2020 hasn’t been the year many of us expected. But through all the craziness, there have been some wonderful picture books published. Here are my favourite picture books of the year! Please comment to let me know what your favourites were and Happy New Year to you all!
Extraordinary Ordinary Ella by Amber Hendricks & Luciana Navarro Powell
Amicus Ink (25 February 2020)
Ella is extraordinary ordinary. She is not graceful dancer like her sister, nor is she musical like her cousin. Everyone at her school seems to have a special talent except for her. Nevertheless, Ella is determined to do well at the school talent show. She tries and tries, but all her attempts to find a talent end in disaster. Or do they? Could Ella’s failed attempts to find a talent undercover the gift that makes her truly extraordinary?
There couldn’t be a more important moment in history to read this book. I came across Extraordinary Ordinary Ella via my call-out to showcase books by authors who had to cancel their publication events due to the global pandemic. We are living in a time where even the smallest acts of kindness, however ordinary they may seem, can have an extraordinary impact. We all need to find our inner-Ella!
The Spots and the Dots by Helen Baugh & Marion Deuchars
Andersen Press (1 October 2020)
The Spots and the Dots can be read front-to-back (from the point of view of the Spots) or back-to-front (from the point of view of the Dots). Both stories are exactly the same. The Spots live on one side of the hill. The Dots live on the other. Both the Spots and the Dots have grown up fearing each other to be “bad through and through”. Seeing their prejudices so starkly compared is incredibly powerful and thought-provoking.
The stories meet in the middle spread which is simply stunning and a perfect ending – or perhaps it is the perfect new beginning! I truly wish every child, school and library could own a copy of this incredible book.
If You See a Lion by Karl Newson & Andrea Stegmaier
Quarto (18 August 2020)
Once upon a time there was lots of things in this book, but a lion has eaten them all up including, but not limited to: a troll, a dragon, a sprite, a unicorn, an ABC sign, a clown, a hippo and a sprout! The not-to-be-trusted by ever-so-charismatic main character invites you to see if you can find the lion hidden amongst the tasty pages.
I can see a lion has a playful, engaging rhyme and rhythm that will captivate you and stunning illustrations. We were in hysterics from start to finish. This is truly picture book creation at its absolute best and reminded me of theatrical storytelling, almost like a pantomime at times, with my little girl screaming out the words, and the big belly laughs at each twist and turn.
The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade and Jennifer Davison
Capstone (1 August 2020)
THE VERY LAST LEAF tells the tale of Lance Cottonwood, a leaf who is the best and brightest student in his class, but he’s afraid of his final exam…falling. Lance struggles with anxiety, embarrassed and unsure of himself, until he works through his fears with his teacher, Mrs. Timber.
This tree-mendous picture book with a blossoming balance of nature facts and an autumnal story about overcoming anxiety. This is a picture book that children will want to read again and again, I certainly do!
Too Much Stuff by Emily Gravett
Macmillan (29 October 2020)
Two magpies, Meg and Ash, want to build the perfect nest for their eggs. They start how you would expect, collecting sticks, but that just doesn’t seem enough. So they go searching for more things to complete their nest. Like two ornamental cuckoo clocks, four tiny socks and a pack of plastic pegs.
Too Much Stuff is a masterpiece. Packed with humour, delightful illustrations, a heart-warming story and subtle but important themes on materialism and the environment to inspire children and adults alike.
A Natural History of Fairies by Emily Hawkins & Jessica Roux
Quarto (22 September 2020)
This is possibly the most enchanting illustrated book I have ever owned. From the textured fabric cover and the gold sprayed edges to the large, glorious pages featuring all there is to know about fairy species across the globe.
This really is a book where each page reaches a new level of awe and wonder. There is so much for children to discover and it will set their imaginations alight – there is even a secret fairy language children can learn!