2022 seems to have gone by in a flash. As a family we have discovered so many new and wonderful children’s books that have been published this year. From twisted tales to inclusive and empowering reads. It was a tricky decision but here are our ten top picks of 2022!
How to Make a Book by Becky Davies and Patricia Hu
The first book in my top picks is all about how these wonderful picture books are created. As an author and book lover, I can honestly say this is the picture book that excited me the most this year. It can be hard to explain just how much time, energy and teamwork goes into creating a picture book, but this outstanding guide to publishing visually outlines the process from start to finish.
What happens after a writer gets an idea? Becky and Patricia talk through the submission process to publishers, how editors pitch the book to the other departments in big acquisition meetings. Then, once a book has been commissioned, we get the inside scoop on how editors work with designers and illustrators to design and print the book. We discover how Sales, Rights and Publicity teams work together to get the book into the hands of readers. Written in a very accessible and accurate way, How to Make a Book is a fabulous resource for children, educators and publishing professionals alike. It would be a perfect gift for anyone (young or old) who loves to write and draw their own stories. Have you got what it takes to publish a book?
Published by Little Tiger Press, 3 March 2022
This is NOT a Dinosaur! by Barry Timms and Ged Adamson
This is not your ordinary dinosaur-themed picture book. In fact, this book is NOT about a dinosaur. It’s about a sign-osaur, a shine-osaur and a very-grand-design-osaur… or it is? This dinosaur can become the most amazing things – a footballer, pirate, deep-sea diver, knight, magician and even a hairdresser! We soon discover that having a dinosaur for a friend is one massive adventure.
This dino-lightful picture book is fun, whismical and packed with heart. This is NOT a Dinosaur! is a bright, bold and uplifting story, jam-packed with wonderful wordplay that will have the whole family laughing out loud. I highly recommend it!
Published by Nosy Crow, 5 May 2022
Two Bears: An epic journey of hope by Patricia Hegarty and Rotem Teplow
This book came out in paperback near the end of 2021 and so didn’t make my 2021 list, but I had to include it this year as it is AMAZING! Discover what happens when a polar bear and a grizzly bear who are worlds apart embark on the journeys of a lifetime and find that sometimes differences are only skin-deep.
Patricia and Rotem show us the contrasting habitats of a polar bear and a grizzly bear. At first they seem so different, and then subtly we begin to discover what they have in common. With their homes being destroyed by humans through deforestation and global warming, these two bears must both brave a dangerous journey in which they meet. At its heart, this narrative non-fiction has a family-oriented message and celebrates mixed-race children. We meet a grolar bear! These half-polar-bear-half-grizzly-bears really do exist and there are some fabulous non-fiction spreads at the back of the book. Two Bears blew me away and I think deserves to be in every school and library.
Published by Caterpillar Books, 11 November 2021
The BIG Christmas Bake by Fiona Barker and Pippa Curnick
My three-year-old sings the 12 days of Christmas all year round and so I was so excited to discover that Fiona had written a cake version! Illustrated by Pippa, The Big Christmas Bake is a funny, lively romp through the twelve days of Christmas, taking the elements of the popular carol, and weaving them cleverly into the ingredients for a Twelfth Night Cake.
Starting with the partridge and its gift of dried fruit, this rhyming story includes all of the familiar characters from the song as they all contribute to the baking of the magnificent Twelfth Night cake including five huge gold rings of candied orange peel and ten froggy lords. At the end of the story, is the original carol as well as a recipe to bake your own twelfth night cake at home and start a new tradition to a family. This is an absolute must-buy to be read each Christmas.
Published by Happy Yak, 4 October 2022
I Am Nefertiti by Annemarie Anang and Natelle Quek
ROLL UP! This is a picture book must-read. Nefertiti loves playing the drums. She tells her music band “I am Nefertiti” and she feels ten feet tall. But when the new music teacher shortens her name to “Nef”, bit by bit, she starts to shrink. Without Nefertiti to keep the beat, the band is soon in disarray. Drawing on her inner strength and with the support of the other children, they help their teacher recognise the importance of honouring Nefertiti’s name. Now, with everyone feeling valued, respected and included, can the band play as one?
