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In this section we have brought together some of our favourite bedtime reads that we hope will become yours too.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A giant baby is on the loose and everything in the Kingdom is about to be destroyed! He tramples the forest and flattens houses and bridges, he sits on the train station and shakes the passengers out of a double decker bus. Neither the soldiers or the airforce can stop him. As he approaches the castle, the King and Queen shake in terror and call a meeting of all their best advisors. What is to be done to save the kingdom? Only the Princess has an answer. As she keeps saying, he is only a baby…Young readers will love this playful and imaginary realisation of a familiar family drama which is vividly captured in Bruce Ingman’s large scale illustration which blend real and imaginary worlds perfectly.
Freshly following the swashbuckling, song-driven Go, Go Pirate Boat by the same author-illustrator team, Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur (to be sung - or belted out - to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) is pretty much picture book perfection for pre-schoolers obsessed with these prehistoric heavyweights. And who doesn’t love dinosaurs, especially as imagined by Nick Sharratt in his distinctive bold, bright, ultra-engaging style, and especially when coupled with Katrina Charman’s joyful rhyming couplets? Using a day-in-the-life structure, the book follows a gaggle of dinosaurs who variously soar and swoop, stomp and stamp, munch and crunch, clop and crash, tromp and tramp from dawn to dusk before saying goodnight as the moon rises high. Alongside the sing-along fun, the book will also help little ones learn to recognise different dinosaurs, among them playful pterodactyls, leader-of-the pack stegosaurus, fun-loving triceratops, and the fierce, thundering T. Rex.
The Twelve Days of Christmas is as much a part of the festive season as sleigh bells jingling and Lara Hawthorne brings the song alive in this gorgeous picture book, filling beautiful scenes with the cavalcade of gifts and giving it all a sense of movement, joy and celebration. The trappings of Christmas are present in each spread – spot the holly, the paper hats, and the Christmas baubles on each page amongst the birds and leaping musicians – but the background outdoor scenes are green fields, particularly suited to her folk-art style illustrations. There’s so much to look at and each turn of the page presents a completely different scene – I particularly liked the ten lords, who go a-leaping right across the roof of a house, so that they’re almost flying across the page. The full lyrics are repeated in the final pages along with a special author’s note about the poem too. A Christmas book to be enjoyed all year round. You can find more wintry & festive stories in our Best Books for Kids this Christmas collection!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Award winning Lane Smith celebrates the simple delights of Cat who loves the warmth of the sun, and Dog who loves the cool of the water, and Bird who loves birdseed. All are set for a perfect day…But then Bear turns up! Suddenly the day looks very different. With almost no words, Lane Smith’s illustrations set the scene of the story brilliantly and then allow the reader to fill in exactly what happens in their own way.
No matter how you start your day, What you wear when you play, Or if you come from far away, All are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome. A school where children in patkas, hijabs, baseball caps and yarmulkes play side by side. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions. A school where diversity is a strength. Warm and inspiring, All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school. Engaging lyrical text and bright, accessible illustrations make this book a must for every child's bookshelf, classroom and library.
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!
March 2016 Book of the Month Leigh Hodgkinson’s picture book is a stylish investigation into how and where to read a book. Goldilocks-like, a young boy tries out a variety of chairs and reading locations. Not one of them suits: some are too buzzy or grimey, one’s even too slippy slimey! In his expedition, the boy is joined by a succession of friendly companions, a cat, an owl, a frog, a little Martian, and they stay with him until he realises it doesn’t matter where you sit, a book is best anywhere – a book is best when you share. Each page is an adventure in its own right, there are definitely stories hiding in the upholstery of these splendid chairs! With its stylish design (Leigh Hodgkinson has worked with Lauren Child and the influence is clear) and friendly, appealing characters, this is just right for adults and children to share. ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | Having suffered heatwaves and COVID anxiety, we can all empathise with the tired and grumpy Arlo who just cannot sleep. The hero of the Greenaway medal winner’s new book speaks to us all, but particularly to over-tired and over excited small children who do not know how to let go of the day. Luckily for Arlo, and for children, Owl is to hand with some useful advice on how he manages to sleep when everyone is awake during the day. The logic of receiving advice from a nocturnal animal will really register with this audience. “Have a good stretch from your nose to your toes/ Do a little wriggle, let your eyes gently close/Relax your whole body, slow your breathing right down/ Imagine you’re sinking into the soft ground". The gentle refrain that Owl teaches Arlo is the perfect antidote for us all- a little bit of mindfulness that would also be a lovely calm down routine in the classroom! Not only are the illustrations a visual feast, with a stunning colour palette marking the transitions between night and day, but Arlo and Owl are beautifully characterised. Another trademark from this hugely talented author is the warm humour. Arlo is so excited by his long and restful sleep that he must tell Owl- and wakes him up! The song is reciprocated with success and their joint celebrations at dusk wake the rest of the neighbourhood and a duet is required to restore calm. The repeated refrain will be one that is copied in homes and classrooms everywhere. Useful for mindfulness and as an introduction to Night and Day topics, this stunning book is a real triumph of beautiful words and images working in absolute harmony.
