Two of the best things about writing this post are that I immensely enjoyed scrolling back over my Instagram feed for the last year to ...

Best Picture Books of 2018

Saturday, January 05, 2019 BookBairn 10 Comments

Two of the best things about writing this post are that I immensely enjoyed scrolling back over my Instagram feed for the last year to see all my posts and try to pick out our favourite reads from the last year AND I also looked back at my Best Reads of 2017 blog post so I was reminded of all those lovely story times that we had reading those books. I will do what I always do for this post and that's share the books that we loved reading the most no matter what year they were published (however we do sometimes favour new and shiny books so this list will more than likely favour books released this year!). I've also split the list in two - for the first time! - because The Wee Page Turner now has his own reading taste and preferences. He's a pretty discerning reader in fact! And BookBairn has grown to enjoy a lot more story-based books so her favourites reflect that. 

So here are our favourite picture book reads of 2018:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Wee Page Turner is has been fascinated by all things The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle this year. He absolutely loves the classic tale of this little brightly coloured creepy crawly who eats everything in sight (perhaps it's because they have an affinity in this!). I'm sure you know this story - a little caterpillar eats his way through a mountain of food in a week and the little die-cut holes invite little fingers to join in the story. And of course there's a transformation and striking illustration to delight at the end. We also love some of the offshoot stories - the finger puppet book being a favourite and we watch the TV episode regularly! The Wee Page Turner loves to make little munching sounds as we read and it's a book we read daily - so it makes the list even if it isn't new to 2018!

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

The Wee Page Turner adored another classic this year and that's Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell, just as much as his sister did! I guess it's a classic for a reason. He has long been able to lift the flaps by himself but now he is trying to imitate the noises of the animals which is so sweet as he isn't really talking very much yet. If you don't know the story, it's about a zoo which sends lots of inappropriate animal pets in large colourful crates (which you lift the flaps to see what's inside) until finally they think very hard and send the perfect pet. Wtih bold colourful flaps set against plain white backgrounds, it's perfect for little peepers to get excited and find the flaps easily. The repetitive text is great for older tots to join in with the reading of the story. It also has a great surprise at the end! #nospoilers but you quite probably already know! We love this book so much I realised that we actually have five copies of it!

I am Bat by Morag Hood

Fresh from reading this at bedtime to The Wee Page Turner, I Am Bat by Morag Hood is selected for bedtime every night. Without fail. The illustrations are created through crisp clear printing style with simple colours and plain backgrounds really make the elements of the story stand out. It also means that there is no where to hide so the story has to be charming. And this one is. It's about a bat who likes cherries and does not want anyone, including you and your reader, to steal them. But they start to disappear. Reading this book requires a great sense of humor and some exasperated and exaggerated expressions but it's just so much fun! And The Wee Page Turner has given it his seal of approval.

Bizzy Bear Building Site by Benji Davis

The Wee Page Turner is beginning to enjoy books which have more of a story to them than the simple first word/primer/baby books that we had been enjoying up until now. And don't get me wrong, those books have their place and we still read them lots but it's nice to share something that has more of a flow of a story. And these books are a great start for that! In Busy Bear Building Site by Benji Davies, Busy Bear is working on the building site and he does all sorts of things but the best part is that little fingers can use the mechanisms to keep them entertained whilst you read. These books are also super sturdy and have great illustrations (Benji Davies is one of our favourites and he wrote and illustrated The Storm Whale which BookBairn and I also love). And I'm excited that there are going to be three new Bizzy Bear books next year!

I Thought I Saw a Bear by Lydia Nichols

I Thought I Saw a Bear by Lydia Nichols is one of the books that we have read over and over again this year and is probably looking a little worn in this photo - a sure sign of a good children's book! (And rest assured all the mechanisms are still working perfectly!) Each page repeats the phrase “I thought I saw a...” and then using the slider you can reveal the hidden bear. We particularly love it when the bear slides on the cover and when he pops up in the car. This book has a transport theme with bear popping up in lots of different vehicles and modes of transport so it's perfect for adding in lots of transport vocabulary too. And the great part - there's a whole series of these books so you can find your little one's favourite! These are very simple, very clever little books that are great for entertaining little readers and perfect for popping in your bag for out and about stories.

