Sunday 28 February 2021

New Releases: Picture Book Round-up

 Time has been short again this month with home-schooling but, as always, we have been spending lots of time reading and waiting for the postman. February has brought us lots of new delights on the picture book front and it's always great to see that, despite growing older, my children all still love to snuggle up with a new or much-loved picture book. What's even more wonderful is that my reluctant reader, at nearly 8 years old, has taken up the mantle of reading picture books to the rest of the family- something that is building her confidence and gives her a strong sense of satisfaction. 

So, without further ado, here are some of the new picture books we have been enjoying this month:

Here Be Dragons by Susannah Lloyd and Paddy Donnelly

Link to Waterstones

Published by: Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2nd Feb 2021


This is a classic example of a picture book that has illustrations telling a very different story to the text. It is a brilliantly fun tale of a hapless knight who is determined to find dragons. Look very carefully at the cover and you might spot what the knight hasn't...right under his nose!

Actually, it's the dragon's nose that this knight ends up going adventuring in. Thank goodness he remains oblivious! However, it soon becomes clear to us readers that this knight is oblivious to most things- including the fact that the princess and his trusty steed are fighting to save his soon-to-be crispy skin. There was great delight on every page as my son spotted the tell-tale clues that the knight did not. 

This story feels both traditional and original and has a strong character voice. We struggled initially with the set-up of the first page but then everything clicked into place. The entire story is built on the knight's internal monologue, making it hugely effective and enjoyable. Oh, what it is to be a knight of such determination and hopefulness and...poor eyesight?

The character is loveable, the drama is tense and the stakes are high in this story and we highly recommend it. Dragon hunting here we come! 

We've Got Talent by Hannah Whitty and Paula Bowles

Link to publisher

Published by: Simon and Schuster, 4th Feb 2021


This bright, colourful and fun picture book has a strong message. Be who you want to be and embrace what you love. Throwing aside the constraints of stereotype, it follows the story of Olivia and Sam who are both desperate for the leading parts in the school play. But when dancer Sam is cast as the knight and confident speaker Olivia is cast as the princess, they are not happy at there a way they can both get what they want?
There's a lot of bravery and risk-taking in this story as Sam and Olivia work together to create their own happy ending. There's a great twist in the plot which didn't pan out quite as I expected, but made for an even more satisfying conclusion. 
Sam and Olivia are very relatable characters that young children should easily be able to connect with. Not only is it a story that challenges stereotype but it also models problem-solving and friendship. The illustrations by Paula Bowles are glorious and uplifting - this is a feel good read!

The Invisible by Tom Percival

Published by: Simon and Schuster, 4th Feb 2021


It doesn't seem a minute since we were reviewing the Tom Percival's charming Dream Big Little Mole but this new release has a very different feel to it. Powerful, poignant but full of hope, it is a story that sheds light on poverty, identity and belonging and explores how the people in need in our society are often ignored to the point of becoming invisible. 

When Isabel's family can't pay the rent and have to move to the bleak side of town, Isabel finds she is invisible to those around her. But when she begins to spot lots of other people who are also invisible, she decides to do something about it...

This book feels word perfect. It is simply told and yet, in the same way that the characters do in the story, the words come together to create a tale that has depth, hope and heart. Parts of it are sad and uncomfortable to read, yet the power of hope and unity prevails. It is a story that champions how an individual (notably a child) can make a change and how small changes and acts of kindness can snowball in the best possible way. Furthermore, it challenges our values and raises the timeless human issue of equality.

This is a powerful read for children and one, I believe, they will take to their hearts. Isabel has plenty to teach us and maybe, we too, can make a difference.

Goldilocks In Space by Peter Bently and Chris Jevons

Published by: Hachette, 18th Feb 2021


Hopefully the first in a new series of 'Futuristic Fairy Tales', Goldilocks in Space gives us an 'out of this world' twist on a classic.  However, although this picture book could not be more different in style, tone and genre to the one above (The Invisible), there is a definite parallel to the message: Let's value our planet and everyone on it.

When Goldilocks fancies a holiday, she sets off into space to find a planet that is just right for rest and relaxation. Easier said than done! Goldilocks soon realises she's not in for an easy ride as the planets prove to be too hot, too cold, too hard, too big... Will she ever find the right spot?

This is a just-right read for any readers who love space or fairy tales. Peter Bently combines the two perfectly in a story that zips along with the sparkle of space dust. Add Chris Jevons' vibrant and magical illustrations to the mix and you have a shooting star of a story that leaps off the shelf. The rhyme is as pacey as the journey itself and the ending is just-right too. 

This was a hit with everyone in the family- familiar but different. Perfect! Whose taking guesses on the next one? Red Robot Hood, Snow White and the Seven Cyborgs...can't wait!

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