Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This beloved nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.

– Abrams & Chronicle Books

A Good Home for Max by Junzo Terada

In a little shop in a little town, lives a little mouse named Tabi. Each night Tabi tidies the shop, puts out new merchandise and plays with his animal friends. But when, day after day, Tabi’s best friend Max the Dog doesn’t find a good home, Tabi realises he has a bigger job to do. In this sweet, heart-warming picture book, celebrated artist Junzo Terada reminds us all that there’s no place like home.

Junzo Terada is a celebrated designer, illustrator and fine artist, with numerous solo exhibitions throughout Japan. He has design studio in Osaka, Japan. He has published a wide variety of stationery and formats with Chronicle Books, including Animals Around The World Journal, Magical Menagerie and Happy Animal Time postcards, among many others.

– Abrams & Chronicle Books

The Bear Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud

More adventures await The Bear’s Song‘s Little Bear and Papa Bear. When the bears seek warmth from their chilly perch atop the Paris Opera House, Little Bear is mistaken for a toy bear and whisked away . . . to a tropical island! Papa Bear sets out on a frenzied journey to find Little Bear, traveling to a bustling wharf, beneath a sea brimming with coral and mermaids, onto a busy beach, and all the way to a sun-drenched island. As in The Bear’s Song, Little Bear is featured in every spread. Will Papa Bear—and the reader—find him? Children and parents alike will savor Chaud’s lush, detail-rich illustrations and the sweet story as well as the book’s bonus seek-and-find elements.

– Chronicle Books

Price £11.99 Hardcover

Publishing Date 09/08/2014

Height 359mm Width 235mm

ISBN 9781452127439

Memory of an Elephant – An Unforgettable Journey by Sophie Strady illustrated by Jean-François Martin

Memory and meaning are at the heart of this oversized, content-rich picture book celebrating the life of Marcel, a soulful elephant. From the towering buildings outside his window and his recollected world travels, to the friends, flora, and fauna that flourish around him, Marcel finds significance in his surroundings and, most importantly, in life’s abundant details. Marcel is writing an encyclopedia, after all, and his entries are featured in full-page spreads packed with facts, elegantly situated alongside the story of his day and his life. Part story and part miscellany, this unforgettable book with dream-like illustrations will transfix both parents and children.

– Chronicle Books

Happy Birthday Madame Capeau by Andrea Beaty illustrated by David Roberts

Madame Chapeau is a lonely hat maker; she spends her days making bespoke hats to perfectly match her customers. Unfortunately, Madame Chapeau is missing the perfect match for herself. On her birthday, each year, she would put on her favourite dress and her favourite bonnet; then she would venture out into the city to dine in her favourite restaurant… alone!

To her dismay, a crow swoops down and snatches away her bonnet. Madame Chapeau chases the crow through the streets of Paris. Along the way she is generously offered hats by passers-by, a baker, a policeman, a cowboy & many more. But none of them are quite right. Full of sorrow she sits down in the restaurant to dine alone, too sad to take a bite of her cake. Until a special little girl gives her a very special gift.

Here are 14 reasons why I treasure this book…

  1. The abundance of rich vocabulary, that flows and rhymes from the beginning to the end – ‘Each feather, each bauble, each bead, and each bow – painstakingly chosen by Madame Chapeau.’
  2. The calligraphic-ribbon typography on the front cover
  3. The somewhat bemused expression upon Madame Chapeau’s face
  4. Looking under the dust cover …beautiful
  5. The way the type is set meticulously on each page and spread
  6. The myriad of marvellously refined hats
  7. The fact that David Roberts, the illustrator, was a former milliner.
  8. I like that the author & illustrator have worked together in the past, Iggy Peck, Architect & Rosie Revere, Engineer. That’s a pairing you can trust!
  9. The story is told by writer and illustrator in equal parts – a true collaboration
  10. The vocabulary I have acquired to describe hats in all their shapes, sizes and forms
  11. The sense of place you feel when absorbing yourself within its pages
  12. The generous lashings of white space, that give the gorgeous illustrations room to breathe and sing
  13. The fine detail to be discovered within each illustration
  14. The pathos of Madame Chapeau’s loneliness

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo won a 2014 Caldecott Honor. It is a wordless picture book with fold outs and flaps that add movement, fluidity, humour and surprise to the ballet dance that is played out through the story. It’s a truly beautiful picture book.

flora

The second book doesn’t disappoint, it delivers all the charm and magic of the first.

In the second book Flora develops a new friendship, this time with a penguin. Flora takes to the ice to learn a new synchronised dance. The two friends twist and twirl and spin and glide across the pages.

The limited palette, elegant illustrations, and clever, witty use of flaps and fold outs make indulging in this picture book a magical experience.

I hope we see more of Flora in the future, she is a wonderful creation.

Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet

Who can resist brightly- coloured, gloopy, thick, splodges of paint? Isn’t it everyone’s instinct to shove their hands and face in it and ‘mix it up’, or is that just me?

