Early Years Picture Book Shelf

How About a Night Out?
Sam Williams and Matt Hunt
Boxer Books

We join a kitty cat embarking on a nocturnal excursion through the city where  adventures aplenty await. There are friends to meet for a ‘catercall’ upon the wall,

a roundabout to ride upon, birds to scare and much more. A ‘night to sing about’ claims our adventurer but all too soon the sun comes up and it’s time to head for home and some city kitty slumbers.

Delivered in jaunty rhyming couplets and Matt Hunt’s alluring art showing the cat’s journey against the inky dark sky, this will surely please early years listeners.

What Colour Is Night?
Grant Snider
Chronicle Books

If you’re thinking night is black, then have another think. You certainly will having read Grant Snider’s poetic nocturnal exploration. Herein he shows us the multitude of colours that a closer look will reveal. There’s blue for a start, ‘a big yellow moon beginning to rise’, the fireflies glowing gold in the park.

But that’s just the start: there are ‘Fat brown moths dancing in yellow streetlights’, a whole city lit with red neon signs, the green-eyed glow of prowling raccoons, silver stars spilling across the sky above the barely visible countryside.

The silent stillness of his scenes though, is not confined to the outdoors. Inside we see the grey face of a clock, the shapes afloat in the bowl holding a midnight snack are yellow blue and pink; while through the window we start to see the moon’s rings and outdoors once more are ‘all the night’s colours in one moonbow’.

I’m pretty sure that young readers and listeners will envy the sleeping child picked up and taken on a dream flight through pink and purple clouds over the city aglow with colours. Snider offers an ideal excuse for little ones to request a delay to their own slumbers in order to view those ‘colours unseen’.

What Can You See?
Jason Korsner and Hannah Rounding
I Like to Put Food in My Welly
Jason Korsner and Max Low
Graffeg

What Can You See? invites little ones to develop their observation skills as they focus on in turn a table laid for tea, a lounge, the garden, the sky, the jungle, a flower and a host of other focal points to locate the objects named in the relevant verse in Hannah Rounding’s delectable illustrations.
In I Like to Put Food in My Welly, playful topsy-turvies result from putting butter on the bread, pulling a rabbit from a hat, climbing an apple tree and other starting points, each scenario being presented in Max Low’s zany sequences (Did I see two of Max’s popular characters making a guest appearance?)

Engaging rhymes and art: just right for putting across the ‘language is fun’ message to pre-schoolers.

Hello Horse / How Far Can a Kangaroo Jump?

Hello Horse
Vivian French and Catherine Rayner
Walker Books

This is one of the Nature Storybooks series that provides a perfect amalgam of information in narrative form and superb illustration, in this instance with Vivian French as author and Catherine Rayner as illustrator.

Vivian’s text gives just the right amount of detail for a young child to absorb as she describes via her boy narrator what happens when he is introduced to her friend Catherine’s horse named Shannon.

The boy soon overcomes his initial apprehension about meeting the horse but under Catherine’s guidance his fears are soon allayed as he learns about how to approach, touch and feed a horse. He also learns about grooming and finally, how to ride Shannon.

Every one of Catherine’s watercolour illustrations is beautiful and she does bring to life beautifully the equine creature that we learn in an author’s note really does belong to the illustrator.

A gorgeous introduction to horses and riding.

How Far Can a Kangaroo Jump?
Alison Limentani
Boxer Books

Ever wondered how far a kangaroo can jump; or perhaps four rabbits, or even eight coyotes? If so this book is definitely for you.

It’s beautifully illustrated by the author who showcases eleven different animals in total, each demonstrating its leaping, diving, hopping, bouncing,

skipping, bounding, vaulting, hurdling or springing skill.

Don’t be misled into thinking the titular marsupial is the longest jumper of all though; there’s a creature that well and truly outsprings it; now what might that be?

The book concludes by answering Alison’s own question: ‘How many kangaroo jumps would it take to get all the way around the earth?’ and posing another for young humans to answer.

Trainers on? Ready, steady, jump …

On landing, readers can compare their efforts with those of the other animals from the book, each of which is shown mid spring on the explanatory back endpapers.

Everyone Can Draw

Everyone Can Draw
Fifi Kuo
Boxer Books

Having been a foundation stage teacher for many years, I know that within each and every young child is an artist; this is what is celebrated in Fifi Kup’s upbeat book wherein she calls upon that innate creative spark, a spark that we adults need to nurture and do our utmost to make sure is never extinguished.

As she states and shows in her wonderful scenes of artists at work however, people exhibit different preferences when it comes to drawing. Some like drawing characters whereas others would rather draw scenes.

Then there are those who favour black and white drawing in contrast to those whose preference is for bright colours.

There are a variety of tools that can be used for drawing as the increasing number of enthusiastic artists demonstrate – scissors, parts of the body such as hands or feet; and some people favour needle and thread drawing.

If you don’t enjoy drawing alongside others, you can find your own special corner or even draw in your dreams.

The most important consideration of all though is saved until last

– or almost last.

Finally comes a question addressed to us all – ‘What will you draw?’

Fifi further explores different tools for drawing on the endpapers for which she uses childlike images akin to those a four or five  year old might create.

Crayons, pens, paints, scissors, pencils, inks ready. Everybody draw! First though immerse yourself in this joyful book.

The Perfect Sofa

The Perfect Sofa
Fifi Kuo
Boxer Books

It’s always good to discover new author/illustrators so I was especially happy to receive a copy of The Perfect Sofa by Fifi Kuo whose bold and patterned art style instantly attracted me.

Now, let’s meet best pals, Panda and Penguin who appear to share pretty much everything, not least their sofa, clearly a well-loved and now very worn piece of furniture.

It’s had some pretty heavy use, so much so that one day Panda declares they need to replace it with a new model.

Off they go to the furniture store where there are sofas aplenty; but of course before buying, comes the trying.

Seemingly the friends are spoilt for choice but will they manage to find exactly what they’re looking for?

Could it perhaps be that they need to look elsewhere?

Wonderfully playful, this sweet story is perfect for sharing with little ones as well as being ideal for beginning readers. I love the way the lettering changes to reflect the characteristics of the sofas illustrated.

In our throwaway society, this gently humorous book will surely strike a chord; it might even help up-cycling to become more than just a passing fashion for trendies.