By Quentin Blake, published by Red Fox, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: The quintessentially British Mister Magnolia is a man of no logic. He dresses in a striped waistcoat, blue jacket and a pair of yellow trousers. His zany look is flourished off by him wearing only one boot. He rides around on a scooter, juggles fruit and has a pet dinosaur. The text is a poem, where in each verse Mr Magnolia has a marvellous possession – ‘two lovely sisters who play on the flute’ but he always only has one boot. The boot reference repeats, so the chldren can shout along with each page until a very happy, but odd ending occurs.
Why we love it: You’ll soon join in the fun and rejoice when a mysterious package containing another boot (but nothing like the one he already has) allowing him to splash in the puddles like everyone else.
First published: 1980
By Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Gwen Millward, published by Puffin, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: Two sisters go fishing in the magic pond and instead of a frog they discover a bog baby. Trying to keep the new foundling a secret proves difficult as the wild thing soon gets ill. The girls realise they have to tell their mother who gives them a valuable lesson about letting go of something or someone you love.
Why we love it: Perfect for young children with beautiful illustrations. The Bog Baby in question is too cute to resist. It won’t be a surprise if your little one starts searching for their own bog baby around the garden pond.
First published: 2008
By Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, published by Macmillan, RRP £6.99
What’s the story: This is the story of a quick-witted mouse as he encounters a host of predators who seem to think he might make for a tasty treat. As he ventures deeper into the deep dark wood, stumbling across a hungry fox, a not-so-wise owl, and a slimy snake, he spins ever-extraordinary yarns about the scary, scaly gruffalo. He quickly realises that the hungry beast he has been talking of isn’t imaginary after all.
Why we love it: It’s won an award for being the best book to read aloud and it’s not hard to see why! You can really go to town on the story telling front with animal and monster voices galore! Donaldson has received huge success for this book which has only been around for 12 years, and has been adapted for the theatre and most recently for TV – with Hugh Laurie and James Corden lending their voices to the characters.
First published: 1999
Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Crockett Johnson, published by Harper Collins, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: Harold draws his way to adventure by using his ever present purple crayon. He sketches roads, apple trees, a dragon for a pet and a wavy sea before finally drawing his bedroom window so he can crawl in to bed and go to sleep.
Why we love it: There’s something so satisfying for infants to revel in the idea of creating personal realities. Just make sure you keep the crayons away from the wallpaper!
First published: 1955
Lost and Found
By Oliver Jeffers, published by Harper Collins, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: A tale of friendship and loneliness. When a penguin lands on the front doorstep of a little boy, the latter decides he’s lost and sets out to take him to his rightful owner. But when no one around seems to be missing a pet penguin the pair set off to the south poles. As the story progresses, we realise that maybe home wasn’t what the penguin was looking for after all.
Why we love it: Your child will want the story read again and again which is good because you’ll want to read it too. The illustrations perfectly capture the feeling of loss through delicate facial expressions and body language.
First published: 2005