Slug in love is an absolutely brilliant picture book! Doug the slug is lonely and searching for a soulmate. However, all the creatures he meets think Doug is too squelchy and slimy and nobody wants to give him a hug. Then Doug meets Gail the snail and he thinks he’s found his match; she is icky and sticky just like him. He envisions their future together: candlelit dinners, a date at the cinema, a romantic trip to Paris. Sadly for Doug, Gail is not interested. Just when he’s almost given up hope, Doug unexpectedly finds love and gets the hug he’s been longing for.
This is such a fun book. The illustrations are fabulous – from Doug comfort eating to Gail having a pamper day, and who knew that mini beasts could be so expressive?
(Written by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Nadia Shireen. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2021.)
Love makes a family is a wonderfully inclusive board book about a range of different families and the love that unites them all. There are single-parent families, children with two moms, two dads, or one of each. There’s a blended family, mixed race family and a family with adopted children. We get glimpses into family life and familiar everyday domestic activities – bath time, bedtime and sharing stories together. The book celebrates the simple acts of love: jumping in puddles or playing games together, making things better or chasing away monsters. It’s a joy.
(Written and illustrated by Sophie Beer. Published by Caterpillar Books, an imprint of Little Tiger, 2021.)
This Love is a celebration of love around the world. The message is that no matter what language we speak or where we’re growing up, everyone understands the universal language of love. The book depicts all sorts of loving relationships that children might know: the love between parents and their children, sibling love, inter-generational love, the love shared between friends and the love of a beloved pet. Importantly, all types of family are included including same sex and mixed race. The fun rainbow-shaped die-cut pages link the different scenes together.
The illustrations are bursting with life and colour and I really liked all the different landscapes, especially the beach scene at sunset.
(Written by Isabel Otter and illustrated by Harriet Lynas. Published by Caterpillar Books, an imprint of Little Tiger, 2019.)
How Big is Love? is another gorgeous book in Emma Dodd’s series of tender rhyming stories about the relationship between baby animals and their parents. I’ve long been a fan of this picture book series for pre-schoolers. The series explores parental love in such a beautiful and moving way (often bringing a tear to my eye). In How Big is Love? five little ducklings learn about the power of a mother’s unconditional love:
Before you came, I did not not know just how big love could be.
Mother duck explains how her love is wider than the ocean and deeper than the sea. She reassures her ducklings that her love is unchanging, no matter what. She shows her babies that love is what makes the world shine. The book is beautifully illustrated and the pages glisten with gold foil. It’s a reassuring, comforting story for little children and one that is full of love.
(Written and illustrated by Emma Dodd. Published by Templar Books, 2021.)
I love you (nearly always) looks at the love between two friends. Roly is a woodlouse and Rita is a firefly. They are very different but this is why they like each other. However, after a while their differences become problematic and the pair fall out. The things they once loved about each other are now a source of irritation and frustration. Can they find a way to love each other again?
I really enjoyed the book’s honesty. We don’t always get along with our friends, sometimes there will be squabbles. The book also explores the importance of compromise and meeting in the middle – important in any relationship.
Anna Llenas has a wonderfully distinctive artistic style. Her illustrations are part drawn, part collage. She uses paper, cardboard and newspaper print. The effect is incredible and the book’s pages are really striking – so bright and bold!
What really sets the book apart are its fantastic pop-ups. I love you (nearly always) is a feat of paper engineering: pages that fold out, stand up, and have 3D effects. There are flaps to lift, dials to turn and tabs to pull.
(Written and illustrated by Anna Llenas. Published by Templar, 2017.)