A few weeks ago my eight-year-old daughter, Nykita, came home from school gushing about a book she had read. She absolutely loved it and wanted to know if I could “please, please, please” get her a copy. So I hopped online and ordered it from Boomerang Books (‘cause they’re the lovely people who host this blog :-)). It arrived on Monday.
The book is called Diary of a Wombat. It’s a picture book written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley. Nykita very excitedly read the book to me as soon as she got home from school (happily delaying her after school routine for a little while). And you know what? She’s right — it’s a fantastic book. It perfectly captures the essence of a wombat in a fun story with delightful pictures.
Evening: Ate grass.
Night: Ate Grass.
This got me thinking about picture books — specifically, about all the picture books that Nykita owns (some of which she is now willing to share with her younger sister). I’ve bought her a lot of these. And she has received a fair few of them as presents as well.
Nykita owns some pretty dreadful books (although she’s now given most of these to her sister) with bad verse and bland stories and ordinary (sometimes even amateurish) illustrations. But she also owns a lot of really good picture books as well. So, I thought I’d look through these books, and pick out my favourites — after all, I’ve read them often enough. Now take note please, these are books that Nykita owns, and doesn’t include all the wonderful picture books that I own (and which I’ve read to her), like Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls and Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing.
So, in no particular order, my favourites are…
Olivia, Olivia Saves the Circus, Olivia Forms a Band, Olivia… and the missing toy and Olivia Helps With Christmas, all written and illustrated by Ian Falconer.
These are the fabulously insightful, delightful and whimsical adventures of a young pig and her family. Brilliant stuff! You may notice that I have not included the latest book, Olivia Goes to Venice, which I felt did not live up to the previous titles. Also, please note that these books are waaaaaay better than the television series based upon them.
Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten, written and illustrated by Bob Graham.
A lovely book about friendship, perception and giving people a chance. I also love Graham’s How to Heal a Broken Wing… but I own that one.
TWANG-NG! the precious pear came free.
And then the bird, as you can see,
was CAT-A-PUL-TED from the tree.
Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear by Matt Day.
This is an unusual picture book. It is quite wordy and contains photographs rather than illustrations. It is wonderfully unique! It tells the story of an old, discarded teddy bear who ends up in a garbage dump, where he finds some friends. Nykita also has the sequel, Dougal and Bumble and the Long Walk Home, but it doesn’t quite recapture the charm of the original.
Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The first is a classic, loved the world over. The second is not as well known, but should be. I love the fact that the three cooks in In the Night Kitchen all look like Oliver Hardy.
A Friend for Boots and Bathtime Boots, written and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura.
These are very simple books for young kids, with minimal words and basic illustrations… but they are absolutely charming.
Just look at the way that he juggles with fruit!
The mice all march past as he takes the salute.
And his dinosaur! What a MAGNIFICENT brute!
But Mr Magnolia – poor Mr Magnolia – Mr Magnolia has only one boot…
Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram.
A lovely story about Little Nut-brown Hare and Big Nut-brown Hare, and just how much they love each other. I always get a little misty-eyed when reading this one.
So there you have it — a small selection of wonderful picture books. What are your favourites? Leave a comment and share!
Catch ya later, George
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