Follow the Yellow

Great new picture books

Back from Scotland and back into the swing of things! Although I’m mourning my peaceful sojourn by the sea, one advantage of being back at work is that I have the chance to catch up on some lovely new children’s books. Today, to celebrate Children’s Book Week (which starts tomorrow!) I thought I’d share three favourite new picture books from some of the Booktrust Best New Illustrators, who I worked with earlier in the year.

The High Street by Alice Melvin

The High Street by Alice Melvin is a beautiful new picture book from Tate Publishing. Like Alice’s previous book, Counting Birds, it’s notable for its high production values and delightfully old-fashioned, nostalgic feel.

The story follows Sally, a girl heading down the High Street to look for all the items on her shopping list, from a stripy jug to yellow tulips. Readers can join Sally on her shopping trip, popping into the local sweet shop, florist and pet shops, and opening the flaps to explore exquisitely-detailed spreads showing everything that’s going on inside each shop.

Children will enjoy poring over all the details in the pictures, and Alice’s vintage-style aesthetic will appeal to readers of all ages, but this book is also a great tribute to the pleasures of shopping on the local high street, and the charm of independent shops.

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson

I’m a huge fan of Katie Cleminson’s illustration, but I think Otto the Book Bear may be my favourite of all her books to date. This is the tale of a lonely bear who needs a new home, but who eventually finds the perfect place to live and make lots of new friends – the public library.

Katie’s distinctive, softly-coloured illustrations are packed with character, but what I especially love about this book is how she has communicated the magic of books and of the library – as blogger LibraryMice has described it ‘a place of joy but also a haven of peace and safety’. At a time when libraries are under threat from cuts, it’s so important to remind everyone of why they are so special, and Katie does just that in this delightful book.

You can download a poster with an illustration from Otto the Book Bear to celebrate Children’s Book Week here.

A Place to Call Home by Alexis Deacon, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Viv Schwarz once again joins forces with one of the original Best New Illustrators Alexis Deacon for a great new picture book A Place Called Home.  

This is the epic story of a brave band of hamsters, lost and looking for a new home. Will they find it? Will they stay together? Will they know where they are going? This laugh-out-loud funny and charmingly illustrated story is a real treat – it’s no wonder it has just been shortlisted for the 2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

An exhibition of work by all ten Best New Illustrators, including Alice, Katie and Viv, is currently on display at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Free Word Centre in London.

If you’re interested in reading more about children’s books and children’s book illustration I can heartily recommend illustrator Sarah McIntyre’s blog. I’ve been reading and enjoying Sarah’s blog for a while, but I heard her give a great presentation about how she uses blogging and other online activity to complement and support her work as a children’s author/illustrator at this week’s Bookseller Children’s Conference – fascinating and inspiring stuff!


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