For the past couple of years, I have published a blog post around Christmas time, listing my top ten books of the year…And let me tell you, it’s been a nightmare!! It’s so hard to look at a whole year’s worth of fabulous picture books and narrow it down to just ten favourites. This year, I thought I’d make it a bit easier on myself, and break the year in half – clever me! So without further ado, here are ten of my favourite picture books from the first half of 2019. Happy reading!
Me and My Sister
By Rose Robbins
This beautiful picture book celebrates the highs and lows of having a sibling with autism, or indeed any differently abled sibling. It is a wonderful book to share with children aged 3-6, whether or not they are directly affected by autism within their own family, to help them understand that some children are different, but this does not mean that they are less.
First time author/illustrator Rose Robbins’ much loved sister is autistic, and she works with autistic children. She brings to this book a beautiful sensitivity, but delivers it with a vibrancy and energy which make the book highly engaging for young readers.
Doodle Cat Wears a Cape
By Kat Patrick & Lauren Farrell
Following on from the success of I Am Doodle Cat and Doodle Cat is Bored comes the third installment in this delightful series. When Doodle Cat dons his teatowel cape, his superpowers come to life – from catching humans when they fall from trees to firing furballs at high speed. But when his friend Pangolin is feeling sad, Doodle Cat will have to try an entirely different superpower in order to save the day.
This is a charming story accompanied by bright, appealing illustrations, which will remind readers aged 2-6 that we all have our own superpowers.
Our Little Inventor
By Sher Rill Ng
This visually stunning book is a reminder of the power of children to effect change. The story is shown largely through the rich illustrations, which tell of young Nell, who has invented a machine to solve the pollution problems in the Big City. The men in charge do not want to listen to the fanciful imaginings of a little girl, but with the help of her family, Nell proves that even the smallest child can make a big difference.
This is a beautiful and important book which is perfect to share with 4-8 year olds.
Where Happiness Lives
By Barry Timms & Greg Abbott
This is a wonderful book to spark discussion with children about the idea that, as Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Each mouse in the story is happy, until they discover a bigger house down the road and assume that the mouse who lives there must be even happier. Of course, when they meet the mouse in the grandest mansion, she is sad and lonely, and longs for the joy and companionship experienced by the mice in the smallest cottage in the woods. Children aged 3-6 will love the cute characters and the flaps to lift on each page, and will begin to understand the story’s message, that “Whatever your home, it is happy indeed…If you love what you have…and you have what you need.”
By Victoria Turnbull
A child's Umpa teaches them to read and to follow the words, out the garden gate and all the way to the sea. Every day is a new adventure. They visit castles in the air, feast with friends and sail away on the rains. But then one day, Umpa isn't there…
This is a moving tale about the power of books to bring people together, and to help us remember loved ones when they're no longer with us. It has an otherworldliness about it that will appeal to readers aged 4-7.
By Jory John & Lane Smith
From the creators of the wonderful Penguin Problems picture book of 2016, comes this hilarious yet poignant tale of Edward the giraffe, whose neck caused him no end of grief. Despite trying to hide it behind bow-ties, scarves and trees, Edward couldn’t help feeling that his neck was far too ‘necky’. But meeting Cyrus the tortoise helps Edward to recognise that having an extra-necky neck definitely has some advantages, and in fact is something to be envied. Like its penguin-themed partner, this book helps readers aged 3-7 understand that each of us has problems which, while they may seem insurmountable, are sometimes the things for which we should be most grateful.
By Adam Wallace & Giuseppe Poli
Jerry was one of those kids who seemed to fade into the background. He spent his days feeling isolated and alone – that is, until Molly came along. And once Jerry experienced the joy of being seen for who he really was, he decided to share that feeling of companionship with other ‘invisible’ kids. This is a beautiful story of empathy and friendship, and the soft watercolour images perfectly capture Jerry’s loneliness, as well as his delight in finding a true friend. This is a wonderful springboard for discussion about the way we treat those around us, for children aged 4-7.
A Quiet Girl
Mary was a quiet girl. She had quiet thoughts, stepped quiet steps, and whispered quiet words. This made Mary almost invisible to her noisy family, until one day it was as though Mary disappeared altogether. But finally, as they searched for her, Mary’s family learned that only by being quiet can you hear all the small wonderful things that lay hidden in the world. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book by the Australian creator of such classics as The Children Who Loved Books and The Boy on the Page. It is a lovely tale to share with readers aged 3-7.
The Go-Away Bird
By Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner
Fans of Julia Donaldson, the prolific children’s book writer and master of rhyme, will not be disappointed by her latest offering. It tells the tale of the Go-Away bird, who refuses to eat, fly or play with the other friendly birds, and rudely sends them all away, until the threat of being eaten by a large predator makes him realise that sometimes having friends around can be a great thing. The rhyme and rhythm, together with the vibrant illustrations, make this a fabulous read-aloud for children aged 3-7.
Baz & Benz
By Heidi McKinnon
This is a story about the limits of friendship, as Benz asks Baz if their friendship would withstand a series of tests - turning purple and polka-dotted, transforming into a scary bat, saying MEEP all the time...But as Benz learns, true friendship has no conditions, and lasts forever and ever. McKinnon’s first picture book, the hilarious I Just Ate My Friend, became an instant hit with young readers, and this book is sure to do the same. It is a whimsical tale with a beautiful message, which would be perfect to share with readers aged 1-5.