New school year equals new books. Picture books that is! And with lockdown disrupting publishing schedules earlier in the year, there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from.
We’ve chosen seven of the best new offerings that we will be reading on repeat on the run up to Christmas. They include stories from some of our all-time favourite authors and illustrators – and we hope you enjoy them too.
1. Dog Gone by Rob Biddulph. £12.99 (hardback), HarperCollins Children’s
Amid breaking world records with his phenomenal #DrawWithRob videos during lockdown, Rob Biddulph has been busy creating more new stories – and his tenth one is a charmer.
Edward Pugglesworth (otherwise known as Teddy) and his owner Dave head for a stroll in the park but when his pet human gets lost, the dog has to seek help from the resident Terrible Troll – the park warden. Eek!
Expect engaging rhyming text, colourful images and a strong message about friendship and not judging others. Beware however – the littlest one goes absolutely crazy with joy when he sees the pug on the cover so I fear nagging for a real life one may begin just as soon as he can talk! Buy from Amazon
2. Elephant Me by Giles Parker-Rees. £6.99 (paperback), Orchard Books
The Giraffes Can’t Dance dream team are back with another empowering tale about embracing your own special qualities that has lots of lovely wild creature characters and a disco-tastic finale.
When Elephant Mighty summons the young elephant to show off their skills at the Elephant Games and secure their elephant name, little Num-Num can’t compete with Nina’s tree felling and Norcus’s loud trumpeting.
But after making friends with the other animals, the realises he has a more important talent that comes from within, leading to an emotional confrontation with the king, who has a surprising confession to share. Buy from Amazon
3. Oi Aardvark! by Kes Gray and Jim Field. £12.99 (hardback), Hachette
They’ve done it again! Sit down and let Frog guide you through the alphabet in book six of the best-selling series about silly seating scenarios.
This time we’ve got aardavarks on card sharks and pangolins on mandolins as he tries to complete The Alphabetty Botty Book of creatures without a place to sit yet, while Dog and Cat doubt it can be done. There’s an exciting section that opens out in the middle, dedicated to the letters Q to W, plus a funny twist at the end, as always.
The joke that keeps on giving, with tons of tongue-twisting fun, and we love Jim Field’s dedication to key workers at the back too. Buy from Amazon
4. How To Drive A Roman Chariot by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves. £6.99 (paperback), Simon & Schuster
Ten years since the first Albie book was published and now book number ten takes the preschooler back to Roman times for an ancient history adventure.
Albie is feeding some horses when it starts to rain and inside the stable he meets Roman girl Julia, who longs to drive a chariot but isn’t allowed due to being female.
When the duo end up in charge of a runaway chariot heading for a race at the hippodrome, Julia gets her chance to prove she’s as good as anyone else, ably assisted by her time-travelling friend. Buy from Amazon
5. The Goody by Lauren Child. £12.99 (hardback), Orchard Books
There are many reasons why we love Lauren Child’s work – the gorgeous mixed media artwork, the snappy dialogue, the fact her characters live in normal families and homes. But top is probably her insightful observations about life as a child, conveyed to the reader in a gentle and non-patronising way.
In The Goody, Chirton Krauss is the ‘good Child’ and obeys all the rules, while his sister Myrtle is not – and looks like she is having a lot more fun, even though their parents tell him being good and eating broccoli is better.
Slowly events see the pair move away from the labels people have put on them, and they have lived up to, discovering a middle ground where being kind is not only good but feels good too.
Thoughtful and sophisticated, this will really make parents think as well as kids, hopefully giving them the freedom to be themselves. Buy from Amazon
6. Inch and Grub: A Story About Cavemen by Alistair Chisholm, illustrated by David Roberts. £12.99 (hardback), Walker
The perils of consumerism and competition, along with the history of humans and invention, are the complex themes brought hilariously to life in this brilliant tale of two cavemen.
It all starts with Grub getting one over in neighbour Inch by adding a water feature to his cave and before you know it, they’ve got fire, cars, mobile phones and space rockets. But when silver and gold-plated drinking straws finally topple their piles of stuff, can they overcome the blame game to finally love thy neighbour?
There’s a cool 70s vibe to David Roberts’s artwork in this book that I just adore, all brown and orange with a style reminiscent of David McKee’s dark moral tales, Not Now Bernard and Tusk Tusk. Baby Bookworm finds it a hoot too. Buy from Amazon
7. Clap Hands for Key Workers. Illustrated by Kat Uno. £6.99 (board book), Pat-a-Cake
The touch-and-feel sensory series with a clapping device to engage babies and toddler has found its natural theme thanks to the pandemic.
This topical edition, which raises money for NHS Charities Together, celebrates the people in professions that have kept us safe during the pandemic, including medics, delivery workers, shop staff and public transport drivers.
There’s plenty of diversity and gender stereotypes reversal in the characters too, plus and engaging matching job about jobs at the end. Buy from Amazon