Poppy and the Blooms
(Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
A powerful environmental message is weaved into the pages of this visually stunning second offering from picturebook-maker-to-watch Fiona Woodcock. Poppy and her fellow wildflower friends love to zoom in the park on their skateboards, until they realise this last haven of greenery is to be closed. Adamant they will save it, they must first venture into the grey, barren city. The monochrome backgrounds offer the ideal platform for the bold bursts of colour of the Blooms and the trails they leave behind, conveying powerfully and exquisitely even to the youngest readers the importance of flora in our urban world. With its equally important message that nothing is ever too small to make a big difference and its engaging narrative , this a perfectly executed picturebook.
Sarah Brennan (text) & Jane Tanner (artwork)
(Old Barn Books)
This Australian tale of three sisters trying to save a beached whale while fighting against stormy seas is a gem well worth discovering. Brennan’s rhyming text is wonderfully atmospheric, and lyrical in a way that is reminiscent of songs from the olden days, which makes the text a joy to read aloud. Tanner’s realistic drawings (think Caroline Binch) accompany the text in spectacular fashion, with the use of colours enhancing the evocative text, beginning with pencil drawings, with colour appearing when the girls discover the whale. This offers a perfect example of how colour can express feelings and senses; one can feel the warmth of the fire, the bracing wind, and the bitter cold of early mornings. Serene and wondrous.
Lulu Gets a Cat
Anna McQuinn (text) & Rosalind Beardshaw (artwork)
Lulu loves cats and is desperate for one of her own but her mum wants to ensure first that Lulu knows that it takes a lot of work and commitment to look after one properly. I love that finding more about getting a kitten involves a trip to the library and reading books, rather than looking at the internet, which is a potent image for young children to be exposed to. A lovely story which will also delight those who don’t want a cat (but might find themselves wanting one once they have met gorgeous Makeda the kitten!). McQuinn has a real talent for creating stories that deal with childhood’s important rites of passage and pitching them perfectly for the audience. Teamed with Bradshaw’s signature super pre-schooler-friendly art, the Lulu books really are essential to any child’s book shelf.