story worlds. She is intrigued by a detective adventure, excited by the chance to board a spaceship and take a trip to the moon, delighted by the thought of accompanying a knight on his quest to seek castles and to duel with dragons. But, there is no way she can find out what happens next in these stories unless she begins the read the books! An entertaining celebration of why reading is such fun.
Ron the Rhino reinvents himself in this delightful story, bringing joy to those around him too as he proves that being yourself, making lots of friends and having fun are the only life rules that matter. As the story opens, Ron is struggling with the rhino lifestyle and its rules, which are all about being alone, being grumpy and charging at anything that comes near you. Looking like a rhino understandably means making friends is very hard, but then Ron has a flash of inspiration and finds a way to show his true colours. Reborn as the fabulously flamboyant Rhinocorn, he’s happy for the first time ever. A funny and satisfying story that neatly delivers a message about tolerance, understanding and the importance of being happy in your own skin.Children who love Ron will of course love Elmer too, and vice versa.
Expect this whimsical and gorgeously illustrated picture book to infect children with an urge to go exploring, if not bird-spotting. Otto’s family are obsessive bird-spotters, indeed, so deep is their passion that they’ve turned their home into a hide. Otto though loves exploring and it’s on one of his trips that he finds, and secretly brings home, a very unusual baby bird. He’s able to hide it from his family because his new friend proves surprisingly good at camouflage. But, as the bird grows (and grows), Otto realises that it’s missing its family and recruits his own to help track them down. There’s lots to enjoy in the story and Graham Carter’s glowing illustrations are full of treats too, the camouflage scenes are particularly delightful. A funny, original story with satisfying underlying themes of adventure, friendship and family.
'It's not easy getting your Lion Diploma.' So Jon Agee's little narrator begins his hilarious description of the crash course he took on becoming an honorary lion. At first he doesn't score high, but when it comes to rescuing an endangered neighbourhood cat, the lion in him is unleashed!
Tom has a VERY important job; every day he climbs to the top of the hill and watches for pirate ships. But when he rings his bell and shouts PIRATES! a few too many times - and there's NO pirate ship - the villagers begin to get tired of hiding. So what will happen when the pirates really do show up?
This is a superb little book for children telling them all about the planetary system. It is written at a great level for kids and it brilliantly illustrated in a manner that keeps their attention. The author writes in such a way that draws the kids into the book and involves them while teaching them a little science which hopefully will be the building blocks of an interest in science. The book itself is easy to read along with kids and brings the moons to life which is most enjoyable. As an adult, I learned quite a bit about the planets and their moons myself and really enjoyed the book. It is a book to consider buying for kids and I'm sure adult and kid will enjoy reading it together or individually. Time and money well spent if you buy the book. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Independent Reading Red 2 | Developed with and endorsed by literacy experts from the UCL Institute of Education, Reading Champions are high quality, visually attractive and engaging supplementary reading resources. They are uniquely designed specifically to support independent reading alongside guided reading in the classroom. With clear exterior labelling linked to Book Bands, children can be confident that the carefully levelled text will be accessible to them. Developing readers need to build their reading confidence and stamina by extended practise within levels to embed and secure their skills while experiencing an enjoyable reading opportunity. There are at least six books in each level to offer choice and variety and they are ideal for reading practice at home. Parents and carers will feel supported by the extremely helpful guidance notes in each book on how to share and discuss the book with their child and by the opportunities to extend their learning with some enjoyable activities linked to the subject matter. Most importantly of all these original stories are lively and relevant to children’s lives. They feature a broad range of genres and contemporary topics and both the quality text and the vibrant illustrations reflect genuine diversity, so that every child can identify with characters and settings.
December 2019 Book of the Month | ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas …’ but we’re on a snowy hillside where a lonely tree shivers in the cold. As it longs to be in the brightly lit little town below, suddenly footsteps suddenly approach. Somebody very important collects the tree and puts it at the centre of some special celebrations, before leaving with the familiar words: ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Taking inspiration from Clement C Moore’s classic poem, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ new book is filled with the joy of Christmas, and captures all its sense of magical anticipation. In a handsome small format, there’s a full page illustration on each right hand page and they tell the story with as much vivacity as the lines of verse opposite. It all concludes with a sparkling double page spread, the tree glowing in the foreground as St Nick flies off into the Christmas night silhouetted against the moon. If this doesn’t set you up for Christmas and its jollities, nothing will!
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.
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