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!
If you need a good laugh all you need to do is read a book by Aaron Blabey.
Aaron Blabey has become one of my favourite author/illustrators this year. Not only are his books incredibly funny, he is also really prolific. By the end of this year Aaron would have published 6 books through Scholastic! This year he has given us Pig the Fibber (a follow-up to Pig the Pug), Thelma the Unicorn, Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, I Need a Hug (released this month), and two episodes of his brilliant series for younger readers, The Bad Guys. Every one of these books is a winner in my eyes. I love Aaron’s sense of humour, which appeals to kids and adults alike. His picture books are perfect to read aloud and I have shared them with kids from Year 1 to Year 8 this year, with resounding success.
I hope that we have many more Aaron Blabey books to look forward to next year. Here are my two favourites from Aaron this year.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas
This is the story of Brian (love the name!) a Piranha who should like meat but much prefers fruit and veges. His friends aren’t happy and try to put him on the right track. He tries to persuade them that ‘fruit is the best’ but they would rather eat feet, knees and bums. This is a hilarious read that has kids and adults cracking up. The idea of the story is great and it works really well. There is so much expression in both the text and the illustrations. Brian is just so happy being who he is but the other piranhas get really frustrated with him trying to get them to eat fruit and veges. I also like Aaron’s extra added features in the front and back of the book that explain all about piranhas and bananas. This is a picture book that will be read again and again.
The Bad Guys
This is my favourite series of 2015. It’s perfect for kids from ages 7-12 and has all the things that make Aaron’s picture books so great – a unique story, laughs galore and great illustrations. Episode 1 introduces us to the ‘Bad Guys’ of the story, Mr Wolf, Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake. They’re always portrayed as the bad guys, with their shark teeth and nasty natures, but all they want to do is be good guys. Mr Wolf gathers his friends together and they come up with a plan to become good guys. Nothing seems to go as they planned though. In Episode 2 the bad guys are trying to make good again so they come up with a new plan – rescue 10,000 chickens from a high-tech cage farm. This time they’re joined by a new guy, Legs, a computer genius tarantula. He’s a good guy with a bad reputation too so he wants to help out and do something good.
The Bad Guys books are short, chock-full of illustrations (sort of like a comic), and absolutely hilarious! I chuckled my way through these first two episodes and I’ll eagerly await more escapades of The Bad Guys.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?
What’s wrong with you, Brian? You’re a piranha.
Brian is a piranha. He is also a vegetarian. But do you think he can convince the others to join him?
Quakey Cat Helps Out by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop
Quaky Cat, five years on … It’s been five years since the first big Christchurch earthquake, but some of Tiger’s friends still have broken homes – or none at all. Kind-hearted Tiger rounds them all up for a gathering of friends.
300 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath
George is trapped in a falling aeroplane with no engine and no pilot. Milla is covered with radioactive waste and her hazard suit is running out of air. Otto is in the darkest depths of the ocean, where something hungry is circling . . . 10 dangerous situations. 10 brave kids. 30 minutes to escape.
Dragon Knight: Dragons! by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley
The terrifying cyclorgs want their gold back – NOW!
If Merek can’t outwit the evil Lord Crumble, the village is doomed.
Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown
It’s hard to believe this is Roan’s last year at Jedi Academy. He’s been busier than ever learning to fly (and wash) starships, swimming in the Lake Country on Naboo, studying for the Jedi obstacle course exam, and tracking down dozens of vorpak clones (don’t ask). But now, someone is setting him up to get in trouble with everyone at school, including Yoda. If he doesn’t find out who it is, and fast, he may get kicked out of school! Why can’t middle school just be easy?…