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A worried bear, seeds of hope and a bossy badger - children's book round-up

The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew and Sean Julian
The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew and Sean Julian
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It’s holiday time and the Little Tiger Group, an exciting independent publisher on a mission to create engaging and inspiring books for children and young people, has a bundle of entertaining and enlightening books to keep youngsters busy over the summer.

Age 3 plus:

The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew and Sean Julian

We all have our worries… but for a child, those worries can seem confusing and frightening.

So here is a charming picture book from author Suzanne Chiew and illustrator Sean Julian that teaches the very youngest children that sharing our worries makes them feel smaller and less scary. Cleverly titled and packed with wisdom and warmth, The Worry Box has been carefully created at a time when we are engaging in conversations about mental health more than ever before.

Recent research conducted by mental health charity Place2Be revealed that almost two-thirds of children worry all the time making it more important than ever that parents, guardians and carers use the tools available to them to encourage children to open up and share their feelings.

And this gentle, reassuring story is a wonderful companion book for any child who may be dealing with anxiety or feeling nervous.

The story follows Murray Bear who has lots of worries. What if the waterfall he is visiting is too loud? What if he is not very good at climbing? And what if all his friends laugh at him? With the help of his sister, Milly, Murray makes a special box in which to write down and keep all his worries. But can the worry box really help?

With wonderfully atmospheric and endearing illustrations from Julian, and Chiew’s creatively resonant story which encourages children to share their worries and feelings and then go out and have fun, this is the perfect book for children dealing with anxiety or feeling nervous about starting at a new school or nursery.

It is also an ideal book to complement the recent #ReadforEmpathy campaign from Empathy Lab which invites readers to employ the power of books to understand one another and to share feelings, thoughts and perspectives.

(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £10.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse

Themes of anxiety and sadness are also explored in a beautiful and poignant picture book from talented duo, author Isabel Otter and illustrator Katie Rewse.

The Garden of Hope is a simple story of one girl and her dad struggling to cope with the loss of a mother but it carries a powerful message that speaks volumes about hope, regeneration, beauty and love.

Mum ‘knew that by the time the seeds had grown, those worries would have faded away. She called them her seeds of hope.’

Things have changed at Maya’s home since Mum has gone away. Maya, her dad and Pip the dog are a bit of a mess and the garden has become wild and overgrown. When Dad senses Maya’s worry, he tells her the story of how Mum nourished her garden, and in turn, how that garden nourished her.

As Maya sets about clearing weeds, sowing new seeds and reviving the neglected garden, she finds comfort and happiness in watching new growth bloom as a result of her care. The garden hums with flowers, animals, insects and life, and Maya discovers she has forgotten the worries she planted with the seeds.

Otter explores the fragile and yet heartwarming relationship between a father and daughter as they navigate their changed lives together. By leaving the absence of Mum open to interpretation, the book is ideal for those looking to open a discussion not only about the subject of bereavement and loss, but also an absent parent in the case of family breakdown.

The Garden of Hope is a reassuring, tender and moving story, brought to life by the evocative and atmospheric illustrations of new talent Katie Rewse. A picture book to treasure, especially during times of family upheaval.

(Caterpillar Books, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Where in the Wild by Poppy Bishop and Jonny Lambert

‘Across the world, on land and sea,

Are creatures living wild and free.

And each one has a precious home –

‘A habitat,’ as it is known.’

Jonny Lambert, the award-winning author, illustrator, designer and paper engineer, is back to steal our hearts and please our eye with a stunning picture book which explores the world’s animal habitats.

Where in the Wild is an intriguing peep-through picture book celebration of the natural world but it also carries a stark warning to a new generation of children about the importance of saving these wilds from destruction.

It has been written by Poppy Bishop whose lyrical, rhyming text is full of fascinating facts about different habitats which aim to inspire little ones to love nature and explore in the great outdoors.

Some animals, like foxes and wolves, we learn, have adapted to live in many different places. Others are found in one type of habitat and if their habitat is destroyed, then they will have nowhere to live. Habitats can be big, like a huge, grassy meadow, and small, like a rotting log on a forest floor. Sometimes humans damage habitats by cutting down trees in rainforests, turning wilderness into farms and polluting seas and rivers. The result is that animals lose their homes so it is important that we look after wild places so that all animals can thrive.

Lambert’s artistic skills take flight with creatures big and small, under the sea and on land, in the sky and under the ground, and little ones will love identifying the wildlife, whether that is giant giraffes and elephants, or tiny insects and beautiful butterflies.

A picture and word perfect way to engage the youngest children with the world around them… and impress on them the importance of saving it from destruction.

(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Only Way is Badger by Stella J Jones and Carmen Saldaňa

Badger thinks that the woodland would be better if all the animals and birds looked and sounded just like him. But what if he’s wrong?

