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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.
September 2019 Book of the Month | A warm, family-centred story, full of humour and with a totally unexpected ending, The Bookworm is classic Debi Gliori. Like young children everywhere, Max is desperate for a pet, but his parents reject all his suggestions, from puppy to dragon (they don’t exist, says Daddy). But then Max finds a pet in the garden that’s just right for him, and is soon best friends with his story-loving worm. The illustrations are hugely appealing, full of well-observed details that will be recognisable to all families, and there’s a freshness to the telling that makes it particularly charming. This is certain to be a real favourite.
April 2019 Debut Picture Book of the Month | Winner of the 2019 Klaus Flugge Prize | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 | Already shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, Julian is a Mermaid is an outstanding picture book, surely destined to become a classic. Julian is out with Nana when he notices three women dressed as mermaids. In his heart of hearts – we see it described over three fabulous wordless spreads – Julian knows he is a mermaid too and while Nana takes a bath he sets out to transform himself into one. Nana’s response is life-affirming and the two head out to join the mermaid party. The illustrations dazzle and as a celebration of individuality, the imagination, freedom and love, it can’t be beaten.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Elmer the patchwork elephant has been delighting readers of all ages for more than 30 years. This bumper collection includes the very first story about Elmer, an elephant who celebrates difference and teaches all the other elephants to do the same. Other stories in this collection include Elmer and The Rainbow, Elmer and the Lost Teddy, Elmer in the Snow and Elmer’s Special Day. Full of humour and kindness, each story shows how difference can be celebrated by elephants – and by all of us!
It’s hard to believe that this is the 27th Elmer storybook as it feels as fresh as one of the brilliantly coloured flowers in his jungle. The elephants are all set to play a trick on Elmer on his birthday. They tell the other animals to act as if they’ve forgotten, nobody is to wish him ‘Happy Birthday’. Lion thinks it’s a funny kind of joke, and lots of the other animals seem confused but the elephants are so excited they don’t stop to listen. Perhaps they should though, because the surprise doesn’t work as they’d hoped. Even so, everyone is laughing and enjoying cake on the last page. David McKee never fails to entertain and surprise, and Elmer and his many friends remain top company for the very young.
September 2019 Book of the Month | This lovely book is packed with a whole host of ideas so that parents, with the help of their children, can throw a fabulous party themed around Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much loved Room on the Broom picture book. It’s all there, from invitations to party games and decorations, to tasty food – cauldron sandwiches and ice cream potion anyone? All the ideas are fun but straightforward and well-explained, while extras helpfully include photocopiable and traceable pages. Guaranteed to make the party preparations lots of fun while the two hours party time itself will fly by!
A boy and his cat have some exciting midnight adventures in this lively story, which will appeal to any young child who dreams of being a superhero. When the Ninja emergency bell rings, our hero leaps out of bed, into the secret Ninja Den conveniently located below his bedroom and full of cool gadgets. From there he teleports into Baddy World to confront a spider king responsible for stealing hundreds of pairs of socks. Can the socks be restored to their rightful owners and a way be found to keep the baby spiders’ toes warm? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Sam Lloyd’s illustrations are full of cinematic close-ups and cutaways, and the ninja moves – Bish! Bash! Boff! – are fabulous. Lots of fun.
Award-winning author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers’s simple but unforgettable fable of one man’s greed to possess everything is beautifully told in an exquisitely designed book of only a few words complimented by some striking lithographic print images. As ever, Jeffers knows how to use both words and pictures in a way that allows readers to enjoy his story as well as making it their own.
Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal 2014 - Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 3-6yrs 2014 - Winner of the 2013 Caldecott Medal. One of Julia Eccleshare’s Stand-out Children’s Book of the Year 2012 | Best-selling illustrator Jon Klassen follows up his successful I Want My Hat Back in this witty, almost wordless picture book about a tiny fish who steals a hat from a very big fish – and hopes to get away with it. The eloquent but simple illustrations show the audacious behaviour of a hapless fish heading for disaster. Young children will love the joke...and the fact that they know what the little fish doesn’t.
