One of the best moments of the week is when the postman rings the doorbell and hands me a pile of books to review. Parents often ask me for recommendations so here are some of the best new picture books for children aged five and under.
Thank You, Mr Panda by Steve Antony (Hodder Children’s Books, £6.99)
Steve Antony is one of the most talented illustrators around. The Queen’s Hat won the Evening Standard’s Oscar’s First Book Prize and has been adapted for children by the London Symphony Orchestra. Thank You, Mr Panda is the third of his captivating Mr Panda stories and as well as being a vision to behold, the tale highlights the importance of showing appreciation, saying thank you and remembering that when someone gives you a present it’s the thought that counts.
Going to School by Rose Blake (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, £11.99)
If your son or daughter is starting school in September Going to School is the perfect way to prepare them for their first day. Artist Rose Blake uses bright and breezy illustrations to explore a day in the life of a little girl at school – from hanging her coat on her peg to seeing who can grow the tallest sunflower.
Fred by Mick and Chloë Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books, £6.99)
This talented father-and-daughter team don’t really need any introduction. Mick Inkpen is one of the top picture book artists in the world and his Kipper and Wibbly Pig stories have delighted millions of young readers. The enchanting Fred, the story of a mischievous dog who’s mystified to find there’s another dog in the house with the same name, is his latest collaboration with his daughter Chloë. Perfect for reading aloud together.
10 Reasons to Love an Elephant by Catherine Barr and Hanako Clulow ((Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, £9.99)
Children who are fascinated by animals will love this book, part of a new series published in association with the Natural History Museum. Full of fascinating facts – did you know that elephants can hold their breath for hours and live in herds headed by their grandmothers? No, me neither – it also features five ways to show you love an elephant (from not buying ivory to choosing Fairtrade presents). Look out for the second in the series too, 10 Reasons to Love a Turtle.
Dogger by Shirley Hughes (Bodley Head, £12.99)
Shirley Hughes was my daughter’s favourite author when she was five – so much so that she entered a competition to win a collection of her books and promptly won. Dogger is one of Hughes’s most famous stories – the tale of a little boy called Dave who loses his favourite toy, a soft brown dog called Dogger. Publisher Bodley Head has released a special 40th anniversary edition of this warm-hearted book, complete with a letter from Shirley Hughes and a picture of the real-life Dogger (who belonged to her elder son). It hasn’t dated at all.
Grumpy Frog by Ed Vere (Puffin, £6.99)
I heard Ed Vere recite snippets of his witty and irreverent picture book at a recent Penguin Random House party and was captivated. Grumpy Frog loves hopping, winning and the colour green. Everything else makes him furious – so what happens when a pink rabbit offers to be his friend? An engaging story that will charm parents and children alike.