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.
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.
Harry was certain there was something terrible lurking in the cellar, because it was “dark and damp and it smelled”.
When Small Blue wakes up in the dark of the night, she “thought of creepy… sneaky things” like gremlins and goblins. Spooked, she calls out to Big Brown for help.
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.
Originally published in German, The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit is a hilarious tale about an aggrieved mole who goes in search of the culprit who pooped on his head.
A charming old English cumulative song about a farmboy feeding the barnyard animals is given a fresh treatment with the lively and animated ink-and-watercolour illustrations of Paul Galdone.