By Roger Hargreaves, published by Egmont, RRP £2.50 each
What’s the story: The series features characters with names such as Mr Tickle and Mr Happy who all have personalities based on their names. Each book follows the character who gets up to all kinds of comical capers and catastrophes because of their single dominant personality. Mr Tickle was the first book in the series. Inspired by his son who asked what a tickle looked like, Hargreaves responded by drawing a round orange figure with long bendy arms.
Why we love it: It’s hard for any child to not have at least one book of the 47 to choose from if not the whole library. A Little Miss series is also available (which began in 1981) and introduced Little Miss Sunshine and Little Miss Twins.
First published: 1971 (Mr Tickle)
Thomas the Tank Engine
By Rev, W. Awdry, published by Egmont, RRP £4.99 each
What’s the story: Thomas is a cheeky little tank engine who has many adventures with his engine friends, Gordon, Edward, Henry and James in this popular series. Each short story (there are 41 to collect) ends on a moral note where boastful little engines finally get their comeuppance and modest heroics are rewarded.
Why we love it: The books are small in size and in hardback form, making it easy for a young baby to hold. The stories have a regular pattern in all the books that’s comforting and appealing to the young mind. Yes, there are gender stereotypes along with a nostalgia for an idealistic England in the illustrations, but you can’t help but love these stories. Primarily, the books are aimed at boys, but little girls will love them too.
First published: 1946
Where does Maisy Live?
By Lucy Cousins, published by Walker, RRP £4.99
What’s the story: Maisy, a jovial mouse in a stripy top, dungarees and red boots disappears after the first page leaving readers with the task of lifting up various flaps of hen houses, pig pens and stables to determine where she lives. All the places are occupied with no Maisy to be seen. On the last page there’s a house with a green door when once lifted reveals a smiling Maisy.
Why we love it: Inventive, witty and always right on a child’s wavelength, Cousins’ has created a modern family favourite character. Many books about Maisy the Mouse are available including Maisy at the Farm (£7.00), Maisy Goes to Playschool (£7.99) and Maisy Goes on Holiday (£4.99).
First published: 2000
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
By Mo Willems, published by Walker, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: When a bus driver takes a break from his normal route, he just has one rule for all of us – ‘Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!’ But lo and behold the pigeon pops up and tries every trick to get in the driving seat.
Why we love it: This book is perfect for interaction. The reader can pretend to be the bus driver and the pigeon while the child can shout out ‘no!’ to the pigeon’s unruly requests. There’s so much humour in this book that adults will never tire of reading it. Willems’ drawings are meant to cause giggles. A smirk will escape every time you look at the pigeon’s pleading beady eye.
First published: 2004
The Pirate Cruncher
By Jonny Duddle, published by Templar, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: A salty sea pup tells the tale of a mysterious island, bursting with pirate booty. Captain Purplebeard and his cut-throat crew have already set sail in search of the treasure before they’re made aware of the hideous pirate cruncher who guards the gold.
Why we love it: Appealing to the child and adult who love a jolly adventure, Duddle’s drawings are packed with so much to see. Searching for the hidden tentacle in the corner of a page, and a pair of googly eyes peeking over a chest of gold on the next makes the book an ‘I spy a monster’ game. There’s plenty of text too to keep the story going.
First published: 2010