Natural History Board Books

Who’s Hiding: In the Garden?
Pintachan and Amelia Hepworth
Little Tiger

Having lost her five babies, Mummy Snail needs help to find them. First she asks Frog and thanks to him, locates the first of her missing offspring. Following Mouse’s suggestion, she discovers baby number two and Puppy’s advice enables her to find the third. With two still in hiding along comes Butterfly as she approaches the strawberry plant. You can guess what’s beneath one of the juicy fruits … and that leaves just one. Now where can it be? …
With flaps for little fingers to manipulate in Pintachan’s bold, bright cut away spreads of the search, a simple narrative with speech bubbles and sounds coming from the baby snails to join in with, Amelia Hepworth’s countdown narrative provides plenty to engage little ones who participate in Mummy Snail’s hunt.

One Little Seed
Becky Davies and Charlotte Pepper
Little Tiger

It never ceases to amaze this adult reviewer how from one tiny seed, a lovely flower can grow, often indeed many, many beautiful flowers. It all depends on what kind of seed whether you get a single bloom or a multitude all blooming on one plant and we see both examples in Charlotte Pepper’s bright, alluring illustrations.
In her text for this biggish board book, Becky Davies’s engaging narrative certainly encourages young children to go outdoors with an adult, involve themselves in nature and use all their senses to investigate the flora, (along with the fauna and natural environment in general) around them,

preferably with the book to hand.
There’s a spread with information about how to grow your own flower from seed, and/or a bulb; another showing some of the delicious fruits and vegetables flowering plants produce; we visit a community garden and finally are reminded of the cycle of life in which every one of us, young and not so young can play a part. With a wealth of flaps to explore – several per spread – with further information – visual and verbal – beneath each, this book will one hopes, motivate little ones to be outdoor explorers.

The Tree Book
Hannah Alice
Nosy Crow

Illustrated by Hannah Alice, this large format book was produced in consultation with Simon Toomer, recently appointed Curator of Living Collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The sturdy, see-through pages contain a considerable amount of information written in a young child-friendly style. Interesting, fun and interactive, it introduces users to the inner workings of a tree.
The cut out, see-through pages allow you to ‘look inside’ each part of the tree – roots, trunk, branches and leaves – and see how it functions and grows. Each page presents a different tree-related topic such as new leaves, flowers and pollen, leaves and photosynthesis,

fruits and seeds, mighty minibeasts, underground roots of different types of trees.
The written narrative, with corresponding stylised but clear pictures, takes us through the four seasons and concludes with a look at the importance of caring for and perhaps planting new trees. Without these wonderful plants, none of us would have fresh oxygen to breath.
Walking in a place that has lots of trees is one of my favourite things to do, and I’d certainly suggest it’s never too early to start fostering a love of trees in children; this book could be a good place to start.

A Quartet of Board Books

Bumblebee Grumblebee
David Elliot
Gecko Press

Brilliantly playful is David Elliot’s sequence of rhyming scenarios. We see, among others, an elephant donning dance gear, hence elephant balletphant; there’s a rhinoceros dropping a yummy ice cream cone and becoming crynocerus; pelican rushing to put its botty on a potty – pelican smellican; and when the bumblebee breaks its pull-along toy it becomes grumblebee. Last of all comes turtle – now what could the grinning creature be about to do …
This is just the kind of book to encourage very young children to delight in hearing and creating language and adult sharers will have fun as they read it aloud be that at home or in an early years setting.

How To Say Hello
Sophie Beer
Little Tiger

At the start of the pandemic people had to look for alternative ways to greet one another rather than with a hug or a kiss. Those are two of the ways illustrated in this board book; however some of the others – elbow bumping, smiling, fist bumping, waving would have been acceptable even before restrictions were lifted. How lovely it is to be able once again to give somebody a high five, a cuddle, to greet somebody with the offer of a snack, all of which Sophie Beer portrays in her latest inclusive book for adults to share with toddlers: there’s plenty of fun detail to enjoy in each inviting spread, while so doing.

Sing A Song Of Kindness
Becky Davies and Ciara Ni Dhuinn
Little Tiger

‘Sing a song of kindness, / a pocket full of joy. / Share a slice of friendship /with every girl and boy.’ That’s the first verse of the title song in this board book for which Becky Davies has adapted the words of ten favourite nursery rhymes and songs so that each one offers ideas of friendship, kindness, consideration or compassion.
Each one is illustrated by Ciara Ni Dhuinn who uses images of plants and animals to create gorgeous scenes that offer adult sharers and their little ones plenty to pause and talk about as they sing their way through this book, which is best kept until children are familiar with the originals.

