The Lost Kitten
Lee (text) & Komako Sakai (artwork)
translated by Cathy Hirano
(Gecko Press)

When a mother cat entrusts Hina and her mother with a poorly kitten, the little girl is reluctant at first but soon finds out it is can be fun having a pet, albeit not easy! The signature smudged appearance of Sakai’s artwork always gives a dream-like atmosphere to her stories, and creates a safe empathic environment to tell stories about fears and feelings. This story draws some interesting parallels between looking after a kitten and looking after a child and older family member, and Hina’s feeling sof abandonment  and worry allow her to become more empathic towards the kitten. On a more obvious level, it is also a great introduction to looking after a pet. It is gorgeous book, as is anything touched by the superbly talented Komako Sakai.


Grumpy Frog
Ed Vere
(Puffin Books)

Frog is a hopping happy frog. Honest, he is .. as long as things are green. Because Frog does not like other colours, and they make him rather grumpy, as does not winning. Vere’s signature vibrant colours and thick black lines brilliantly accompany the dynamic text, touching on some  difficult themes with lightness and zeal. Prejudiced and egoistical, Frog learns the hard way not to be so quick at judging people and to become more tolerant. The use of colour as the reason for his intolerance is ingenious as it looks completely unreasonable and nonsensical; yet it is unfortunately not so unbelievable. This is a great example of a humorous anthropomorphic picturebook working perfectly as a platform for showcasing with some very serious issues.


Me and My Dad
Robin Shaw
(Hodder Children’s Books)

This is the simple story of a little girl , who while walking  though the town with her dad, imagines all sorts of adventures. It is enchanting, celebrating the power of the imagination and the joys found in simple things.  Shaw’s background in animation comes through in the artwork which has a real cinematographic feel, particularly in the detailed backgrounds and street scenes which convey a vivid sense of place. The glorious bookshop café, which turns out to be their destination and the ultimate treat for the little girl, is just all kinds of heart-warming. Clues in the artwork in the bookshops scenes link her imaginary adventures and her love of books and readers will be able to relate the love, comfort and utter joy oozing from the pages to the special bonding time that sharing a story is. Just lovely!


Paws Off My Book
Fabi Santagio

Olaf the giraffe loves reading but his joy at finding a new book to read does not last long, as he keeps being interrupted by well-meaning friends who want to tell him just HOW to read it.  Poor Olaf only wants to enjoy his new story in peace. This fun tale of book-loving animals makes a great read-aloud and has a great message at its heart; it draws from the same philosophy as Daniel Pennac’s rights of the reader, that everyone enjoys reading in different ways and that is just fine. A striking almost neon-like palette of colours adds to the fun of the tale and Santagio’s playful use of scale, orientation and framing really helps to make this a dynamic tale which is just what is needed when celebrating books and reading. Delightful!