Author Stella J Jones and Spanish illustrator Carmen Saldaňa pool their talents for this enchanting picture book which teaches little ones about the importance of acceptance, difference and learning to say sorry with style, wit and an adorable cast of animal characters.

Badgers are best… or so Badger thinks. Badger sets out to convert his woodland neighbours into his way of thinking, acting and behaving. Soon the many creatures that don’t look or sound the same as him are gradually excluded from their shared patch of woodland. ‘If it’s not black and white then it’s just not right!’ he says. As he finds himself more and more alone, will Badger learn the error of his ways and learn to appreciate the glorious variety that his friends have to offer?

There are plenty of laughs to share as we watch Badger putting his friends through the hoops to try to prove their ‘badgeriness’ but there is also the dawning realisation that the different colours, shapes, voices and habits of the animals make it a wonderful place to live. And Badger’s story has an added message in its tail… don’t forget to say sorry!

With Saldaňa’s appealing and colourful illustrations and Jones’ warm and wise text, The Only Way is Badger is a clever, cautionary tale with characters to love and a poignant message about loving your friends for who they are, and not what they are.

(Little Tiger Press, hardback, £10.99)

Age 5 plus:

Feelings by Libby Walden and Richard Jones

Understanding our feelings is difficult… but emotional learning begins at a very young age and is a vital part of childhood development.

One in ten children aged between five and 16 are reported to have a mental health problem so the way a child’s feelings and emotions are approached is more important than ever.

This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week demonstrated that there is now a new drive to remove the stigma of children’s mental health problems, with a strong focus on the positivity to be found in just #BeingOurselves.

Simply talking about feelings is a vital first step and this thoughtful, gentle, fully accessible, peep-through book invites young children to embark on a stunning illustrated and rhyming exploration of emotional literacy.

Libby Walden’s enchanting rhymes and Richard Jones’ beautifully evocative and expressive pictures cover everything from excitement and anger to more complex emotions such as loneliness, embarrassment and jealousy in an easy-to-understand and open manner to help children gain a better understanding of how and why they experience different feelings, and to learn that these emotions are perfectly normal.

What you feel is who you are, we learn, as a world of emotions open up through the revealing peep-through holes. Encounter the volcano that is anger, the beach party of happiness and the bubble of loneliness as a child makes the poetic journey through his feelings.

Each page and emotion featured opens up a conversation for children and adults to discuss what is bubbling beneath the surface while Walden’s lyrical, rhyming text helps children to recognise and accept the emotions they experience.

Sensitively created, and beautifully written and illustrated, this book is perfect for school groups, nurseries or to read with children at home.

(Caterpillar Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Everybody’s Welcome by Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott

As the world faces a period of uncertainty and instability, it seems more important than ever to learn the age-old values of friendship.

So what better than a gorgeous, fun-filled picture book to help parents and carers to teach the very youngest children about the ideals of refuge, inclusivity and shared bonds?

Everybody’s Welcome, a warm and joyful rhyming story written by seasoned author Patricia Hegarty, is the brainchild of Thomas Truong, publisher of Caterpillar Books and the son of a refugee and a European migrant.

‘It was made with love for our readers because everybody’s welcome, in or out, as long as they’re willing to share the home we are building together,’ he says, and this cuddly little book certainly tells a big-hearted tale.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could build a home that opened its doors to everyone… tall or short, fat or thin, rich or poor? Well, perhaps if everybody pitches in to help, one little mouse can achieve that dream and give a much-needed home to Froggy the frog, some homeless rabbits, a lonely big Brown Bear and a host of other creatures.

Hegarty’s jaunty and lovingly composed rhymes put sharing and togetherness centre stage while illustrator Greg Abbott brings the action to life with a gallery of cute and cuddly animal pals. Quirky page cutaways add extra interest for young readers and with its important messages about caring, sharing and kindness, this is the ideal book for parents and nursery or school groups.

Friends united on every page!

(Caterpillar Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckentrup

The world in harmony is the inspirational theme of a beautiful and moving new peek-through picture book from award-winning illustrator Britta Teckentrup.

Under the Same Sky, a stunning celebration of love, friendship and unity, was shortlisted for this year’s Kate Greenaway Medal and comes from one of the most innovative picture book artists working today. Her intricate, original and striking collage style of illustration has won the hearts of readers everywhere.

Through a simple but subtly powerful rhyming text, Teckentrup takes young readers through a magical story of unity. From penguins seeking solace together and rabbits playing in the meadow to deer frolicking in the field and flamingos sheltering from the storm, the atmospheric and intricate collages bring the animals and their environment to life, reinforcing the message that despite our differences we all live in this world together.

Sharing is the keyword to this gorgeous book which uses the animal kingdom to explore the closeness of communities … we all live under the same sky, we experience the same hopes and dreams, we sing the same songs and we share the same emotions.