Where's Mr/Mrs...? Series with Felt Flaps by Ingela P Arrhenius

'Where's Mr Lion?' is part of a fabulous series of books where the flaps are made of felt fabric so that little ones can pull at them even before they have the fine motor skills to manipulate card or paper pages. The illustrations are bright, colourful and high-contrast so little ones will really enjoy them. And the final page has a mirror hidden underneath the flap that The Wee Page Turner giggles at in delight of the handsome baby looking back at him. He usually kisses it! We have a few in the series and The Wee Page Turner loves them all. We have read the lion one most but the others in the series are equally as loved.

The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony

The Wee Page Turner absolutely adores The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony. We read it several times every day as he pulls it out of his book basket and slides around the house on it's cover. He then sits at any adult's feet and quite literally throws the book at them. It is a brilliant story of the Queen who is on her way to visit someone very special when the wind sweeps her hat off her head, and as it soars high above London and many of it's landmarks from Trafalgar Square over London Bridge, and The Wee Page Turner's favourite Big Ben! The colour palette in this book is predominantly red, white and blue and the simplistic line drawings (that are packed full of detail) clearly entrance the smallest reader in our house. We are definitely going to get the other books in this series.

This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien

I had to include This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien on this list as I regularly have to break up fights between the bairns over this one. It's not a story but it most certainly is a book! Inside each double-page spread shows a fun thing that children can interact and play with. My two love the laptop page and pretend to type away on the keyboard alonsgide the piano page and the clapping hands. There's lots of opportunities for imaginative play and the illustrations are so much fun - it's a great one to pack in a bag whilst on the go or travelling! We like it so much we should really have two copies.

Dragon Post by Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post by Emma Yarlett is such a truly enchanting story with characters that are utterly stupendous and the novelty of having letters to pull out and read has greatly appealed to BookBairn. Alex, a little boy, is convinced that a dragon is living in his basement (don't worry he's a friendly dragon). But having a dragon in your basement does pose some issues: fire hazards, noise complaints, animal welfare issues. So Alex writes and receives letters about how best to care for his dragon. I don't want to spoil to much other than to say that this book is packed full of humour, fun and illustrations that are simply adorable. The letters themselves are all in different styles, poking fun at some of the institutions that might get involved if you really did have a dragon in your basement as well as showing that even official types have a sense of humour sometimes. We particularly like the letter from the butcher. But our stand out favourite letter is from Alex's best friend, Hillary, whose adorable drawings and sage advice are a perfect way to end the book. Except for one last letter. From Dragon. Such an utterly charming story about friendship!

Tropical Terry by Jarvis

Tropical Terry by Jarvis was an instant and firm favourite on BookBairn's shelf. And I'm sure it because it's one of the most colourful and fun stories about a seemingly dull little fish called Terry. He has a great little team of friends - Cilla the crab and Steve the sea snail and they play lots of fun games. But that are not part of the 'cool gang' that live in Coral Reef City. And Terry just wants to fit in with these glamourous fish. So he, with the help of his friends, creates the most spectacular tail fin out of all the bits and bobs he can find and becomes 'Tropical Terry'. However, he soon learns being the shiniest sparkliest fish in the sea can attract unwanted attention. Eddie the eel fancies a bite of Terry for his dinner. But fortunately, the games that Terry has been playing with his old friends have made him super skilled in evading Eddie’s unwanted advances! This is one of the most colourful books that we have on our shelf! It makes me smile just to look at the stunning illustrations. And it has a lovely message about being true to yourself, not judging a fish by his fins and accepting others. And some tips on how to avoid being eaten by an eel! We love it so much we even made our own Tropical Terry by finding bits and bobs from the craft box!

