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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.
April 2020 Book of the Month | A series of jaw-dropping pop-up spreads present readers with animals and their eggs, and some amazing facts too. Everyone will have their own favourite – the daddy Emperor penguins sheltering eggs and chicks on their feet; the brightly coloured clownfish keeping watch over their babies; the mighty crocodile gently carrying her young down to the river in her mouth. The illustrations and paper engineering are very impressive, and the information they help deliver is fascinating: there’ll be gasps at each turn of the page, time and again.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Margaret Sturton announces herself as a major picture book talent with her debut. Little rabbit Herbert loves foxes. Indeed, he loves them so much he wants to be one, making himself a pair of fox ears and a tail. At first his mummy is amused, then angry when he messes up the living room with red paint and cuts up her dress to make a tail. When she sees him out playing as a fox, despite her instruction to be a ‘good little rabbit’, she is cross again, until she suddenly realises how important it is to Herbert to be a fox. The story is full of comic moments and the little rabbit family will be recognisable to all readers. It’s also a wonderful story about identity and love, delivered lightly but most effectively. Highly recommended.
Full of bravery, hope, dreams and humour this is a wonderfully doggy adventure as Paolo escapes from his confinement in a hairdressing salon and enjoys everything that is on offer in the stunning city of Rome. Paolo knows that Rome is full of beauty and magic but how will he ever be able to get out and see it? Seizing his moment when the salon door is left open, Paolo embarks on a whirlwind and dangerous adventure full cats, dogs, statues and even opera. Claire Keane’s fabulous illustrations create a glorious evocation of Rome – mostly from a dog’s point of view!
Stylish and beautifully conceived, this entertaining new picture book by artist/ designer Marion Deuchars is a visual treat as well as a strong story about artistic competition - and collaboration. Bob loves making art and is very jealous when everyone starts talking about Roy, the amazing new artist in town. His work is apparently fantastic! Who is this new artist and what is so special about his work? Why is he the best in town? Bob does everything he can to compete with Roy until he realises that working together might be more fun!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | March 2020 Book of the Month | There’s lots of fun in this entertaining story about a little girl who doesn’t want to be quiet until she discovers just what can happen if you are quiet. And how much fun that can be in a different way. “ I don't want to be quiet,/ I’d rather be LOUD!/ I want to be HEARD and/ stand out from the crowd!” But that is not popular in a library! Can she be quiet? Yes she can! There’s a good lesson for all about the value of listening.
A gorgeously warm, funny book about everything a friendship can be - for anyone who's ever had a friend. Wherever you're going, I'm going too. Whatever you're doing, I'm sticking with you. It's wonderful to have good friends to see you through the good times and the bad. But sometimes, friends can also be a bit . . . well . . . overbearing. This completely irresistible rhyming text by Smriti Halls is perfectly complemented by artwork from fantastic new picture book illustrator, Steve Small.
A little rebel girl goes on a quest to catch a monster in this empowering tale about bravery and kindness from the creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Little Red, Bethan Woollvin. Meet Bo the Brave. She's smart, she's strong and she is definitely in charge. Bo's brothers say she is too little to catch a monster. But Bo has other ideas, so she sets off on a quest to capture herself a beast. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or if not, can she make friends with them? I Can Catch a Monster is a funny and vibrant picture book with a message about not judging by appearance and standing up for yourself and your friends, from the Macmillan Prize-winning creator of Little Red, Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel, Bethan Woollvin.
This is a superb example of an information text, ostensibly for younger children, but with multi-age and multi-curriculum uses. It is also a thing of beauty, printed on high quality paper doing full justice to the stunning illustrations, with the author’s expressive brush work, clever layout and a palette filled with watery blues and greens and the white and grey of rain, fog and snow. A little girl notices the role of water all around her—a sprinkler, a tap, a stream, a lake. She also notices that water sometimes tries to hide, or change state, and that water is part of every living thing including her. The book concludes with four pages of beautifully clear explanations of water forms (liquid, solid and gas), the water cycle and the all-important conservation of water. There are some excellent suggestions of how to play and learn about water and true or false questions to check understanding. These are very well suited to older children too, as indeed the book is, as a model of writing and the effective use of figurative language. Poetic descriptions make this an enjoyable read-aloud and the larger font labels that identify the source of the water on each page (including Zoe the narrator) are perfect for vocabulary building for the youngest child. A really well thought out and brilliantly executed early science picture book that deserves a place in every school.
