IoS Books of the Year 2012: Children's picture books

This week, our critics choose their best reads of the year. Here, Nicholas Tucker enjoys children's picture books

In The Big Jungle Mix-Up (Hachette, £10.99) Gareth Edwards has created an amiable father bear who is regularly put right by Little Bear while they explore a jungle. Father's rhyming guesses about which animal they are encountering are regularly confounded, after a flap is lifted to reveal what was really there. Brightly illustrated by Kanako Usui, this should be popular with infants already delighting in opportunities for proving their elders wrong.

Susan Steggall's super-vivid collage illustrations of bulldozers, trucks and cranes leap from the pages of The Diggers Are Coming! (Frances Lincoln, £11.99), her amazing account of what happens in one year on an urban building site. Rebecca Cole's glowing Lunchtime (Macmillan, £10.99) tells the familiar story of a child who won't eat up. Conjuring up some imaginary wild animals to help her out, the little girl in question finally gets the job done. Gorgeously illustrated with scribbly lines and runny watercolours, this is a superb picture book.

So too is Snip Snap, Look Who's Back! (Hodder, £11.99), written by Mara Bergman and illustrated by Nick Maland. It starts with an alligator creeping through a town and sending everyone into panic-stricken retreat. But brave young Marissa, Eva and Jonathan soon realise that it only wants to play, and eventually a good time is had by all at the local playground. A lovely book, hilarious and at times agreeably scary as well.

More reptiles crop up in Tony Maddox's Well Done, Little Croc! (Piccadilly, £6.99). Never mind that the hero of this story looks more like a green elephant than a crocodile – his achievement in proving to the other sceptical animals in the forest that there are things that only he can do remains thoroughly satisfying. Two Shy Pandas (Andersen, £10.99) describes bravery of a different sort, when lonely Panda and next-door Pandora finally find the courage to visit each other at the same time. After that, it is play all the way, and the two become firm friends. Written by Julia Jarman and illustrated by Susan Varley, this affectionate story is funny and touching in both text and pictures.

My Adventure Island (Scholastic, £6.99) describes, in easy rhyming verse by Timothy Knapman, one day in the imagination of a spirited little boy playing on his own. Our young hero has a high old time in an invented world where everything is possible. But too much solitary play can also have its negative side, and Sarah Warburton's brilliant illustrations show the little boy happy to be finally re-united with mother and big sister after an imaginary game threatened to get out of hand.

A mostly good time is also had in Martin Waddell's The Super Swooper Dinosaur (Orchard, £11.99). When young Hal is joined by an equally junior dinosaur who wants to play, he discovers that none of the normal games suit. When cross Mum intervenes after an over-exuberant water game, it looks as if the now tearful dinosaur will be sent home. But Hal rescues the situation by taking to the air with his new friend, where there's nothing to break or bump into. Leonie Lord's illustrations admirably accompany this nice little story.

Little Grey Rabbit's Noisy Night (Templar, £7.99) brings back Alison Uttley's much loved character for a new mini story, written by Alice Corrie. Nothing much happens, but the mood recaptures the serenity of the original tales, as Squirrel, Hare and Wise Owl take up their accustomed places around the demure heroine in her stone-flagged cottage. Angela Swan's illustrations accurately duplicate Margaret Tempest's original pictures, with attractive pop-ups at each turn of a page bringing a new dimension to this charming little story. Very different in mood, Valerie Thomas's Winnie's Dinosaur Day (Oxford, £10.99) radiates energy from every page. Anarchically illustrated by Korky Paul, this twenty-fifth story of Winnie the good-hearted witch and her cat Wilbur in which they travel back to prehistoric times, is less important than the accompanying pictures, which are crammed with enough visual jokes to keep infants happy for hours.

Leigh Hodgkinson's Goldilocks and Just the One Bear (Nosy Crow, £10.99) is a satirical re-writing of a favourite story. This time it is the bear who invades the home: a posh apartment owned by Goldilocks, now a fashionable wife and mum. Leigh Hodgkinson's bright and stylish illustrations go happily over the top. Another take on the story, The Goldilocks Variations (Walker, 12.99) is devised by the ever-inventive Allan Ahlberg, with pictures from his artist daughter Jessica. Replete with pop-ups, flaps to open, tabs to pull and an accompanying miniature book retelling the story as a play, the whole effort is yet another triumph of ingenuity and sheer fun. Goldilocks this time sets forth on new adventures, some of them involving characters from different fairy stories as well.

In My Granny is a Pirate (Orchard, £10.99) Val McDermid proves she is a dab hand at humorous verse as well as detective stories. This account of a beaming grandmother who is much more than she seems should be especially popular with grandparents who may, at times, feel they are being taken for granted. Arthur Robbins's illustrations mix humour with an occasional touch of mild menace. And Anna Kemp's excellent The Worst Princess (Simon and Schuster, £5.99) is all laughs. Princess Sue decides that she would rather side with the dragon than with the Prince who once rescued her but is now proving such a disappointment as a husband. Told in verse, and wonderfully illustrated by Sara Ogilvie, this picture book is so funny it could be safely recommended for all ages.

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp

Simon & Schuster, £5.99

"...'You know,' said Sue, as they drank their tea, 'We're a great team, you and me.'

The dragon's belly shook with laughter,

And they both lived happily ever after."

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments