Friendship, Royalty, and Green Issues: One Librarian Selects her Favourite Picture Books of 2016

I always enjoy talking about books and telling others about my favourites. Suggesting books for other people to read is a tricky game as reading is so subjective, but here are some of my favourite picture books of 2016.


Stanley Amazing Knitting Cat

Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie

Having fallen in love with Ralfy Rabbit, I was eagerly awaiting Emily MacKenzie’s next book. And Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat did not disappoint. It’s a funny, quirky and colourful book with an engaging cast of animals about friendship, loyalty and knitting (obviously).

This is not a cat cover image of cat and mouse

This is NOT a Cat! by David Larochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

If it’s humour you want, then I’d happily recommend This is NOT a Cat! by David Larochelle and Mike Wohnoutka. It has repetitive text that encourages joining in, and although the story is quite simple, there’s a wonderful double twist in the tail! Much of the story is told pictorially and I especially love the expressive faces of the pupils.

How to find a friend

How to Find a Friend by Maria S Costa

I have a particular fondness for books where the story (or a deeper level of it) is carried by the illustrations. One of my favourites from this year is Maria S Costa’s How to Find a Friend. Rabbit and Squirrel are both lonely. As they go about their daily lives they each wish for a friend. The reader can see both characters and so knows more than either of them, adding that extra layer to the book.

Captain Crankie cover

Captain Crankie and Seadog Steve by Vivian French, illustrated by Alison Bartlett

Then there are books with a message, always something to be undertaken carefully. They can be awful – more message than story – but when they work they are excellent. One such is Captain Crankie and Seadog Steve by Vivian French and Alison Bartlett - a simple introduction to green issues. The Captain means well when he attempts to tidy up the village but his efforts have an unforeseen knock-on effect. However, with some co-operation and creative thinking a solution is found where everyone benefits. I love the subtle message, the strong characters and the vibrant colours of this book.

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Another story of good intentions gone wrong is Tidy by Emily Gravett. Pete the badger spends his days keeping his forest home tidy, snipping, polishing, sweeping and washing, but as autumn descends Pete’s tidiness gets out of hand. Emily Gravett needs no commendation from me but I think she has excelled herself with this book.

The Queen's Present by Steve Antony

Two of this year’s Christmas selections stand out for me. The Queen’s Present is the latest in Steve Antony’s series about Her Majesty. In this one, Santa Claus flies to her rescue when she cannot think what gifts to buy and whisks her off around the world. I love this series showing the Queen as an adventurer and this title is just as quirky and full of detail as its predecessors.

The Princess and the Christmas Rescue by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

My final offering is The Princess and the Christmas Rescue by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton. Princess Eliza has a passion for inventing and is very good at it. But she is lonely in her remote Nordic kingdom and braves the forest looking for a friend. What she stumbles upon is a potential Christmas catastrophe. In helping to avert it she is given the best presents of all. This is a joyful story, charmingly illustrated, with a thoroughly modern fairytale princess.


I hope that something in my selection strikes a chord with you.  I could have offered many more choices had space allowed! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments below.


Keep an eye on the Bookbug Facebook page to win a bundle of festive reads, including The Queen's Present mentioned above!

Jane Sandell

Jane Sandell is a Senior Librarian (Young People’s Services) in Moray Council. She is also the Bookbug Coordintor for Moray.