April 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a classic painterly feel to this picture book but its message is very contemporary. Clem loves exploring along the seashore and collecting treasures in her bucket. These include shells and pebbles and pieces of glass, as well as brightly coloured plastic lids, bottles and netting. She befriends a little crab, caught up in a bit of netting and it hitches a ride home with her. Clem knows the crab belongs on the beach, but will he be safe there? Then a trip to the aquarium inspires her class to protect the ocean and together they clean up Clem and Crab’s beach. It’s a lovely story, and an important one, told so effectively in Fiona Lumber’s carefully chosen words and beautiful illustrations.
Nicola Davies celebrates the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Using the metaphor of each child being a song, she explores some of the 54 rights it sets out, from the right to education, to freedom of thought and expression, to the rights of child refugees. Short, lyrical sentences of text will start discussion and conversation and Marc Martin’s rich water-colour illustrations, whether of children, scenes or vegetation, add movement and drama. A book to inspire children to think about the world and their place within it.
Join Supertato and friends in this first ever, must-have sticker book based on the bestselling picture book series by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet. Meet Supertato - everyone's favourite crime-fighting spud! He needs your help keeping the supermarket safe from The Evil Pea, so get ready to dress up for carnival, complete a sticker scene or two and even create a brand-new Super Veggie of your own! With over 400 stickers, this sticker book is perfect for long journeys, rainy days and school holidays - a great gift for any child.
From the author of Seeing Stars which detailed all 88 known constellations for older children, this stylish and sturdy book introduces just six of the most familiar and recognisable constellations to the very young. Young children like nothing better than books which invite them to guess what is under the flap and here each constellation is introduced by the line-connected star cluster sparkling against the deep blue background of the night sky. As you read aloud the verbal clues, children are asked to guess the creature and the answer is revealed, with more lines filling in the details of the animal, under the flap, alongside more information about the constellation and its major stars. Flaps can be quite flimsy and often considered unsuitable for classroom use but, in this case, it is a solid full-page fold-out that will withstand multiple uses. Children will definitely be inspired to do their own star gazing and to investigate further. Personally, this has helped enormously to understand how constellations got their names and to see the animal properly revealed. I still wonder, however, at the imagination of the Ancients that first connected those dots!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2020 | | Award-winning Axel Scheffler’s familiar illustrations are a great introduction to simple concepts for the very young. Fox, Rabbit, Bear and Pig, four friends from Acorn Wood explore Colours, Counting, Friends and Opposites in these four small scale and highly durable board books which are neatly held together in a min-library box.
At the age of 22 Laura Bingham set off to cycle through South America from Ecuador to Argentina, a journey of 7000 kilometres. Hard enough, but she did it alone and without any money. The cycle ride was to raise awareness of charity Operation South America. This book describes her journey through Ecuador and is part of the fund-raising effort. Laura’s story will inspire young readers and conveys the enormity of the challenge, as well as a sense of freedom and adventure. The love of her family kept Laura going through the hardest times, and she had help from strangers she met along the way. The beauty of the countryside and its wildlife inspired her too and all these things are captured in the story. Her journey across Peru will be told in another book, while she finishes with advice for young people planning their own adventure – persevere like Laura, and almost anything is possible.
That dog is a very smart one. He’s quick, clever and a bit of a detective in his spare time and he might just have worked out who's behind the dastardly crimes. Will he avoid getting caught himself and rescue his fellow creatures? This second book from the author and illustrator of Big Cat is just as charming and funny as the first.
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
March 2020 Debut of the Month | Newton is excited: he’s just read a sign that tells him dogs have nine lives. That’s carte blanche for Newton to do all his favourite things and be much more daring. Without a second thought he’s off to explore the nature reserve and do some incredibly risky things. He’s pursued by his friend, a much more sensible cat, who realises - as we do - that Newton has been misled. The adventure that follows is full of wonderfully reckless behaviour and narrow escapes for Newton, all the more delightful because he is totally oblivious to the danger he’s in. Newton’s joy is infectious and it’s impossible to read this without smiling at his enthusiasm. Alice McKinley depicts Newton as a plump puppy, with constantly wagging tail and beautifully expressive ears, and he’s set to become a favourite with readers young and old.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | March 2020 Book of the Month | The wonder of nature and in particular the growth cycle of a tiny seed are beautifully captured in Britta Teckentrup’s luminous illustrations and simple text which, more widely, celebrates finding your own way in the world whoever you are. What happens when one tiny seed takes a long time to get growing? It soon discovers that the faster growing seeds have taken all the space and light. Undaunted, and guarded first by ant and ladybird and later by more and more creatures of the woodlands, the tiny seed begins its own journey seeking out spaces that enable it to flourish and fulfil its potential. It’s a joy to dwell on the illustrations and to let message sink in.
