24 more picture books I loved this year

Earlier this year I shared 24 picture books that I was loving. Here are 24 more titles to add to your shelves…


Petra by Marianna Coppo

Meet Petra. She’s a totally awesome rock – or is she? In this excellent picture book, Petra is subject to the whims of others and sent haphazardly around the world. But thanks to her enormous imagination and admirable self-confidence, she hardly lets this ruin her mood or stop her being the heroine of her story. Italian author-illustrator Marianna Coppo’s style is simple but wonderfully expressive.

For ages 3+


The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

With their characteristic dry wit, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen deliver plenty of surprising narrative turns and visual humour in this fantastically odd deconstructed fairy tale. After being swallowed by a wolf, a mouse and duck defy expectations and make a home together in its belly. In the words of the duck: ‘I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten.’

For ages 4+


Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N. Garward

As baby green turtle Tilly makes her way into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, she gets swept on shore by a plastic bag and it’s up to a group of children to rescue her. Rhonda N. Garward’s artwork is arresting and each double-page spread has a flap that extends the story. Perfect for budding conservationists, and look out for extra facts and information in the book’s final pages.

For ages 4+


Say Zoop! by Hervé Tullet

Hervé Tullet is the genius creator of ingenious interactive books and Say Zoop! is his latest offering. Fantastically fun and gloriously noisy, Tullet extends an irresistible invitation to readers to whisper, sing, cajole and even shout out syllables – and then take pleasure in the way the book magically responds.

For ages 3+


Mouse House by John Burningham

I’m a huge fan of John’s Burningham sketchy illustration style and quirky storytelling, and his new book is an adorable tale of inter-species friendship. When the human adults of a house decide to eliminate the mouse family who’ve taken up residence, the children are compelled to write a letter of warning, forging an unexpected bond.

For ages 3+


Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin & Bronwyn Houston

This thoughtful and lyrical picture book for older readers pays tribute to the Aboriginal men and women who worked in the pearling industry as ‘free divers’ in the late nineteenth century in Western Australia. The narrative is based on Lorrae Coffin’s celebrated song, ‘Free Diving’, and the incredible Bronwyn Houston provides the illustrations – a gorgeous wash of colours and textures.

For ages 7+


Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz

I’ll admit it… This board book is really more for parents than kids, but it’s so much fun I had to include it. Loryn Brantz’s joyous comic style format and arch sense of humour is a shining pleasure in the middle of a rather grim year.

For ages 0+


Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

This is a deeply loving story that celebrates individuality. At first, ‘perfectly normal’ Norman is overjoyed to grow a pair of wings, but he soon starts to worry about how other people will react. So he tries to hide them, which turns out to be difficult and upsetting. Norman’s emotional struggle is depicted with a light tough by Tom Percival, conveying the fears that often arise with feeling different. I felt a bit teary at the ending in which Norman is brave enough to reveal his wings – and is joined by other winged children.

For ages 3+


The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham

I’ve read and adored Bob Graham’s books since I was a child myself – Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten is a must-have classic for every home library – and The Poesy Ring is a lovely longer read that will strike a chord with hopeful romantics of all ages. In this ocean-crossing tale, a discarded gold ring goes on a journey from rural nineteenth century Ireland to New York City of the 60s.

For ages 5+


Zoom by Sha'an d'Anthes

Written and illustrated by Sydney-based artist, Sha'an d'Anthes, Zoom is a jubilant space adventure in which the planets are depicted as adorable astrological animal. I love how d'Anthes’s vibrant watercolours create a sense of wonder, and look out for a spectacular sneeze that winds up saving the day.

For ages 3+


Anatomy: A Cutaway Look Inside the Human Body by Jean-Claude Druvert & Hélène Druvert

Hélène Druvert’s books are all seriously spectacular – ornate, laser-cut pages with delicate illustrations. This large-format book explores every detail of the organs, systems and senses that make up the human body. Hélène’s father, himself a doctor, has supplied the clean and accessible text that complements her awe-inspiring imagery.

