24 picture books that I’ve loved this year

It is ancient bookseller wisdom that you can never own too many picture books. So here are 24 awesome picture books released this year to add to your own collection.


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Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

This is a cute, magical twist on an ugly duckling tale. Growing up in the ocean, Kelp always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family – even if he was a little bit different from everyone else. When a strong current sweeps him to the surface he realises he might just be a unicorn instead. Our little hero’s worries about where he belongs are short-lived as both narwhals and unicorns accept him just as is. The bright colour palette and small visual details (such as Kelp’s little floaties as he learns to swim) are such a treat.

For ages 4 and up


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Triangle by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett

The new picture book from bestselling duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a hilarious cautionary tale for kids who love sneaky tricks (also, my adult housemate). This visually striking picture book sees Triangle setting out to play a trick on his friend Square, but he might not be quite prepared for the consequences… The final page of this story made me laugh out loud, and I still smile whenever I think about it. Utter perfection.

For ages 4 and up


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My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille

This awesomely silly picture book features double page spreads of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures – a simple premise which belies the imaginative possibilities that unfold. What happens after a storm? (A rather foolish hair-do.) After lunch? (Crumbs.) After a spell is cast? (All kinds of strange things of course.) Eric Veille’s droll illustrations are vibrant and bold, and he leaves plenty of space for readers to interpret what’s happened in between.

For ages 3 and up


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A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins and Chris Appelhans

Two friends play together in whirling chaos. Emily Jenkin’s playful, rhythmic language is a feat of wordplay – I have not yet read this tongue twister the whole way through without making a mistake. Chris Appelhans’s pencil and watercolour illustrations are gorgeously evocative. The groundhog and greyhound defy all kinds of laws of physics as they leap and spin across the pages, until a startled butterfly stops them in their tracks.

For ages 2 and up


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Bathtime for Little Rabbit by Jörg Mühle and Eva Eriksson

Bathtime for Little Rabbit is the second interactive board book from the bestselling duo behind Tickle My Ears. You simply will not be able to resist giving this adorably toothy rabbit a bath, even if he isn’t too keen on the idea at first. I especially love the page where you need to blow on his ears to dry them. Saying ‘pfffffff’ to a cartoon bunny has never been so satisfying.

For ages 0 and up


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Mopoke by Philip Bunting

You really should read this book for the blurb alone: ‘This is a Mopoke. Mopoke loves peace and quiet. He is about to find out that you can’t always get what your want.’ This statement proves to be regrettably (and hilariously) true in what follow. Each turn of the page delivers a different version of Mopoke, which become increasingly ridiculous and enjoyable. This is the kind of stylish picture book that appeals to adults as much as children.

For ages 3 and up


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The Perfect Thing by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina

This picture book is a no-brainer for me. I’ve long been a fan of Ambelin Kwaymullina’s richly-hued art style and I’ve a weakness for stories of wily grandparents getting the upper hand over their grandchildren – I’ve obviously been well-trained by my own. Lily doesn’t want to go the park with her grandfather and so keeps making excuses. Unfortunately for her, her grandfather keeps coming up with the ‘perfect thing’ to solve her problems. His suggestions are weirdly wonderful and, of course, he turns out to be right about the park after all.

For ages 2 and up


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What Happens Next? by Shinsuke Yoshitake

I’ve ended up with TWO grandparent books on this list, and I regret nothing. This funny, poignant book follows a child’s meandering train of thought after the death of his grandfather, alongside snippets from the grandfather’s own journal in which he had jotted down his thoughts about life after death. The richly detailed comic book format allows for an expansive and thought-provoking reading experience.

For ages 7 and up


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Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost

Do Not Lick This Book cleverly transforms important information about microbes, germs and the human body into an interactive adventure that’s fun and fascinating. In this book we meet Min, a microbe so small you’ll need a microscope to see her, and then we’re encourage to take her on a journey with us into the wild and teeny-tiny parts of the world. (And if you really, really need to lick this book, there’s a specially designated spot at the back.)

For ages 4 and up


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Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank

There’s plenty of visual humour in this story of mother and her baby’s visit to the market, which also doubles as a gradual introduction to numbers. As Mama walks past the stalls, occasionally stopping to make a purchase, smitten vendors keep gifting baby special gifts – five juicy oranges, four sugary chin-chin biscuits… Baby eats some and then puts the rest in the bag. You’ll definitely smile when Mama, who has no idea what’s going on, worries about how hungry baby must be getting.

For ages 2 and up


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Doodle Cat is Bored by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott

Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott have created another life-affirming tale featuring the irreverent bright red squiggle, Doodle Cat. In Doodle Cat is Bored, our beloved cat is bored… until he finds a crayon and starts imagining all kinds of magic and adventure on the page. This joyful ode to creativity also gives us the most excellent Wizard Susan.

For ages 3 and up


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Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

The ‘love umbrella’ of this title is a metaphor for love that’s invisible but ever-present, no matter where you are. Davina Bell’s list of worries and fears that a child might face is thoughtful in its scope – from moving house to forgetting to bring a hat to school – and Allison Colpoys’s distinctive artwork plays off the text. I especially love how this book features all kinds of families, and the sweet visual ways that the metaphor is put to use.

