International children’s picture books

A roundup of international children's picture books, by Helen Speirs.

Joe Todd-Stanton
Flying Eye Books/Walker  Books

Erin lives with her mum and dog near a big fishing town.

The adventurous girl longs to go to sea each day with her fisherwoman mother but is not allowed because of the  legend of black rock, which terrifies all the townsfolk. 

One day though, she stows away to see for herself what all the fuss is about. I love everything about this English book: strong female characters, a great story with an environmental message, and the gorgeous moody illustrations of the watery deep.

Ages 3+.




Mo Willems
Walker Books

Mo Willems’ books are always fun. The US author/illustrator was a Sesame Street writer and animator and has a decidedly wacky sense of humour.

Today is a day Nanette won’t forget, for today Nanette gets to fetch the baguette! With such an exciting mission, what can possibly go wrong?

For a start, there’s friends Georgette and Suzette and Bret (with his clarinet) and Antoinette, Mr Barnett’s pet, but, with one tasty baguette, that’s not nearly as bad as it can get!

This rhyming tongue-twisting madcap adventure is pure joy.

Ages 3+.




Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury
Puffin/Penguin Random House

Poor rabbit, he can’t hop  home to his burrow because a Giant Jumperee with a loud scary voice has taken up residence.

Cat, Bear and Elephant come to offer a hand, but all are scared away, too.

Luckily, Mummy Frog is in the area, looking for a wayward young trickster to take home to tea ...

A classic combination of simple story, rhyming text and dreamy pictures make this English book a winner.

Ages 2+.




Jez Alborough
Walker Books

This is a story about another little animal who just wants to play — even though it’s bedtime. Bobo the chimp and his jungle friends do everything in their power to keep Bobo up late, but as night falls and Bobo realises he’s all alone, it’s not so much fun any more.

Luckily, he is delivered safely home and, as sure as day follows night, there will be plenty more play in the morning. 

This is a book of few words by  English author illustrator Jez Alborough.

Big pictures and smiley faces will appeal to littlies.


Ages 1+.




Yann & Gwendal Le Bec
Walker Books

Raymond is a good dog with a nice life with a loving family.

One day, though, he decides to take a step up the evolutionary food chain and start living as a human: eating at the dinner table, going to cafes, and the movies.

He even takes a job as editor on Dogue magazine!

But life sniffing out the next big headlines isn’t all it’s cracked up to be ... I love this whimsical tale from these French-born brothers.

And there’s a nice moral about not working yourself to the bone!

Ages 3+.




Timothy Knapman and Simona Ciraolo
Walker Books

Jake is the fastest mouse in the world. He’s too fast for Old Tom Cat, who wants a tasty treat, and no match either for fox, wolf or bear.

But by the time he has run around the world faster than lightning, his brain isn’t working as quickly as it should, and Old Tom, very hungry by now, has one last trick up his sleeve.

Kids will love this book that involves lots of chasing and chanting ("you can’t catch me!") and a deliciously different ending!

Ages 3+.

- Helen Speirs is former ODT  books editor.

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