We love the story of Neon Leon by Jane Clarke & Britta Teckentrup. It tells the story of Neon Leon, the chameleon who is neon orange and he doesn't seem able to change colour. This is an interactive story where you try to help Leon fit in with the background and the crowd, and when he can't it's little readers jobs to help him find a place where he can fit in. It's utterly charming, and the illustrations just make this book! However, despite this book strongly relying on the visual elements, BookBairn loves listening to the audiobook on the Nosy Crow Stories Aloud Podcast too!

Paddington by Michael Bond

The quintessentially British Paddington created by Michael Bond, has sought refuge in our hearts and found a home for life. An almost-fairytale story of a lovable bear who is seeking a new home after stowing away on a ship to escape his native Darkest Peru (which was devastated by disaster). Arriving at Paddington Station, he has nothing but his suitcase, an almost-empty jar of marmalade and a label reading 'please look after this bear. Thank you.'. We would certainly welcome him into our BookBairn household with open arms. The illustrations by R.W. Alley certainly capture the endearing nature of this much-loved bear and are absolutely delightful! We cherish him in our house!

Lionel and the Lion's Share by Lou Peacock & Lisa Sheenan

In Lionel and the Lion's Share by Lou Peacock & Lisa Sheenan, Lionel was a lion who did not share. And whenever he sees something he wants he simply takes it: "I am a lion and I get the lion's share" he roars, much to the disappointment of the other creatures. When they finally confront him about his selfish behaviour he storms off in a huff soon to realise that if he continues the way he is he will not have any friends and he makes things up again by surprising his friends. This is a lovely story about sharing, kindness and not taking our friends for granted. The illustrations are lovely and if you enjoy listening to your favourite books on audiobook you can download this one for free from the Nosy Crow podcast or using the QR code inside the book. 

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam: The Missing Masterpiece by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

We adore the Shifty McGifty (got to be one of my all time favourite character names) and Slippery Sam stories and Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam and the Missing Masterpiece by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton has to be BookBairn's favourite. It is a truly brilliant rhyming tale of two pooches that foil an art heist with humour galore! Tracey Corderoy has the most brilliant talent at writing rhymes without comprising wonderful storytelling (and I would love to be able to write like she does) and Steven Lenton packs so much humour into the expressions of characters and brings to life scenes that will have your little readers wanting to turn the pages to see what happens next! BookBairn truly adores these books! And finding the hidden little spider on each page - nice touch from the illustrator. Looking forward to exploring the chapter book with her now that she loves the characters so much. Shifty and Sam are a formidable team - much like their creators. If you like a crime caper - your kids will love these!

Lottie Potter Wants an Otter by Jeanne Willis & Leonie Lord

This is the story we read on repeat. Lottie Potter wants an Otter by Jeanne Willis and Leonie Lord. It has the most brilliant rhyming scheme - who knew so many things rhymed with 'otter'? And the story of the little girl Lottie Potter who really wants an otter but gets stuck with a rotter who bit little Lottie very hard upon the botty is one that we never forget! It's truly a delight to read and the illustrations are so much fun! And if your name is Lottie it's even better!

How to be a Lion by Ed Vere

One of the books we read most often this year with BookBairn was How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere and we enjoyed doing a workshop and meeting Ed Vere at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August which added a little extra sparkle to the book. Leonard is a lion like no other: he's sensitive, gentle and writes poetry in his spare time. And he befriends a mouse. When the other lions hear about his un-lionyness they challenge him and tell him there's only one way to be a lion. Leonard, with the help of his duck friend Marianne, uses the power of words to show them that there's no one way to be. Celebrating individuality and the power of words this new fable is truly captivating! BookBairn has always loved lions so there's no doubt that's partly why she has fallen for Leonard, but it's also a beautiful story packed full of vibrant artwork that has utterly charmed her. 

