The three I'm highlighting here are all published by Faber, which as everyone knows, is famous for its poetry list. Now I'm not claiming that Elli Willard is T.S.Eliot, but she's written a book (one of a series) called A Present for Pig and I can guarantee that any child you read it to will be reciting the rhyming couplets till you are probably heartily sick of them. I found them delightful. What is more, they tell a story: Woozy the Wizard, resident of Snottington Sneeze, wants to find a birthday present for his friend, Pig. In spite of all his magic tricks, nothing seems to be working out, but of course in the end the present appears and it's JUST RIGHT!
Al Murphy has a loose, casual style that fits perfectly with the verse. This kind of illustration looks as if anyone might do it, but they really, really couldn't. It's perfectly suited to the text which is one of the most important things about picture books. The colours are bright and the whole thing beautifully produced. Altogether, it's a cheery, funny, joyous and enjoyable story which has a satisfying beginning, middle and end. I'm sure children of four and up will love it and I'd be willing to bet that parents all over the country will be muttering lines from it before too long.
A Dog called Bear is a simple story about love. About compromises, and give and take and searching for the right pet. Lucy wants a dog. No dogs are forthcoming, so she settles for a Bear. Well, why not? The Bear gets fed up with doing doggy things and runs away, and Lucy, in spite of being extremely annoyed by various Bearish habits, like hibernation, is desperately sad when he does. I don't have to tell you that it all ends happily and we are left to assume that they live happily ever after. Well, of course they do!
Both Bear and Lucy (in a very short text) come over as fully rounded creations and the illustration style is cartoonish but still packs in masses of emotion and character. The big pages of this large-format paperback are full of space which is a real treat. The critics on the back just love it and I think you will too.
My last choice is a good and appropriate one for Faber to be publishing. It's a poem by Walter de la Mare, who is probably out of fashion these days but whose work I love. The very short verse is called Summer Evening and Carolina Rabei has expanded it to show a whole series of scenes of life on a farm. It's a simple idea but it works very well and the colour palette the artist has chosen will remind grandparents at least (my generation) of that supreme nursery classic, Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins. The view it gives of a farm in the UK is a very traditional and probably old-fashioned one, but it's none the worse for that. And when your children are reciting Walter de la Mare by heart you will deserve a pat on the back for introducing them to a great and underrated British poet.
All three books published by Faber in paperback.
A Present for Pig by Elli Willard and Al Murphy.
ISBN: 9780571313198 £6.99
A Dog called Bear by Diane and Christyan Fox.
ISBN: 9780571329441 £6.99
Summer Evening by Walter de la Mare. Illus. Carolina Rabei.
ISBN: 9780571314676 £6.99
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