I had no idea what this book was about when I first read it. When I reached the part where the teacher referred to Nefertiti as “Nef” my entire body tensed. Little did I know what was coming next. Annemarie and Natelle portray how small the teacher made Nefertiti feel in a way that is understandable and relatable for children – and adults(!). By the end of reading this picture book I was beaming with joy. I Am Nefertiti is a heart-warming, empowering picture book about belonging and showcasing the importance of respecting one another’s identity. This is a picture book that should be in every school and library.
Published by Five Quills, 2 June 2022
Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush by Patrice Lawrence & Camilla Sucre
When Ava is asked to dress as an inspirational figure for her school assembly, she asks Granny’s advice. Granny pulls out her beloved old suitcase that she travelled to England with many years ago on the Empire Windrush. Granny suggests several inspirational Black women Ava could dress up as: Winifred Atwell, Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks. But who will Ava choose to dress up as for the school assembly?
Camilla’s illustrations are exquisite and so full of love it feels like this picture book is giving you a big warm hug. Patrice has woven in details about the Windrush experience in such a gentle and natural way that the story pulls at your heartstrings. Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush is pure gold! Read my full review here.
Published by Nosy Crow, 5 May 2022
Gender Swapped Greek Myths by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett
For thousands of years, Greek myths have been told and retold. In these stories, brutality and bravery are reserved for men, while women are wicked witches or helpless maidens. Today, these myths continue to shape our ideas about justice, tragedy and what makes a hero’s journey. Karrie and Jonathan love these stories, and have found a way to breathe new life into them by making one crucial change…
Following the incredible success of Gender Swapped Fairy Tales they have taken that same simple step. They haven’t rewritten the stories in this book. They haven’t reimagined the endings, or reinvented characters. What they have done is switch all the genders. You’ll be enchanted by the refreshing world this swap creates – and thunderstruck by the new characters you’re about to discover. Read my interview with Karrie and Jonathan here.
Published by Faber, 1 September 2022
The Best Bear Tracker by John Condon and Julia Christians
Have you ever wondered how to track a bear? Meet the World’s Best Bear Tracker! In this one-of-a-kind picture book we discover step by step how to track a bear. There are ten rules to be exact. Although maybe you may spot a bear sooner if you try… but will you find the bear you’re looking for?
The Best Bear Tracker has all the ingredients of a classic picture book and had us in stitches from the start. It’s got that panto humour that makes children want to shout out “it’s behind you” but the twist ending takes the book to a whole new level! I previously interviewed John about how to come up with amazing picture book ideas (read here) and let me say, The Best Bear Tracker is proof that John really does come up with cracking picture books! The twist ending in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read and my daughters and I absolutely loved it! This is a must-read picture book that children will want you to read over and over again. You can read John’s fascinating author interview about Best Bear Tracker here.
The Best Bear Tracker was published by Templar, 18 August 2022
Father Christmas and the Three Bears by Lou Peacock and Margarita Kukhtina
It’s Christmas Eve and Father Christmas has fallen asleep at the Three Bears’ cottage but NOTHING will wake him. It’s up to Baby Bear and the Fairy-Tale Rescue Rangers to deliver the last presents so EVERY child gets a gift. But how will they cross the Roaring Rushing River, navigate the Deepest Darkest Wood and get past the Most Monstrous Mountain all before the children wake up on Christmas morning?
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I am a huge fan of twisted fairytales. Well, Father Christmas and the Three Bears blew us away! This fun, festive tale combines all your fairytale favourites in a brand-new adventure the whole family will love.
Published by Nosy Crow, 6 October 2022
Timid by Harry Woodgate
And last, but definitely not least, I chose Harry’s latest picture book, Timid about a shy non-binary child, Timmy. Timmy absolutely loves to perform, but only when there isn’t an audience! When Timmy’s classmates begin to prepare for the school play, Timmy longs to be a part of the performance. However, feelings of shyness and fear threaten to stop Timmy from doing what they love. With a bit of help from their friend, Nia, and a whole lot of bravery, will Timmy ever be able to strike up the courage to perform on stage?
My daughter can be shy and so it was wonderful to be able to read this book with her. Harry has created a fantastic book exploring shyness, with Timmy’s lion roaring every time they try to speak up. This gorgeously illustrated, inclusive picture book is perfect for young readers who struggle with their confidence and is a warm reminder that we can do anything we put our minds to. We loved it!
Published by Little Tiger, 13 October 2022
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.