Picture books

The Witch's ChlidrenHold tight, Miss Goose,” beamed the sultan, and they all flew to the palace on the Number 16 Magic Carpet.

This is our current favourite bedtime story. In it, the witch’s children go for a walk and decide to accompany their friend Gemma to the palace, to see the Queen’s soldiers. Everything seems so simple, except that Gemma ends up as a goose, the bus ends up as a magic carpet, and the solders end up as… well, why spoil the story? It’s fabulous – brilliantly imaginative with illustrations that we have spent literally hours looking at and talking about. And we’re not bored of it yet!

Best of all, is the witch. The picture below is a goodly part of what I mean by that:

The Witch's Children - the witch!


Little Rabbit waits for the Moon“This is my first day, ever,” said a small flower in the fields. “Maybe I will have grown into a tree by the time your moon comes.”

That sounded like an awfully long time.

Little Rabbit thought he had better ask someone else – just to be sure.

Ariel is currently a big fan of all things moony and all things rabbitty, so this book is inevitably a big hit.

In it, Little Rabbit is a small person who doesn’t want to go to sleep until the moon has risen to watch over him. He decides to wait for the moon, but as he gets sleepier and sleepier the moon still doesn’t arrive. He starts to ask how long it might be – yet neither the small flower in the fields, nor the great rolling hills have anything hopeful to offer. Will the moon ever come? Will Little Rabbit have to stay awake all night? Or will he have to try and sleep without his moon to watch over him?

We read this book nearly every night. :-)

Slinky Malinki
was blacker than black,
a stalking and lurking
adventurous cat.
He had bright yellow eyes,
a warbling wail
and a kink at the end
of his very long tail.
Slinky Malinki

This book is excellent – one of our favourites and I think we will love it for a long time to come. It tells the story of sneaky rapscallion rascally Slinky Malinki and how he plunders all the neighbours houses for booty – until, one night, he overreaches and is thoroughly disgraced…

If I could change two things about this book to make it absolutely perfect I would (1) change a couple of Americanisms – the smelly old “sneaker” should be a “trainer”, and the half-knitted “jersey” would become a “jumper” and (2) make Slinky into a girl cat!

The Gruffalo has been a firm favourite in this house ever since Baby M was old enough to be propped up, and sit quietly, whilst being read to.

It is the story, written in rhyme by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, of an unassuming little mouse who outwits all the scary, carniverous creatures in the wood by pretending that she is just about to meet the even-more-scary-and-carniverous Gruffalo, a fictional creature that the mouse has invented. When fiction becomes reality and a Gruffalo actually appears – and threatens to eat the mouse! – some quick thinking is in order.


This is a lovely book, perfect for those days when you just aren’t getting along.

Small is a small fox who is feeling grim and cross. Large is a large fox who wants Small to know that: I’ll always love you, no matter what.

Small said “I’m a grim and grumpy little Small and nobody loves me at all.”
Oh, Small,” said Large. “Grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.”

The text is charming the pictures are engaging, with delightful background touches for the grown-ups. Just beautiful.

Does love wear out?” said Small. “Does it break or bend? Can yuu fix it, stick it, does it mend?”
Oh, help,” said Large, “I’m not that clever, I just know I’ll love you forever.”

This may not be the best children’s picture book ever written, but it is certainly one of the most enduring. It is widely-known and fondly-remembered even by old crones like me. In fact, it is the only one I remember reading and enjoying from my own childhood.

It’s got everything – endearing pictures, different-shaped pages, pages with holes in and a lovely “surprise” ending. For those who like something educational, it even does numbers and days of the week… So, although not quite as fabulous as I remember, it is still pretty good – yes, it has withstood the test of time.

I noticed, while reminding myself how good this book is, a range of caterpillar-turns-butterfly (oops, sorry, just gave away the ending) stories in the picture book section. I suppose it must be something about the magic of transformation that captures both the adult’s and the child’s imagination. One of these books had the caterpillar sighing – “I wish I could fly, but I have no wings and I am too fat and heavy.” Chin up, little one, life gets better.

So, here’s an Amazon link.
I sneakily re-read it for free in Ottakers, using the baby as a diversion.