Tuesday 21 February 2023

Picture Book Round-up: A look at some of the latest releases.

If there is anything that is going to brighten up the long winter months at the beginning of the year, it is a new selection of picture books. As always, readers are in for a treat with a range of rhyming and non-rhyming, fiction and non-fiction texts full of funny antics, colourful characters and fascinating information. 

How to Make a Story by Naomi Jones and Ana Gomez

 Link to Waterstones

Published by: Oxford University Press 


Milo wants to make up a story but he's not sure how. How should it start? What happens in the middle? And what if he gets it wrong? With the help of his family (including his rather annoying siblings), a lot of imagination and a good look at the world around him, Milo is soon off to a thrilling start. Can he actually make a story?

This cleverly put together picture book is an amalgamation of creation. Not only is it highly entertaining, it will inspire young readers to have the confidence to make up their own stories inside or outside of the classroom. The text and illustrations work in perfect harmony together and encourage wannabee storytellers to take ideas from what is happening around them, mix them with a large dollop of imagination and twist their story into something magical. There are no right or wrong answers because ANYTHING can happen in stories. 

Although Milo's imagination runs wild in the text, the author cleverly uses his uncertainty to introduce little ones to basic story structure, making it an excellent tool for early years teachers. Storytelling doesn't need to be plagued by rules but a tale does need a beginning, a middle and an end and this is gently explored as the story progresses. It's fun, it's educational and it inspires young minds to get creative!

Meet The Weather by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin

Published by Bloomsbury, 2nd March 2023


Another brilliant asset for any classroom or bookshelf at home is the third in the series of 'Meet The...' by Caryl Hart and Bethan Woollvin. Following on from Meet The Planets and Meet The Oceans, Meet The Weather is a narrative non-fiction text written in rhyme designed to introduce picture book readers to the world around us. 

Take a hot air balloon ride through the skies to learn about the sun, rain, snow, fog and lots of other weather types we experience on Earth. There's lots to explore!

This is possibly our favourite of the series yet. The bright, bold illustrations by Bethan Woollvin leap off the page like a rainbow leaping across the sky and the rhyming text is informative yet fun. The language is great and includes some lovely 'weather words' and sensory descriptions. There's lots to notice on every page and it's a great way to begin discussions on how different weathers are formed. Why not read the story and create a weather chart with your little one? Or take a walk in different weathers? Make a windsock? Make up a weather forecast? The activities that could be linked to this book are endless. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for allowing us a review copy. 

The Bowerbird by Julia Donaldson and Catherine Rayner

Published: Pan Macmillan, 30th March 2023


This beautiful tale of how a bowerbird attracts a mate is the perfect mix of fiction and non-fiction and another useful teaching tool for nature and habitats. Told in Julia Donaldson's famously renowned rhyme, it is a story full of hope and heart. 

Bert wants to find love and hopes that his carefully constructed bower will attract the bowerbird of his dreams. But when Nanette arrives, she's not impressed. Will Bert's hard work and presents win her over in the end or is she not the right bird for Bert after all?

Bert is a gorgeously endearing character who is bound to win over the hearts of young readers. He may not have the best luck but his efforts and determination will make you root for a happy ending. The cumulative text is warm and fun and catchy, encouraging little ones to join in with the story and become familiar with rhythm and rhyme. The illustrations by Catherine Rayner are stunning, very different in style to the illustrators who usually work alongside Julia Donaldson and capture Bert's quest with as much warmth as the text. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan for allowing us a review copy. 

Beware the Blue Bagoo by Karl Newson and Andrea Stegmaier

Published by: Happy Yak, Quarto, 9th February 2023


Kids love a memorable character and the blue bagoo is certainly that. But what exactly is it and where does it live?

After hearing endless tales about the scary blue bagoo, a detective sets out to uncover the truth about this mysterious creature. The town may be rife with rumours but the blue bagoo is hard to track down. Will the tales prove to be tall or true?

Told in simple, catchy and sing-songy rhyme, this is a story that's full of important themes: judging others, spreading rumours, evoking fear, being kind and discovering the truth for yourself. There's a fun twist that will keep readers on their toes and a satisfying ending that could help to support an early years PSHE lesson or simply prompt discussion at home. Although the message is serious though, the tone remains light throughout and I'm pretty positive that there will be a lot of little ones who want a blue bagoo toy at the end of their bed. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Happy Yak at Quarto for allowing us a review copy. 

Oh Armadillo! This Party's All Wrong by Ellie Irving and Robert Starling

Link to publisher

Published by: Happy Yak, Quarto, 9th February 2023


This party text is a corker! Fun and fabulous but with an important message, little readers will fall in love with the characters, colour and chaotic antics that appear on every page.

When Armadillo throws a party for his jungle friends, they are quick to tell him he has done EVERYTHING wrong. Poor Armadillo may have misinterpreted what his friends have asked for but is the party really a failure? Maybe fun and laughter can still be found if everyone keeps an open mind...

Hilariously funny and full of silly scenarios, this energetic and vibrant story will keep young readers engaged and entertained. The sponge cake is particularly brilliant and Armadillo's interpretation of Pass the Parcel is also highly amusing. However, there is a valuable take away from the tale: it's okay to think differently and we should accept, value and learn from those that do. This is perfect for fans of Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet or anyone who fancies a light-hearted, party-fuelled story that will make them laugh.

A big thanks to NetGalley and Happy Yak at Quarto for allowing us a review copy. 

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