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7 stunning picture books, 6 awesome authors, 5 fabulous artists …

Covers Of 7 Stunning Picture Books By 6 Awesome Authors And 5 Fabulous Artists

Picture books are for everybody, and for all the year round, but they are also very special Christmas presents for children. Here’s a round-up of some new and recently republished picture books that tell beautiful stories in words and images.

‘Lord of the Forest’ by Caroline Pitcher and Jackie Morris

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Published by: Graffeg, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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When a lyrical writer like Caroline Pitcher and a superb artist like Jackie Morris get together you will know that the end product will be a beautiful book. Lord of the Forest is a new publication of one of their collaborations (why did it ever go out of print?) and will be eagerly received. It is published in a new, very large format which will make it popular for use in schools, as children will delight in seeing the fabulous illustrations while the story is read out to them. The tale is of a tiger looking for the Lord of the Forest that his mother has told him about:

When you don’t hear the forest, when silence simmers in the trees, then, my son, be ready. The Lord of the Forest is on his way!

But Tiger can’t find him. He knows it’s none of the noisy blundering creatures who present themselves to him as Lord of the Forest. What he doesn’t know, of course, is what every child will be delighted to guess.

Graffeg is partnered with Wildcats Conservation Alliance and donates £4 of every copy of Lord of the Forest sold to them.

‘The Winter Dragon’ by Caroline Pitcher and Sophy Williams

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Published by: Graffeg, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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Also written by Caroline Pitcher, and recently re-published by Graffeg, is The Winter Dragon, illustrated by Sophy Williams.

The Winter Dragon is a sweet story about a little boy called Rory and how he was cured of his fear of the dark. Rory makes a cardboard dragon, and that night, when he’s hiding from monsters underneath his bedcovers:

…his room was lit by a glow, green as an apple in deep magic.

Every night the dragon lights up Rory’s room and tells him stories about meteorites and volcanoes and brilliant burning things, and about ancient creatures like dinosaurs. But when spring comes and the daylight grows, the dragon has to go too, to his own world of warmth and light.

There’s a lot to talk about in this comforting bedtime story, and Caroline Pitcher’s imaginative language is beautifully complemented by Sophy Williams’ dreamy chalk-pastel artwork.

‘Adoette’ by Lydia Monks

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Published by: Andersen Press, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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Written and illustrated by Lydia Monks.

This is an unusual picture book that will lead to lots of exploration and discussion. Adoette has lived in the street for over a hundred years, and has seen many changes. One day, the authorities decide that she has to leave. Many people are upset about this, but there is little they can do.

The story follows the life of one street: the changes in clothing, the effects of war, the residents brought together by a street party, the ethnic changes as the street becomes a multi-racial community, and finally, the sad sight of residents driven apart by arguments about Adoette’s future. Young readers will search the pages to find out which of the characters is Adoette. Is it that little girl with yellow hair, who grows older as the story lengthens – but she’s not on every page, is she? The dog? No. The cat! No – a hundred years? Surely not! I could tell you who Adoette is, but I prefer to leave you to find out for yourselves.

Adoette is a delightful, engagingly illustrated story that will create much discussion among its readers.

Jane Ray (with various authors)

The much-admired illustrator Jane Ray, who illustrated my books Classic Fairy Tales and Jinnie Ghost, has three recently published new books:

Hummingbird, Swallow’s Kiss and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all written by different authors.

‘Hummingbird’

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Published by: Walker Books, 2019. Available from Amazon.

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Hummingbird is written by the zoologist Nicola Davies, whose novel The Song That Sings Us is the subject of one of my other blog posts. It is published by Walker Books in their Nature Storybooks series. In Hummingbird, Nicola Davies skilfully weaves factual information about hummingbirds with little cameos of the delighted surprise that the tiny birds bring to people’s lives. The illustrations are gorgeous, particularly in the end pages, making this little book a rare gem.

‘Swallow’s Kiss’

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Published by: Pop Up, 2021. Available from Amazon.

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Swallow’s Kiss, written in free verse by Sita Brahmachari and published by Pop Up Books, is a story of dreams and hopes and wishes. Blessing was kissed by a swallow when she was in her cradle, making her different from other children. With her friend Hami she makes lovely coloured paper birds that fly, and calls them Wish Birds. Her dreams come true, and her wish is for Hami’s dream to be realised, too.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

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Published by: Walker Books, 2021. Available from Amazon.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is told by Georghia Ellinas and published by Walker books. Jane Ray’s gorgeously decorative style enhances the simple retelling of Shakespeare’s very confusing story. It’s difficult to recreate the humour and magic of a stage performance, but Jane Ray casts her spell of colour and design to bring the beloved play to the page. And Walker Books add the sparkle!

‘The Boy Who Lost His Spark’ by Maggie O’Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

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Published by: Walker Books, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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Walker Books have produced one of those rare things – a full colour illustrated long story for infants/junior readers. The Boy Who Lost His Spark is in large format, making it an elegant gift book which is also ideal for classroom use.

The story is written by the highly acclaimed novelist Maggie O’Farrell. The Boy Who Lost His Spark is her second book for children. The central character, Jem, is unhappy because he and his mother and sister have moved from their flat in town to a cottage in the country. He misses the lights and bustle of town; in fact, he hates everything about the new place, especially when strange things start happening in the house. His sister is convinced that the culprit is a creature called the Nouka, who, according to local lore, used to live beneath the hill that was once a volcano. Jem refuses to believe her, until one magical and wonderful day, he sees the Nouka for himself.

This gentle, heart-warming story is illustrated throughout in full colour by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. Her colours are beautifully true, as is her depiction of children’s expressions and attitudes. The whole book is lovingly designed and presented – a Walker Books special from an excellent team.

Over to you

Do you have a favourite or very new picture book to recommend? Please put any suggestions in the comments box below!

Berlie Doherty

Berlie Doherty is the author of the best-selling novel, Street Child, and over 60 more books for children, teenagers and adults, and has written many plays for radio, theatre and television. She has been translated into over twenty languages and has won many awards, including the Carnegie medal for both Granny Was a Buffer Girl and Dear Nobody, and the Writers’ Guild Award for both Daughter of the Sea and the theatre version of Dear Nobody. She has three children and seven grandchildren, and lives in the Derbyshire Peak District with Alan James Brown. Her brand new novel for ages 10–14, The Haunted Hills, is out now, as is her novel for adults, Rose Doran Dreams. See the About me page for more information.

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