Thank You, Little Rabbit
illustrated by Michelle Carlslund
Happy Yak

It looks as though Little Rabbit is going to have a busy day. As she wanders in the woods she notices her friend Little Squirrel is distressed. He’s hungry and unable to find food but Little Rabbit directs him to search in just the right place (little ones can assist by pulling the ribbon tab) to find a rich source of nuts. She also comes to the aid of Mama Goose and her little ones; they’re lost on their way to warmer climes for the winter. Little Frog has become separated from his friends and Little Rabbit offers a comforting hug and points them out. The result of all that helping is a lot of happy friends and a Little Rabbit who receives a big hug from a parent rabbit.

Little humans should certainly feel part of the action as they manipulate the tabs to reveal the outcomes of Little Rabbit’s helpfulness depicted in Michelle Carlslund’s empathetic illustrations as the story is read aloud.

The Last Tiger

The Last Tiger
Becky Davies and Jennie Poh
Little Tiger

Climate change and destructive human actions are at the heart of this tale of Asha the tiger.

As the story opens, she and her family are living happily in a lush forest along with boars and other creatures. but little by little their environment changes. Sunny days become hotter and hotter and rainy ones, much wetter, so wet that the land is flooded, forcing the boars to leave the forest in search of other places to live. Tigers too disappear, and without the boars, food for the remaining tigers becomes extremely scarce.

Eventually Asha finds herself completely alone, save for the scent of humans. Yes, humans had come into the forest, bringing with them huge destructive machines that cut down all the trees.

As Asha creeps through the devastation the humans have left in their wake, she sees a flash of bright orange. Another tiger perhaps? But no, it’s an orangutan, but company at least. Can the two of them possibly find a new home somewhere else …

Tragic and poignant, this timely story looks at the plight of just one of the animal species endangered, due for the most part to human actions such as the deforestation we saw in Asha’s natural habitat.
Saving tigers from extinction means saving forests and there’s relevant information in the final pages of this book including the alarming fact that there are now less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild.

Toddler Take-Along: Nature / Hello, Bee / Jeppo Finds His Friends

It’s never too early to start introducing little ones to the delights of nature and the first two books from Little Tiger should help do just that. Thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

Toddler Take-Along: Nature
Ana Zaja Petrak and Becky Davies

Bold images on bright backgrounds with peep through die-cuts and a simple question per spread, invite toddlers to look all around and with the help of the labels, name what they see, be it on the ground, up in the sky, or on and around the pond.
As suggested in the title, a handy carrying handle makes this one ideal for taking out on walks.

Also bursting with mini beasts is:

Hello, Bee
Sophie Ledesma

A buzzy bee leads the way through the pages of this touchy-feely, lift the flap book wherein we meet small creatures that fly, crawl, slither and walk; there’s an odd surprise too. Sophie Ledesma’s multicoloured images are gently humorous yet recognisable, and in combination with the brief chatty text and hidden animals element and the final ‘What did you spot on the way?’ spread showing an assortment of natural objects that were passed on bee’s flight, make for an interactive experience that little humans will enjoy sharing with an adult or perhaps an older sibling.

Another interactive board book is:

Jeppo Finds His Friends
Ingela P Arrhenius
Walker Books

Tiger Jeppo can’t wait to meet up with all his friends but although he soon finds Larry Lamb and Flora Fox, of Odd the owl there’s no sign. So off the others go to look for him. After several misidentifications, disappointed, they’re on the point of giving up but there’s one last place to check. Perhaps they might be lucky this time …
Toddlers will have fun lifting the various flaps as they join in the search for Odd the owl in Ingela Arrhenius’ bold, bright playful spreads.

I Love You More Than All the Stars / I Love You Forever and a Day

These are two picture books from Little Tiger both written in rhyme and both celebrating love: thanks to the publisher for sending them for review:

I Love You More Than All the Stars
Becky Davies and Dana Brown

The joys of a loving friendship between two small children is celebrated against an inky sky and Dana Brown’s unusual colour palette is what helps to makes this book that bit different from many of its kind.

We hear how the young friends share an unbreakable bond that is ‘deeper than the sea’, ‘stronger than a storm’ and ‘softer than a snowflake dance’, a bond that so the speaker says, will last for ever.

Much of what we see the two enjoying together takes place at night under the moon in scenes

illuminated by silver stars and the only additional colour is provided by the pops of salmon pink on the friends’ clothing and some of the natural images, a bird in flight and dancing leaves for instance.

I Love You Forever and a Day
Amelia Hepworth and Tim Warnes

In the sequel to I Love You to the Moon and Back the focus is on parental love as an adult bear takes its cub through an idyllic day of togetherness. We meet them at sunrise and join them walking through the countryside, jumping paw-in-paw to cross the water, pausing to observe a mother bird and her young, basking in the meadow, picking wild flowers, splashing in the river

and finally, heading homewards under the stars ready to snuggle up close and fall fast asleep,

The characters’ shared joy shines out from Tim Warnes’ scenes of ursine activity: his bears are hugely appealing to young children who will delight in snuggling up close to their own mum or dad (or perhaps grandparent) for some pre bedtime togetherness with this story.

