One of the nicest ways to welcome a new baby into the world is to gift the start of a children’s book library. The four books mentioned in this post would all earn their place there.
Board books are perfect for babies and very young toddlers. Robust, able to stand up to chewing, throwing, and dribbling, they offer hours of tactile fun, colourful pictures and simple repetitive text.
That’s not my kitten, by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells, is the newest addition to the That’s not my… series, and includes all of these features. Babies can see the five different kittens, touch a furry tongue, a smooth kitten nose, a shiny bell, rough paws, and a fluffy tummy, while learning to turn pages and recite the repetitive text along with whoever is reading aloud.
Moving along in age, for older toddlers and pre-schoolers there is another in the Playschool series by Jan Stradling and Jenna Robaard, called Beginnings and Endings. The series helps littlies to explore feelings: in this case, sadness.
Little Ted’s friends want to help him feel better when his pet goldfish dies. A special scrapbook of Swish memories, a picnic in the garden, spotting baby birds in a nest and flowers blooming all help, as do a hug and talking about Swish and his memories. The soft illustrations reinforce the gentle theme of the story, that life challenges are best tackled with friends by your side.
One Little Duck by Katrina Germein brings memories of the children’s rhyme ‘Five Little Ducks’ but it’s a story with a twist. Instead of losing a duckling with each verse, in this story Mother Duck has forgotten how to quack, so each time she calls her duckling to her, she gains a new animal, until she has a menagerie following along. The rhyming verses invite youngsters to join in:
One little duck went out one day, over the hills and far away. Mother Duck said… Moo moo moo moo, and Cow said, Wait! Now I’m coming too
One Little Duck
Danny Snell’s illustrations are sweetly humorous and children will enjoy Mother Duck’s dilemma as she finds new friends, and at the end is reunited with her baby.
Two Sides to Every Story by Robin Feiner explores the many choices and dilemmas that life can present. Boiled or fried eggs? Meat or vegetables? Is a dog or a cat the best pet? History or science? Country or city? Jacket and tie or lucky T-shirt?
Oscar has to decide on these and other choices in his day to day life, and deals with each one with his skill of ‘mental gymnastics’.
Oscar had a special way of looking at things. He took his subject, he twisted it this way and that. He tumbled it all around… inside out, and outside in, exploring it every which way.
Two sides to every story
The illustrations by Beck Feiner are in bold, block colours and bring to life Oscar’s tumbling, turning way of looking at his world.
If you are building a children’s library, these four books would make perfect additions.
They are published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in July and August 2023. My thanks to the publishers for copies to review.