How do they do it? Month after month we are blown away by the quality of the picture books that arrive on our doorstep. July has been jam-packed full of brilliant writing and amazing illustrations. Rather than bang on about it in this introduction, let’s just get stuck right in – I present to you the July 2018 Picture Book Roundup!
Duck! – Meg McKinlay and Nathaniel Eckstrom
A duck is trying to warn his fellow farm animals of something falling from the sky. “Duck!”, he tells them, but they don’t comprehend. One by one, each of the farm animals chastise poor old duck and duck-splain (yes, I just made that word up) why they are not a duck.
As the farm animals become ever more rude and belligerent, duck becomes aware that his message is not being understood. As the urgency increases, duck finally changes his wording. But is it too late?
With funny and charming illustrations, Duck! is a fun book, perfect for reading aloud together.
I also love author Meg McKinlay’s dedication: “For all the little folk who have important things to say.”
Girl on Wire – Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst
Girl On Wire is stunning story about facing up to challenges, perseverance, self-belief and finding inner strength.
As the girl stands for hours at the edge of the wire, strung high above the city between two tall buildings. The stormy thunder clouds roll in and she knows she must begin. Courageously, cautiously she steps out on to the wire. Storm clouds billow around her, her scarlet dress swishing around her legs.
As she inches forward and eyes peer up at her from below, the wind howls and her confidence wavers. ‘Help!’ she cries. A mother figure out in the storm provides strength in the form of words of support, words of comfort. Ultimately, however, the girl on the wire must conquer this challenge herself. Empowered and emboldened with courage and strength, she moves forward. Will she come through the storm?
Girl On Wire is a beautiful picture book. Each illustration is a work of art worthy of a place in a gallery. The canvas cover if this book compliments this quality of the cover illustration beautifully. The colours in the illustrations are sensational. In particular, the dramatic, billowing red dress in sharp contrast against the dark, stormy sky builds atmosphere wonderfully.
Are You My Bottom? – Kate Temple and Jol Temple and Ronjoy Ghosh
Are You my Bottom covers (uncovers?) a favourite toddler topic: bottoms. In a hilarious twist on ‘are you my mother’-style books, panda wakes one morning to find his bottom missing. As he searches for his bottom, each time he thinks he has finally found it, it turns out to be the rear of a completely different animal. How will panda ever find his missing bottom?
Full of bottom synonyms, this book will dramatically increase your toddler’s vocabulary in the most useful of ways. Bottom, bot, rear, butt, behind, bum, caboose, botty and bummox; this book has them all!
Are You My Bottom is filled with comical illustrations. My favourite is the one of a bawling bottomless panda being cuddled and comforted by the other animals as he despairs that his rear is lost forever. Or perhaps my favourite is the picture of the lemur sitting on the bum of a collapsed panda as he gives the double thumbs up signalling to panda that his bottom has been found. I don’t know, too many hilarious pictures to pick a favourite! Are You My Bottom is barrels of fun.
Barney – Catherine Jinks and Stephen Michael King
“Barney loves cat food. Barney loves greens. Barney loves bacon and biscuits and beans.” Barney goes on all sorts of intrepid adventures in pursuit of all his loves. Yes, he loves bibs and squashed bananas, ketchup and bits of tinfoil, doughnuts and such, but most of all Barney loves the little girl he shares his life with.
The delightful illustrations and repetitive rhyming narrative make Barney a lovable, charming and funny story about an adorable family dog that will eat anything.
Tropical Terry – Jarvis
In Coral Reef City live all the most dazzling fish, dashing and swirling in flurries of colour. Oh, and also Terry. Terry lives there too. Plain little Terry spends his days playing hide-a-fish and other games with his great mates Cilla the crab and Steve the sea snail. He is the best at hide-a-fish, he blends right in to the ocean floor.
Terry and his friends have loads of fun together. Still, Terry would dearly love to join the colourful tropical fish crowd. They refuse. “Terry, the dull fish!”, they tease. Desperate, Terry puts together a most bright and extravagant outfit and joins the vivid and dazzling fish. But when Eddie the eel comes looking for dinner, perhaps it would be better to blend into the surrounds after all.
Filled with bright and colourful illustrations of the ocean and its’ inhabitants, Tropical Terry weaves a nice story with age old themes of longing to fit in with the cool kids (fish), the value of trusted and true friendship, and being happy with who you are and what you have.
Cyril and Pat – Emily Gravett
Lonely Cyril is the only squirrel in the park. Until the morning he met Pat, His new best friend, a big grey… “Squirrel! Just like me.”, shouts Cyril with excitement. In his excitement for making a friend, Cyril fails to recognise that Pat is in fact a rat. Notwithstanding, together the two best friends play all sorts of wonderful games, go on many adventures and outwit Slim the dog when he tries to catch them.
The other animals try to tell Cyril that Pat is a rat, but Cyril is too excited to have his friend and doesn’t clue on. When finally Pat’s true rat identity is revealed to Cyril, they heed advice and part ways. Without Pat, Cyril finds their games are just no fun on his own and when Slim the dog returns, things aren’t looking too great for Cyril. As Slim gives chase, Cyril flees to the city. Luckily, there he finds Pat and his rat friends, ready to step in, just in the nick of time.
The rich illustrations in Cyril and Pat are a perfect accompaniment to this story of true friendship in the face of naysayers. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what others say. Some things are more important that being the same. Sometimes having a friend is enough.
