Every well-read toddler will be familiar with Julia Donaldson’s Tales from Acorn Wood series, in which Fox loses his socks, and Rabbit has difficulty napping. And now finally, after 20 years, comes the fifth instalment, Cat’s Cookbook (Macmillan, £6.99), in which Donaldson uses her beloved rhyming text to tell the story of a cat in search of a recipe. “Could this yellow book be right?/ It’s very big and fat./ No – it’s full of stories/ About a vampire bat.”
And no exhausted new mother should be without Slow Down… in the Park (Magic Cat, £7.99) by Freya Hartas, which promises to “bring calm to baby’s world” by dint of some gentle observations of nature. “As the DAWN begins to break, it wakes the LILIES on the lake… At DUSK, while creatures softly doze, the lilies’ petals slowly close”.
Penny and the Little Lost Puppy (Walker, £12.99), written and illustrated by Emily Sutton, tells the story of a little girl who befriends a puppy in the garden of her new home, then determines to find him when he disappears. (“The park was FULL of dogs… But the little dog with the black smudge was nowhere to be seen.”) Sutton’s intricate illustrations complement her simple, gently suspenseful prose.
After the phenomenal success of The Girls, Lauren Ace’s uplifting sequel, The Boys (Little Tiger, £11.99), charts the formative friendship between four boys as they move from childhood to adulthood. (“The boys had been friends for as long as they could remember and a little while before that.”) With illustrations by Jenny Løvlie, this is a nostalgic story with a refreshingly modern feel.
For fans of Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb, there is finally a sequel, Aunt Amelia’s House (Macmillan, £12.99). Seven years on, Aunt Amelia is as eccentric as ever, and when the children to go to stay with her, they discover the adventurous side of household chores.