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Book Reviews: New Kids Picture Books for ages 3+ & 4+

By Nicci, The Kids Books Curator


My top picks selected from both new and recently published childrens chapter books (for ages 3 and 4+).

How many of these have you read and enjoyed too?

Any you hadn't come across before?

The books are listed in recommended reading age order (not in order of preference).


‘BIG’ by Vashti Harrison. Out 11.5.23 Puffin For ages 3+. In this beautifully illustrated story, infused with the love and nurture of its pink hues, a baby girl is born, adorable, she begins ballet and she’s so joyful and happy. However, there comes a time when she’s grown into her bigger self (although still a young child) and suddenly the swing doesn’t fit her, she isn’t the right size to play her part in the ballet with the other girls, she’s treated as a much older child because she’s bigger. All the hurt overwhelms the child and her emotions grow and grow and grow until she’s finally able to let go, and has the courage to give those hurtful words right back to their owners, she no longer accepts their put-downs, and she can just be herself and thrive.

'BIG'

by Vashti Harrison

(Puffin)

For ages 3+


Format: Hardback

Format: Kindle e-book

🌱I adore Vashti Harrison’s illustrations and love anything she turns her craft to. You’ll recall her ‘Little Leaders’ series, and her award-winning illustrations she created for Lupita Nyong’o’s ’Sulwe’. This Brooklyn, New Yorker has brought home a story all too familiar to many of us girls. ‘BIG’ talks to the bias adults and children have towards children with big bodies. Harrison makes a valid point in her author’s note at the end of the story that it’s true, when a child is very young it’s so clever to be big, the race to be bigger encompassing learning to eat off a spoon, sleep alone at night or take those first steps. However, when a child has accomplished those first milestones, being big isn’t celebrated any more - being big is awkward and that’s when harmful words and actions are going to break a child’s positive mindset.


🌱In this beautifully illustrated story, infused with the love and nurture of its pink hues, a baby girl is born, adorable, she begins ballet and she’s so joyful and happy. However, there comes a time when she’s grown into her bigger self (although still a young child) and suddenly the swing doesn’t fit her, she isn’t the right size to play her part in the ballet with the other girls, she’s treated as a much older child because she’s bigger. All the hurt overwhelms the child and her emotions grow and grow and grow until she’s finally able to let go, and has the courage to give those hurtful words right back to their owners, she no longer accepts their put-downs, and she can just be herself and thrive.


🌱Remove the jacket to reveal positive affirmations. Timeless. I have to say it’s a beautiful addition to any nursery wall too.



‘If I Had a Crocodile’ by Gabby Dawnay , illustrated by Alex Barrow. Out 18.5.23 Thames & Hudson For ages 3+. You can’t go wrong with one of these super ‘If I Had a…’ books. We’ve had a bat, a slot, a unicorn, a dinosaur, an octopus and a kangaroo to date… It was so much fun finding out all about the trials and tribulations of having a crocodile as a pet. As always in amongst the rhyming text fun, readers find out some important creature facts - crocodiles eat their prey whole, they have lots of teeth, love floating in the water, are carnivores and love to play ‘SNAP’! Alex Barrow’s vibrant, big and bold illustrations with inclusive characters along with Gabby Dawnay’s genius writing style, result in a happy jolly storytime book. Gifty too.

'If I Had a Crocodile'

by Gabby Dawnay, illustrated by Alex Barrow

(Thames & Hudson)

For ages 3+


Format: Hardback

🌱Is this the 7th in this series? I think I’m right!? You can’t go wrong with one of these super ‘If I Had a…’ books. We’ve had a bat, a slot, a unicorn, a dinosaur, an octopus and a kangaroo to date… It was so much fun finding out all about the trials and tribulations of having a crocodile as a pet. As always in amongst the rhyming text fun, readers find out some important creature facts - crocodiles eat their prey whole, they have lots of teeth, love floating in the water, are carnivores and love to play ‘SNAP’! Alex Barrow’s vibrant, big and bold illustrations with inclusive characters along with Gabby Dawnay’s genius writing style, result in a happy jolly storytime book. Gifty too. I’ve also spied that we’re going to be treated to ‘If I Had a Polar Bear’ in time for Christmas this year…. The cover looks absolutely gorgeous too!! YAY!!


