Top of the Kids Books 2020: Picture Books

illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith

I believe that you are never too old for picture books and even as children grow up, they should always have picture books close at hand. Picture books always inspire the imagination, warm the heart and give a good laugh. This year was a year like no other; a year when we all needed some solace and a great whopping dollop of joy. And picture books were there for us! Here are a few of the very best from 2020.

Nop: Caroline Magerl

Nop by Caroline Magerl (Walker Books: January 2020): I can’t recommend this book highly enough. A tale of quiet adventure that has at its heart a sense of being and belonging, knowing and hoping, it has a wonderful surprise at the end. A story every child (and grown-up!) will cherish for years, Nop is cosy and comforting, exquisitely beautiful in all ways and filled with a sense of magical possibility.

Molly & the Lighthouse: Malachy Doyle & Andrew Whitson

Molly and the Lighthouse by Malachy Doyle and Andrew Whitson (Graffeg, Ltd: July 2020): This book is a pure joy; adventurous, intriguing, heart-warming. I do love Molly. She is brave and full of life, with a curious nature and always follows her heart. The 3rd in the Molly series, it is one that will be loved and read over and over again. Molly and the Lighthouse is available in English, Irish (Muireann agus an Teach Solais) and Welsh (Mali a’r Goleudy).

Pirate Nell: Helen & Thomas Docherty

Pirate Nells’ Tale To Tell by Helen & Thomas Docherty (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: September 2020): I was over the moon to receive this book and it did not disappoint…far from it! Follow plucky, book-loving Nell on her wondrous, rhyming pirate adventure in search of buried. Exciting, fantastic, warm and happy, this is a story that revels in the joy of reading. A pirates’ treasure chest of delights!

The Walloos’…by Anushka Allepuz

The Walloos’ Big Adventure by Anuska Allepuz (Walker Books: June 2020): This picture book is filled with warmth, humour and a little message about appreciating and respecting the natural world and all its’ gifts. The Walloos are lovely characters who show us how to work together and see things through each others’ eyes. Nurturing curiosity and friendship abound in a wonderful escapade that will become a firm favourite.

Leap, Hare, Leap: Dom Conlon & Anastacia Izlesou

Leap, Hare, Leap by Dom Conlon & Anastasia Izlesou (Graffeg, Ltd: July 2020) : In a gentle, exciting journey around the world, discover the life of a hare and her many cousins, wherever they may live. Gloriously filled with natural wonder, this poetic, simple story introduces new habitats and terms, while the stunning illustrations give a closer look at the world. Soothing and quiet, it makes the perfect bedtime story.

Bunnies on the Bus: Philip Ardagh & Ben Mantle

Bunnies on the Bus by Philip Ardagh & Ben Mantle (Walker Books: March 2020): A riotous, chaotic journey is sure to bring laughs and excitement to storytime. With Little Bunny at the wheel, they’re taking a wild ride, so get out of the way! These bunnies are bonkers! Hilarious and SO MUCH FUN! Seriously, I haven’t laughed so much in a long time.

Luna Loves Art: Joseph Coelho & Fiona Lumbers

Luna Loves Art by Joseph Coelho & Fiona Lumbers (Andersen Press: July 2020): I love the “Luna Loves….” books and this one is a beauty. A wonderful journey through the Art Gallery, it introduces children to the world of art, teaching them to think about what they see and tell their own creative stories. It is also a sympathetic look at families and the variety of shapes they come in. Lyrical, vibrant, joyous and empathetic; it’s just wonderful.

Go To Sleep, Hoglet: Bex Sheridan

Go To Sleep, Hoglet by Bex Sheridan (O’Brien Press: October 2020):A beautifully illustrated picture book, it takes us on a charming adventure with curious and happy Hoglet as he sees the sights no hedgehog gets to see when winter sets in. The whole feel of the book is friendly, cosy and fun. A perfect story to share as the cold winter nights set in bringing us just a taste of the Christmas magic that’s on its’ way!

And finally…

A Fresh Start: Joyce Dunbar & James Mayhew

Mouse and Mole: A Fresh Start by Joyce Dunbar & James Mayhew (Graffeg, Ltd: October 2020): It is such a joy to return to the world of Mouse and Mole. A collection of new tales, the funny, gentle banter between to friends in their wanderings add cosy humour and personality to the stories. A book perfect to read aloud or for young readers gaining confidence.. Comforting, quietly surprising, charming and timeless; these stories of kindness and friendship are simply perfection.

So that’s it for now; my top picture books for 2020. I’ll be back with my top middle grade and YA books in the next day or two. And I hope you find something here to warm you and bring you comfort and joy as we stride out boldly into the New Year.

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