New Picture Books – stories to put smiles on faces

There is a flurry of activity in the world of children’s books at the moment with several books being published this week and among the range of titles are these two picture books. They made me smile and I think they will make children smile too.


Albert Talbot Master of Disguise by Ben Manley and Aurelie Guillerey

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The world can be a daunting place when you are very young, especially if you are a bit of a worrier.  The school day is full of opportunities for young Albert to worry; what will he say at Show and Tell, will he stay afloat in the swimming lesson?  Perhaps it would be easier if he were someone else. Albert decides to pretend that he is not Albert, a slightly anxious, small boy but instead he is a dangerous desperado, an intrepid explorer and even a galactic superhero. Suddenly things become a lot easier for him.

This lovely celebration of the power of the imagination will reassure small children, particularly as the variety of experiences depicted are situations which they frequently encounter. The story is told with kindness and with a great deal of humour. The names of Albert’s alter egos are a delight. Swimming lessons take on a different feel when your name is Zandrian Delaclair, Antarctic Submariner and who can possibly resist your Show and Tell presentation when you are in fact Professor Ocatavius Pickleswick, Mechanical Engineer? This would be brilliant to read aloud. The wonderful, bright and colourful illustrations by Aurelie Guillery are packed with detail and include helpful labels and entertaining additions.

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As Albert’s interesting day draws to its close he has discovered the joy that can be found through imagination but also the comfort in being yourself too. A lovely, happy picture book. Oh and Ben Manley tells me that my name is no longer Anne, it is in fact Birta Ungerpup, Professional Waffle Ironer. That made me smile too!

The Teeny Weeny Genie by Julia Donaldson and Anna Currey 

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This is an entertaining picture book based on the familiar rhyme, Old Macdonald had a Farm and told with a magical twist. The farmer, Old Macdonald himself, is clearing out the farmhouse when he comes across an old, dusty teapot. Inside the teapot is a genie who is now disturbed from his peaceful slumbers by the farmer rubbing the teapot clean. Before long the the genie finds himself granting the farmer’s wishes, all his wishes. The resulting chaos proves too much for the poor genie who is desperate to escape but is unable to work magic for his own benefit. Thankfully the little genie is not the only genie disturbed by the racket and perhaps genie number two can save the day.

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The classic, watercolour style illustrations by Anna Currey complement the text and add to the overall traditional feel of this jolly picture book. This also would be lovely to read aloud and the story encourages involvement by very young listeners with noises to copy and actions to imitate. Quite possibly resulting in a story time as noisy as the farmyard! The Teeny Weeny Genie does contain a message about being careful what you wish for and the ending allows young readers to give some thought to what they would wish for given the opportunity.

Thank you to Two Hoots, MacMillan Children’s Books and Clare Hall-Craggs for providing by review copies. Both books are published on 6th August and can be purchased at all good bookshops. You can search for your nearest independent bookshop here.





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