Her debut children’s book Beetle Boy was an award-winning bestseller and recently chosen for the first Tom Fletcher Book Club.
Given the subject matter, it’s no surprise that M.G. Leonard (Maya to her family and friends) has two pet stag beetles – although she did used to be scared of insects.
The middle grade author from Brighton is also a big fan of music (she used the manage The Divine Comedy) and eliminating child poverty, working as an ambassador for children’s charity Spurgeons, which launched its Every Child Week today.
She says: “Choosing five favourite picture books is difficult. I have two sons and the whole family loves picture books.
“I decided that I would rule out the obvious classics like The Hungry Caterpillar, The Gruffalo and We’re All Going On A Bear Hunt because we all know they are great. That’s why they’re classics.
“Instead I’ve picked five books that I love to read out loud and if my son pulls it from the shelf I clap, happily.”
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
“This probably my favourite picture book of all time. A boy discovers that when he eats books he becomes cleverer and decides to become the cleverest boy in the world, but he gets greedy and eats too many books.
“It is probably not surprising that an author, like myself, loves a book about books. However what I love about this book is that it is a work of art. I would happily frame each and every page and hang it on my wall.
“There are layers of detail and humour in the illustrations that mean the story never dulls with rereading, no matter what age you are. The book carries a positive message, that you can’t learn things quickly and the process of reading may seem frustrating at first, but becomes pure pleasure.
“Too many children living in poverty are missing out on simple things in life like reading, which is why I support Spurgeons Children’s Charity, who work with some of the UK’s most vulnerable children and families.”
This book was one of our #timetoread choices for 2017. Read about the other four
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. £6.99 (paperback), Walker
“A bear has lost his hat. He asks everyone he meets if they have seen his hat. He wants it back.
“My love for this book is profound. There is a moment, and I can’t tell you what it is, that my sons and I always laugh, even though we know it’s coming. We laugh because we recognise truth and the consequences of actions taken.
“This book is a slice of perfection and Jon Klassen’s artwork is beyond beautiful. If you don’t have this book on your bookshelf, you need it.”
Read our review of I Want My Hat Back
Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
“A fabulous dog feels like she doesn’t fit in with all the other dogs, and so travels to a place where the dogs are just like her.
“Rob Biddulph is an astonishingly talented illustrator and I love the use of colour in this book, as well as the detail in the pictures. It is a joyous read and lifts the spirits, expounding the message that it okay to be who you are and if we were all the same life would be boring.
“Every child deserves the compassion, care and support they need to build a brighter future and Spurgeons is leading the fight for this change.”
Read our review of Odd Dog Out and our interview with Rob Biddulph
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield. £6.99 (paperback), Frances Lincoln Children’s
“A young bear discovers a piano in the wood and returns every day, as he grows up, learning to play beautiful music.
“This story is about the power of music. Music has the power to bring friends together, to take you places, and bring you home again. My life would be nothing without music and this story speaks directly to me. It is both intimate and epic, and the artwork is stunning.”
Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field. £6.99 (paperback), Hodder Children’s
“A frog wants to sit on a mat, but a cat says frogs sit on logs.
“This is possibly the best book to read out loud EVER! My ‘Cat’ voice is a poor Michael Caine impersonation and my ‘Frog’ a bad Speedy Gonzales take off. This book is hilarious, has the best rhymes – pumas and satsumas – and ends with one hell of a punchline.
“The illustrations are boisterous and brilliantly suit the story. When we first got this book, my son was three and within a week he knew it off-by-heart and would quote lines at me. This book will inspire a playful love of language and it makes bedtime a riot.”
Oi Cat! is one of our 20 best new reads for autumn 2017 – find out which other books made the list
Spurgeons Children’s Charity has launched Every Child Week (24–30 September). Spurgeons’ mission is to give hope to every child and they want the public to get behind this great cause. Find out more at spurgeons.org