A book is a present that keeps on giving - and these are our picks of the best new picture books.
The Jungle Run, Tony Mitton and Guy
Orchard Books, RRP$19.99
Bright colourful illustrations with clever rhyming will make this book a winner with a two and three-year-old audience. The big jungle animals are telling little cub she's too small for their obstacle race but she soon shows them that small stature can be a winning card. A simple story that's lots of fun.
The Best Singer in the World, Ulf Nilsson, Eva Eriksson
Gecko Press, RRP$19.99
Stage fright is a crippling affliction as the shy hero of this story finds. He's more than happy to sing and dance to amuse his little brother, but to go up in front of a crowd of parents for the school show? Hiding in the loos seems a better option and there's only one small boy who can lure him out. This is sympathetic storytelling that avoids cliché and corniness.
It's a Tiger, David LaRochelle and Jeremy Tankard
Chronicle Books, RRP$29.99
A high-energy tale that demands your liveliest performance, so you'll have your kids on the edge of their seats. A little boy with an over-active imagination is telling a jungle story but what's that in the trees? Oh no! It's a tiger!
Heather Fell in the Water, Doug MacLeod and Craig Smith
Allen & Unwin, RRP$29.99
Heather has a bad habit of falling into any nearby puddle or body of water and usually in her best clothes. So she starts to think water hates her. But then she's persuaded to try swimming and soon a lasting love affair blooms. Perfect for a child afraid of water and told with great comic timing.
Stupid Baby, Stephanie Blake
Gecko Press, RRP$34.99 (hard back)
From the author of the delightful Poo Bum, comes more about mischievous bunnies who make us laugh. With a new baby in the house, Simon's game plan is to persuade his parents to send him back to where he came from. "When's that stupid baby going back to the hospital?" he asks. But once he finds his little brother awake in the middle of the night even this little bunny shows a softer side...
Arlo Needs Glasses, Barney Saltzberg
We love pop-up books and this is a very fine example. When Arlo, the dog, can no longer catch a ball he gets his eyes tested and has to look through special equipment and choose some glasses. There's very clever paper-craft going on here but it's one to keep on a high shelf, away from two year olds, when not in use.
Rosie's Magic Horse, Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake
Walker Books, RRP$27.99
Quentin Blake's distinctive pen and ink drawings are an instant draw card but the story is a compelling fantasy for older preschoolers. It involves a bunch of discarded iceblock sticks and a little girl who just wants to fix her parents' money woes. And that's all we'll tell you - buy the book.
Feathers for Phoebe, Rod Clement
Angus & Robertson, RRP$18.99
Phoebe is a small grey bird who just wants a bit of attention. She meets glamorous Zelda, a highly colourful and well-groomed creature who sits Phoebe down in her beauty salon to enhance her plumage. But no matter how many fabulous feathers she adds Phoebe still can't turn a single head. And then it all comes crashing down… This is funny and clever with vibrant illustrations that are full of personality.
Too Cold for a Tutu, Mini Goss
Allen & Unwin, RRP$24.99
How cute! Knitted toy animals against a backdrop of polka dots and falling autumn leaves. Barry and Stella are going out to play but Stella insists on wearing her tutu made by Nanna. She gets cold but if she gets under Barry's jumper they can play elephants! Creative play in action that's displayed picturesquely.