Book Reviews

Kitten Corner: Picture Book Round Up

The New Year always brings with it so many lovely new books! There’s a huge range among these eight picture books, from funny to sweet, from gentle adventures and sleep-inducing reads to celebrations of reading and explorations of lockdown. All of these were sent to me for review, but as always my opinions are my own.

All the Wonderful Ways to Read by Laura Baker and Sandra de la Prada, from Little Tiger Books

I love this book. It’s sweet and charming, and very beautifully puts across the hope a reading adult has that their child will love books too. In pleasantly rolling rhymes, it talks about all the different kinds of books and readers, where and how and what they like to read, and all with a simple, affirming message that all reading is great, from non-fiction to fantasy to graphic novels to the back of the shampoo bottle. Whatever you like to read, there’ll be something for you – and this book captures that perfectly. Just gorgeous.

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, from Nosy Crow

We really enjoyed Frank and Bert’s first story, which focused on friendship and how to play compassionately, and this one has a very similar sweet vibe, with Frank helping Bert to learn to ride a bike. Good communication is very important between friends, and I like how this book puts the theme across and shows how to apologise and offer help to someone, without ever being preachy or overtly having teaching moments. Plus, the scribbly artwork is really sweet and there’s plenty of gentle humour in the illustrations as a whole. It’s very heartwarming!

The Same But Different Too, by Karl Newson and Kate Hindley, from Nosy Crow

This is a celebration of difference and similarity, with a mixture of human and animal characters that are very fun to look at. It’s got some great opposites in its jaunty rhyming couplets, and a mixture of physical features, emotions, and skills that feels like it’s very positive about differences without judging people who are tall or short, or who can or can’t climb trees – it’s hard to explain, but all these things are simply facts, not good or bad. A very sweet read, and one I think would be great for kids starting school, who may start to compare themselves to others.

Wake Up, Trucks! by Jodie Parachini and Teresa Bellōn, from Little Tiger

This is such a fun and funny read, perfect for fans of vehicles and dramatic, dynamic art. The pages feel chaotic in the best way, as the trucks go about their day, from waking up to going to sleep, and the energy is matched by a jaunty rhyming text with lots of exclamations and humour in it. Parents reading aloud might have to be careful of their tongues at the ‘trucking fun’! I liked that there were many different kinds of trucks and diggers named, and the way they’re anthropomorphised is really cute too – I especially enjoyed their bedtime routine. Definitely not a bedtime book, but perfect for a high-energy read.

I Really Really Love You So by Karl Newson and Duncan Beedie, from Little Tiger

The bushbaby from I Really Really Need A Wee is back, and this time the story is all about expressing love! Bushbaby comes up with lots of fantastic and fantastical ways to tell someone you love them, with adorable artwork and lots of hilarious situations. This would make a lovely gift, and is a great way to explore how love remains the same no matter what you’re doing, if you’re being chased by a bear or even just a bit grumpy. It’s a very cute read.

Outside, by Bee Chuck, from Little Tiger

This is the first kids’ book exploring the pandemic lockdown that I’ve seen, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. While it does go a little bit into how stifling it was to be trapped inside, it doesn’t tackle the reason for it or any of how scary it was (though I’m not sure it could!), and it ultimately presents the lockdown as something with a strong positive effect, that being unable to go outside made people more mindful and appreciative of nature, and everyone’s now living a slower and happier life, and I’m just not sure that’s true on the whole! It’s a sweet and uplifting book taken in isolation, though (pun intended) and I really enjoyed the cute child-like artwork. The foxes in particular are adorable!

Mole’s Quiet Place by Jane Chapman, from Little Tiger

This is a wonderful, adorable read about needing a bit of space from others to relax. It’s very gentle, with artwork that feels incredibly cosy, and it’s not at all judgmental of Mole for being introverted and wanting to be alone sometimes. I think this will be a great way to explore the power of alone time with kids who might not understand that parents and children alike can become overwhelmed and need a break, even if they still love their friends and family. A very sweet and beautiful book.

Balloon to the Moon by Becky Davies and Jennica Lounsbury, from Little Tiger

And finally, a sleepy story to round us off. The artwork in this book is beautiful, full of soft night blues and purples, and it’s accompanied by a story that includes lots of repetition and sleepy imagery to create a very relaxing atmosphere. The blurb says that it includes meditation and mindfulness techniques, and it certainly focuses on letting go of worries and grounding yourself in your body, letting the sleep wash over you. I’m not sure how well it works for really little ones, but it’s a great idea.

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