101 Dogs by Michael Whaite

One of our favourite reads this year was 100 Dogs by Michael Whaite which is a brilliant rhyming story that shares 100 dogs each getting up to different things. It's laugh out loud funny! One of the reasons that we loved reading this book this year is that BookBairn managed to learn the majority of this book, with the aid of the illustrations so it's one of the first books that she'd read aloud to us. It's magical for us!

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright & Jim Field

The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright & Jim Field became one of our favourites when I recorded an episode of Cbeebies Bedtime Stories (so that I could use the bedtime song at my leisure to announce bedtime whether it be 7pm or not!) and it happened to be the story on the beginning. And BookBairn quite enjoyed it as it was about a lion. And then on a library visit with a friend, I noticed that she and her daughter were returning this book and I snapped it up, making it bedtime story every night that week! It's about a mouse who wants to be noticed rather than stomped and sat on and so he decides to learn to roar like a lion. But when the lion is confronted with the mouse he has a rather unexpected reaction. When the two team up to conquer their fears they realise that friendship is what makes them roar! It's a wonderful book about accepting the strong and weak parts of yourself and creating friendships that are supportive. With Jim Field's (read BookBairn's interview with Jim Field here) illustrations this is such a wonderful book and we were delighted to meet him at the Edinburgh Book Festival and get our copy (yes I bought one in the end!) signed.

The Girls by Lauren Ace & Jenny Lovlie

If you can't predict that this book was going to be my favourite picture book of the year you must be new here (hello!). I've been raving about it all year! When I read The Girls by Lauren Ace & Jenny Lovlie for the first time, my eyes welled with tears because it really captures my experience of friendship. It tells the beautiful story of four girls who "were are different as they were they same" and how they were best friends. It shows them developing their own personalities, interests, characters but how they also stuck together through thick and thin. How they celebrate each other's successes, and support each other when things go wrong. And as they grow older, this story follows them from childhood to adulthood, they change and grow but their friendship remains steadfast. "Together and apart, the girls went on becoming who they were going to be." The careful wording and thoughtful illustrations in this book are absolutely heart-warming. They show girls, who become women, from different backgrounds, with different interests, with different challenges and successes but who stick together through it all. Because love binds us, holds us together. The illustrations are so touching and they really show the spice and variety of life! I really cannot speak highly enough of this story. 

So those are our favourite picture books from 2018! If you haven't read any of these then they come with our highest recommendations! What war your favourite picture book last year?

And looking forward to a 2019 full of new picture book discoveries as well as re-reading old favourites!

Happy reading,
Kim, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xx 

Disclaimer: these are all our choices. Some were sent from publishers (others are books that I have bought myself) but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great. Please read our review policy if you want to know more. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.

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  1. Great choices lots we have but some we haven't too - I'm definitely adding I Thought I Saw a Bear, I Am Bat (have you read Carrot and Pea?) and This is Not a Book to our list!

    1. We love Colin and Lee Carrot and Pea! So so good! I hope you like them!

  2. What a great selection, it's good to see a mix of classics and new titles. How lovely that the Wee Page Turner has his own tastes now. Sadly our picture book days are long since over, but it's nice to see recommendations that I can buy as presents for my nephews.

    1. I hope we never grow out of picture books but at the same time can't wait to explore Charlotte's Web, Roald Dahl, Harry Potter!

  3. What a great selection of BookBairn and the Wee Page Turner’s favourites. Y the way, I’ve had the Queen’s Hat thrown at me too. He loves that book. I also love Shifty McGifty. What a name. It’s got to be up there with Hairy McLairy. Happy reading in 2019.

    1. Haha!! It's a great name - I messaged Tracey Corderoy to tell her how much you love it!

  4. A wonderful mixture of newbies and classics, thanks for sharing with #readwithme

    1. Thanks - yes I felt it was important to share that new stories aren't always better than old classic ones!

  5. We have read and loved some of these too, The Hungry Caterpillar is a classic as is Dear Zoo!

    1. Absolutely! They really stand the test of time!