Board Books for Christmas

Here are three festive board books from Little Tiger – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review

Nibbles Christmas
Emma Yarlett

Nibbles gets all jolly and festive in this romping, chomping seasonal countdown wherein he topples the row of 10 robots, sings along with the 9 red birds , counts sleeps left till the big day with the help of the 8 stars, bounces around with the 7 bunnies and so on, taking a quick bite whenever he gets the opportunity, till we reach 1 big box beautifully wrapped and labelled. I wonder what could be found inside … It will surely be a surprise.
Emma’s mischievous toothy creature is a delight whatever the time of year so youngsters will love to meet him sporting his Santa’s hat in this rhyming Christmassy counting book.
There’s more counting fun in

Five Christmas Friends
Danielle McLean and Rosalind Maroney

Little ones can meet Santa driving his sleigh above the rooftops (just the one of course), two playful snowmen friends, 3 elves busily making presents in the workshop, four singing robins and five flying reindeer touching down alongside a house all lit up with strings of lights in this die-cut and slider book. As they manipulate the sliders, tinies might like to join in with some of Danielle McLean’s words by “ho! ho!’-ing a greeting to Santa Claus, shivering along with the snowmen, tap tap with the elves, singing along with the robins and ‘knock knock knock’-ing at the door of Little Mouse’s house where the reindeer have stopped, all of which are shown in Rosalind Maroney’s bright, jolly scenes.

What Are Santa’s Elves Made Of?
Becky Davies illustrated by Louise Angelicas

For those toddlers who stop and wonder what Santa’s special little helpers are really made of, this board book has the answers.
Having shared the book and enjoyed the final surprise pop-out spread, grown ups might even try baking some gingerbread shapes and adorning them just like the jolly elves shown herein, with their outfits made of sweets. These could then be stored away in a tin till the big day and then the lid opened at teatime to the sound of those magical jingle bells mentioned in Becky Davies rhyming narrative, with everyone present making a Christmas wish.

Have Fun With Boardbooks

Splish, Splash!
Sophie Ledesma and Isobel Otter
Little Tiger
What will Little Fish discover as it swims around beneath the ocean? By manipulating the various sliding mechanisms little ones will discover sea creatures large and small before bidding goodnight to the sleepy Little Fish that has splashed its way right through to the penultimate spread where there’s a convenient place to hide itself behind. ZZZZZ … 

On the final spread all the other creatures that were encountered on the previous pages are labelled. Huge fun and great for developing fine motor skills. Sophie Ledesma’s playful illustrations are full of patterns that add to the visual impact throughout this ‘slide and seek’ book.

Ladybird Ladybird What Can You See?
Pintachan
Little Tiger
This is the latest addition to Pintachan’s brightly illustrated lift-the-flap series wherein Amelia Hepworth introduces positional words – in, behind, inside and under during the game with Ladybird and Ant wherein various other partially hidden minibeasts depicted on the flaps are revealed by lifting the flaps. Ant too is revealed saying in turn ‘It’s Butterfly!’, ‘It’s Spider!’, ‘It’s Bee!’ ‘It’s Worm!’ while the final spread has a mirror hidden under its flap. 

With its simple, repeat refrain rhyming text this is huge fun to share with the very young as well as for beginning readers to read to their younger brothers or sisters. Ant has a different fruit or portion of one on each spread so this offers lots of talk potential – what is it? Who will eat it etc.

Where’s My Puppy?
Becky Davies, illustrated by Kate McLelland
Little Tiger
The mischievous looking puppy shown on the cover of this book has almost disappeared by the first spread and little ones can enjoy following the colourful footprints through the rest of the spreads to discover his whereabouts on the final page. Before that though they encounter in turn Guinea Pig, Kitten, and Pony each of which shares a feature in common with the pup. Guinea Pig has soft fur, Kitten a fluffy tail and Pony’s tongue is rough giving youngsters a variety of tactile experiences as they join in the game to find Puppy. 

With a repeat question on each spread this offers a joining in opportunity too.

Go Go Apple
Claire Philip and Steven Wood
Sunbird Books
I’ve never really considered what happens to apple cores collected in food waste as I always throw mine into a bin that’s emptied straight onto our own compost heap. So, it was interesting to see this title in the ‘My first recycling series’ and be able to follow the journey of one core from collection by a truck to the recycling plant and thence into a large machine where it’s mixed with leaves and other waste food and shredded. Some then goes off to become compost, the rest being liquified for farm manure or made into a gas that can be used for the heat and electricity of homes and cars.

With plenty of accompanying onomatopoeic sounds to join in with, a simple narrative description and fun illustrations, this is an interactive book to share with the very young be that at home or in an early years setting.

