Tracey Corderoy Chooses the Best Children's Books of 2017 for Younger Readers
The Snow Lion by Jim Helmore with illustrations by Richard Jones
This is a beautiful, touching story about the power of friendship. Sometimes you just need someone, when you’re feeling scared or overwhelmed, to be by your side; there for you until you have the confidence to walk on. The first spread of the book is dark. It hints at a sense of foreboding and uncertainty as a small girl travels towards a house devoid of lights twinkling in the window, up the top of a tall hill.
There is a real sense that, as well as the physical hill, Caro has an emotional hill, or maybe even a mountain to climb. Then the lion appears to her out of the whiteness, being at one with it too; a vast white lion, as white as snow, who is huge but calm and friendly too. This lion could be the friend that Caro had wanted. All day they play, and by night the lion, like a beacon of light, carries Caro up the dark stairs, nestled in his soft white mane. She isn’t scared now. She looks very content and happy. This book is so deep and at the same time so stunning in its honest simplicity that it has already become one of my favourites. It has everything; friendship, bravery, honesty, being there and knowing when to let go, and also a lion-sized sprinkling of magic and love…
Moon: Night-time around the World by Patricia Hegarty with illustrations by Britta Teckentrup
This book is an absolute delight! A real feast for the senses. Stunningly beautiful and gently informative, we are taken on a truly magical journey glimpsing the beauty of the whole world reflected in the moon’s silvery light. As the peek-through pages show the moon’s changing shape throughout the lunar cycle, we glimpse the rich, varied tapestry of life down below.
In the grassland, tall giraffes and plodding elephants are cooling themselves after the day’s blistering heat, whilst in the wood a tiny field mouse has much scampering to do he seeks out a tasty night time picnic! From a flutter of neon orange as parrots flap and soar, to the cool turquoise wash of the waves, on every page Britta Teckentrup uses line and colour so sensitively. Illustrations and text are as one as we’re swept along by the moon’s soft rays and the soft alliterative beat that underpins our journey.
Can I Join Your Club? by John Kelly with illustrations by Steph Laberis
We all, from time to time, just want to fit in, and be part of the gang. Well, Duck is no different in this funny, upbeat tale of friendship and inclusion. Problem is, to be a member of Club Lion, Snake, or Elephant you have to be exactly like them. And you have to do exactly as they do too... Duck tries (bless!) to replicate their ‘look’ but he cannot roar like Lion, he cannot hissss like Snake, or remember facts like Elephant (or even trumpet like him!). It’s clear then that Duck – as he is, is supremely qualified for NONE of these clubs. And so the verdict each time is an unequivocal: “Application DENIED!” But does Duck sit and wallow – alone? No, he does NOT! In fact, he quickly shows more wisdom than Elephant, and more resourcefulness that all of them, by promptly starting his own club; Duck Club, where Duck can simply – well, be himself!
But Duck has learned. He now knows how it feels to be rejected and turned away. And so, when others come to join his club, they simply have to want to be there – whoever they are, however they look, and whatever (wonderfully diverse) hobbies and talents they bring to the party, and the notice ‘Duck Club’ is changed to ‘OUR Club’ in a heartbeat. The final spread shows everyone having an absolute ball, including those who rejected Duck earlier. This book appeals on so many levels. The colour palette is bright and vibrant and the stereotypical attributes of a lion, snake and elephant are slightly exaggerated visually; the resulting over-the-top visual humour delicately balancing the underlying tone of arrogance, inflexibility and aloofness that these characters display.
The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge: Mediaeval Knight in Training by Philip Ardagh with illustrations by Jamie Littler
This is just GREAT for anyone who wants to learn about mediaeval knights and castles but wants to do it with a huge smile on their face. There are banquets, hunting with birds of prey, archery – and *spoiler alert* they get attacked by the Welsh (I’m not going to take offence at that btw).
Philip Ardagh’s writing is immensely humorous and informative. He cleverly signposts facts within the fiction so that you learn whilst being entertained. You become aware very quickly that the author has a BIG passion for the past, and especially castles, and is very knowledgeable on the subject. This book would be a brilliant addition to the classroom library as well as the home bookshelf. If bringing the past alive is what you’re after then this book is an absolute must!
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