I take Christmas as an opportunity to splurge on picture books…for the children obviously! I spend ages perusing the shelves of our local Waterstones, drinking in all those beautiful pages. Here are some of my favourites from this year’s purchases…
The picture above shows the Aerodynamics of Biscuits and Please Mr Panda (the link is sugary foods!). I’ve mentioned the Aerodynamics of Biscuits before because we went to the book launch in Plymouth in October. You can read more about it and the launch here. It’s a really good romp of a book to read and the illustrations are full of funny details. Please Mr Panda is a book for very small children by Steve Antony. As you can probably guess it’s all about saying please. It’s marvellously cheeky and there’s a great punch line at the end. I love Steve Antony’s books. We bought The Queen’s Hat for my nephew’s birthday and that’s another brilliant one of his. If you don’t know about Steve Antony I’d recommend looking him up. He has a fascinating story. He worked for many years in a call centre before taking the plunge to do a Masters in picture book illustration and now has six brilliant books to his name. Pretty inspiring eh? He also sounds like the nicest man on the planet, which always helps!
The picture above shows two books illustrated by Benji Davies. Benji Davies is a phenomenal illustrator who has now published two books as an author/illustrator, Granddad’s Island being one of them. Ultimately Granddad’s Island explores the loss of a grandparent but it’s so much more than that. It beautifully conveys the warmth and idiosyncrasies of the relationship between Granddad and Syd. On Sudden Hill, written by Linda Sarah (who is also an author/illustrator), is about what happens to a friendship when another person joins the gang. The text is very well-written and could easily stand alone without Benji Davies’ pictures, but in the way that brilliant picture books always do, the illustrations bring a whole new layer of meaning and emotion to the text. There’s a fab interview with Benji and Linda here if you’d like to find out more about how the book came together.
Talking of brilliantly written picture book texts, The Night Pirates has got to be one of my favourites. I think it may well be perfect, not a word or comma out of place. Written by Peter Harris and illustrated by Deborah Allwright it celebrated 10 years in 2015 so I had to get us a copy. The atmosphere and anticipation builds with pace and rhythm. In contrast Max at Night by Ed Vere has very few words in it and I just love it. Ed Vere is a master at producing books that convey big emotions with very few words. His book Banana is hilarious and only has about three words in it, mostly “Banana”. In Max at Night, Max can’t find the moon to say goodnight to and I actually cried in the bookshop reading this story (okay, I know I’m pregnant and a bit hormonal, but still!). It’s an ideal story for bedtime because Max the kitten with the wide eyes, gets a lovely happy ending that will send any similarly wide-eyed toddler off to sleep with happy dreams.