Charlie – Ronojoy Ghosh
Charlie the lion liked art and fancy restaurants and the beach. The problem was, it was hard to enjoy all there was to enjoy when everywhere he went people made a terrible fuss – they were afraid he might eat them. But Charlie wouldn’t eat people, they were much too bony. He preferred cake. What Charlie needed was a clever disguise.
Oh, the adventures Charlie has before heading back home to the zoo!
Moth – Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus
Moth is a unique and powerful picture book telling the story of the evolution of the peppered moth. The colour of peppered moths can vary from black to light and many combination thereof. On lichen-covered tree branches, the black peppered moths were easily spotted by birds and eaten. Safely disguised, it was the speckled, freckled pepper moths that survived to pass on their favourable markings to their young and over time most peppered moths has this speckled colouring.
But then the world changed. People built factories and burnt coal to power magnificent machines. Smoke and soot filled the air and blackened tree branches. now the darkest moths were the masters of disguise, surviving long enough to pass on their wing colour to their young. Now, with new ways to power machines and the air becoming cleaner, trees have shed their sooty bark, both types of moth find places to hide.
Stunningly illustrated and well told for a child audience, Moth a wonderful introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. Moth is a story of change and adaptation, of survival and hope, demonstrating the extraordinary way in which animals have evolved, intertwined with the complication of human intervention. A truly special, insightful and uplifting picture book.
Old Hat – Emily Gravett
Harbet has a comfy hat. His Nana knitted it for him when he was little. Trouble is, others keep jeering at him – “OLD HAT! OLD HAT!”. So Harbet tries to fit in. He buys the latest hat styles – the towering fruit platter hat, the lit traffic cone hat – but try as he may he just can’t keep up with the latest fashions. Each time he gets a brand new hat it is already…OLD HAT! So Harbet dares to be different and forego a hat altogether. With that he reveals his wonderous uniqueness that no one can match no matter how they try.
Old Hat is a funny and charming story about the futility of fads and the fun to be had when you stop following others and think for yourself.
Spirit – Cherri Ryan and Christina Booth
Spirit is a powerful story about courage, persistence and resilience.
A girl builds a small toy boat, Spirit, and glides her across a small pond. She floats! Sweet success! Buoyed by the victory the girls sets her sights higher – to sail Spirit across the creek. Again Spirit rises to the challenge and returns to the girl. The next challenge: the river. spirit wobbles and weaves but her bow stays true. But as the girl races beside Spirit to the bridge…crash, rip, crack. The girl tends and mends Spirit all through the night. By morning she knows, Spirit is not broken. Her Spirit is stronger than ever before.
Puddle Hunters – Kristy Murray and Karen Blair
A heart-warming story about the quintessential childhood adventure: puddle hunting.
When the rain stops, Ruby and Banjo pull on their boots and head of in search for puddles to jump in. None in the garden, the street or the park, but then – jackpot! On the river flats, puddles galore! They splosh to make rainbows, get stuck in the mud, and Ruby spin, spin, spins until she falls over. Back at home, cosy in their pyjamas after their bath, Ruby and Banjo watch from their window as fat clouds gather and rain begins to fall, forming fresh puddles for their next adventure.
Alpacas with Maracas – Matt Cosgrove
Macca the alpaca and his best pal Al are barrels of fun. They get up to all sorts of outrageous escapades together and when they spot a flyer advertising a talent show, they are all in! All they need now is an act…
Hilarity ensues as they try their hand at all they can think of. However, their magic was tragic, their choir was dire and their tumbling was bubbling. Just as they are about to concede defeat, an idea… alpacas with maracas!
Cheerfully illustrated, fun, rhyming story, Alpacas with Maracas is bound to brighten your day.
Puffin the Architect – Kimberly Andrews
Puffin is an accomplished architect, but now she has her toughest clients ever, her pufflings. Drawing on her experiences and clever design, she suggests a stack of different features for their home to her young ones. A floating home like Otter’s fishing boat with furniture that folds away. A secret study like Detective Hound’s with a tunnel system under ground that leads to secret places. But the pufflings don’t want folding furniture like Otter’s or secret tunnels like Hound, they want a puffin cottage. So Puffin creates her best design yet – a house packed full of features especially for pufflings.
Baby’s First Bank Heist – Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins
I’m a little reluctant to read this picture book to Hannah, as the story line cuts a bit close to the bone. You see, Baby’s First Bank Heist is a tale about a baby who is infatuated by animals, but who just can’t make his parents understand. The tiny tot in this story goes to extreme lengths to realise his dream of having a pet… or two… or more…
I really don’t want to go and give Hannah ideas about robbing a bank, but at the same time the story is a load of fun! It’s packed full of rhyme, humour and great artwork. Maybe I will read it to her after all.
The Cook and the King – Julia Donaldson and David Roberts
Julia Donaldson is one of the absolute heavyweights of children’s literature. Hannah has several of her wonderful books on her shelves, including the must-have title, The Gruffalo.
Julia Donaldson has a wonderful way with words. The Cook and the King is full of clever rhyming verse, with the kind of repetition that toddlers like Hannah love. When the King is hungry, he searches for the best cook in the land to make him some food. One by one the cooks try their best, but none can satisfy the King’s very demanding palate.
When it all seems hopeless, the King spots another cook – Wobbly Bob. Can Wobbly Bob do the seemingly impossible and satisfy the King?
Perhaps… with a little help…
You can find The Cook and The King on the Pan Macmillan website.
Disclosure – these books were provided to Blog of Dad free of charge for the July 2018 Picture Book Roundup. For further information, please visit my disclosure statement.