These days, breaking the fourth wall seems to be part of the zeitgeist in picturebook making, but it can be a bit of a hit-and-miss sometimes. When it’s done well, though, it offers a fresh way of engaging the reader and adds a new dimension to the story. It can also widen your perception of what a book can do and be.
As the cover states, no matter who you are, it’s always nice to know that someone is looking out for you. This comforting and concise book indirectly shows us how myriad elements in the universe are all interconnected, and reminds us that rather than leave someone to feel adrift at sea, we all have a duty to look out for one another — to keep each other safe.
Readers who are familiar with the Toys series by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky, will be pleased to know that the three wacky toy characters — “a curious stuffed buffalo, a sensitive plush stingray and a book-loving rubber ball” — now star in their first standalone picture book. But you needn’t have read the other books in order to enjoy this sweet, quirky story about the curious toys venturing out of the house and learning about — as well as having fun with — snow for the very first time.
I love a good whodunit, and while this brilliantly original picture book is no Agatha Christie mystery, it offers little ones the chance to play a deductive game, simply by exercising their observation skills.
It’s easy to see why the Pig the Pug books are household classics in their native Australia.
While nowhere as amusing or exciting as the average picturebook fare, I think there’s something grounding about the wisdom offered up by old-fashioned fables and parables that everyone can benefit from, even — or especially — impressionable children. And if there’s anyone who can communicate zen philosophy to children effectively, it’s Stillwater, the gentle parable-spouting anthropomorphised giant panda who stars in Jon J. Muth’s beautifully rendered and unique Zen picture books.
Neighbours: love them or loathe them — either way, you have to learn to live with them. And so it is that when a family of gregarious rabbits decide to build their house beside that of a cantankerous, solitude-loving bear, life as the latter knows it changes for good (pun intended).
Making comparisons is one of the basic ways in which all of us — in particular, children — learn to make sense of the world. Which also explains the proliferation of picture books on opposites.
The primal instinct to protect their young can drive mothers to extreme measures. Ol’ Mama Squirrel, for one, is prepared to do anything to defend her home and babies — and woe betide anyone (or anything) that dares draw her ire! But even a fierce mama needs a little help now and then, especially when faced with a bear-sized problem.