With a small grandson I am even more interested in picture books than I was before, and I have always loved seeing how writers and illustrators get the words and pictures to work together. Here are some of the books I have enjoyed over the last few months, and I just had to include two books with the same title!
The first of these books is by Angie Morgan and is a story about a rat who thinks he is actually a mouse. It is beautifully written and illustrated tale of knowing who you are inside and not being stereotyped. The second story is the story of a small kitten who joins the circus and has difficulties finding his place in the world. Then he has a BIG idea and becomes a triumph. Again this is about knowing yourself and also working with your strengths.
David Roberts must be one of my favourite illustrators, with a very distinctive style and pictures that are full of colour, action and a truly subversive sense of humour. I first saw a copy of his latest book, written by Peter Bently, at an Andersen preview evening last autumn and I was thrilled when a copy landed on my doorstep. It is about the adventures of a group of sheep who steal an airplane and have fantastic adventures, whilst being chased by the pilot, who looks remarkably like Dick Dastardly. The setting is early 20th century, so we have the open bi-plane and the link to the film ” those magnificent men….” It really is a great story and full of wonderful atmospheric pictures.
Jo Hodgkinson is new to me but I really loved this gentle tale of friendship and parenting. Billy has parents who love magic, the trouble is, they are not very good at it. One day Billy saves Nigel the snail from one of their spells and they become firm friends. Unfortunately the parents think Nigel is unexciting and try to persuade Billy to have another pet; as a result Nigel decides to leave. Luckily, after a lot of excitement, all ends well. I think I am going to have great fun reading this to my grandson and I look forward to seeing more work by this author.
These final two stories really appealed to me and I have been talking about them to anyone willing to listen. “Herman’s Letter” is written and illustrated by Tom Percival, perhaps better know for his covers to the “Skulduggery Pleasant” books. It is a gently humorous book about what happens when best friends Henry Raccoon and Herman Bear are separated. Herman worries that his friend has forgotten him and Henry is concerned that he has not heard from his friend. How everything is resolved makes for a warm and enjoyable tale.
The final book is by Thomas and Helen Docherty and focuses on the importance of bedtime stories, family and friendship. In Burrow Down all the children enjoy stories at bedtime, but then their books start to mysteriously disappear. Who could be stealing their bedtime stories? A small rabbit called Eliza Brown takes on the challenge and finds a small creature called a “Snatchabook”. The resolution to the story is satisfying and reminds us of the importance of the bedtime story and the way it brings adults and children together.