For a short month, February has seen a whole heap of fabulous children’s books published. This month’s roundup includes some of our favourites new illustrated books across fiction and non-fiction.
My Own Way: Celebrating Gender Freedom by Joana Estrela and Jay Hulme
February is LGBT History Month and first up is a wonderful new picture book that breaks down gender stereotypes. The empowering text has been translated from the original Portuguese by award-winning transgender poet Jay Hulme.
The gender binary can impact children even before they are born. With baby gifts being “blue for a boy” and “pink for a girl”. Through the bold and contrasting illustrations children are encouraged to question the binary, and to celebrate their freedom of choice.
My Own Way is a lovely conversation starter for children and grown-ups to help us all realise that there is no limits to what we can be and to embrace our individuality.
Published by Wide Eyed Editions, 1 February 2022
My Mum is a Lioness by Swapna Haddow and Dapo Adeola
Next up is a book I have been eagerly awaiting since it was announced. We adored My Daddy is a Grizzly Bear and My Mum is a Lioness lives up to its predecessor.
I was delighted to see that Swapna and Dapo had the same ingenious-style opening spread. The hilarious adventure is set-up straight away as we see Mum through the eyes of the little boy as a lioness (while the bathroom mirror tells a different story!). We see Mum the Lionless leaping around after the family all day, and how she looks out for her cubs.
My Mum is a Lioness is a picture book that works on every level. Reading this book as a mother, so much of the story was relatable to me, and all the while it kept my daughters captivated. It’s funny, inclusive, heartfelt – and we all loved the ending! My Mum is a Lioness is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day 2022!
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books; Main Market edition, 3 February 2022
Frank and Bert by Chris Naylor Ballesteros
Well, this book turned up unexpectedly in the post. Somehow, I’d not heard of it, but I’m so grateful we found it because it is AMAZING!
Celebrating the joy of playing hide-and-seek this clever picture book about friendship had us laughing out loud. Frank and Bert are the best of friends and they LOVE to play hide and seek. But Bert the bear isn’t quite as good at hiding as he thinks he is . . . and Frank ALWAYS wins! Even when Frank counts to 100!
So many books with a counting element stop at five or ten for this age-range, but in reality lots of children can count way past that and I LOVED how the number-element was woven into the book. Now Frank has to decide between winning again OR making his friend happy, will he make the right choice? This hilarious book about friendship is utterly charming. We LOVED it!
Published by Nosy Crow, 3 February 2022
Little Echo by Al Rodin
Little Echo is a quiet picture book that deserves to be shouted about! My daughter can feel shy and so does Little Echo in this beautifully illustrated picture book.
Have you ever seen an Echo? Little Echo is shy and lives alone in a cave. When a boy called Max comes to the cave to search for treasure, Little Echo is soon faced with a tough choice. Does she stay quiet or can she find the strength to use her voice to help Max and maybe even make a friend?
Little Echo is a very clever picture book that plays on the power of an “echo”. I loved the themes of friendship, courage and finding your own voice in this book. Little Echo would make a wonderful gift for a child who feels shy.
Published by Puffin, 17 June 2021
Not Your Average Maths Book by Anna Weltman and Paul Boston
As a book-loving mathematician, this book was always going to appeal but my goodness I LOVE it!. Not Your Average Maths Book is one of the best books to encourage a curiosity for numbers that I have ever come across.
Filled with weird maths facts and quirky illustration layouts help children to visualise complex maths concepts, Not Your Average Maths Book answers questions you didn’t even know you wanted answered. From how long it would take to count to a billion, to why bubbles are always round, to how likely you are to have a birthday buddy in your class as well as setting out a short history of maths.
Not Your Average Maths Book will not only fascinate budding mathematicians but also inspire reluctant mathematicians to join the dots between numbers and the world around them. This is a brilliant guide that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.
Published by Wide Eyed Editions, 15 February 2022
The Last Seaweed Pie by Wenda Shurety and Paddy Donnelly
My daughter and I were delighted to discover The Last Seaweed Pie this month. The Sea-ple live in the ocean and the Tree-ple live in the jungle. On paper their worlds should never collide, but they do in the most unfortunate way, but perhaps something good will come of it…
When the Tree-ple start to throw their waste in the sea, the Sea-ple are forced to leave their home. They seek shelter from the Tree-ple but they are overpopulated and in no mood to help. Then a young Tree-ple has an idea that changes everything…
The Last Seaweed Pie has the perfect balance between storytelling and environmentalism. The text never felt heavy and was story-led, but through Paddy’s exquisite illustrations the harsh reality of ocean pollution hit home. There is a great page at the back of the book on how to be an ocean hero. A donation of 3% of the cover price goes to the Marine Conservation Society.
Published by Storyhouse Publishing, 28 October 2021
Race to the Rescue by Georgiana Deutsch and Olivier Latyk
I typically use photos in my reviews but I couldn’t get a shot that did this particular board book justice because frankly it is all about how it sounds! Here is a little clip I shared on Twitter.
Race to the Rescue is a new favourite with both my two-year-old and my four-year-old. Not only do the lights on the emergency vehicles light up, but you can push buttons to hear what they sound like too! From shiny fire engines to speedy helicopters Race to the Rescue has it all. This is a must have for vehicle-loving toddlers!
Published by Little Tiger Press, 11 November 2021
An ABC of Families: Empowering Alphabets by Abbey Williams and Paulina Morgan
Last but definitely not least, I want to share An ABC of Families which has recently been published in paperback. This gorgeous, inclusive, and empowering alphabet picture book should be in every school and library around the world.
I wish I could just tell you the entire A to Z of entries in this post because they all deserve to be featured in my review. A is for Adoption, B is for Blended Family, C is for Co-Parenting. Each entry has a double page spread with a couple of sentences explaining what it means. The illustrations have been thoughtfully composed to represent all kinds of families, in perfect harmony with the theme of the book.
This brilliant book offers children an accessible way to explore complex and perhaps some unfamiliar concepts in a fun and memorable way. An ABC of Families is stunningly beautiful, moving, and a must-read for every family!
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books in paperback, 15 February 2022
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.