This post can also be known as: 'Books My Two And Four Year Old Boys Loved This Year', or 'What Books To Buy The Little People In Your Life'.
Last year I posted my first Totally Subjective Best Picture Book Buying Guide Before Christmas after a conversation I had with my friends on what books to buy their kids. This year I have made one list of 20 of my children's favourite picture books.
The list includes old and new books, so some may be a little harder to find, but your local indie bookstore should be able to help you out. There are many other great books we have read, adored, laughed over etc. that haven't been included or we just didn't get to. We read anywhere from 4 to 10 different picture books each night and many have become favorites that want a reread every night, though at some stage I do tell them they have to go to sleep..... how else am I going to find time to write my own stories!
Watch out for my next post on 'The (totally subjective) Best Parody Picture Book Guide for Adults'.
Kitten's First Full Moon
My two year old got obsessed with this one. He now insists on pointing out the moon any chance he gets, he can recite the whole book word for word and has a giggle for that very last page, each time. Lucky Kitten!
written by William Bee
illustrated by Cecilia Johansson
Another one that children will be able to chant along with. This is a simple but fun story of Digger Dog looking for a big bone, but the ground it too hard and the bone is too deep, needing a bigger digger each time. The last spread is a fun fold out page.
The Watermelon Seed
Fun illustrations and a simple story.
This little crocodile swallows a watermelon seed which has him quite worried. There is only one way to get rid of it...
A wordless picture book, absolutely gorgeous illustrations and a great imaginative story!
What would you do with some magic chalk? And would it come and try to bite you?
Written by Kes Gray
Illustrated by Jim Field
Cats sit on mats, and frogs sit on logs, at least that is what Cat thinks. Frog doesn't want to sit on a log, he might get a splinter! Cat tries to convince Frog by telling him exactly where all animals ought to sit. Did you know lions sit on irons, and parrots sit on carrots?
This is hilarious, it rhymes, has quirky illustrations and a great little twist at the end.
Ding Dong! Gorilla!
Written by Michelle Robinson
Illustrated by Leonie Lord
Instead of the pizza delivery guy, there is a gorilla ringing the door bell. He makes all kinds of trouble and wrecks the place, and who gets the blame? What is worse, who has eaten the pizza?
Written by Else Holmelund Minarik
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
I remember being read to from this one when I was little. I loved the illustrations even then, well, it IS illustrated by Maurice Sendak from Where the Wild Things Are.
It is not quite a picture book, more an early reader, and contains several very short stories that are loving and warm featuring a clever and adventurous little bear.
Written by Andrew King
Illustrated by Benjamin Johnston
The second book in the Engibear series. This book combines all things awesome; a challenge, building, a bridge, a dinosaur, a construction site, great characters and attention to detail!
You can read my interview with Andrew King on his first book, Engibear's Dream, and my interview with Benjamin Johnston on Engibear's Bridge.
My boys are into all things 'rescue' and the combination of a whole heap of rescue vehicles driven by dinosaurs is guaranteed to push all the right buttons.
There is a car stuck on train tracks, will the emergency team be able to get there before the train hits?
Once a Creepy Crocodile
Written by Peter Taylor
Illustrated by Nina Rycroft
This is a story about Baby Brolga who would like to have afternoon tea with crocodile, set to the tune of Waltzing Matilda and has a singalong CD. My two year old loves this so much, he drives me mad with asking me to read, sing or listen to him singing the text.
You can read an interview with the author Peter Taylor or read my review.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Every child can relate to losing their special toy/blanket/teddy/bunny. I liked this one as much as my kids.
Once Upon a Potty
This has to be an oldie as I used it with all three of my sons, and the oldest has now finished high school!
One day grandma arrives with a present, is it a flowerpot or a fish bowl? No, it is a potty!
All three boys liked the story, asked for many re-reads and it helped them make connections between their bodily functions and the use of the potty.
There is also a version for girls!
Pig the Pug
Mine, mine, all mine! This greedy pug hates to share and gets his comeuppance! Hilarious!
Written by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The youngest one was a little scared by it, but also fascinated and demanded read after read.
The story is deceptively simple and therefor very clever and reads like a dream!
The Incredible Book Eating Boy
I took the boys to see this at the theatre, Their favourite part was where the cat poops, which isn't part of the plot or even in the book, but still.
The four year old especially appreciated the story, even without poo, so it has to be good even without the toilet humour.
The boy in this story starts by taking a bite, eating a page and soon is munching on books as if they were chocolate biscuits. In the process he absorbs everything in the books and becomes the smartest boy on earth. Then of course, things go wrong ...
Traction Man comes with many accessories and outfits from combat boots to a sub-aqua suit. Traction man finds a sidekick in loyal pet Scrubbing Brush and together their missions range from rescuing the Dollies from Wicked Professor Spade to dealing with the Mysterious Toes down in the bath. But what are they to do when Traction Man's latest outfit, knitted by Granny, makes the baddies laugh! This delightful story with attractive illustrations uses a child's imagination in turning the everyday into an action adventure.
For more adventures: Traction Man meets Turbo Dog and Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Written by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
This story has been in publication for over 25 years, and it is just as good today as it was then. Again, my kids could recite the whole book. We also watched a clip on YouTube of Michael Rosen singing the song.
Spoiler alert: Everyone ends up safely back home. I had to tell my two year old each time that the bear was going back to his cave as it shows in the illustration, as he was a bit freaked out.
Where is the Green Sheep?
Written by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Judy Horacek
I just turn the pages, no need to say the words, the boys will do that for me.
There are a lot of different kinds of sheep in this book, but where is that green sheep?
Ruby Red Shoes
This gentle book is longer than your average (32 page) picture book, and doesn't have the usual plot structure, but it is whimsical, lovely and just plain gorgeous!
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
A fractured fairy tale. It helps if your child has a basic knowledge of the traditional Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale in order to get the most out of this one, that said, we started reading the original story after and it all worked out just fine.
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Children's Writer and Illustrator