Peekaboo Sun
Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow
Babies and toddlers love to play peekaboo especially when there’s a mirror involved so they’ll thoroughly enjoy this addition to the sliders series with its fishes, sunshine, ice cream boat, crab and other things with a seaside theme. Rhyming couplets introduce the items in Ingela P Arrhenius’s jolly, patterned illustrations.

Great fun and an opportunity for little ones to develop their fine motor skills.

A Celebration of Board Books

Here’s a handful of recent Little Tiger Board Books – thanks to the publishers for sending them for review

First Nature: Ladybird
Harriet Evans and Bryony Clarkson

Following on from Caterpillar in this ‘first nature’ flap-book series is the equally playful Ladybird. Very young children will love Bryony Clarkson’s bright alluring, textured art and Harriet’s brief, sometimes alliterative rhyming text as Ladybird scuttles and scurries, hastens and hurries across the cleverly cut-away pages, slowing to feed, feel fear, fall and fly to the nest, finally ready to hibernate.

Elephant Elephant What Can You See?
Pintachan

Accompanied by a questioning chirpy bird friend, Elephant takes a wander in this lift-the-flap book, and the two play a kind of hide-and-seek game with the animals that are tucked away in turn, beneath the lily pad, in the tall grass, under water and behind a tree. Then, on the final spread, when the final flap is lifted, there’s a surprise mirror so tinies will come face to face with their own image.
With Pintachan’s simple, bright images and the repeat patterned rhyming narrative, this is likely to be a winner with little ones.

Beep Beep! Builders
Becky Davies and Gareth Lucas

Be ready for a noisy time when you share this with your little one. Set on a building site, we meet the boss Little B and his five co-workers. There’s Digger, Mixer, Crane, all of which are somewhat over-enthusiastic, as well as a roller and a tip-up truck. Having dug, mixed, built and lifted all day long, come sundown the boss praises their teamwork and suggests it’s time for play.
Tinies will love pressing the squishy bodies of the jolly diggers as they follow their actions and join in the rumbling, tooting, whirring and other sounds.

For a slightly older audience is

Your Body
Harriet Evans and Lirios Bou

Another of the cleverly designed ‘switch-a-picture’ books with Harriet’s rhyming presentation of in turn, the skeleton, breathing, eating, thinking and the circulatory system accompanied by Lirios Bou’s subtly coloured images of children’s bodies, first clad and then, when the central tab on each page edge is pulled, the related internal working are revealed along with additional relevant information.

A to Z: An Alphabet of Animals
illustrated by Linda Tordoff

Published under the Caterpillar Books imprint this lift-the-flap board book presents animals large and small; but where are they? They’re all hiding, just waiting to be discovered by eager fingers opening their respective initial letter flaps. Little ones can meet creatures feathered, furry, scaly and smooth all stylishly illustrated in subtle colours.

I Love You more than Christmas / The Snowiest Christmas Ever / Can You Find Santa’s Pants

Here are 3 seasonal picture books from Little Tiger kindly sent for review

I Love You more than Christmas
Ellie Hattie and Tim Warnes

Little Bear love, love, loves pretty much everything about Christmas but what is it that he -and indeed his mother and father- love even more than Christmas? We’ll discover the answer – eventually – but adults will probably guess it from the outset. Every attempt one of them makes to reveal that one better thing is interrupted by something or someone that is part and parcel of the exciting build-up to the big day.

First it’s the mail delivery (Mrs Postman with a sackful of cards), then it’s Daddy Bear bursting through the door dragging an enormous tree to decorate, after which it’s Mummy who’s been hunting for the decorations in the loft; but that’s just the start.

It takes until bedtime before Little Bear is finally able to share that all important message.

Tim Warnes’ wonderfully warm illustrations are an ideal complement to Ellie Hattie’s homely tale of togetherness and celebration.

The Snowiest Christmas Ever
Jane Chapman

In the run up to Christmas things are pretty nearly perfect in the bear family’s cabin but there’s one thing lacking, so says young Button Bear cub, and that is snow. Her brother is equally eager for the fluffy stuff to be ready for Santa’s sleigh to land in. Then come bedtime, lo and behold what should the cubs spy as they peep through the curtains but swirling, whirling snowflakes. As the bears fall asleep snug inside, the snow continues falling all night getting ever deeper outside.

The following morning though, things on the snow front seem to have got rather excessive and it looks as though the entire family is stuck indoors. Was that wish of Button’s a mistake? Will Santa be able to make his delivery to the cabin?

Perhaps the cubs can turn the situation around so they all have a truly memorable Christmas …
This is definitely a cuddle up and share picture book that focuses on the anticipation and excitement of the days leading up to Christmas.

Can You Find Santa’s Pants?
Becky Davies and Alex Willmore

Here’s a new take on the ever-popular subject of pants and on Christmas, that I suspect many youngsters will find irresistible. Just imagine the sight of a bare-bottomed Santa sitting atop his sleigh; but that is a decided possibility when on Christmas Eve he discovers, horror of horrors, that his pants have gone awol. Hang on though; what about all the spare pairs hanging on the washing line? Oh dear me, now they too are playing hard to get as they detach themselves from the line and take flight.