For ages 3 and up


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A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

It’s such a lovely afternoon that all the animals in Bert’s backyard feel like they’re having a perfect day, whether they’re soaking up the sun or enjoying a tasty snack. That is until Bear arrives and set outs to have his own perfect day, and inadvertently puts an end to everyone’s else’s… Smith’s contrast of colour and texture is arresting and the repetition of, ‘It was a perfect day’, at the start and end of the story is sublimely effective.

For ages 3 and up


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Raymond by Yann and Gwendal Le Bec

In this drily funny story for a dog-loving family, Raymond decides he wants to become more human. He starts sitting at the dinner table, walking on his hind legs and even gets a job – but eventually he begins to miss the simple pleasures and slower pace of his old ‘dog’s life’. I laughed out loud at this book when Raymond is being interviewed for a job at the prestigious DOGUE magazine, and is asked his opinion on cats by the editor-in-chief (pictured as leisurely leaning back, his feet on desk): ‘Well… they are unbelievably silly,“ said Raymond. And the job was his.

For ages 3 and up


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The [insert animal] Books from minibombo

This is a terrific Italian picture book series for very small children who long for a pet. These small-format books playfully encourage children to become responsible for their new illustrated pets, explaining everything from rubbing their bellies to keeping their animals dry in the rain. So far this series includes The Dog Book, The Cat Book and The Hamster Book.

For ages 2 and up


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Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

This is a charming story about overcoming your fears. Jabari is a bit more nervous about taking his first jump off the diving board than he wants to admit. His father is patient and gently encouraging as he waits for his son to build up the courage, and Jabari’s joy-filled expression when he does make that leap is perfectly captured by debut author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall. The drawing style is clean-cut and just a little bit nostalgic. I especially love the page of Jabari doing his stretches in order to warm up to the big moment.

For ages 4 and up


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The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie and Karl James Mountford

Lift-the-flaps make this riotous adventure extra special. Ellie Hattie combines a narrative about a young boy searing for a missing baby mammoth with plenty of intriguing, quirky facts – many of which I didn’t know! Have you ever heard of the Golden Toad? I thought not… This heavily-detailed, jam-packed picture book encourages curiosity and children will spend hours pouring over Karl James Mountford’s distinctive, detailed illustrations.

For ages 5 and up


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At the Beach I See by Kamsani Bin Salleh

I grew up beside a beach and have a soft spot for picture books that depict this landscape. Kamsani Bin Salleh’s colourful wash backgrounds are beautiful in this book and I love the way the slightly more lyrical descriptions give an extra language boost – 'scuttling crabs’ instead of just crabs. This is the second release in Magabala’s ‘Young Art’ series that showcases young Indigenous artists.

For ages 0 and up


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The Egg by Britta Teckentrup

Britta Teckentrup has a backlist worth exploring – The Memory Tree is a favourite of mine. In her latest release, she explores the the diversity of the egg – one of nature’s simplest, yet most complex, creations – through her unique artistic vision. Teckentrup depicts the egg in beautiful, interesting ways that inspire a new perspective from us, and also shares lots of intriguing information. The muted colours and elegant linework make this book a work of art in its own right.

For ages 4 and up


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Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson

With Antoinette, Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson have created a companion read to their fantastic 2014 picture book, Gaston. Antoinette feels overshadowed by her three burly brothers, even though her mother assures her that she’ll find her talent too. When a chance arises for this special poodle to prove her worth, she rises to the challenge with aplomb. The stylised art and engaging storytelling make this book a winner.

For ages 2 and up


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Counting with Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz

Viviane Schwarz’s earlier picture books are brilliant, and her latest offering met my high expectations. It’s a playful, funny twist on a counting book with what I will term ‘a really freaking cute cat’ at the centre. Tiny Cat counts red balls of wool as they appear – one, two, three, four… more? Too many? The final page where Tiny Cat has fallen into blissful sleep on ‘just enough’ balls of wool is almost guaranteed to make you go ‘aaaaaaaw’.

For ages 1 and up


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I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon

This is a very funny tale about a lonely monster with poor impulse control. The deadpan dialogue (‘I just ate my friend. He was a good friend. But now he is gone. Would you be my friend?’) combined with the monster’s guileless expression is pitch perfect as he searches for a friend, and is repeatedly rejected. He’s too big, he’s too small – will he ever find someone just right? The twist at the end really elevates this book into a story time favourite.

For ages 2 and up


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Florette by Anna Walker

Florette is another sensitive, loving offering from one of my favourite Australian author-illustrators. Moving home is always a challenge and young Mae feels understandably lonely and off-kilter after her family leaves the country for the city. With sparse language and gentle colours, Walker exquisitely depicts the interplay between Mae’s difficult feelings and new surroundings. Ultimately, this picture book is a quiet testament to the resilience and creativity of children.

For ages 3 and up


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Lots by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton

Author Nicola Davies draws on her expertise as a zoologist and BBC science writer to in this informative and exciting read for young people, and really, this picture book is a pleasure to look at whatever your age. Emily’s Sutton’s gentle colours and intricate touches bring the amazing diversity of our world to life on the page. There’s so much to discover. Our reviewer says that Lots is the kind of book that can awaken every child’s inner scientist and conservationist – I agree wholeheartedly.

For ages 4 and up


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

Triangle

Triangle

Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett

$24.99Buy now

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