If you are a fan of Hervé Tullet’s book ‘Press Here’ you will love ‘Mix it up’. Like ‘Press Here’, Hervé Tullet instructs the reader to interact with the book on each page, telling us to tap thumb prints, mix different colours, smear paint, tilt the book and shake it. Using their imagination and what they’ve learnt, the child envisages what they have created.

In my opinion, Herve Tullet’s books contain the essence of childhood; freedom of expression, creativity, innocence, the act of learning through play and exploration, all with plenty of laughter. His books ooze enjoyment and discovery.

Not only does the book offer bundles of magic and wonder, it’s educational! It teaches the child about basic colour mixing in a way that is both charming and engaging.

Visually, the book is spectacular. The colours are striking, bold and cheerful. Finger prints and smudges make up an abundance of beautiful imperfections that are dotted around the edges like little smiling, happy accidents.

As an adult viewing this book, it feels like I’ve been taken back in time to the local village hall playgroup, 1986. 4 years old, I’ve got a green tank top on and I’m wearing a painting apron that looks like Joseph’s technicoloured dreamcoat. My hands are dripping in paint and I’m looking up at a giant sheet of sugar paper with a licence to attack it with all the poster paint in the world. Happy days!

Alphabet Books

I love a good alphabet book, I have quite a substantial collection. The prospect of a new one makes me pretty excited. I like the idea that a simple concept can be interpreted in many ways. Don’t get me wrong, the good ones are fighting for attention in a sea of cutesy, naff, regurgitated ‘A is for Apple’ alphabet nightmare. But if you look in the right places you will find some that deserve to be written about by creative review or awarded a D&AD pencil for their ingenuity and design.

Here is a selection of my favourite alphabet books.

Alphabet by Paul Thurlby

Discover an alphabet like no other! In his first children’s book, highly-collected graphic artist Paul Thurlby creates an amazing world where each letter of the alphabet becomes its word. From B for bounce, with two bouncy balls, to Y for yoga, with a stretching yoga instructor, this is a stunning alphabet that helps to make the shape of each letter memorable for first readers. Amazon

A Zeal of Zebras by Woop

An embarrassment of pandas, a galaxy of starfish, a shiver of sharks…these are all collective nouns used to describe their groups. Woop Studios, acclaimed for their work on the Harry Potter movies, has illustrated these quirky phrases, creating a series of extraordinarily beautiful art that has been collected here for the first time. The colorful introduction to animals and the alphabet is accessible for young children, while the gorgeous, whimsical art and clever wordplay make it perfect for design-savvy parents and inspired gift givers. Longer than the standard picture book, with high design and production values, this is a volume readers will want on their coffee tables in addition to their child’s bookshelf. Chronicle Books

Alphablock By Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Peskimo

With thick pages cut into the shape of each letter, children and parents will enjoy this peek-through guessing game around the letterform itself. Sprinkles, hot fudge, and cherries hint at I’s ice cream sundae, while aquarium accessories hint at F’s fish. As readers interact with the pages, they will familiarize themselves not only with the 26 letters and associated words, but also with each letter’s physicality—angles, holes, and curves, both front and back. With Peskimo’s animated, stylish visuals, this fresh ABC book encourages readers to manipulate the alphabet in a whole new way. Note: illustrations have a retro feel, with imperfect variations in color and texture. Abrams Books

A Railway Alphabet by Jack Townend

A Railway ABC is a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the railroad. Townend’s endearing lithograph illustrations – in both colour and monochrome – are accompanied by a gently humorous and whimsical text that will captivate children and adults alike. Waterstones

Jungle ABC by Michael Roberts

Designed as both collector’s item for art and fashion enthusiasts, and an educational tool for children, this ABC features orchids, parrots, snakes and wildebeest. It contains the 26 letters of the alphabet illustrated with cut-out paper collages dancing with African colours and rhythms. Amazon

Anteater to Zebras by Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher (1931 – 2006) is one of the most influential and respected figures in British design. Famous for the high profile work he created within Pentagram of which he was a co-founder, Fletcher became renowned as one of the most creative graphic designers on the British scene.

Anteaters to Zebras, created the year before his untimely death in 2006, is the first children’s book by Alan Fletcher to be published in the UK. Originally designed with Fletcher’s grandson in mind, the book is a creative, playful and witty introduction to the alphabet, expressing the pleasure he took in turning work and play into the same activity.

Children and adults alike will delight win Fletcher’s series of brightly coloured animals illustrating the letters of the alphabet and in his infectious sense of fun. Tate Shop

A Child’s Day, An Alphabet of Play by Ida Pearle

Artist Ida Pearle gives readers a way to play for every letter in the alphabet. A is for act–curtains up! B is for blow–pinwheel ready! And C is for catch–butterflies beware! Ida’s cut-paper collages are the perfect mix of vintage and modern, comfort and inspiration. Her images of children–on tiptoe, on a zebra, dancing, and jumping–are full of grace and flow. And her distinctive patterns and striking designs spring from page to page. Perfect for both children and adults, this extraordinary alphabet book will add a dash of whimsy and style to any bookshelf. Amazon