There are life lessons galore for young readers of this hugely appealing picture book. Little dragon Fergal is a bit anxious about going off to summer camp – he’s never been before – and when he arrives, he’s so determined to make his mark that he doesn’t notice he’s being a bit selfish and upsetting the other little dragons. Fortunately, the camp leader can sort things out and give Fergal some useful advice: he needn’t be best at everything, he just needs to relax and be himself and everything else will follow. It’s an important message for all young children and it’s fun to learn it with Fergal and his little friends, as colourful and companionable a group as you could hope to meet. Look out for the first Fergal story too, Fergal is Fuming, which is just as good at prompting conversations about feelings and behaviour.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Handa’s Surprise, named as one of the "50 best culturally diverse children’s books" of all time in 2014 and which together with its sequel Handa’s Hen has sold over a million copies worldwide. So, a new book about Handa will be a cause for celebration in schools everywhere and fans will not be disappointed! Handa’s best friend has invited her to a sleepover and the girls are allowed to sleep in a small hut near the house. Demonstrating feelings that children and parents will find immediately relatable, Handa is excited but increasingly nervous and, as they play and prepare for bed, strange noises keep disturbing her. Akeyo reassures her that it is just her noisy family, but, as the omniscient reader can see on the page opposite, it is in fact an assortment of nocturnal animals that are responsible. Both the sound effects and the unusual animals will prove irresistible to young audiences. Handa, Akeyo, their families and all the animals are luminously depicted in the intense and vivid style that is so characteristic of this talented artist and so evocative of the Kenyan setting. Each animal is identified on the lovely night and day endpapers which gives this warm, reassuring and funny story useful topic potential too. Another winner!
From the winner of the 2017 Kate Greenaway Medal. | This is the first time that Sydney Smith has written his own text for a picturebook and he demonstrates as much skill with words as with the art which has won so many accolades and reaches even greater heights of excellence in this stunning book. From the unusual thin skyscraper shape of the book to wordless passages of comic panel-style vignettes and full spreads of gridded streets and buildings, traffic lights and crowds, everything sets the tone of a chaotic city in winter. The moody art, mostly inky line and subdued watercolor with some gouache for thicker textures in the snow is intensely atmospheric. Masterful use of scale and perspective shows how terrifyingly small the gender unspecified, all-wrapped-up-for-winter, little protagonist is. “I know what it’s like to be small in the city” the story starts and only gradually do we realise that it is Small who is speaking and only slowly do we realise who is being addressed as advice is given on finding warmth and shelter and dark alleys and dangerous dogs to avoid. There is a wonderful narrative twist which is best left to a first reading so you can fully appreciate the powerful emotional journey, but I can guarantee an immediate re-reading will be demanded so that you can spot all the clues. A truly exceptional picturebook.
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
Young children will find lots to laugh at in this jolly story of a little dragon who can’t help losing his temper, and they’ll learn ways to manage their own anger too. When Fergal gets cross, he really gets cross, and being a dragon this results in burned buns (he couldn’t wait to eat them), scorched suppers (he didn’t want the veg), goalposts burned to cinders (he really didn’t want to play in goal). It upsets his friends and it’s making him unhappy too. Fortunately Mum has a useful suggestion – take a breath and count to ten. It works, while Fergal’s friends have helpful tricks of their own too. Robert Starling’s illustrations are full of life and character, and this is very good for sharing.
September 2019 Book of the Month | Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s story of a kind-hearted witch is now recognised as a modern classic, a book that should be in every little child’s collection. With its rhyme and repetition, jolly cast of characters and wonderfully satisfying ending, it can hardly be bettered – except that here it can, because as well as the story and the pictures and the rhyme, there are also sound buttons so that children can join in and croak with the frog, woof with the dog and ‘whoosh’ with the broom. One to share for Hallowe’en or indeed any night of the year.
August 2019 Book of the Month | Inside this sturdy and pretty little box, children will find the story of Alice in Wonderland, but told via 20 double-sided puzzle pieces (and with some thoroughly modern twists – the White Rabbit sports a natty baseball cap and unlocks flamingos from what looks a lot like a bike docking system). It’s up to readers to put the pieces of the story together which, of course, allows for endless new and different versions. The illustrations by Anne Laval are bright, lively and attractive, and surely Lewis Carroll would have thoroughly approved of the concept. Great fun for children who enjoy reading and creating their own stories.
A beautifully written book that you read in your mind as to a child as you settle them into bed. It sets them up to have sweet dreams in a long sleep. The illustrations match the journey that the children take to go to bed. It is an ideal and most parents would be delighted if that happened every night. You can definitely hear yourself read it out loud as a bedtime story! Cathy Small, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Independent Reading Blue 4 | For Gran's birthday, Asha decides to make a cake from Dad's cookbook, but it doesn't go to plan ... Reading Champion offers independent reading books for children to practise and reinforce their developing reading skills. Fantastic, original stories are accompanied by engaging artwork and a reading activity. Each book has been carefully graded so that it can be matched to a child's reading ability, encouraging reading for pleasure.
Everyone smells! The sense of smell plays a crucial part in survival, communication, and taste, and is the basis of a multi-billion-dollar industry. But, despite all this, it's the sense we often know least about. This hilarious and fact-packed book puts that right. Find out everything you could ever want to know about stinks, whiffs and pongs, from the fruit so pungent it's banned from public transport to the top-secret military programme developing the stinkiest stink bomb.
