Essential Picture Books (Part 3)

A double-mention for Judith Kerr as the children’s specialists return with 10 more picture books they voted as must-haves after a brainstorm last year. We hope you enjoy using it as a go-to list, or perhaps to jog some happy memories.


The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr (1968)


A slice of 1960s domestic life in this elegantly told tale of a tiger with a voracious appetite and no table-manners, who still manages to be the coolest cat in town. He drinks all of daddy’s beer! Wonderfully nostalgic.


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The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Raymond Briggs and Elfrida Vipont (1971)


They’re never too young for comedic irony: elephant tears around town stealing all manner of treats for baby, then scolds baby for not saying please. Rumpeta-rumpeta-rumpeta!


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Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (1979)


Flawless, addictive rhyme and all manner of favourite characters collide, as only the Ahlbergs could.


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The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (1999)


The shelf has been groaning with Julia Donaldson’s work for over a decade but this clever story that champions the underdog is still our favourite. Owl ice cream, anyone?


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Elmer by David McKee (1989)


Simply looking at Elmer the patchwork elephant is a joyful thing. The story in which we are introduced to him is also a celebration of being different and nurturing your sense of humour.


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Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham (1970)


Gentle, understated genius. The textures and colours transport the reader into a carefree summer. My original 1970s hardback is a most treasured possession.


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Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester (2004)


If you’ve ever found yourself saying “I’d love to take the family on a road-trip all around Australia, BUT…” - here’s the solution. Enjoy the trip from the comfort of your living room. Great detail so older kids love it, too.


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Mog The Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr (1970)


Kerr’s Mog books are a celebration of the infuriating but highly entertaining personality of the cat. Grumpy, selfish, occasionally rather stupid, but undeniably a much-loved member of the family.


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Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas (1983)


Let’s face it, it’s practically the law to have this on your child’s bookshelf in Australia. But it’s more than the Aussie animals and staple foods that explain its enormous popularity - the bond between Grandma Poss and Hush is adorable and the illustrations have a magic of their own.


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Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd (1983)


A motley crew of aptly named dogs in this, one of the most joyful read-aloud books. My personal favourite is Schnitzel Von Krumm. And yours?


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We’re up to 30 Essential Picture Books now - here are the first two collections in case you missed them: Part 1 with books 1-10 and Part 2 with books 11-20.