‘My Small World: Dinosaurs’ by Caryl Hart , illustrated by Harry Woodgate. Out 8.5.23 Simon & Schuster For ages 3+. This is a really clever idea for a new dinosaur book, of which there are many available on the market. I haven’t seen this concept before whereby the illustrations form part of a craft activity for children to make their own dinosaur island - it’s true, the instructions are at the end of the story! Two children (no genders specified) head out on an adventure to play in their dinosaur land. Here they meet a Europasaurus, an Ichythosaur, a Brachiosaurus, a T-Rex and more. Children will delight in spotting the different dinosaurs, and learning how to say their names correctly. In this safe dinosaur world, the dinosaurs are happy and inviting in each of their habitats whether underwater or on land, and the children have hugs with them at the end of the day. A lovely picture book for early years learning about dinosaurs that you can then apply in an activity together. Plus, I LOVE the dinosaur map at the start!

'My Small World: Dinosaurs'

by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Harry Woodgate

(Simon & Schuster)

For ages 3+


Format: Paperback

Format: Kindle e-book

[Ad-review copy]

🌱If you know me at all you know I’m a big fan of Harry Woodgate’s children’s illustrations. I knew I had to have this book just on this basis! Harry always gives more than 100% with their illustrations in children’s books and that’s why they are a multi-award winning Children’s books creator. Author, Caryl Hart is also an award-winning children’s creator! This is a really clever idea for a new dinosaur book, of which there are many available on the market. I haven’t seen this concept before whereby the illustrations form part of a craft activity for children to make their own dinosaur island - it’s true, the instructions are at the end of the story! Two children (no genders specified) head out on an adventure to play in their dinosaur land. Here they meet a Europasaurus, an Ichythosaur, a Brachiosaurus, a T-Rex and more. Children will delight in spotting the different dinosaurs, and learning how to say their names correctly. In this safe dinosaur world, the dinosaurs are happy and inviting in each of their habitats whether underwater or on land, and the children have hugs with them at the end of the day. A lovely picture book for early years learning about dinosaurs that you can then apply in an activity together. Plus, I LOVE the dinosaur map at the start! Will there be more publishing in this series? I hope so.



‘Sunny Side Up’ by Clare Helen Welsh , illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo. Out 11.5.23 Little Tiger Books For ages 3+. Familiar with the phrase ‘turn that frown upside down’? Here’s a super picture book to help children to think differently, to change their outlook on things for the better. With die-cuts within the pages and lift the flaps or fold outs, the child is able to explore the changes for themselves. They are invited to be curious. A sad goodbye at school drop off turns into holding hands with friends having fun in the playground, or a bored moment transformed into fun when an empty cardboard box becomes a fun craft activity. This is a light text book with interactive features, which focuses on keywords like: sad, bored, sc

'Sunny Side Up'

by Clare Helen Welsh, illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo

(Little Tiger Press)

For ages 3+


Format: Hardback

[Ad-review copy]

🌱Familiar with the phrase ‘turn that frown upside down’? Here’s a super picture book to help children to think differently, to change their outlook on things for the better. With die-cuts within the pages and lift the flaps or fold outs, the child is able to explore the changes for themselves. They are invited to be curious. A sad goodbye at school drop off turns into holding hands with friends having fun in the playground, or a bored moment transformed into fun when an empty cardboard box becomes a fun craft activity. This is a light text book with interactive features, which focuses on keywords like: sad, bored, scary, alone, change and enables the child to see things through a different lens… much like the fun die-cut flamboyant pair of specs on the back cover!! Such fun!! Super concept.