The hunt is on but if Santa can’t locate any of the errant underwear, can he find a suitable alternative so he doesn’t have to expose his rear end to the elements on his chilly delivery round.

An emergency is declared and all his friends – elven and animal – rally round to join the hunt. Will they or won’t they avert a chuddie crisis: it’s a case of …

Told through Becky Davies’ jaunty rhyming text and absolutely hilarious illustrations presented by Alex Willmore (of pea fame), this will be one of the year’s festive favourite for sure.

Board Books for Christmas

Who Said Merry Christmas?
Becky Davies and Yi-Hsuan Wu
Little Tiger

Ho Ho Ho! comes the mystery voice, but who spoke the words? Was it Penguin? Feel the tactile soft tummy (it gives a clue), lift the flap and discover the owner of the jolly utterance. Do similar for the “Tweet!”, the “Roar!”, the “Merry Christmas!” greeting and lastly, respond to the final question above the mirror.
Hide-and-seek fun for the very youngest, engagingly illustrated in Yi-Hsuan Wu’s jolly scenes of Penguin, Mrs Claus, Snowman and Reindeer and the characters hidden beneath the four flaps.

Can’t See Santa!
Mandy Archer and Chris Jevons
Little Tiger

It’s Christmas Eve and all is ready but where oh where is Santa? That’s what the little mouse asks as he searches everywhere both inside the house, and outdoors in the snowy garden where at least there should be signs of Santa’s sled. Then back indoors again the tiny creature’s so downhearted he can’t even face a nibble of his carrot let alone the seasonal fare spread out on the table. Worse still is the complete lack of a single present beside the sparkling tree. Has Santa forgotten our little rodent friend? So miserable does he feel that Mouse heads off to his attic bed. But there’s something he doesn’t know and that’s not revealed until the final flap in Chris Jevons’ festively detailed sequence of story-telling pictures is opened. Mandy Archer’s rhyming couplets tell the tale from Mouse’s viewpoint on the bottom stair, in snow-filled garden, on the table, beneath the Christmas tree or in his bed. With several flaps to explore and assist mouse in his search on every spread, little ones will delight in the hunt and the secret that they might or might not, already know about.

Peas on Earth
Jonny Marx and Lindsey Sagar
Little Tiger

The five little peas in their pod can barely contain themselves so full of festive cheer are they feeling. Indeed, one by one the small spherical objects pop out io their case so great is their excitement once that Christmas wreath is attached to the door. So, we have four left to help decorate the tree one of which needs to get the star bringing their number to three enjoying the view outdoors. Santa’s grotto isn’t too far so off goes another and so on till atop the tree sits just one. It’s she that will delight in the appearance of a pair of booted feet before a special delivery is made and there’s something for them all. HURRAH!
A fun-filled yuletide countdown to share with the very young who will love poking their fingers into the die-cut circles, as well as following the frolics of the peas described in Jonny Marx’s rhyming text and shown in Lindsey Sagar’s jolly seasonal scenes.

My Magical Snowman
illustrated by Yujin Shin
Campbell Books

Oh dear! Santa’s sleigh – so the elves say – is in need of a quick repair before he can start on his delivery round. So who can they call upon to help? Snowman seems willing once his door has been opened (move the slider) and off they all go whooshing over the frozen lake and whizzing down the slippery slope (2 more sliders). Then with a touch of the snowman’s magic, it’s up and away for Santa “Ho, Ho Ho-ing” on his sleigh as he bids all his helpers a “Merry Christmas”.
Simple, satisfying and lots of fun – both in the manipulating of the sliders and the rhyming text that accompanies the chilly wintry scenes of elvish frolics and willing assistance.

Dear Santa
Rod Campbell
Macmillan Children’s Books

This is a board book version of Rod Campbell’s Christmas classic which, almost unbelievably, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Yes, it’s that enormously engaging sharing of a letter to Santa requesting something special for Christmas and what the old man does and thinks as he wraps up all manner of not quite right gifts before, on Christmas Eve, he decides upon the one that’s just right and much appreciated by the letter writer.
A Christmas must if you have a toddler.

Zoom: Ocean Adventure & Zoom: Space Adventure / Where’s My Peacock?

Zoom: Ocean Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Sam Rennocks
Zoom: Space Adventure
Susan Hayes, illustrated by Susanna Rumiz
What on Earth Books

These are two titles in a new board-book non-fiction series for curious toddlers.

In the first we meet Noah and join him and his turtle on an ocean adventure as he takes his boat out to sea, dons his diving gear and plunges into the water.

His first location is a coral reef, a good place for a game of hide-and-seek with some fish. Next stop is a seagrass meadow with its seahorses, dugongs and a wealth of other creatures, some of which emerge from the kelp.

