Category Archives: Picture book


They are, when it comes to royal princes. After The Queen’s Knickers (how very dare they?) and The Royal Nappy, Nicholas Allan has come up with The Prince and the Potty. Now, do we have a royal baby birthday coming up, or not?

(It’s today.)

It stands to reason that a boy who had to have a royal nappy must be equally regal in the potty department. There are lots of potties. Some are better than others. But when you are out representing great-grandma you can occasionally be caught short, in which case any potty will do.

Even an ordinary one.


Michael Rosen has been known to be slightly potty, I believe. (I mean that in the best possible way.) Here in Wolfman, illustrated by Chris Mould, in a special Barrington Stoke dyslexia friendly edition, there is a wolfman on the loose.

He scares everyone he meets, and he appears to be after the Chief of Police. The reason for that is slightly potty, too.


Blue and yellow

Feeling quite inspired by two colourful picture books in nicely Swedish colours.

Bluebird by Bob Staake is a rather special book. Longer than average and wordless, it still tells a marvellous story. The illustrations are something else, and all in tones of blues and neutrals. I’d happily frame a page and put on my wall.

Bob Staake, Bluebird

Set in New York, by the look of things, it tells the story of a lonely boy, who is befriended by a small bird. There is bullying and a sad, but beautiful ending. Wonderful to look at, and if you can adapt your own words to your own child it should suit almost everybody.

In Chicken Clicking by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, we meet another little bird in this tremendously yellow book. The chicken pops into the farmhouse to use the farmer’s computer every night. She buys things, thus confusing the poor farmer.

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, Chicken Clicking

And then, then she makes an online friend. This is a cautionary tale about online safety. You just never know who will pretend to be your friend. Do you?

This chicken finds out…

Who’s calling?

Yes, who is that?

Well, in Michael Foreman’s Moose, the poor Moose finds himself in the firing line when Bear and Eagle begin to shout at each other. He just happens to be in the middle, which becomes an uncomfortable place to be.

Michael Foreman, Moose

So he has to do something, especially once the sticks and stones start flying. His solution is unusual, and one which appeals to all the other animals in the woods. As for Eagle and Bear, they can’t do much.

In That’s What Makes a Hippopotamus Smile! by Sean Taylor and Laurent Cardon, a little girl is startled when she opens the door and finds a big hippo outside. He wants to come in, so she lets him.

She needs to find out what will make him happy, so they play and eat and have a bath. When hippo next calls at her house, he is not alone. It was that much fun.

Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!

If they hadn’t obligingly brought out this royal baby birthday picture book just in time for the royal witch’s important day, I might have sighed a little. You know, like it’s not Prince George’s birthday until July, and will they publish a new book every year? And so on.

Martha Mumford and Ada Grey, Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!

But just as I rather enjoyed  Martha Mumford’s celebration of little George’s birth last summer, this is fun. The Palace is in upheaval, just to make this a marvellous experience for the little Prince.

His Auntie has a lot of party ideas, and the rest of the family pitch in. You can just see how the poor boy will be overwhelmed by all this fantastic-ness.

Great Grandma has the solution, however, when all else has failed. Naturally.

Those Olympics people have a lot to answer for. That woman will be parachuting out of flying contraptions for years, if no one sees fit to let her rest.

Prince George is no different – well, not much – from other one-year-olds, really.

Sweet royal illustrations by Ada Grey. She has caught everyone just so.

Barbro Lindgren’s prize

It’s no use. I couldn’t make sense of what I might find on the press pages for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. And after all these years when I’ve cracked irreverent comments about what fun you can have on Swedish television, I have been proven wrong.

Not saying it wasn’t good. I’m sure it was. Just not on television. At all. I mean, what do you have a perfectly good Crown Princess for, if not to televise her telling us yet again that Astrid Lindgren was her favourite author?

I tried the links, but I can’t find anything I can use, apart from this lovely photo of Barbro from last week. She looks like she’s having a good time, and I hope she did last night, too.

Barbro Lindgren by Stefan Tell

They did invite me, but it was the wrong part of the country for me. (Not to mention an unexpected train strike striking me rather unexpectedly.) I was cool about it, expecting to watch on television. And then I couldn’t. I thought the email said I could watch online afterwards. Fearing my dodgy internet wouldn’t allow this, I wasn’t even contemplating not being able to find a link that would refuse to play.

She has written nice books. And so did Astrid. I imagine the Crown Princess read and loved Barbro’s books, as well.

When boys do girly stuff

It’s my belief that boys – of any age – secretly want to do what we girls do. I mean, just consider the Resident IT Consultant at the beginning of Witch time who sneaked more than one look at my women’s magazines. He’d obviously never encountered such interesting stuff before.

Here I have two picture books, each featuring a boy doing nice girly things.

In Craig Pomranz’s and Margaret Chamberlain’s Made by Raffi, we meet Raffi, who doesn’t enjoy what the other children do. He looks different, and he feels different, and he doesn’t care for the noise and bustle of the school playground. But one day he discovers a teacher knitting, and he asks her to teach him to knit.

It changes Raffi’s life! He knits. He sews (and saves the school play). And the other children don’t despise him, but rather admire what he does, and somehow Raffi becomes one of them. Someone who knits, rather than hits a ball, but still OK.

Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlain, Made by Raffi

Prodeepta Das tells the story of an Indian wedding. In A Day I Remember, Swayam tells of the day he was his uncle’s markundi. A markundi is the boy who gets to wear special clothes and accompanies the groom throughout the – rather lengthy – wedding. Swayam looks and feels like a prince.

Prodeepta Das, A Day I Remember

This is a fantastic way to learn – through photos from a real wedding – how they do it in India. I wished one of those sarees could have found its way here, and perhaps some of the delicious food.

I’m sure lots of boys would like to be a prince for a day. Less certain about them wanting to knit, but why not?

Itch Scritch Scratch

For us it began the night before Norway’s national day, some years ago. I’d never met nits up close before. But when I did, I did so with a vengeance. There was nothing for it though, we had to go to the 17 Mai celebrations, nits and all. (If anyone reading this remembers catching nits soon after; that wasn’t us. Definitely not.)

Eleanor Updale and Sarah Horne, Itch Scritch Scratch

I’m scratching even as I write this, just like I scratched when reading Eleanor Updale’s beautiful – or fun – poetry on nits. Itch Scritch Scratch is being reissued in a dyslexia friendly format, with adorable nit illustrations by Sarah Horne. (Did you know nits play the banjo and dance, and have cute little babies?)


As I was saying, this is scratchy, but fun. If I’ve understood the principle behind this book correctly, it’s a picture book that can be read by dyslexic parents to their children. Because it’s not just children who are dyslexic and need books. Nor adults who might want to read for their own enjoyment. Imagine wanting to read to your child, and not being able to?

I think this would be a great book to treat your child to, whoever you are. Who doesn’t love nit poetry?

Lost x 2

I’m a sucker for Salina Yoon’s endearing picture books. I told myself I didn’t need to read her new one – Found – but I did. Of course I did.

Bear finds a lost bunny, and he spends all his time looking after the bunny. He loves it, but he realises someone else must have lost the bunny and will be desperate to be reunited with this wonderful creature.

So Bear advertises, and eventually he finds bunny’s real owner…

Very, very sweet. I adore love!

Salina Yoon, Found

In The Queen’s Hat Steve Antony shows us the day when the Queen’s hat blew away. Steve has a special style of drawing, and we see most of London in stylish simplicity as Her Majesty chases after her hat. You certainly can’t accuse the woman of being lazy. Or slow.

It’s great fun to see how the hat just manages to evade the royal hand, until it ends up on someone’s head. Whose?

Steve Antony, The Queen's Hat

The Farmer’s Away!

Baa! Neigh!

You know that feeling of standing outside your barn at the end of the day, when a mouse wearing a ballgown runs past? That’s what The Farmer’s Away by Anne Vittur Kennedy is like. The animals do their version of ‘when the cat’s away,’ only here is a farmer working really hard in the field, and all his animals go out for some fun for the day.

I’m a bit puzzled, as I didn’t know farmers had snakes. Or frogs. Never mind, though. All the animals are in this together. They picnic. They water ski. They go to the theme park.

This story has no words. It goes oink, honk, cluck and moo. And countless other sounds. You’d better be good a being silly when you read this aloud, but soon your child will out-oink you. Splish. Neigh. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Very funny. At least as long as I don’t actually have to quack, baa, ribbet.

Anne Vittur Kennedy, The Farmer's Away! Baa! Neigh!

Bookwitch bites #119

There are things happening in Scotland. Just saying.

They give books away, for one thing. The Scottish Book Trust are giving books to children, again. Five different categories, from baby to Primary 1. Three books each. I think that’s really good, and while I know I didn’t need it for Offspring, it would still have been nice.

More on the Scottish front, Malorie Blackman is coming for a four city tour; Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I would love to catch up at one of these events, but it is a busy week at Bookwitch Towers.

Julie Bertagna has written a graphic novel, which is about time, since they were a major topic the day we first met, as she discussed cool stuff with Neil Gaiman. It’s called John Muir Earth – Planet, Universe, and because I haven’t yet had an opportunity to read it, I’ll say it’s a sort of green book. You can download it here, because – this is Scotland, again – they are giving it away to school children.

To prove this isn’t just about Scotland, here is the Branford Boase shortlist, which – as with all my recent reading – I have not got enough personal knowledge of to say very much about. Except that I wish them well, and let the best author win.

Winter Damage by Natasha Carthew, edited by Rebecca McNally
Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood, edited by Venetia Gosling
Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones edited by Mara Bergman
Red Ink by Julie Mayhew, edited by Emily Thomas
Alex the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Montgomery Ross, edited by Rebecca Lee & Susila Baybars
The Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss, edited by Imogen Cooper and Barry Cunningham
Geek Girl by Holly Smale, edited by Lizzie Clifford

Murderous mug

You know, authors can do just about anything. The other day I carelessly mentioned that this mug doesn’t worry me. It would almost be an honour to be killed off in a book. Wouldn’t it? It’s fiction. You’d live afterwards. (You would, wouldn’t you?)

And I annoy better than most.

As I said, authors can do a lot of things. I have to admit to certain maternal pride over this:

Steve Cole, Aliens Stink

(I actually believe this is a book about me. I do wash regularly, but the alien-ness can’t be disputed.) It’s clearly a book to be dedicated to offspring, and I admire the lovely Steve Cole for his triple dedication, in one fell swoop.

Steve Cole, Aliens Stink


So I don’t think Aliens Stink. They are the best.