Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley (£11.99, Flying Eye Books)
Stereotypically, men don't cry. Or if they do, they'll rarely admit to it. But it’s not healthy to restrict your emotions, and this wonderful and engaging picture book challenges those incredibly traditional – and outdated – notions of masculinity. Talented illustrator Keith Negley cleverly uses characters which are considered the very pinnacle of manliness to make his point. Each of these typically ‘tough’ men (cowboys, superheroes, astronauts and ninjas) are shown at their most vulnerable and overwhelmed to demonstrate that it’s ok to have these feelings and to show them too. A great book for helping children to recognise and understand their emotions, Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) is an engaging conversation starter for all children, but especially for boys who will undoubtedly at some point be faced with this misleading gender stereotype.
Jill and Dragon by Lesley Barnes (£11.99, Tate Publishing)
Classic fairytales often conclude with the maxim, ‘And they lived happily ever after’, which is a pretty misleading phrase because obviously not everyone can have a delightful ending at the end of every story. It’s this idea that has inspired the charming and comical Jill and Dragon, which sees an empathetic little girl try to help the sad fire-breathing dragon who has been banished by the King. It’s an interesting twist on the typical fairytale concept and it’s one that carries a valuable life lesson for young readers, encouraging acceptance of others and appreciation of not only our talents, but that of those around us. Award-winning illustrator Lesley Barnes has a very singular drawing style and her bold and energetic imagery leaps off the page, complimenting the story and engaging the reader, ensuring that this is a book that will be appreciated by readers of any age.
Pop-Up Haunted House (£6.99, Usborne Books)
For a gentle thrill that is certainly more treat than trick, Usborne’s Pop-Up Haunted House is a brilliant and engaging pop-up romp through a house which is filled with all manner of mummies, skeletons, ghouls and ghosts. Each double page spread features pop-ups, pull-the-flaps and hidden little spooky surprises for young readers to find. A brilliant alternative for those who want to avoid giving their child sweets and chocolates, this spine-tingling book is fun for any age, but bear in mind that this book might be a bit too fragile for younger children. However this is an excellent choice for reluctant readers who need a little incentive to become book lovers for life and for those after a fun and spooky story to share on All Hallows' Eve.
Messy Goes To Okido (£5.95, Thames & Hudson)
For those who don’t already know, Messy is a blue mischievous sock-eating monster with a penchant for sandwiches, jokes and science. He is currently starring in his very own CBeebies show, Messy Goes To Okido, which sees him tackle a broad range of scientific topics in an interesting, funny and playful way for preschoolers. Designed to accompany the show and expand on the topics explored in each episode, this new series of short story books see Messy and his friends fly to the moon, help make rain and learn how our taste buds work. Easily digestible, each book has an engaging story, a fun facts page, an activity to try out and stickers. A wonderful introduction to scientific topics for children aged 2-5, Messy Goes To Okido Sandwiches In Space, Exploding Ice Cream and The Magic Raindrops are a brilliant learning tool to bring to life the exciting world of science.
What’s Up MuMu? by David Mackintosh (£12.99, HarperCollins)
Getting out of the wrong side of the bed happens to everyone. We all have ‘off’ days and that’s precisely the problem that MuMu is currently facing – luckily he has a devoted best friend Lox who has made it his mission to cheer MuMu up. This is a book which celebrates friendship, whilst also helping children to understand moods and feelings. It’s an incredibly relatable narrative with a simple premise, but author David Mackintosh elevates What’s Up MuMu? from books of a similar ilk with his tongue-in-cheek hand-drawn illustrations and the hilariously deadpan hand-written asides from MuMu. It’s a very pared back picture book, which is printed to look like David’s original drawings on uncoated paper, that in turn gives it a lovely handmade quality.