Innovative, tender and with the added interest of a hands-on, peep-through cut-out on each page spread, this is the perfect book to teach your little ones about the joys of unity and friendship.

(Caterpillar Books, paperback, £7.99)

Age 7 plus:

Transport and Travel by Sandra Lawrence and Jem Maybank

Take a high-speed journey through the past, present and future, and get a taste of kitchens around the globe in two fun and fascinating books from the ever-inventive 360 Degrees.

360 Degrees is a non-fiction imprint of the Little Tiger Group which offers a stimulating and creative approach to presenting facts and aims to create accessible and unique books with the highest production values and attention to creative detail.

Their latest offerings are two beautifully produced mini hardback books which give inquisitive youngsters the chance to take a close-up look at transport and travel through the ages, and a mouth-watering exploration of the customs and traditions of food across the world.

Transport and Travel celebrates things that go, from the invention of the wheel right through to space travel, exploring the different modes, methods and machines we have used to make us all move faster since we developed a need for speed.

Presented in engaging short sections, and focusing on wheels, rails, air and water, the book takes youngsters on a journey to discover the fastest, funkiest, flashiest and funniest ways to get where you want to go.

Early humans discovered that the wheel could make life so much easier… it is believed that the mysterious monument Stonehenge, built over 4,000 years ago, involved the transportation of huge rocks on rollers made from tree trunks.

We have been on the move ever since so here’s the chance to saddle up with a horse-powered carts and chariots, hop on a distinctive red double-decker bus of London, slip and slide on the blades used for skates, skis and sleds, climb aboard the iconic supersonic passenger plane Concorde, and head for the final frontier in a magnificent space rocket.

Superbly illustrated by Jem Maybank and written by Sandra Lawrence, an author who loves to focus on heritage, history and folklore, this is the perfect armchair discovery adventure for all fast-moving youngsters!

Age 7 plus:

Foods of the World by Libby Walden and Jocelyn Kao

Also here to feed the minds of children hungry for facts is resourceful author Libby Walden with her delicious selection of global food, whether that is eating it, playing with it, or simply celebrating it.

Brimming with illustrator Jocelyn Kao’s colourful array of strange dishes, curious customs and culinary delights, Foods of the World serves up tasty treats, unique utensils and fascinating food facts as youngsters experience the infinite diversity of food.

From famous food fights and tasty Springtime Pancakes to chocolate coins and perfect pastries, Walden takes readers on an in-depth tour of various traditions, trends, tastes and charming food facts, all vividly brought to life by Kao’s mouth-watering illustrations.

Learn about the popular Japanese Fugu, or pufferfish, which can be so deadly to diners that chefs have to undergo three years of training just to be allowed to prepare it! Discover the super foods which contain the vitamins, minerals and fibre needed to help us stay strong and super-healthy.

And enjoy reading about the battaglia delle arance, the largest food fight in Italy when the city of Ivera becomes a battleground for groups of ‘foot soldiers’ who attack the horse-drawn ‘king’s guard’ with oranges.

An appetising helping of weird and wonderful foods and food history which will leave all the family hungry for more!

*Both books are published on September 1.

(360 Degrees, hardback, £9.99 each)

Age 7 plus:

Wonders of the World by Isabel Otter and Margaux Carpentier

If your youngsters are already getting bored this summer, pack them off on an interactive tour of some of the world’s most amazing marvels and monuments.

Wonders of the World, another brilliantly informative and fully illustrated book from 360 Degrees, lets youngsters lift a multitude of flaps to discover the history and the secrets that lie behind many of the most amazing sights on Earth.

With author Isabel Otter as our guide, we are invited to take a seat, sit back and enjoy the wonders of the world, from the ancient to the modern, as well as its natural marvels. From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Taj Mahal and on to the Grand Canyon, every page is bursting with amazing facts and Margaux Carpentier’s vibrant illustrations.

From the early ages, humans have been builders. Originally, building had a practical purpose… to provide homes and settlements. As time passed, tools became more sophisticated and humans sought to create buildings and monuments that were beautiful enough to make a person gaze up at them in wonder.

Over 2,000 years ago, a Greek writer called Antipater of Sidon compiled a list of the seven must-see, man-made sights, all in one small corner of the globe, but that list was the basis for what we now know as the Seven Wonders of the World and included the author’s favourite, the Temple of Artemis.

Centuries later, in the year 2000, a new list of seven wonders was compiled for the modern world. It was chosen by the public from a list of 200 man-made landmarks from all over the globe and gave honorary status to the Pyramid of Giza as it is the only ancient wonder still standing.

There are 14 marvels and monuments in the pages of this fact-filled, fascinating book so turn the pages, lift the flaps and learn the inside story of some of the world’s greatest creations.

(360 Degrees, hardback, £14.99)