Sam Boughton

Matisse's Magical Trail- Book Group fun!


This week, my lovely book group and I enjoyed sharing this lovely story from our 2019 Picture Book shortlist. They adored it and were keen to get out and start painting immediately. We looked at Matisse’s painting of ‘The Snail’ and then had some fun!


Each child decided how they wanted to create a picture of a snail. They were really inspired by the illustrations in the book, exploring colour and shapes to create their own characters. Each was very different - and each lovely!


Biscuits play a very important role in our book group sessions and biscuit art is becoming quite a thing with our JAB juniors! There were lots of sticky fingers and laughter as we created our edible Matisses. It was a lovely session to celebrate a fabulous book which deserves its place on our 2019 short list!


Owl Logo 2019.jpg

With so many wonderful picture books available, this category cause the most debate. Here are the next five on the list…


Deliciously silly from the first page, ‘I am a Tiger’ sees a mouse boldly proclaiming that it is, in fact, a tiger. Other animals are taken aback by this bold claim and try to disprove it. However, Mouse, brimming with confidence and conviction, manages to rebuff their claims until a genuine tiger appears. Completely unfazed by this arrival, Mouse simply tells the tiger that it is the mouse and then uses its own brand of logic to identify each of the other creatures. The ending opens the possibility for another Mouse story.

The illustrations are bold, using strong colours for the backgrounds and the bemused expressions of the animals and the confidence of the mouse are just wonderful.Even the end papers join in the fun with Mouse cheekily peeking round tiger strips at the beginning and through a hole in cheese at the end before setting the reader wondering again with the final illustration. Perfect for story time, ‘I am a Tiger’ will have everyone laughing and making up stories! Brilliant and beautiful!

I am a Tiger Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1509855155


Matisse’s beautiful art work goes unnoticed until he finds a place full of eager eyes which notice his creations- a playground.The children wonder at Matisse’s art and are inspired to create their own. A wonderful way to introduce children to the work of Henri Matisse and particularly ‘The Snail’, ‘Matisse’s Magical Trail’ lends itself beautifully to celebrating creativity, the joys of close observation and noticing the little things around us. Matisse’s work inspires the children to transform their environment, bringing joy to others along the way.

The illustrations are fabulous, working perfectly with the text to produce an inspirational, artistic story!

Matisse's Magical Trail Tom Hopgood, illustrated by Sam Boughton

OUP ISBN: 978-0192767264

You can read another review of this here.


Inspired by the story of a rougheye rock fish caught off the coast of Alaska, ‘Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish’ is a tale of the change in our oceans, particularly coral reefs, and how the actions of just one determined person can make great change. Alba loves to collect beautiful objects which she would gather around her home. However, as the years passed, the number of beautiful objects she could find grew less whilst the amount of strange, unfriendly things in the ocean grew. Finding herself trapped inside a plastic bottle, Alba is washed up on the beach where fortunately, she is found by a little girl who rescues Alba and leads a campaign to clear up the mess.

Clearly showing how the actions of an individual can make all the difference, this is a wonderful story for discussing the problems for wildlife caused by rubbish and pollution. A ‘Did you spot..?’ section at the back encourages children to locate and identify different creatures found on coral reefs, introducing them to these wonderful creatures. A final note also suggests ways of looking after our oceans. The pictures also identify a whole range of alien objects which have found their way to Alba’s home, ruining its beauty and creating hazards for the creatures that live there. A strong message through a lovely story.

Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish Lara Hawthorne

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1787412927


When a stranger arrives with only a suitcase, everyone is full of questions, particularly when he tells them what his case contains. Suspicious, they force the case open whilst he is asleep and discover the real contents. When the stranger awakes, he finds they have tried to make amends.

Beautiful, poignant and profound, ‘The Suitcase’ reminds us all of the importance of being kind and thoughtful, about standing up to the negative ideas of others and of welcoming ‘strangers’ and making them friends. It is all the more powerful for its simplicity and is a must read in every classroom and home.

The Suitcase Chris Naylor-Ballestros

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004473

You can read another review of this here.


Liesel lives above the bustling city, watching the busy people below. In a magical pause between tick and tock, Liesel stops time and gets to work, spreading happiness through good deeds across the city. These little acts of kindness have a big impact when the city rumbles back into life.

The importance of taking time, of noticing and of offering a helping hand are celebrated in this beautiful book. Liesel reminds us that there is always a moment to help, to change things, to make life a little better for others and so enrich ourselves. The illustrations are striking with splashes of colour highlighting the places Liesel helps against the muted colours of the city. A wonderful book for sharing, discussing and inspiring random acts of kindness.

Between Tick and Tock Louise Greig, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405286596

You can read another review of this here.

Matisse's Magical Trail


The world can be a frightening place when you’re a snail, but at night, Matisse is free to do what he loves most- drawing! One night, he finds the perfect place to indulge in his hobby and sets to work. In the morning, one of his pictures is discovered by a small boy called Leo who adds a smile to the sun Matisse has drawn. Although Matisse hides away from all the boy’s friends, they gather together lots of things for him to draw on and by morning, Matisse has created a very artistic trail around the school playground. Inspired, their teacher encourages them to fill the wall with colour, making the school a sight for all to enjoy. Before moving on to fill other places with his artwork, Matisse creates one final picture for Leo and the other children.


This is such a joyful book! With creativity and self expression at its heart, it offers the perfect starting point for exploring art work and discovering Matisse. Sam Boughton’s illustrations are equally inspirational and could lead to everything from stone painting to murals on walls, Creating snails in Sam's style would also be great fun and could lead to writing in a variety of forms. There is so much potential for using this book in school- or at home!


There is also a powerful message about the importance of noticing the little things- of taking the time to appreciate what is around us. Most people (grown ups!) fail to notice Matisse’s artwork because they are rushing around. The world is full of beauty and truly amazing things, yet we miss so much because we simply don’t take the time to open our eyes and enjoy them. Leo does and it leads to amazing things.

Inspiring and beautiful, Matisse’s Magical Trail is a story to share and enjoy.

Matisse’s Magical Trail Tim Hopgood, illustrated by Sam Boughton

OUP ISBN: 978-0192767264