Danger suddenly looms in the shape of a hungry great white shark from which Noah must make a hasty escape by climbing into his submarine and diving down to the darkest depths.

There’s also a sunken pirate ship with treasure and more to discover as Noah heads for the Antarctic and an iceberg with penguins atop, made all the more dramatic by its large die-cut shape,

Indeed die-cuts are a feature of every spread and with their clever placing each one offers a different view depending on whether the page is turned forwards or back.

The Space Adventure is Ada’s and begins with her (and her cat) boarding her rocket ship and awaiting the countdown which is delivered through wordless die-cut illustrated pages shaped as the numbers 5 through to 1.

Then the rocket blasts off skywards towards the moon, docking at the International Space Station to make a delivery and for Ada to perform some urgent repairs before making a lunar landing to collect scientific samples.

Thereafter, the rocket explores the Solar System viewing all the different planets before heading home once more.

Characteristic of both, rather longer than average board books are: the surprise pop-up on the penultimate spread, the wealth of visual details in Sam Rennocks and Susanna Rumiz’s vibrant illustrations, the die-cut pages, the relatively short narrative and the fact that both Noah and Ada actually experience their journeys through their imagination.

Sturdily built, these are well worth putting into a nursery collection or adding to your toddler’s bookshelf.

Where’s My Peacock?
Becky Davies and Kate McLelland
Little Tiger

In their latest touchy-feely, hide-and-seek board book, thanks to Becky Davies’ simple repeat patterned and Kate McLelland’s alluring patterned art, toddlers can follow the trail of footprints and discover a long tailed lemur, a feathery owl and a brightly hued toucan before locating the dazzling tailed peacock that has almost, but not entirely, hidden himself away.

Tactile fun for tinies and the possibility of learning some new vocabulary.

Little Turtle and the Sea

Little Turtle and the Sea
Becky Davies and Jennie Poh
Litte Tiger

In this story we follow Little Turtle as she emerges from a nest on the sandy shore and heads to the safety of the sea, right through to maturity.

The turtle grows to love the ocean as she herself grows larger and one day she reaches the other side of the world where she lives for many years foraging and feeding.

Then comes a time for her to make the long journey back to the beach from whence she came .

Now however, it’s different. Things are not right: the colours of the reef are fading and instead of familiar friends, all manner of weird-looking new creatures (plastic bags) float everywhere.

The strangeness increases and ‘The ocean no longer felt like a friend.’

Little Turtle is alone and entangled in a drifting net of detritus.
Fortunately just when she fears her journey is over forever, two divers appear and set her free, going on to clean up the rubbish.

Once more the bubbling ocean is a beautiful place to live.

Becky Davies keeps her narrative lyrical and gentle as she describes the changing sea shown in Jennie Poh’s beautiful mixed media illustrations, saving the starker factual information about the terrible effects of pollution on our oceans to the two final ‘note from the author’ double spreads after the story.

Make Time for a Board Book

Where’s My Llama?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger

Capitalising on the current vogue for all things llama, Becky Davies has written a board book. Herein a llama has gone missing and it’s up to little ones to follow the trail of brightly coloured footprints to track her down.

Along the way tiny detectives will encounter a long-necked Giraffe, a cute tailed fox

and a long-eared rabbit, all of which have similar characteristics to the llama.
But where is the errant ungulate? Rest assured her fluffy tail will finally give the game away.

With its final flap reveal, Kate McLelland’s alluring scenes – each with a touch and feel animal body part – on softly patterned pastel backgrounds, simple descriptive text with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my llama?’ to chant, there’s plenty to keep the attention of tinies throughout this touch and feel, search and find book.

Maisy’s Science
Lucy Cousins
Walker Books

Toddlers’ favourite mouse Maisy is in investigative mode in this STEAM First Words tabbed book.

Out and about, she encounters some very windy weather that is perfect for kite flying; seasonal snow as she feeds the birds; enjoys a relaxing break from vegetable gathering to enjoy watching the minibeasts close by. Then it’s time for a bit of seed watering – perhaps she’s planted sunflower seeds – followed by observing some seasonal changes.

The arrival of her friends gives an opportunity to look at various parts of their bodies and hers and once she’s alone again, she and cuddly Panda can investigate a variety of textures; make some rather noisy musical sound with her percussion; don her painting apron and experiment with her paints, perhaps trying colour mixing and after all that activity it’s time to sit and read a book (or choose from one of the other learning tools shown on the opposite page).

Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop!
Todd Tuell and Tad Carpenter
Abrams Appleseed

This is a fun, rhyming tale of an energetic would-be little ninja whom we first meet looking terrified of the rather large family dog.

Creeping away, he comes upon his younger brother happily playing with a balloon. Not for long though. With a deft ‘chop’ Ninja  removes the balloon from little bro., then proceeds to snatch his chocolate-chip cookie and with a further chop – delivered with his foot this time – destroys his block-built castle leaving the long-suffering toddler howling.

