We believe in the power of books to do great things to the brain, they wake up our imaginations with a little shot of stimulation right when we need it. Smallprint is about the types of kids’ books that we love as adults, books that we hope the whole family will enjoy.
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Initially it is the cover because I am a very visual person so whilst I try not to commit the crime of judging a book this way, it is the appeal of the artwork that grabs me first and foremost. I also love an intriguing title, appealing or humorous characters and any stand-out interactive qualities. The feel of the book is really important and I am really drawn to hardbacks with tactile matte pages, I am a bit of a paper geek!
I read every book to make sure that it stands up to the test of beauty, adventure, development, humour, interactivity, surprise and enjoyment - for both the adult and child! Basically I love something a bit different from the thousands of books that are in the supermarkets or on the high street.
At the moment I am hugely keen on David Litchfield as he manages to get such a lot of atmosphere and light into his colourful illustrations and his newest release gently teaches an important lesson about inclusion without preaching, something I really rate in children's books. Alice Melvin has such a lot of skill and intricacy I could look at her books for hours whilst I love the unusual style of Beatrice Alemagna which is almost collage like. I could go on forever there are so many!
Whilst researching I discovered Ammo books in the US and I immediately felt at home, here was a beautifully designed website that was modern and cool that appealed to me as a parent and an individual. ABC Circus by Patrick Hruby is the perfect example of how brilliant design doesn't have to go out of the window when you have kids.
Ever since I opened Pool by Lee Jihyeon I thought it would be great fun to be friends with the boy who dives under the water. When he gets to the swimming pool it is overrun with people clambering to get in the water, the illustration paints a brilliant picture of the hustle and bustle. He takes a deep breath and slips under the water where he finds a new friend, together they discover a world of awesome sea creatures and journey through the sea. There are no words in this book so the possibility for interpretation is endless and I love the idea of being in this expanse of water in silence, it's quite wonderful!
The younger one loves interaction and humour so we try and find books that make us all laugh, book with flaps or cut outs are great and we try to stick to familiar concepts where he knows the words or the feelings so we have discussion points. Even though he is only three he has tastes and some books don't appeal, so he really gets to choose what he fancies. Whilst our eldest can read, the level of books she has don't always ignite her imagination. She is a big thinker so we find it helpful to read quite complex stories for her to exhaust her brain a bit so she can switch off at bedtime. We read her books with strong messages of diversity and inclusion, about kindness, strength and bravery to help support her with some of her current preoccupations. She also loves non-fiction so we spend a lot of time looking at books about animals, geography, science and history but we can never find answers to ALL the questions!
Grandad's Secret Giant
Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen
Terry and Eric Fan
The Night Gardener
Kyo Maclear, Isabelle Aresenault
The Big Book of Beasts
If we are talking books from my childhood it has to be Jeremiah and the Dark Woods by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, I have a copy and we read it a lot. I love the illustrations and the adventure, it feels really nostalgic to read it to my children. For a more current choice I would probably say Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner, the paper is really smooth and the illustrations are stunning, we love the lion's expressions. The story is about a lion who going hunting for his smile and learns that it is always there, he just needs to be happy.