A reissue to mark the 10th Anniversary of this absolutely delightful picture book. The opposing emotions of happiness and sadness are conveyed quite beautifully throughout Augustus’s story until at last his smile returns because he starts looking at the wonderful world around him. Augustus and His Smile was the well-deserved winner of the ‘Early Years – Best New Illustrator Award’ and was shortlisted for the 2007 Greenaway Medal. The Greenaway Judges' comment: A very fresh and appealing book which makes good use of mixed media to convey the feel of a real tiger. Rayner’s broad loose strokes reflect the beauty of the animal, and give him real expression and emotion: so much is conveyed in the flick of his tail. The whole has a Zen-like simplicity but it is also a very physical book which draws you in. There is real artistic skill here and great maturity of style.
Five tales pefect for bedtime, handsomely packaged in a gift box to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Usborne Publishing. Each hardback book is colourfully illustrated and has a ribbon page marker. Excellent value but great quality too. These sturdy hardback books in a slipcase make a perfect gift at any time of the year.
It’s bedtime for Ted, but he’s just too busy yet – flip the flaps and you can see why: Ted is in the bath with some penguins, busy brushing his teeth with a crocodile and drinking his milk with a tiger. At last he’s ready to be tucked up in bed with his cuddly friends and fast asleep (still in his trademark bobble hat). Sophy Henn’s new board book series is simple enough for the very youngest to enjoy but still manages to tell a story and to celebrate the boundless scope and joy of a child’s imagination. These little books deserve to become classics. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2019 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019 | An ebullient debut picture book with a great twist which young readers will love spotting as the story unfolds. When Grandma loses her glasses, Isobel sets about helping her to find them. Searching in the garden they find a very big cat… Grandma loves cats and she is always taking in strays. Without her glasses she can’t really see just how big a bundle of orange fur that this new cat is! Nor can she work out why so much cat food is getting eaten. Young readers will spot that she is reading a story about a tiger which is probably very familiar to them. And they will realise that this cat is actually very closely related to the two tigers who come looking for it! Bold cats in strong colours are at the heart of this great story. Find colouring in and puzzle pages in this Big Cat Activity Pack - download here!
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.
‘Brielle’s Birthday Ball’ is a creative and interesting new take on a story that includes actions and movements to encourage young readers to join in with the characters. Created by Once Upon a Dance, the story follows Brielle as she celebrates her birthday. The illustrations in this book are lovely and detailed, and the instructions for the movements for each page are clearly separated from the storyline with a purple background and photos for dancing inspiration, there’s even some separate little songs to sing while doing the actions. I really liked the concept of this book and the time taken on every aspect. The inclusion of the actions doesn’t take away from the large and detailed illustrations or the simple to follow and enjoyable story. I would say that the creators have tried really hard to make sure that the inclusion of the additional interactive element isn’t done at the expense of any other aspect of the book. A story filled with delight and birthday fun, I think that this would be a brilliant book for any child that doesn’t want to sit still when listening to a story, or just loves to move and dance. It could also be read with out the movements for a pleasant birthday-themed bedtime story! Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Bedtime is a special time and we all have our favourite books that we love to read over and over....but sometimes we need new recommendations, and that is where we come in!
All bedtime routines are different. Some have a bath, others a warm drink but the best routines end with a cuddle and a good book.