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The Best Books of 2021: Baby & Toddler

Posted on 3rd November 2021 by Mark Skinner

Whether it's spotting spooks with Oliver Jeffers, hunting for monsters with Malorie Blackman or receiving some dino-tastic hugs courtesy of Rachel Bright, there have been lots of big treats for little hands this year. Check out our selection of the very best picture books and board books of 2021 below.  

£6.99
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A great new winter addition to the popular Tales from Acorn Wood stable, with durable flaps on each page, Squirrel’s Snowman sees the animals on the hunt for all the pieces of the perfect snowman.
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Inspired by his acclaimed picture book Here We Are, this gorgeous board book introduces very little ones to a beautifully illustrated A-Z of creatures.
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Vet and television presenter Dr Jess French presents an invaluable introduction to understanding your feline friends in this board book, boldly illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan.
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From trucks to diggers, experience the fun of driving a series of building site vehicles around five different tracks in this chunky interactive board book.
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£20.00 £17.99
Hardback
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From the author/illustrator of Lost and Found and Stuck comes a hauntingly beautiful picture book ghost hunt, boasting interactive transparent pages and Jeffers' unique artistry.
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£12.99
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Filled with all of Michael Rosen’s trademark humour and humanity, this moving and inspirational picture book details the author’s recovery from coronavirus and is a wonderful testament to perseverance, compassion and kindness.
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£12.99
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With a cast including goblins, magic puddings and a mushroom queen, Gauld’s adorable and exquisitely illustrated tale of a young robot’s search for his sister combines gentle magical adventure with a whimsical tribute to sibling devotion.
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Originally commissioned by The Poetry Society as their annual poem to welcome Norway’s gift of a Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square in 2020 and now presented in a new hardback edition, beautifully illustrated by Norwegian artist Victoria Sandøy, The Christmas Pine is a modern Christmas classic about the magic of nature and new beginnings to rival The Night Before Christmas.
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Bringing the festive fun of Fletcher’s original Christmas story to younger readers, this delightful rhyming retelling is the heartwarming tale of a plucky dinosaur determined to help pull Santa’s sleigh.
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Once more unafraid to tackle complex themes in picture book form, Tom Percival delivers a deeply moving and inspiring tale of a young girl living at the edge of society and a message of hope and understanding for young and old alike.
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£12.99
Hardback
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When unicorns descend on the shore near Margaret’s new home and leave behind one of their babies, a magical adventure begins in this adorable picture book about the power of friendship.
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A heartwarming celebration of the enduring love between fathers and sons, the debut picture book from Megan, The Duchess of Sussex combines inspiring rhyming text with the beautiful watercolour illustrations of Christian Robinson.
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£7.99
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Former recipient of the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year award Dapo Adeola crafts a tender and inspiring picture book about growing up Black, incorporating stunning artwork from eighteen illustrators of colour.
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From one of our most distinctive author-illustrators comes a big-hearted picture book all about being small, as two diminutive unicorns who are desperate to grow up find themselves on an unexpected adventure.
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£11.99
Hardback
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Following up the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize category-winning The Girls by tracing the paths taken through life by a quartet of young boys, Ace and Lovlie craft another charming and inclusive picture book which encourages difference and love.
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Award-winning illustrator Bethan Woollvin gives voice to three intrepid Viking warriors who are out to prove their Chieftain wrong and save the day – Viking girl style.
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From the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Lion Inside comes a heartwarming rhyming tale about a whale on the hunt for the one trinket that will make him feel complete.
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With vibrant illustrations from Emily Gravett, Michael Morpurgo celebrates the diversity of the natural world with a tour of English gardens, African savannah and forest canopy and the wild and wonderful creatures that live there.
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£12.99
Hardback
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Explore the ups and downs of family life with the adorable Burpee Bears in the first of a delightful picture book series from the nation’s PE supremo Joe Wicks, complete with warm-up and wind-down exercise routines.

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The storytelling double act behind There Is No Dragon in This Story return with a clever, tongue-in-cheek take on Little Red Riding Hood when wolf decides it’s time that he took a day off…
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£12.99 £6.49
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‘Draw with Rob’ Biddulph’s enchanting picture book Odd Dog Out gets a festive makeover in this heartwarming rhyming tale in which the maverick mutt helps a friend to discover the true meaning of Christmas.
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Boasting the same wry, deadpan humour and distinctive artwork that made Klassen’s Hat trilogy such a phenomenon, The Rock from the Sky is a hilarious tale of friendship and frustration between a turtle and an armadillo.
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The author/illustrator of A Bit Lost and Shh! We Have a Plan tempts a trio of monkeys with a tantalising mango tree in this joyous picture book packed with youthful cheekiness and boundary pushing.
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The author of former Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlisted picture book 100 Dogs unleashes a host of avian antics in a rundown of just about every kind of feathered friend that you can imagine.
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From golfing meerkats to a candyfloss-covered albatross, there is more zany rhyming fun from the team behind You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus in this madcap menagerie of transport-taking animals.
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Zadie Smith teams up with acclaimed poet Nick Laird and debut illustrator Magenta Fox to produce a marvellously funny and warm-hearted story about a rather unconventional guinea pig.
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Rapunzel gets a rabbity reworking in this delightful story of a long-eared bunny forced to live in a sky-scraping hutch to avoid the attentions of hungry predators.
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£10.99 £5.49
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From the Christmas hit factory that is LadBaby comes a fast-paced, hilarious festive adventure as everybody's favourite savoury snack goes on a whirlwind caper with Santa.
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The author/illustrator of The Littlest Yak celebrates being yourself with the delicious rhyming story of a Viking boy who loves to bake and the impending Sports’ Day that could prove his undoing.
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A riotous underwater adventure awaits Grandude and the Chillers as they follow the musical trail of the missing Nandude in this second, fun-filled picture book from the one and only Sir Paul McCartney.
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Hilariously demonstrating that not all fairies are sweetness and light, Stevens’s hugely entertaining picture book sets a hungry goblin on the trail of some foot-stompingly moody sprites.
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The picture book dream team of Malorie Blackman and former Waterstones Children’s Book Prize winner Dapo Adeola deliver an irresistible story of adventure, imagination and family as two intrepid children transform their house into a fantasy landscape.
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Things get very spooky in the vegetable aisle in this rip-roaring instalment in the bestselling Supertato series, as strange and ghostly things start to happen in the supermarket after closing time.

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Blissfully unaware of the gathering horde of monsters, a group of teachers make their way back through the forest in this wonderfully irreverent rhyming tale from the author of Space Tortoise.
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Discovering the Natural World

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The beloved poet and author pays tribute to the wonders of the natural world in incandescent verse, accompanied by gorgeous illustrations from Nila Aye.
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The sparkling sequel to Meet the Planets sends young readers on a fascinating journey through the depths of the ocean as rhyming text describes incredible underwater creatures from beluga whales to manatees.
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Understanding & Confronting Racism

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Packed with vibrant illustrations from Onyinye Iwu, My Skin Your Skin is an invaluable resource for helping young children learn about anti-racism and celebrate the achievements of all children from a noted Early Years expert.
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Being Proud of Who You Are

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Bursting with energy and effortless rhymes, Lee and Fatimaharan’s feelgood fable focuses on a junior royal with unconventional singing talents and sends a message of embracing your true self.
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Developing Kindness

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From the author of The Worrysaurus comes the heart-melting story of a kind and caring dinosaur, perfect for teaching children about the value of compassion and love.
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