This year has been another great year for picture books. There has been a good mix of laugh-out-loud picture books to read aloud to groups and picture books with lots of details to share one-on-one. Below is my list of favourite picture books from 2015 (some with links to my reviews). I’ve been doing lots of school visits in my library role this year and most of the books below have been real winners with the kids I’ve read them to. Some of them I didn’t get a chance to review (these I’ve elaborated on) but they have proved to be very popular.
- Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
- Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley
- The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
- I Want Spaghetti by Stephanie Blake
- My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley
- The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan
- Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey – another winner from Aaron Blabey. This was the book that got me hooked on his stories. It’s about a pony called Thelma, who really wants to be a unicorn. She discovers that fame isn’t all that its cracked up to be and that being yourself is more important. Boys have groaned when they have first seen it but they laugh along with the story too.
- The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton – for a debut picture book this is absolutely brilliant! Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior and she needs a big, strong, fast horse to help her. Her parents don’t get her wishes quite right and she ends up with a short, fat little pony that farts a lot. This little pony might not be what she asked for but together they become a great team, and help the meanest warriors show their cuddly sides. Kids from Year 1-8 have all loved this book and I never get sick of reading it aloud.
- Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – Two huge names come together to bring imaginary friends to life. It’s a quirky, funny and absolutely stunning book. Fred is the best imaginary friend you could ask for, but he always finds that he isn’t needed anymore and he fades away. Then one day, a boy called Sam wishes for a friend and everything changes. It’s a book that I want to share and tell everyone about. The only downside is that it is too long to read to a group of children. I love it though and it will be one that I’ll read again and again. Check out the book trailer here.
- The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson – I always enjoy retellings of fairy tales and nursery rhymes and this book is a hilarious take on Hey Diddle Diddle. The cow tries again and again to jump over the moon but she keeps messing up. She trips over the moon, crashes into the moon, and sails straight over the moon, but she is determined to do it. It’s a perfect book to share with pre-schoolers and it will have them laughing out loud. It had me in stitches!
I’m very pleased to announce that the winner of the Draw Simon competition is Frances. Frances drew Simon doing 3 naughty things and I was super impressed. Frances wins a pack of Simon the rabbit books, courtesy of the wonderful publisher of Stephanie’s books, Gecko Press. Check out Frances’s drawing:
Simon 1 – Simon thinks it will be fun to pour cold water on a sleeping Mummy rabbit.
Simon 2 – Simon thinks it would be interesting to see what happens when he puts flowers in the car’s petrol tank. The result; car gets towed (based on real life events!)
Simon 3 – Simon cranks up the volume, the adults aren’t impressed!
Congratulations Frances and enjoy your prize!
Gecko Press introduced us to Stephanie Blake’s naughty little rabbit, Simon, when they translated and published Poo Bum! a few years ago. They’ve continued to publish Stephanie’s books, with more and more stories of Simon’s naughty antics. I’ve loved each and every one (Stupid Baby is my favourite). Gecko Press has just released the latest Simon the rabbit book, I Want Spaghetti, and it’s every bit as funny as the previous stories. In I Want Spaghetti we get to meet Simon the fussy eater.
Simon only likes to eat one thing…spaghetti. His parents try to get him to eat other things like sandwiches and soup but Simon thinks they are disgusting and he won’t eat them. Simon isn’t fond of getting told what to eat or being told to go to his room so he throws a big tantrum. His parents manage to tempt him with chocolate cake and just when they think they’ve got Simon eating out of the palm of their hand, he turns the tables on them.
I Want Spaghetti is a laugh-out-loud picture book featuring a character that both kids and adults love. Simon is the child that you can laugh at but wouldn’t want as your own. He’s a horrible little rabbit, with bad manners, who has tantrums and makes a huge mess, but you can’t help but love him. Kids especially love him because he gets to do and say the things they aren’t allowed to. I have read I Want Spaghetti to kids in schools around Christchurch and kids of all ages love it, from 5-year-olds right through to 12-year-olds. In fact, the Simon the rabbit books are the most requested books that I get asked to read again and again. That’s the sign of a really great book!
I love how sparse Stephanie’s books are. The illustrations are quite simple, while showing an incredible range of emotions, and the colours of the pages are bright, allowing the text to stand out. The text is also quite simple but it has real impact. The design of the book is very clever, with the text changing sizes and being run together for emphasis. I especially like the pages of text and illustration where Simon says ‘I Want Spaghetti’ increasingly louder. The text gets bigger and the illustrations show Simon getting angrier and angrier.
The thing I love the most about Stephanie’s books is that there is always a twist in the story. I love seeing kids’ faces and hearing them laugh when you turn the last page.
Thanks Gecko Press for continuing to bring us more of Stephanie’s Simon stories. I certainly hope there are many more to come!