For ages 8+


What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? by Amy Visram and Dawid Ryski

This terrific non-fiction pick introduces children to all kind of different jobs they might aspire to do one day, from punk rock drummers and film directors to carpenters and teachers. The varied jobs on offer and thoughtful gender balance is very satisfying, and Polish graphic designer Dawid Ryski’s retro poster-like aesthetic is striking and stylish.

For ages 3+


Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

This picture book is a moving argument for kindness and understanding. In addressing his infant son about what it means to live on Earth, Readings favourite Oliver Jeffers shares facts, quotes and advice. Jeffer’s conversational tone and ability to juxtapose his wonder at the universe with his trademark wryness help make the book’s big ideas digestible for little people.

For ages 3+


Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli

A crocodile in a tie? Um, yes please! This imaginative wordless picture book follows the dapper Mr. Crocodile on his way to work and has a great surprise ending. Giovanna Zoboli’s charming watercolours are beguiling and look out for some other dapper animals along the way.

For ages 4+


The Very Noisy Baby by Alison Lester

With plenty of sounds and animals, Alison Lester’s latest picture book is sure to be a noisy story time favourite. In this fast-moving tale, one special baby manages to save the day thanks to a unique talent.

For ages 2+


Swan Lake by Anne Spudvilas

This picture book is simply sublime. Award-winning Australian artist Anne Spudvilas reimagines the iconic ballet against the riverscape of the Murray-Darling, adding her own dramatic flair. The story is largely told visually, through Spudvilas’s stunningly evocative images, and ideal for aspiring ballerinas.

For ages 7+


Little Dog and the Summer Holiday by Corinne Fenton & Robin Cowcher

Robin Cowcher’s nostalgic illustrations perfectly encapsulate the hazy, dreamlike wonder of summertime in this second tale to feature the scruffy and lovable Little Dog. This time, the family is heading off on a meandering road trip in their caravan, eventually ending up in Sydney. This is a gentle story celebrating family and Australian life during the 50s.

For ages 4+


Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht & Jarvis

I really hate being cold and have zero desire to experience a white Christmas in reality, but I do have a fondness for wintery Christmas stories. Pick a Pine Tree is my favourite from this year’s offerings. Bouncy, rollicking text describes a family selecting and decorating their tree. When it’s complete, you have to tip the book sideways to view the final result which feels very rewarding.

For ages 3+


The 12 Days of Christmas by Pilgrim Lee

This retro-tastic picture book is a vibrant offering from Melbourne artist, Pilgrim Lee. The simple text of the classic carol is emboldened by Lee’s unique illustrations, and the durable board book format will withstand sticky fingers.

For ages 0+


That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson & Amanda Francey

Dottie is spending the festive at her grandparents' house, and she’s worried she won’t get that ‘fizzy, excited feeling, where everything is a bit magical’. That is until an exciting surprise arrives… Amanda Francey’s appealing illustration illuminate this tender story that will feel very relatable to young children who’ve spent Christmas away from their usual family routine.

For ages 3+


The Ugly Five by Axel Scheffler & Julia Donaldson

The dream team who created the Gruffalo present another boldly illustrated, lyrical picture book that’s fabulous to read aloud. Inspired by the real-life Ugly Five safari animals (the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the vulture, the Marabou stork), this is a heartwarming testament to these amazing, over-looked creatures.

For ages 2+


Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake

This is an endearingly silly tale about a stubborn child who gets stuck trying to remove their jumper. Unwilling to ask for help, they instead imagines the rest of their life living with this predicament and the whimsical solutions they conceive to potential problems filled me with joy: How will they stop the cat tickling their tummy? Be really nice to him of course…

For ages 2+


Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about children’s books that teach empathy and Leaf would make a worthy addition. This is a truly beautiful story about a group of animals coming together to help a strange polar bear and Sandra Dieckmann’s lush, intricate artwork makes every page extra special.

For ages 3+


Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

Space-mad kids (and adults) will love this picture book which is told from the perspective of Curiosity, a Mars Rover that’s been sent to explore the red planet. Curiosity’s methodical storytelling makes this an accessible and engaging read for young people, and there’s also plenty more to explore with pockets of information and diagrams littered throughout.

For ages 6+

Bronte Coates is the digital content coordinator and the Readings Prizes manager.

Still Stuck

Still Stuck

Shinsuke Yoshitake

$17.99Buy now

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