The colours in this picture book jump off the page: a cobalt midnight sky or a daylit hill vivid with mustard-yellow crops. And the story is similarly simple and attractive; a brave hare leads a cat, hens, goat and other archetypal farmyard animals in a raid on a field guarded by a monster that turns out to be a scarecrow. The final page, lit by a round white moon, is a soft picture of rural bliss, but the pig swilling out the farmyard trough is, well, hare-raising.
The Dragon's Pearl by Julie Lawson and Paul Morrin, OUP, pounds 7.95
The story of a little Chinese boy who swallows a magic pearl by mistake, this tale has that touch of wishiness that invented fables often seem unable to avoid, but the images - by the award-winning Paul Morrin - are superb. Thick textures, rich colours and sweeping light effects create a dense and convincing world a million miles from the usual splash-and-dry watercolours. Dragons sail off the page, and the long grass looks chunky enough to pick. Yes, oil paint is tasty, if very thickly spread.
The Gondolier's Cat by William Corlett and Krystyna Turska, Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 8.99
An archetypal story of the love that blossoms between a bit of rough - a rangy black cat - and an uptown girl - a pampered Persian puss. Set in Venice (this looks like a version of Othello, for pets), it has nice pastel watercolour-like pictures, and a little by-play with pirates and gondoliers.