Peeking At Picture Books – October Part One

In the busiest calendar month of the Children’s publishing industry there has been an abundance of Picture Books published and this is just a small sample of those available to purchase this October. The following books are perfect titles to share as the weather becomes autumnal and the trees start to lose their leaves, we snuggle up inside to stay warm, and cuddle up with younger children when sharing these stories. I hope you enjoy them as much as myself and the children I have shared them with have.

The Snow Dragon

Abi Elphinstone & Fiona Woodcock

An absolutely beautiful story with undertones of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist coming to mind when we read of a little girl called Phoebe who remains in an orphanage after all the other children have been adopted into families of their own on specially designated days. As the only resident of the orphanage Phoebe is unfortunately at the disposal of the owner, who it becomes clear early on in the book absolutely detests children and their behaviour.

Whilst enduring a cruel punishment on Christmas Eve Phoebe and her canine companion Herb make a snowman that has a magical feel to it and just as Phoebe is about to fall asleep a Snow Dragon appears and takes her on an adventure that it seems she was destined to go on and that she has always desired, and it is well worth the wait. Visiting mountains and the ocean and seeing the Northern Lights really empowers Phoebe, and along with the Dragons parting words of wisdom when they return to the orphanage, fill her with courage and bravery too.

When Phoebe wakes the next morning and it becomes clear that even on Christmas Day the owner of the orphanage Griselda is in no festive mood and decides that they shall spend the day playing her version of Hide and Seek, Phoebe takes refuge in a grandfather clock and wishes she could be adopted, and today too. When the doorbell goes she doesn’t hesitate to answer and finds a couple stood at the door looking to adopt her.

With an ending all bedtime stories need, one that leaves you feeling as though there is good in the world and leaves a smile on younger readers faces before they themselves settle down to have amazing adventures of their own in their dreams. The book holds important messages of the need to appreciate what you do have, know how lucky you are, and also encouraging use of your imagination to take you places beyond the boundaries that hold you back in life, inspiring you and empowering you along the way.

A fantastic book to share with large audiences in a school library too, the illustrations throughout the book are stunning, totally immersing the audience in the story as it develops, soaring above the ocean in the snow on top of a dragon and allowing younger children to experience such an unbelievable adventure whilst sitting enjoying a shared story. The northern lights illustrations, just as one example, totally emulate the magic and other worldliness that you would feel if there in person, and the book in its entirety leaves you with a warm feeling inside and a deeper appreciation for the world of magic too.

Published by Simon and Schuster on 31st October 2019.

The Princess & the White Bear King

Tanya Robyn Batt , Nicoletta Ceccoli, and Miranda Richardson

With the feel of a traditional tale throughout this intense and detailed story of a princess journeying to save her prince from a troll queen will leave audiences enraptured. The princess shows undeniable bravery and determination when she causes the white bear that she was staying with to flee and in doing so loses her chance at happiness given that the bear transforms into a handsome prince that she loves and wants to be with. When her perseverance pays off and the princess locates the prince to a castle belonging to a troll queen she uses clever distractions to get to be with the prince.

This pays off for the princess and the pair are reunited and live happily ever after together, ending like all timeless traditional children’s stories do. The story itself is inspired by a collaboration of folk tales and cleverly written to ensure younger audiences enjoy the story and relate to the adventure too. The illustrations in the book help children to imagine the story as it develops and give a beautiful visualisation of the story and its characters, with the white bear looking particularly stunning in each of his appearances. The book comes with access to a free audiobook version of the story to potentially download and enjoy, read by Miranda Richardson, for those who enjoy that literary media.

Published by Barefoot Books (Abrams & Chronicle) on 7th October 2019.

Hansel & Gretel

Bethan Woollvin

In a stunning, iconic looking black and white with orange colouring this book takes the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel that we all know so well and turns it on its head by telling the story from the Witch’s point of view and it works brilliantly, introduces a new generation to the world of gingerbread houses, and makes you wonder where this book has been until now.

The Witch is keen to avoid birds and mice eating at her gingerbread house so she asks Hansel and Gretel to clear up the crumb trail they have left, only to be ignored and find them eating her house instead. Keen to avoid further damage the witch invites them in for food only to find they eat it all up and leave her out of the meal, and then the pair decide to use the witch’s magic wand and try to get rid of her as she tries to stop them. The witch gets fed up and gets revenge on the two children and after the ordeal she has had since her path crossed with theirs you cannot help but feel sympathetic to her and that Hansel and Gretel got their comeuppance.

The book has bold colours and an interesting, easy to follow, humour filled story that children will want to hear over and over again, learning the story of Hansel and Gretel from a worthy perspective that teaches sympathy and understanding to younger readers and that their are consequences for disruptive and naughty behaviour too. There is a beautiful note at the end of the book that explains that the authors younger sibling helped to complete this story, determining the ending for the author, and this makes the story even more compelling and heart warming to read and share.

Published by Two Hoots (an imprint of Pan Macmillan) on 3rd October 2019.

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