A change of heart caused by an unseen force calling ‘Ninja, Ninja, would you stop?’ sees our Ninja then pause and help to reconstruct the building before whizzing off once more into the great outdoors.

It’s there that he receives his comeuppance, discovering – much to his surprise – that little brother is actually a highly observant pupil. Time to join forces it seems, for two Ninjas may well be better than one, certainly when it comes to scheming.

There’s a slight retro feel to Tad Carpenter’s bold, bright scenes from which the black-clad Ninja leaps out – literally! I can see little ones joining in, enthusiastically chanting along with adult readers aloud of debut author, Todd Tuell’s staccato text, as they turn the pages.

Don’t Mess With Duck! / The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom

Here are two treats from Little Tiger


Don’t Mess With Duck!
Becky Davies and Emma Levey
Little Tiger

Duck is an exceedingly grumpy creature, the grumpiest in his particular pond. Rather than leaving him to enjoy some peace and quiet the other residents create a terrible row and splash infuriatingly. Consequently, case in wing, Duck ups and leaves seeking somewhere quiet.

His search yields several promising ponds but each proves unsatisfactory in one way or anther so he goes to the city where he’s equally unsuccessful,

so too is the cave.

Finally though, he comes upon just what he’s looking for, except that all of a sudden he hears another voice and finds himself face to face with a grumpy frog that’s as cross about seeing Duck as Duck is to discover another occupant. “Clear off!’ they both order.

A brief argument ensues followed by a truce when each agrees to keep out of the other’s way. Peace at last.

But then after a few days a loud cry disturbs this peace.
Are Duck and Frog now ready to accept that perhaps friendship is more important that seclusion? …

Themes of acceptance, inclusion and friendship are at the heart of Becky Davies’ funny tale of self-exploration and compromise. Plenty to think about there, for sure and with Emma Levey’s superbly expressive animal illustrations (I certainly wouldn’t dream of messing with that duck), this is a smashing book to share and discuss with youngsters either in school or at home.

The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom
Steve Smallman and Nick Schon
Little Tiger

Just when we, certainly I, am feeling in need of a bit of brightness in what feels like especially grey times, this book with its brand new dazzling, celebratory ‘becoming a teenager’ cover arrives in my post.

It’s a neo pourquoi tale delivered in jaunty rhyme that certainly packs a punch. It tells how long ago a monkey, inspired by the rainbow colours of the birds, takes up the paintbox he happens upon beside the stream, along with a couple of brushes, and feeling an upsurge in his creative juices, sets to work to make his world a brighter place.

Waiting until the animals are having their early afternoon snooze, he gets busy daubing some reptiles and then decides to give the leopard a bright yellow coat. In so doing however, he causes it to stir. Monkey dashes up a tree and splodges of black paint rain down upon the creature.

Impressed with what he sees, Monkey lets his artistry loose upon a giraffe, a zebra, a lemur and a skunk. Bear receives a pair of white specs. but he’s roused from his slumbers and demands to know what Monkey is up to.

Then instead of venting his wrath upon the fearful primate, Bear takes up the paintbrush and it’s payback time … and the rest as you know is natural history …

I’m certain author Steve and artist Nick Schon had as much fun creating this book as Monkey did creating all those animal designs. It’s terrific fun, reads aloud superbly and will have young audiences laughing their heads off as well as wriggling on their ‘not blue’ bottoms in glee.

Board Books Matter

Board books form the bedrock of children’s reading – or rather one hopes they do; but not all new parents appreciate their potential and their importance. Thanks to Little Tiger, here are some new titles. The first is already published the others will be early in February.

Where’s My Unicorn?
Kate McLelland and Becky Davies
Little Tiger
Right from a very young age, there seems to be a magnetic attraction between young children, (girls mostly) and unicorns, so I’m sure this textured book will please.

Its first spread shows the rear end of a hoofed animal that has left a trail of footprints as clues to follow through the pages until the missing unicorn is found on the final spread hiding in plain sight.

On the way little ones encounter a mermaid with a colourful tail, a flamingo with soft fluffy plumage and a narwhal with a magical horn.

Tactile hide-and-seek fun for tinies who can enjoy the search as well as joining in with the repeat refrain, ‘Where’s my unicorn?’ Becky Davies provides the words, giving a sentence about each creature; Kate McLelland has created the alluring visuals.

What Can You See: On the Farm?
Kate Ware and Maria Perera
Little Tiger

As well as providing an introduction to what might be seen on a farm, and something to count on each spread, this, the first of a new ‘spot and count’ series provides plenty to interest little ones in Maria Perera’s jolly scenes of farm life.

First we visit the farm shop where different kinds of delicious-looking vegetables are on sale. Lunchtime is an opportunity to watch the sheep being fed; the pigs too need feeding and fruit trees near their sty supply a wealth of apples when they’re ready for eating.