Read with Oxford Stage 1 is for children who are ready to start learning to read. KS1 Age 3-4 | With a focus on building phonics skills, this collection includes twelve fun stories with colourful illustrations. It is ideal for children who are taking their first steps in reading. Discover what life is like being small with Bob Bug, find out if Top Cat becomes king of the garden and learn how to make tasty buns! Tips for reading together explain the sounds that each story focuses on and identify any words children may find tricky, helping you to get the most out of the collection. Former Children's Laureate and author of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson, has captivated children all over the world with her lively and engaging stories. Songbirds is a phonics programme carefully created by Julia to support children who are learning to read and is used in schools to inspire a love of reading.
Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
John Burningham won his record breaking second Kate Greenaway medal for Mr Gumpy’s Outing in 1970, which was the first we saw of the character that John claimed was a ‘prophetic caricature’ because he grew to look more like him throughout his life! So, it seems entirely appropriate that the very last book written by John features his alter ego. We last saw him in the equally popular Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car in 1973 so where has he been since? Travelling in Africa it seems, where he rescues a baby rhino who has lost his parents, killed by poachers who had stolen their horns. Kind Mr Gumpy goes in search of milk from friendly Bedouin tribesmen, decides to call his rhino Charlie and takes him on the ship home with him. He struggles to find enough food for the rapidly growing Charlie and local schoolchildren suggest he could work for the council keeping the grass down on the roadside verges. His specially made high-vis jacket and rhino at work sign are a real hit with Charlie! He repays this kindness by rescuing the school outing; taking the children on his back to the beach and then out to sea to catch the boat they had just missed- a thrilling ride for everyone! With the classic mix of soft sepia line drawings and beautifully textured full colour images this is Burningham at his best, vividly capturing landscapes and the tiny, exquisitely drawn details that bring every character to life. A real celebration of kindness and community that offers a gentle introduction for small children to discussion about conservation and endangered species. A real classic that will be as timeless, popular and hopefully award -winning, as its predecessors.
Join Maisy, every toddler's best friend, for her first experience of going to hospital. Maisy has broken her leg playing on the trampoline, and now she's in hospital for the night. At first it's a bit scary being all on her own, but she soon makes friends with Dotty in the next bed, and when Cyril and Tallulah visit the next day, Maisy begins to feel much better!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Temper tantrums are brilliantly visualised in this witty story about how Ravi deals with his. Poor Ravi! The youngest and smallest in the family he is always the slowest and the shortest and the last one to get what he wants. It makes him feel terrible! And when Ravi feels terrible he ROARS. His face goes red, he grows two furry ears, sharp teeth and a stripey tail. Now he can get what he wants but there is a price to pay: will anyone want to play with him? Tom Percival’s illustrations keep the message light hearted without trivialising it.
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award 2017 - Books for Younger Children | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Syd and Grandad’s tropical adventure tells a much bigger story and conveys an important message about loss and love. Grandad’s house is at the bottom of Syd’s garden and Syd can go round any time he wants. One day Grandad isn’t in any of his usual places and Syd finds him in the attic. There’s a big metal door at one end, and through it a ship, ready to take Grandad and Syd to a faraway island. Grandad doesn’t need his stick on the island and is very much at home with the cheery parrots and bright flowers. He decides to stay behind, though he’ll miss Syd very much. Simply told and beautifully illustrated this is a very special book
Just like the award short-listed title Once Upon a Raindrop, this is a wonderful topic introduction, but this time revealing the origins and essentials of music in all its forms. A colourful visual treat from the notation themed endpapers to the irresistible, exuberant and inclusive depictions of the drumming, dance and song that have been a vital part of human life since ancient times. We journey through songs originating around the campfire and passed down through the generations, the development of instruments and musical notation right up to the genres which we enjoy today. Engaging and informative and ending with an acrostic poem, based upon the word Rhythm, of useful information about musical history, this book begs to be read aloud. The page design using bold text and red for emphasis ensures that nobody could fail to catch the beat. It is a real celebration of rhythm designed to inspire young musicians everywhere to get involved. Music has always been a part of James Carter’s school performances so he is absolutely the perfect match for this topic and this poem would be great piece to use for choral speaking performances in assemblies and the like.
Two young friends find a seed, and what an adventure follows. At first they play with it, but of course it doesn’t grow. Then they listen to it, plant it and wait as the seasons come and go until, in the summer sunshine, there stands a glorious sunflower. That’s not the end of the story though: the flower dies, as flowers do, but it leaves them more seeds. This is a beautiful and very clever illustration of the cycle of life, all wrapped up in a story that will be fun to read over and over again. The rhythmic text is great to read aloud and there are opportunities for children to copy the actions of its stars on every page as they dance, sing, get blown by the wind, and grow up like the sunflower.
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.