The Happy Book by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Caroline Uff (Bloomsbury; €7.10) is ingenious in its simplicity, using just two words on each page.
Instead of preachy do-good messages, the book focuses on contrasting pictures to illustrate what’s better. ‘Squabble less’ depicts two youngsters squabbling over a teddy bear and, on the opposite page ‘Share more!’ shows two youngsters sharing sweets. Perfect for three-year-olds.
No More Kisses for Bernard by Niki Daly (Frances Lincoln; €14.22 HB) tells of a small boy’s smothering overdose of affection from his besotted aunts. After their recent visit he’s covered in lipstick and has had enough. ‘No kisses!’ he shouts. Trust Mum to provide a solution. Laugh aloud fun for over-kissed four- to six-year-olds. Daly’s illustrations hit just the right note.
Smudge the Stolen Kitten by Holly Webb (Stripes; €5.92) is one for cat lovers. Olivia’s dream comes true when finally, after the family being advised and approved by the lady from the Rescue Centre, they get a coveted kitten. She can’t wait to get home from school each day to play with Smudge. But when her brother Ben introduced Smudge to his best friend Rob, all of Olivia’s dreams are shattered. This is a well-written story with just enough edginess for the newly independent reader.
My Two Grandads by Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Frances Lincoln; €14.99 HB) tells the story of Aston, a small boy with two musical grandads who live nearby, Harry from Lancashire who plays the trumpet in a brass band, and Roy, originally from Trinidad, who plays the steel drums. Inspired by them, Aston wants to be a musician too, so whenever he visits, they teach him to play drum and trumpet. When Miss Chang announces the band, which was to play for the Summer Fair couldn’t come, Aston asks his grandfathers, but each wants his own band to play. Trust the boy to come up with the perfect solution. A beautifully told and illustrated story for age six to eight.