The farm also has a duck pond alongside which is a weeping willow; there are several different kinds of birds to see in that scene.

Later in the year, the combine harvester gathers the wheat from a field where lots of small creatures have made their homes; and finally it’s teatime and the farmer collects eggs from the barn where there are hens, cows while other animals scamper along the rafters.

Toddlers can by means of the die-cut visuals, acquire some facts, do some counting and develop their observation skills, using Kate Ware’s words as guidance.

I Can Do It!
Patricia Hegarty and Hilli Kushnir
Caterpillar Books

Try teaching preschool and reception age children and you’d be amazed how many 4/5 year olds start school unable to dress themselves properly. I know parents find it easier when they’re rushed in the mornings to dress their youngsters but essentially this is deskilling children. Much better to set time aside to help them learn in a playful manner to cope with zips, buttons, poppers, laces and Velcro type fastenings themselves.

This robust board book with Patricia’s text and Hilli Kushnir’s enticing illustrations will be a boon in this respect.

Using five little children as models, the narrative provides an introduction to each fastening with instructions on how to work it, and asks each time ‘Can you fasten the …? alongside a bold, bright illustration of a child wearing the item needing to be done up.

One boy fastens shirt buttons, a little girl zips up her hoodie,

another boy does up the hooks and loops fastening on his coat; a child closes the popper on a backpack and finally a little girl has lace-up shoes to tie up on her trainers.

Fun, instructive and I assure you, early years teachers will be truly thankful if your child can manage all the five fastenings.

The Three Little Pugs and the Big Bad Cat / Happily Ever After: Little Red Riding Hood

The Three Little Pugs and the Big Bad Cat
Becky Davies and Caroline Attia
Little Tiger Press
Move over Big Bad Wolf, you have a rival. A favourite traditional tale is given a contemporary spin with the pigs being replaced by pugs and the big bad wolf by a much less threatening creature, unless of course you are a member of the canine species; in which case it’s your arch enemy, a Big Bad Cat.
The young pugs go by the names of Bubbles, Bandit and Beauty and when the space in the kennel they share with Mother Pug becomes a tad inadequate, they’re dispatched into the big wide world and there to build homes of their own. Their mother fills their rucksacks with snacks, warns them to watch out for the rampaging cat; ensure their houses are sufficiently strong to withstand any moggy onslaughts; and off they go.
It’s not long before Bubbles has stopped, built a flimsy straw house and had it whirred and whooshed to the ground by a certain feline character.
Bandit too builds an insubstantial house: his stick construction soon meets a fate similar to that of his brother. This time however, the weapon of house destruction is, wait for it … a leaf blower.
That leaves Beauty, who has the sense to engage a team to assist in her house construction …

and it’s completed just as her brothers appear warning of the imminent arrival of the fearsome Big Bad Cat.
Unperturbed, Beauty decides it’s time to put plan B into action …
What happens thereafter sees the frustrated house destroyer finally gain entry to Beauty’s brick house …

only to have her victory turn sour in more ways than one. It’s great to see female Pug, Beauty with the brains to be the saviour of her brothers despite her silly pink attire.
Caroline Attia sprinkles her mixed media scenes with much that will make readers smile: photographed pugs digitally adorned with bows, bags, bandanas and blouses populate an animation world of mischief and mayhem.

Happily Ever After: Little Red Riding Hood
Celeste Hulme
New Frontier Publishing
Illustrator Celeste Hulme gives the classic fairy tale a modern twist in her rendition of a favourite tale. Herein Little Red Riding Hood cycles to the shops with her mother and wears her little red coat to school to keep her warm: a coat that she’s been sent as a birthday present by her Grandma. The little girl doesn’t ride her bike through the woods to visit her sick grandma though; she walks alone, meets the wolf and willingly reveals to him her destination. The wolf duly runs to Grandma’s, gains entry, pushes the old lady into a cupboard …

and takes her place in bed.
The traditional exchange about big eyes, big ears and big teeth takes place with the addition of ‘what big arms’ and ‘what big legs you have’ and it’s with those that the wolf leaps from his sick bed intending to dig his claws into the child. Red Riding Hood however is too quick for the beast; she crawls under the bed, dashes to the cupboard and releases her grandmother. In so doing she releases so we’re told, ‘the avalanche’.

This particular lupine creature is something of a coward for he howls, turns tail and beats a hasty retreat, never to be seen again.
If this sounds totally un-scary – there’s certainly no gobbling of gran, nor the need for a woodcutter – some of the illustrations show the wolf as a huge menacing beast, particularly this one of his shadow looming threateningly as he enters Grandma’s house…

In fact lupine shadows are used to great effect in several scenes; there’s one in the woods where Red Riding Hood is completely overshadowed by the beast.
Certainly a book to add to a Red Riding Hood collection in the primary school, as well as one to share at home.

I’ve signed the charter