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Matisse King of Colour by Laurence Anholt

This is the sixth title in the highly-successful Anholt’s Artists series about great painters. Each book tells the story of real meetings between a world-famous artist and a child who inspired him in his work, with reproductions of some of the artist’s most famous works. This book describes the close relationship between Matisse and Monique, a young girl who wants to become a nun.

  • Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
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Hide and Seek: An Around-the-World Animal Search By Charlene Man

A beautifully illustrated seek and find book. Can you find the animals that are hiding in the wrong habitats?

This book acts as a fun, engaging tool to introduce children to different animal species and the habitats that they have adapted to. It can be used as a springboard to discuss more in depth questions, such as; how has the penguin adapted to the extremely cold climate of Antarctica? Why is this environment not suitable for a giraffe or a flamingo?

The book includes an illustrated map of the world detailing where each of these animals can be found.

Published by Laurence King Publishing.

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The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

A bear discovers an abandoned piano in the forest. He presses a few keys and makes some unpleasant noises. Day after day, he returns and keeps practicing until one day after quite some time, beautiful sounds resonate from the instrument. Bears from all over the forest come to hear him play transfixed by the music.

A father and son, who are having a picnic in the woodland, hear the piano being played. They tell him of the big city, they tell him he will be a big star and hear more incredible music. The bear leaves the forest in search of this other world. He becomes famous, people from all over the city come to watch him play in huge, grand theatres. But despite all of this, he longs for home, for his friends and family.

David Litchfield skilfully uses translucent light and shadows to create depth and realism to the landscapes and cityscapes. Each atmospheric setting is filled with a sense of mystic and beauty.

One of my favourite illustrated books of 2015 so far and it’s David’s debut picture book. Massive achievement!

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Here’s the Magpie David illustrated for me a while ago.

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The Story Of Things By Neal Layton

The Story of Things is another creative popup book put together by Neal Layton with his distinctive style of quirky illustration, loaded with humour.

The book explores ideas, civilisations, inventions and discoveries that shaped the world. It begins with early humans and Neolithic civilisations and introduces the landmarks that changed the course of history: farming, inventions, steam, electricity, computers up to present day.

Children will enjoy learning about human history with this book. It is a fun object to play with, to read and to interact with.

Published by Hodder Children’s Books.

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The Honey Hunter by Karthika Naïr, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet

There are many things to celebrate about this book. The production value for one is perfect. The linocut print illustrations by Joëlle Jolivet are enchanting, the colours are vibrant and the imaginative layouts make the experience of reading even more pleasurable. The story is a modern day Indian fairy tale that encourages children to appreciate and respect nature.

This is one of those picture books that you save for best. Little Gestalten are fast becoming one of my favourite publishers of children’s books.

The story of the honey hunter begins in Sundarban, a land of eighteen tides and six seasons, where three rivers meet in a huge mangrove forest. At first, everything is peaceful for the thousands and thousands of honeybees that live there not far from the Bay of Bengal. They fly from flower to flower, collect nectar, and supply both people and animals with their sweet, liquid gold. Everyone who lives in Sundarban loves honey, but one most of all: a small, black-haired boy named Shonu.

One year, the seasons in Sundarban get mixed up and the region is plagued by powerful cyclones followed by drought and hunger. Shonu becomes so unbelievably hungry that he sneaks into the mangrove forest and breaks the golden rule: he takes honey from the hives even though it is not yet harvest time. Shonu doesn’t quite realize that what he has done could get him into deep trouble with the almighty demon tiger …

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Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Mac Barnett is my favourite writer of children’s fiction & Christian Robinson is my favourite illustrator. When Mac Barnett told me in an interview that he was working on a book with Christian Robinson, it’s fair to say that I was quite excited. Both have made enormous contributions to the picture book form.

Christian Robinson has been awarded a Coretta Scott King Honor, a Bologna Ragazzi Honor Award for nonfiction, and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor, illustrates books in his signature style that has a vintage 1950’s appeal, somewhat reminiscent of the brilliant M. Sasak.

Mac Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of many picture books, including Telephone and Extra Yarn, which won a Caldecott Honor, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the E.B. White ReadAloud Award.

Together they have made Leo: A Ghost Story, about a sweet young boy who happens to be a lost soul roaming around in an empty house.

A family move into this house and Leo is ecstatic, he tries his very best to welcome them, but as it turns out they are not best pleased about the presence of a ghost in their new home.

Unwanted, Leo takes leave and decides to go and explore the world. He then meets Jane, a young girl with a vivid imagination, who mistakes Leo for one of her imaginary friends. But how will she react when she discovers Leo is not imaginary, he is a ghost?