This selection of books include those which I would highly recommend adding to those which you have collected at home to share with your little ones, including grandchildren, as they are the sort of book brilliance that will withstand the test of time, and be loved by generation after generation. We all know that there are lots of picture books to choose from, and it is often difficult to narrow down our choices, so I hope this blog post helps you in your decision making, not least because I gift those truly special titles to family members with little ones in their lives, and as a former primary school librarian am only too aware of how picture books are already in their abundance, and thus adding any new ones would ultimately come down to how relevant the content is to the younger children choosing them.
The Name Game – Elizabeth Laird and Olivia Holden
- Publishes on 2nd June by Tiny Owl Publishing
I’ve been a huge fan of Elizabeth Laird’s beautiful storytelling for many years now, and I am delighted to share this picture book that is stunningly written by her because it is a heart-warming story that little ones will adore, and truly is one that you will cherish. The Name Game tells of how a little boy comes to appreciate everything that the natural world around him has to offer. He is stuck at home with nobody to play with and nothing to do, but when he notices things outside his window he becomes completely captivated.
The young boy creates his own game of sorts, in which he offers majestic names to those that he engages with outside of his window, including a magpie, tree, cat and butterfly, and he does so by logically factoring in the way that each of them truly deserves to be described, and in naming each of them he gives them the acknowledgment they are truly deserving of. In creating a fantastic game, using his imagination, it offers him the distraction and entertainment he is looking for, and leads to a far more interesting trip to the park with his mum later on too.
The illustrations in this book compliment the text perfectly, and Olivia Holden is definitely the perfect choice for illustrating this beautiful story, as she brings the characters in the book to life with such an incredible attention to detail, and in doing so she encapsulates the beauty of everything that the young boy discovers so that readers can truly appreciate their majestic features. My favourite illustration is that of the tree that the young boy notices and names, because Olivia gives the tree the magical presence amongst the outdoors it is deserving of, and ensures you appreciate its dominance and grace.
This is a book that inspires all of us to pay attention to that which we often overlook, and in appreciating the outside world we can find so much that it has to offer. It is also a story that encourages children to use their imaginations, whether it be playing the name game for themselves or creating one of their own, because our imaginations know no bounds, and the possibilities of combining both the world around us with our powerful imaginations is a recipe for so much enjoyment, excitement, and additional awareness too.
The Wild Garden – Cynthia Cliff
- Published on 12th April by Prestel
I absolutely love this book! It is stunningly illustrated throughout using a colour palette that captures nature perfectly, using different shades of greens and browns as it tells of a how much a young girl loves adventuring in amongst the untouched wilderness that lies beyond the kempt gardens of Mirren, the little village she lives in with her grandad.
This book portrays how the landscape changes along with the seasons, and shows the beauty of how things change as the weather does, although it doesn’t deter Jilly and her grandfather from enjoying being able to explore all of the beauty that nature has to offer, wrapping up warm in their winter clothes. It is during this time that the gathering villagers decide to extend their gardens to allow them to plant more. Jilly and her grandfather know this would impact the wild landscape that they cherish, and they come up with a plan.
The duo create signs that reflect natures hidden treasures that can be found beyond the village gardens, and promptly display them, which leads the other villagers to discovering all those aspects of nature at its finest that Jilly has come to love and appreciate, and they in turn feel the same, and cease their plans to impact any of it with their planned extension. In time nature entwines with the village gardens, much to the village’s delight, and Jilly and the others that dwell in Mirren continue to explore and enjoy all the nature has to offer, right there on their doorstep.
This is a book that reflects the importance of conservation work, that much is evident throughout, and it is also about remembering to appreciate all of the beauty that surrounds us, to look for it and we shall find it, as nature is naturally beautiful and need not conform to a regimented design in order to offer us what we are looking for, including fruit and vegetables, which is another aspect to what Jilly and her grandfather appreciate of the wild lands around them.
The Girl Who Planted Trees – Caryl Hart and Anastasia Suvorova
- Published by Nosy Crow on 3rd March
This is a beautiful yet powerful story that tells of one girls dream and determination to return the baron land that surrounds her home to the lush green canopy that once existed there. Whilst she is aware that she is only one young girl, and the vision she has in mind is a big one, the little girl sets about in a small but significant way by plant seeds from the fruit she eats, and the story builds to a conclusion where the young girl has grown up to be a grandparent herself.
There are boundaries to overcome along the way, such as the weather and making sure the seeds are nurtured the way that they need to be, such as regular watering, but the little girl learns along the way, through her grandpa advising her, and adjusts her skills accordingly to better the chances of the seeds growing into seedlings, and then into tall plants and trees, and ultimately survive as a thriving lush green canvas.
The contrast of the land in the illustrations at the beginning of the book that reflect the dusty, dry, and desolate landscape with those later in the book detailing the lush greenery of the plants and trees that the girl has inspired everyone in her village to grow from seeds, and then plant in the mountains, makes for a fantastic way of showing younger readers/audiences the vast improvement that is made as a consequence of the actions all of the people did. Positive actions that have positive consequences, for the people and the environment.