Bookshelf Picture Books



Ed’s bad mood started as ‘something small…really small, hardly a thing at all.’ As it grows, he relentlessly sweeps the leaves in front of him, oblivious to the destruction and chaos he is causing. Fortunately, a change comes, clearing the air and allowing Ed to look up once more and enjoy the beauty of the world around him.

Understanding our emotions is so important. Sometimes feelings can overwhelm us and are difficult to control. ‘Sweep’ offers an excellent way of starting conversations about emotions.

The illustrations are delightful. Full of colour and detail, there is also plenty of humour. You can follow the adventures of the cat and dog that can be found in each picture. The characters’ expressions are great, offering plenty to discuss.

The pictures also celebrate lots of pleasurable things to do- things which Ed could engage with if his bad mood wasn’t clouding his judgement and limiting his choices. The joy of being lifted by looking up, noticing the beauty around him and banishing the bad mood is perfectly captured by the kite flying at the end.

Sweep Louise Greig, illustrated by Julia Sarda

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405283779



Here at JAB HQ, we are huge fans of wordless picture books and the possibilities they offer. When I found this whilst on holiday this year, I just loved the illustrations and the story.


Every morning, Mr Crocodile wakes from his dreams of floating lazily on the water to the sound of his alarm clock. Getting up, he sets about the business of getting ready and joining all the other busy commuters on their way to work. We follow him through the streets, to the shops until he reaches his final destination.


There are so many details to spot in each spread and so many stories to create along the way. Where might he be going as he sets off from his flat? What has caught his eye in the shop window? Why is the driver of the car which splashes through the puddle so thoughtless and angry? Mr Crocodile is not the only unusual passenger on the tube train, yet everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t notice.

Mr Crocodile is kind- he leaves flowers for a lady as he makes his way through the park. There is a whole story that could be told here, using different viewpoints. His work, when he arrives, is the perfect job for a crocodile and makes you think about the other animals and their secret lives! The monkeys in their enclosure certainly seem to have found a range of ways of entertaining themselves.

The illustrations are an absolute joy, full of details and humour. This is a real treasure! Published in England as ‘Professional Crocodile’, this wonderful book offers plenty to discuss and enjoy.

Professional Crocodile Giovanna Zoboli, illustrated by Mariachiara di Giogio
Chronicle Books ISBN: 978-1452165066

The Extraordinary Gardener


Joe’s world might be grey and dull, but his imagination is wild and wondrous, leading to an idea ‘full of beauty, colour, scent and song’ which transforms everything around him.

My husband spotted this gem and bought it for me. He knew the moment he saw it that it was a very special book and that I would love it- and he was absolutely right!

Joe takes a simple seed and with it grows a tree. He learns how to tend and care for his tree and then other plants, creating a beautiful garden which brings joy to all around him. When he sees what is happening, Joe shares his garden with people throughout the city, spreading colour and joy and transforming the world he lives in. Not only does the book speak volumes about the value of gardening in urban spaces and the pleasure this brings, it also reminds us of the importance of sharing, building communities and spreading happiness with our actions.

The illustrations are just delightful. Joe starts as the only colourful thing in the grey world. In a wonderful cross-section picture of his block of flats, the eye is instantly drawn to the colour of his room, surrounded by the grey boxes lived in by others. Closer inspection shows plenty of detail as other families go about their business, but it is not until the end of the book when Joe’s gardening and acts of kindness have painted the world in colour that things really come to life. Woven into this scene are animals and birds from the earlier pictures where Joe’s imagination took him to a ‘world less ordinary’.

As Joe visits each person and shares his gift of gardening, colour spreads through the images showing what a wonderfully diverse neighbourhood he lives in and how one little boy following his dream can make such a change in bringing people together.

An excellent choice for using in school, ‘The Extraordinary Gardener’ could be used to inspire so much work across the curriculum as well as making an excellent story time read. I am planning to use it for a Book Group session very soon.

From the dull grey, cityscape end papers at the beginning of the book to the vibrant, nature-filled ones at the end, this book is a real delight. Good choice, hubby!

The Extraordinary Gardener Sam Boughton

Tate Publishing ISBN: 978-1849765664