Blue on Blue by Dianne White and Beth Krommes

When I was in school, we were taught how to make simple scratchboards using only crayons and art paper, whereupon we had fun drawing on them with toothpicks and watching the riot of colours peer through the black layer. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect that this technique could be elevated to produce bona fide art (as opposed to our, ahem, chicken scratchings) — particularly that created by Beth Krommes, who combines scratchboard etchings with watercolours to produce drop-dead beautiful, unique illustrations that also tell a story.

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Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu

Friendship is difficult enough to explain — let alone within the confines of the 32- to 40-page limitations of the picturebook genre. Which is probably why I haven’t cared as deeply for any picture book about friends as I do about the Frog and Toad early-readers (which incidentally span over 250 pages in total, so it’s not exactly a fair comparison). Well, at least that was before I discovered Tao Nyeu’s Squid and Octopus.

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Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Similar to Nighty Night, Little Green Monster, Go Away, Big Green Monster! uses clever die-cuts that gradually reveal more and more facial features of the big green monster, before slowly making them disappear again — and ends off with a killer line to boot. Thus, Ed Emberley has created a classic picture book that allows kids ample first-hand practice in the fine art of shooing monsters away.

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