Pick of the New Picture Books for Children

Over the last month there have been many picture books published and I would like to share just some of them with you here.

My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee (Scallywag Press)

How can you resist a picture book that has on its back cover a quote from Maurice Sendak describing it as ‘a genuine masterpiece.’ It’s also quite difficult to know how to follow that in my review! My Rhinoceros is witty, refreshingly different and full of surprises. When a small boy buys a rhinoceros at the Exotic Pets shop he has little idea what to expect. Initially he is a bit disappointed with his new pet. He won’t chase a ball, or a stick; he won’t roll over, he doesn’t really do anything. He does actually wear an expression of superior disdain in Agee’s illustrations. A handy rhinoceros expert tells the child that rhinos only do two things: pop balloons and poke holes in kites. However the small pet owner soon discovers that his rhinoceros wants to be a bit different.

This has grown on me with each reading. The wry humour, the expressions in the illustrations, and the clever build up to the finale all add up to a refreshing and enjoyable read. This is quirky but definitely good fun.

Well Done Mummy Penguin by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

When Mummy Penguin sets off to find a fishy dinner for her family she encounters setbacks galore but overcomes each of them because Mummy, thank goodness, is good at everything. Watched by baby penguin and his daddy we observe Mummy’s adventures and the mild peril she faces on the way. The illustrations are deceptively simple yet Chris Haughton manages to convey numerous emotions, particularly through the penguins’ eyes. The use of shades of blue to portray the icy Antarctic landscape work well and the vibrant orange on the beaks and breasts of the adult penguins stand out beautifully.

This joyful celebration of mothers contains all the special elements that ensure picture books by Chris Haughton always work perfectly when read aloud. Another book in the tradition of Oh No, George! and Shh! We Have a Plan, this delightful story encourages little ones to participate through the repeated phrases, the elements of the story so cleverly conveyed in the illustrations and the perfect ending that invites another story. I simply love this book and think young children will do too.

The Perfect Gift by Alan Durant and Marian Vafaeian (Tiny Owl)

This gentle story of kindness and friendship introduces young children to the idea of generosity through friendship, hospitality and kindness. Rabbit is kindhearted and caring and loved by all the other animals. When the queen has a baby all the animals are off to celebrate the new arrival at the party but poor Rabbit can’t find a gift that is quite right for the occasion. Several of her friends offer to hare their presents but Rabbit persists in her quest for something just right. Eventually she has to go empty handed but on her arrival at the party she discovers that she had the perfect gift all along.

The subtle illustrations combine well with the kind and thoughtful text and the overall look of the book is one of comfort and light. The story would be excellent for prompting discussion about the relative value of ‘gifts’ and that sometimes the important things are not ‘things’ at all but the offering of friendship and care. This would be a thoughtful book to share in the run up to Christmas for that reason.

We Disagree About This Tree by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow)

Last but definitely not least the squabbling duo return in this funny and enjoyable picture book perfect for Christmas. Although Bear and Mouse have agreed to some sort of truce and are now living together in relative harmony Christmas preparations can prove testing for the best of relationships and our two friends are no exception. As they come to decorate their tree one wants dazzling lights and the other want gigantic baubles. Should there be tinsel or candles? It looks doubtful they will ever agree. Brilliant, vibrant illustrations full of humour and expression give this lovely book an instant appeal and the bouncy text is great to read aloud. Beneath the fun and the smiles this happy book also explores the importance of learning to compromise with others. Great fun and no doubt a book that will be shared over many Christmases in the future.

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3 Responses to Pick of the New Picture Books for Children

  1. Thank you Anne! I haven’t seen many new picture books recently and you have just pointed me in the direction of a perfect Christmas gift 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Reading Matters – children’s book news | Library Lady

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