Seven picture books to lift your spirits

In need of a pick-me-up? These seven picture books are guaranteed to make you feel better, with humour, compassion, colourful illustrations and new perspectives.


Mole in a Black and White Hole by Tereza Sediva

When Mole looks around his underground home, all he sees is the black-and-white world of his hole. Mole digs and dreams of finding something colourful, but day after day he is disappointed. One day, Mole finds a radish! They start chatting, and as Mole listens to the descriptions of life above ground, he imagines the vibrant colours of nature. The next morning, Mole is distraught to discover that the radish is gone, leaving a hole in its place. He crawls out of the hole and into the world above - and into a place more colourful than he ever dreamed possible.

This smartly designed and beautifully illustrated book is a joy to read, and shows the wonder of emerging from a period of darkness into colour and light.

For ages 3 and up.


Kafka and the Doll by Larissa Theule & Rebecca Green

In the fall of 1923, Franz Kafka encountered a distraught little girl on a walk in the park. She’d lost her doll Soupsy, and was inconsolable. Kafka told her the doll wasn’t lost, but instead, traveling the world and having grand adventures! And to reassure her, Kafka began delivering letters from Soupsy to the girl for weeks.

This picture book brings to life the surprisingly playful and compassionate side of an author better known for dark and brooding tales. Kafka and the Doll is a lovely demonstration of kindness, generosity and imagination.

For ages 3 and up.


Pablo by Rascal

It’s time for Pablo the chick to emerge from his shell. But - curious, and a little bit scared - Pablo isn’t going to rush things. He starts with a croissant and coffee, and then makes a small hole in the shell wall to peek through. Funny little Pablo keeps making holes to stick his feet and wings and beak through, until he feels comfortable to leave his shell behind…most of it, anyway!

This is a fresh and funny story about bravery and stepping out on your own. Pablo is a quirky book that will help toddlers and pre-schoolers face change.

For ages 2 and up.


Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn Harris

A family leave a gray-scale city in a car and head for the rainbow-hued country. A child bursts from the car and runs into a field of flowers. In this deceptively simple, deeply profound story, one child experiences a flower with all five senses: from its colour, to its fragrance, to the entire universe it evokes. Have You Ever Seen a Flower? takes readers on a journey of new perspectives, linking a flower to all of nature, the environment and humanity.

Illustrated in colour pencil with enormous energy and vibrancy, this is a mind-expanding and life-affirming read for the whole family.

For ages 3 and up.


Grumble Boats by Susannah McFarlane & Tamsin Ainslie

Emma is very grumpy. Why should she have to visit Grandma while her brother goes to a pirate party? Harumph! Fortunately, Grandma knows exactly how to send Emma’s bad mood away… With some paper, some scribbles, some nature and a shared activity, Grandma teaches Emma a nifty technique to get rid of her grumbles.

Grumble Boats is a gorgeous reminder of how the power of nature and the special magic of grandmas can make us feel better.

For ages 3 and up.


The Best Worst Day Ever by Sophy Henn

Arthur is having the WORST DAY EVER. So he runs away - nearly to the end of the garden. But when it’s time to go home, Arthur faces a deep, dark wood that he must travel through! There he meets a bear, an elephant and a lion, who encourage him to stomp, huff and roar until - surprisingly Arthur finds himself skipping, hooting tooting and singing. Maybe his day isn’t so bad after all…

This is a delightful story about accepting emotions and turning things around. Sophy Henn’s illustrations are colourful, retro and very sympathetic. This would make a great read-aloud.

For ages 3 and up.


I’m Fabulous Crab! by Nicki Greenberg

Henry the hermit crab is done with his dull life on the ocean floor. When he looks at some of the showier residents of the sea he wants more. He wants glamour and drama! He wants dazzle and splash! He wants to be known as Fabulous Crab! The other hermit crabs are disapproving, but Fab is undeterred. When he finds a shipwreck full of treasures though, Fab’s bedazzling goes a little bit over the top, and he finds himself in true peril…

This glittery, sparkly underwater picture book has fantastic rhyming text and a lovely message of embracing who you are and wearing your true colours with pride. Kids will love the sense of humour and the surprise ending.

For ages 3 and up.

Leanne Hall is the children’s specialist for Readings online. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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Kafka and the Doll

Kafka and the Doll

Larissa Theule, Rebecca Green

$29.99Buy now

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