Picture Books – July 2022

No Sleep for Bear – Duncan Beedie

  • Published 7th July by Bonnier Books

Bear has completed all his preparations and is ready to hibernate for the upcoming winter, but try as he may he just cannot successfully fall asleep, so he goes on a walk to try to tire himself out more, and spots other animals going off to sleep, and decides to give their methods a try. Little ones will find it hilarious when they see Bear up in a tree as he copies Bird, and jammed in a burrow as he copies Badger, and day after day Bear copies another animal in an attempt to get some sleep. When he finally follows Frog’s advice to relax it isn’t long before Bear falls asleep, but the other animals are all woken up by his snoring, and then have the difficult task of getting Bear back to his cave so that he is can snore the season away without disturbing them!

I can see how this book will appeal to little ones through the stunning illustrations depicting all of Bear’s antics, and portraying the changing seasons as well as the varying times of day beautifully. This would be the perfect choice for bedtime, especially for those children that have difficulty getting to sleep. The story is very relaxing, with some funny moments to enjoy, and a heart warming ending too.

The Great Hamster Getaway – Lou Carter

  • Illustrated by Magda Brol
  • Published 7th July by Bloomsbury

In this adventure not one but two hamsters have escaped from the confines of their cages, and meet up to explore all the nearby sights that they have long dreamt of going and enjoying. This is such a fun story to share with younger children as the hamsters have so many exciting moments as they enjoy their new found freedom, and the rhyming sentences add an additional fun element to this book, and gives a rhythmic flow too.

The hamsters enjoy the seaside, and donuts at the fair, and so many other activities that children will recognise from their own days out, and of course the process of escaping the hamster cage that Raffleton Grey lives in is detailed in a brilliantly hilarious sequences of events (which also involves rotating the book to depict the final stage), and then he meets Puckerford Brown, the other hamster that has escaped his own cage, and they spend the entire day having non stop fun, until they conclude being out in the big wide world isn’t what they thought it would be, and devise a plan to get back to Raffleton’s cage, where the two subsequently live together, clearly the best of friends – because it wasn’t freedom either of them really desired, it was companionship.

It is so nice to see a picture book with Hamsters at the heart of the story, because so many children have them as pets at home, and often look for them to appear in books for them to enjoy with parents. It was always a popular request in the school library I ran, and I would highly recommend this one to those children with a pet hamster in their lives as it sparks their imaginations, and all whilst reinforcing how important and special friendships are.

Dream Big Little One – Becky Davies

  • Illustrated by Dana Brown
  • Published 12th May by Little Tiger

This is definitely the perfect bedtime book choice with younger children because as the title suggests it is all about dreams, and the endless potential a child can have in them. Written in lyrical rhyming sentences that float across the pages in various font styles, this is such a heartfelt, and positively reinforcing message to share with the children in your life. Parents, Grandparents, and other relations would all thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to echo the sentiment included in this book with younger children.

The illustrations inside offer a calm and relaxing vibe through the choice of blue and silver colours, using red to define the little one in the story itself. Using soft silhouetted design to depict the content gives a magical dreamy vibe throughout, and I really love how well the illustrations compliment the text so perfectly, and echo the sentiment intended so beautifully too. I can see this being an incredibly popular choice with parents and children alike, as well as it being a modern classic that is handed down from one generation to the next.

The Littlest Elephant – Kate Read

  • Published 17th March by Two Hoots

Telling the story of a baby elephant that is eager to get to the pool before anyone else, and how she upsets some of the other animals in her hurry because she isn’t watching where she is going, or thinking about how her actions impact those around her. Ellie the elephant is too excited to stop and think, that is until she stands on a little mouse’s tail, and they cry out in pain. Mouse reminds Ellie that she needs to look where she is going, pay attention to her surroundings, and be considerate to those around her, and Ellie does just that as she apologises to the other animals, invites them along to the pool with her, and avoids any further mishaps along the way.

The context of this book is so invaluable with little ones who are often in such a hurry to get places or do things that they do not see the dangers and disasters ahead until it is too late, with trips and falls and bumping into one another being a common theme with small children. In primary schools one of the biggest complaints younger children had for visiting first aid would be head bumps because they weren’t looking where they were going until it was too late. Also, it is an important life lesson to learn when it comes to having consideration for others with regards to actions having consequences, and much more, and this resonates in Ellie’s adventure on a level that little ones can comprehend.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, with many different animal species featuring throughout, and the landscape surrounding Ellie and the others coming to life in a vibrant and beautiful way on the page. You get a real sense of the energy and fun that Ellie and her friends have together as they all enjoy themselves.

The Katha Chest – Radhiah Chowdhury

  • Illustrated by Lavanya Naidu
  • Published 14th October 2021 by Allen & Unwin

This is a truly gorgeous book in both illustration and text, both in sync when it comes to telling young readers of the stories and imaginary adventures that await Asiya when she visits Nanu’s house and explores the contents of the Katha Chest, which is treasure of the fabric variant, with each pattern serving as a reminder of something significant to Asiya and her family. There is so many variations of colour and design that await Asiya inside the chest, and she is delighted to be able to access this family heirloom, which often gets shared amongst relatives when they meet.

Children will learn that a Katha is a lightweight blanket made from old Sari’s, and likely see these as similar to a patchwork quilt, which are also often passed down the generations too. Asiya looks so comfy and cosy snuggled up amongst the contents of the chest, and draws inspiration from them too. The cultural traditions that feature alongside the themes of legacy and love really do combine perfectly in this storybook to offer children an insightful and interesting read, which would definitely be perfect for bedtime reading as the relaxing and heart warming feel of the book works its magic.

Who Fed Zed? – Amelia McInerney

  • Illustrated by Adam Nickel
  • Published 11th November 2021 by Allen & Unwin

This is a laugh out loud story to share, that has rhyming sentences throughout, and tells of four friends that like to hang out with the pet dog one of them has, but when the dog is banished to the shed because he has fleas it is the goldfish that they all take an interest in instead. They are all remind that under no circumstances should the fish be fed bread as it is dangerous for him to eat, which they learnt from a previous mistake, and when the goldfish starts to show the same signs of illness as the previous time it is assumed that bread is involved again, but the truth is much more bizarre, and will leave children shocked at the oversight that caused the feeding error, although everything works out in the end.

The names of the friends rhyming with one another makes this a tongue twister of a read, and is super fun to share with younger readers who enjoy joining in by guessing how the sentence will end. There is a cute surprise reveal from one of the characters at the end of the book which children will love too. This book has an all round feel good vibes to it with regards to the closeness of the friends, and their love for their pets that feature in the story, but also teaches invaluable information to children too, like not to feed goldfish bread, and to pay close attention to labels on products too!

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