Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: March
(Lincoln Children’s Books)
Juniper Jupiter is a real-life superhero; she is super-strong, super-brave, super-kind and super-super smart. But, as she says, it’s no big deal. However Juniper would love a real-life sidekick. She embarks on a recruitment campaign, but does she really need to look far and wild for the perfect faithful assistant? “Juniper Jupiter” is a joyous celebration of friendship in all its forms, with a really loveable heroine who knows just what she wants. Stewart’s artwork is dynamic, brimful of colour, and wonderfully inclusive. What I love about this book is that Juniper might be a girl superhero, but she refuses to let it define her; this covert empowering message of being in charge of one’s individuality makes this book extra special.
Grab That Rabbit!
Polly Faber (text) & Briony May Smith (artwork)
Hodge the squidgy, fluffy bunny might be adorable but he is driving Mrs Sprat’s round the bed with his carrot-stealing antics. But when Hodge gets stuck in the hedge, he might just be about to get his comeuppance. Or is he? Polly Faber’s narrative style is wonderful; its matter-of-fact, deadpan tone adds a dramatic, almost ominous edge which young readers will love. The suspense over Hodge’s fate holds to the very end, and this really adds to the success of the story: you are not quite sure where it is going ,and it is rather gleeful! Briony May Smith’s signature palette works perfectly, and I love her depictions of a quintessential English garden and cottage. I must mention her superb use of perspective, which is unusual in picturebooks and so effective. An absolute joy of a picturebook!
The Last Wolf
One day, Little Red decides she would quite like to go out and catch a wolf. Her mother is nonplussed because she knows wolves have not been seen around the forest for a long while. As Little Red ventures deeper into the forest, she soon discovers why. This fractured version of Little Red Riding Hood is a stunning ecological fable which touches on so many environmental themes including waste, deforestation, and endangered species. It is expertly and superbly delivered by Mini Grey; her wit, her complex cleverly constructed spreads and characterisation work in unison to create a perfect narrative. It highlights our wrongs without doom and offers a lot of hope, with a stunning final spread which will inspire plenty of discussion. A masterclass in picturebook making.
Forever or a Day
Written almost as a conversation (with two different fonts identifying two different voices), Sarah Jacoby’s début picturebook takes us on a journey with a family as they go and visit grandparents, all in the space of one day. It offers a beautiful exploration of time: how it can be defined, how elusive it is and the importance of living in the moment. Alongside the sparse, lyrical and quietly contemplative text, the watercolour illustrations support and broaden the theme wonderfully, with beautiful colours and a variety of layouts which in turn slow down and quicken the space, mirroring the explanation of time in the book. It is a lovely reminder to treasure those fleeting moments as our children grow up and take joy from small things. It will make a wonderful gift for new parents.