Book review: A picture perfect selection from Random House Children’s Books

A picture perfect selection from Random House Children's Books
A picture perfect selection from Random House Children's Books

Every picture tells a story in a stunning line-up of new titles from Random House Children’s Books this autumn.

Sitting in assured eminence at the top of the pile is A Classic Story for Every Day, a beautifully produced, bumper gift book featuring perennial favourites from some of the best-loved picture book creators of all time.

And if that wasn’t enough for young eyes to feast on, there’s a new take on Oscar Wilde’s cautionary tale of The Selfish Giant, a delicious rhyming picture book story from musical maestro Jez Alborough and award-winning Jacqueline Harvey’s adorable new heroine, Clementine Rose.

A Classic Story for Every Day

When it comes to the kids, it’s never too early to plan ahead for Christmas and this hardback treasury of classic picture book stories is guaranteed to be at number one on the gift list this year.

The line-up of celebrated children’s writers is so star-spangled that the glow from reading these stories will last for many years – and generations – to come.

The cast list features Dogger by Shirley Hughes, Mister Magnolia by Quentin Blake, Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway, Mrs Pepperpot and the Treasure by Alf Prøysen and Hilda Offen, Me and You by Anthony Browne and The Bear by Raymond Briggs, all complete with the original illustrations.

Shirley Hughes’ Dogger is the ultimate lost toy tale, eternally heart-warming and powerful, superbly illustrated and voted the public’s favourite Kate Greenaway Medal winner of all time.

Mister Magnolia is a wonderfully exuberant rhythmic rhyme written and illustrated by the award-winning Quentin Blake, appointed the first Children’s Laureate in 1999, while Rosie’s Walk, a timeless classic written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins, stars an unwitting hen and a sneaky but hapless fox on a hilarious journey.

With story and illustrations by John Vernon Lord and verses by Janet Burroway, The Giant Jam Sandwich is the uproarious tale of a wasp invasion with an ingenious and satisfying conclusion, and Mrs Pepperpot and the Treasure is one of many adventures featuring the incredible shrinking Mrs Pepperpot, a captivating classic series written by Alf Prøysen & Hilda Offen.

Me and You retells the classic fairy tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Former Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne explores both sides of this well-known story creating a fascinating dual narrative and The Bear by Raymond Briggs, creator of The Snowman, is a tender and funny story of a mysterious polar bear who comes to stay with a little girl.

Perfect for sharing or enjoying alone, these seven favourite stories – one for every day of the week – will be read time and again by children who need a bedtime story to entertain and amuse, to soothe, reassure and cherish forever.

(Hutchinson, hardback, £19.99)

Age 2 plus:

Billy the Goat’s Big Breakfast by Jez Alborough

There aren’t many children who are a-verse to a good rhyming story and Billy the Goat’s Big Breakfast is going to be on the tip of their tongues.

This scrumptious sequel to Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile has the same lovable, lively characters and is brimming with fun, food and friendship.

Nat the Cat makes some lovely homemade bread for her friends, Billy the Goat and Hugo the Hare, to share. But Billy the Goat is too greedy to wait for the bread to bake and he gulps down a sneaky mouthful of the delicious-looking dough. Imagine how he feels when his tummy swells up like a fresh loaf of bread and what will Nat the Cat say when she finds out?

With its lively illustrations, bouncy, rhyming text and slapstick story involving plenty of comical dilemmas and dramas, this is a book brimming with ‘child appeal’ and would be ideal as a shared read for a group or class.

And if that wasn’t enough, Alborough has composed Billy’s Breakfast Song, a song for children to join in with. The music and lyrics are in the book and can be heard and downloaded, along with the sheet music, from the author’s website at jezalborough.com/billythegoat

Go to the top of the class Jez!

(Doubleday, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde

Illustrated and abridged by Alexis Deacon

Young readers will be swept away by Alexis Deacon’s amazing artwork as he breathes new life and vigour into Oscar Wilde’s classic fairy tale first published in 1888.

The Selfish Giant has a beautiful garden but he won’t let any of the children play in it. Winter comes and never leaves… until the power of love brings spring and joy into the Giant’s garden and into his once empty heart.

Deacon has abridged the story here for early years children and his bold, atmospheric illustrations paint a memorable portrait of the dark and light shades of this timeless story which emphasises the power of love and the importance of sharing and forgiveness.

Beautifully designed and produced, this marvellous adaptation is an ideal gift for all young readers.

(Hutchinson, hardback, £11.99)

Age 7 plus:

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey

A working life spent teaching in boarding schools has given the very inventive Jacqueline Harvey a hotline to every little girl’s idea of adventure.

And now the author of the award-winning Alice-Miranda series has come up with Clementine Rose, her latest, lovable heroine.

Full of Harvey’s trademark warmth and charm, this new series will appeal to children who love stories of fun and friendships.

Clementine Rose was not delivered in the usual way at a hospital but in the back of a mini-van in a basket of dinner rolls… so begins the story of the very special, sweet and funny Clementine Rose.

She grows up in Penberthy House, a crumbling old mansion, with her adopted mother Lady Clarissa, their butler Digby Pertwhistle and a very tiny pet teacup pig called Lavender. When Clementine’s scary Aunt Violet comes to stay, the household is thrown into chaos. What does Aunt Violet really want and what is she hiding inside her mysterious black bag?

Brought to life by beautiful black and white illustrations, Clementine Rose’s adventures are full of fun but reassuringly warm and gentle.

(Red Fox, paperback, £4.99)