‘Welcome, Rain!’ by Sheryl McFarlane , illustrated by Christine Wei. Out 13.4.23 Greystone Kids For ages 3+. Most children love a puddle, don’t they? In this child-led narrative, the rain is seen sometimes as a help when watering the strawberries planted with Gran, but also sometimes as a hinderance, especially when it’s accompanied by thunder that scares little dog, Ruby! Throughout the pages the author highlights all different experiences children might have with rain throughout the seasons. A gentle story time that opens minds to a specific weather element. This is a lovely cheerful book for younger children. Taiwanese illustrator, Christine Wei’s artwork is really stunning throughout. Sweet end papers featuring an array of different umbrella designs.

'Welcome, Rain!'

by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Christine Wei

(Walker Books)

For ages 3+


Format: Hardback

Format: Kindle e-book

[Ad-review copy]

🌱Most children love a puddle, don’t they? In this child-led narrative, the rain is seen sometimes as a help when watering the strawberries planted with Gran, but also sometimes as a hinderance, especially when it’s accompanied by thunder that scares little dog, Ruby! Throughout the pages the author highlights all different experiences children might have with rain throughout the seasons. A gentle story time that opens minds to a specific weather element. This is a lovely cheerful book for younger children. Taiwanese illustrator, Christine Wei’s artwork is really stunning throughout. Sweet end papers featuring an array of different umbrella designs.


‘Weather Together’ by Jessie Sima. Out 25.5.23 Simon & Schuster For ages 4+. In ‘Weather TOGETHER’, Nimbus (Not Quite Narwhal) and Kelp (Perfectly Pegasus) are hanging out, but Nimbus can’t shake her sad feelings that day. She tries to ignore them, hide them, but the cloud above her gets bigger and stormier the longer she bottles her feelings up. Now everyone is noticing, not just Kelp and that makes Nimbus feel filled with shame - so much shame that she runs away. It’s just her and her cloud now, she can’t ignore it any more. That’s when she starts to realise that her cloud is part of her and that actually she wants to talk to someone about her cloud. Enter Kelp who wants to help and understand. In this sweet story of friendship and trust, the reader learns that hiding a part of ourselves is going to make us unhappy. Sharing who we are with those we trust and who care about us only strengthens relationships and makes life brighter and more inclusive for all. Sunshine and rainbows rule!! Remove the jacket to reveal a multi-coloured Nimbus design. Glossy pages. Lovely and gifty.

'Weather TOGETHER'

by Jessie Sima

(Simon & Schuster)

For ages 4+


Format: Hardback

Format: Kindle e-book

🌱I’m a Jessie Sima fan! I love Jessie’s illustrative style, full of colour and really graphic novelly! ‘Not Quite Narwhal’ was my first intro to their children’s books, and I’ve been a collector ever since. Very excited to find out recently the ‘Not Quite Narwhal’ show has just launched on Netflix. AMAZING. Jessie’s books are always uplifting, always celebrating differences and friendship. They are also extremely gifted at creating characters with a 100% cuteness factor!! In ‘Weather TOGETHER’, Nimbus (Not Quite Narwhal) and Kelp (Perfectly Pegasus) are hanging out, but Nimbus can’t shake her sad feelings that day. She tries to ignore them, hide them, but the cloud above her gets bigger and stormier the longer she bottles her feelings up. Now everyone is noticing, not just Kelp and that makes Nimbus feel filled with shame - so much shame that she runs away. It’s just her and her cloud now, she can’t ignore it any more. That’s when she starts to realise that her cloud is part of her and that actually she wants to talk to someone about her cloud. Enter Kelp who wants to help and understand. In this sweet story of friendship and trust, the reader learns that hiding a part of ourselves is going to make us unhappy. Sharing who we are with those we trust and who care about us only strengthens relationships and makes life brighter and more inclusive for all. Sunshine and rainbows rule!! Remove the jacket to reveal a multi-coloured Nimbus design. Glossy pages. Lovely and gifty.


Please like this post and leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!


N.B. The tags below don't apply in entirety to each of the above books. The tags are grouped all together at the end of the post to enable readers to find relevant posts within the whole website, a bit like a search function.

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