Rachel Rooney, well known award-winning poet, and Zehra Hicks have created a positive way of looking at the everyday problems of children and how to deal with them. The problems are all given a brightly coloured physical form to help children see them for what they are - and look at ways to deal with them. The gently rhyming text suggests ways to deal with the problem, and that sharing a problem is a way to help dispose of it. A lovely way to tackle a sometimes difficult subject in a way that will appeal to many children. Keep it in your classroom for those awkward moments when you can see a child is struggling.
Eva Eland has a way with pictures and words that, although deceptively simple, actually deals with the big matters of life in a very accessible and encouraging way. Her previous book When Sadness Comes to Call gained many outstandingly positive reviews and this follow up book on happiness is going to get the same response. Very expressive, clear illustrations in mainly blues and a wonderful fluorescent pink make this a happy experience to read. Eland looks at the ways we may chase happiness or happiness may just creep up on us but finishes with the phrase ‘Happiness begins with you.’ Definitely a book for classrooms, libraries and PHSE lessons – it will encourage empathy as children start to understand their own and the emotions of others, as well as being a satisfying book to read.
#1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 TIME Best Book of the Year for 2017. Audio Production Awards, Audio Performer of the Year - Gold Winner, 2018 | Inspired by the birth of his son, award-winning Oliver Jeffers has created a deeply touching introduction to the world as a physical space and also as a place that needs to be treated with great care and respect. Subtitled ‘Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ Jeffers uses richly coloured double page spreads and only a few words of commentary to describe the obvious features of land, sea, night and day but also how time can move both slow and fast and should never be wasted! The perfect gift for all parents to share with their new babies – and each other. This is a book & cd edition.
This classic children’s book (first published in the 1960s) follows the ‘fortunately, unfortunately’ format, and is an example of storytelling at its very best. Tiger finds Boy sitting on a rock and demands he run to avoid being eaten. Boy explains he’s too tired to run, he’s just escaped Rhino. He recounts his narrow escapes (‘That’s good,’ says Tiger) and Rhino’s determined pursuit (‘That’s bad’) until his story concludes with a wonderful twist that will delight children. There’s an air of spontaneity and excitement that’s hard to beat and Aliki’s bold, expressive, child-like illustrations look as fresh as ever in this handsome new edition.
Every child knows what it’s like to be afraid of the dark, so they’ll completely understand how Tiny T. Rex and his friend Pointy the Stegosaurus feel getting ready for their first ever outdoor sleepover. There’s a gorgeous mix of excitement and nerves but the two friends realise just how brave they can be together, and that if you look hard enough, you’ll always find the light even in the darkest dark. The story is charming but conveys an important message too and Tiny is a real character as he faces up to his fears. A lovely book for and about sharing.
A mindful fall-asleep book | How to calm down at bedtime is a regular problem for busy children and their parents. The words and pictures of this beautiful book link relaxing sleep exercises with an introduction to the wonder of the stars shining in the night sky. Good yoga exercises and breathing techniques are the foundation of this helpful preparation for bedtime. The book also provides a wealth of scientific and mythological facts about the stars which tie in with the yoga poses. Presented partly in words and partly in pictures these provide the perfect support for learning how the exercises help falling asleep.
Very cleverly this gentle story links the astonishing tale of the migration of the tiny swift to find a safe nesting site in Africa, with the story of Leila, who also must travel thousands of miles to find a safe home. The parallel migrations mirror each other in the perils of the journey but also in the hope engendered by the welcome they receive in their new home. The passage of the brave bird and the places and people who mark the passing of the seasons by his journey is evocatively told and really highlights to young readers both the physical distance and the challenges of climate and geography. All of which subtly underscores the challenge for Leila and the physical and social challenges she will face. It is thought provoking but wonderfully hopeful too. As if the miracle of nature and the endeavours of the swift can act as an inspiration for human endurance and kindness as shown by the kindness of the welcome for Leila from other children. Manuela Adreani’s gorgeous, stylish illustrations are the perfect foil for the simple yet powerful text. With many cross curricular uses for older children as well this is a very worthwhile purchase.
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.