So here is my second list for Year 4
The aim as always is as follows…
Picture book are often dismissed as being for younger children. They’re not! They are written off as easy. They’re not! There are some stunning picture books out there. Many offer us more than first appears. Many require us to bring in our own cultural understanding to truly make meaning of them. People who dismiss them more often than not haven’t put the time in to understand and explore them.
So the aim of this post is to show why I think picture books are blummin’ ace. The chosen books for Year 4 do all these things and more. Don’t miss a trick.
- They elicit emotion. (often in my case tears)
- They confuse and challenge
- They broach difficult issues in wonderful ways
- They open doors to other cultures.
- They provide leaps of imagination
- They are wild and playful
- They are quiet and thoughtful
- They require the reader to fill in the gaps
The Green Ship by Quentin Blake
Two children find the Green Ship when they climb over the wall into what is more like a forest than a garden. The ship has bushes for bows and stern and its funnels are trees; a small garden shed on an ancient stump is the wheel house and in command of the ship is the owner of the garden, old Mrs Tredegar. Throughout the summer she and the Bosun and the two children sail the Seven Seas visiting exotic faraway places and having wonderful adventures.
This book opens us up to so many areas. Aging, curiosity, strangers, friendship, imagination, creativity, supporting others, changes over time. Most importantly its a book that captures the true essence of childhood. It’s an absolute classic and is perfect for Year 4 to dig deeply into. Now get outside.
A World of Your Own by Laura Carlin
“Laura Carlin’s A World of Your Own is a great starting point for a creative project. How do you relate to the place you live in, to your room, flat or house, your street, village or town? Can you draw it? Or, like this artist, create elements of it by using boxes, or pegs, pebbles, or even a hair comb. Now, can you invent the home, place or city you would like to live in? I am inspired by the resourcefulness of the artist, finding everyday objects and reimagining them as creatures, buildings and people. She is using items we often discard, repurposing them to make a precious ‘world of her own’. This is something anyone can do, there are no special art materials, it doesn’t have to cost anything, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it.”―Lauren Child, BookTrust
A book of pure creativity. Laura lets us inhabit her imagination and in doing so allows to find our own. Creative, funny and challenging the book allows us too take children an a wild imaginative adventure, turning the mundane into the amazing. Can we really ask anything more from a book?
One Little Bag : An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole
A wordless book that starts from a tall tree growing in the forest –
to the checkout counter at the grocery store –
one brown bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.
And so begins the journey of one brown bag that is used
and re-used again.
In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved brown bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.
A wordless picturebook that is about conservation and caring for the world, but its set in a generational family story. Profound, beautiful and emotional. The use of colour links us through the story. It is as it says the story of one bag, but it is so much more. Just brilliant.
Lights on Cotton Rock by David Litchfield
An out-of-this-world picture book from David Litchfield, the best-selling author of The Bear and the Piano and Grandad’s Secret Giant.
***** Stunning images with a powerful message
***** Magical, heartwarming and imaginative!
***** Another amazing story by David Litchfield
Heather is a little girl who wants to go to Outer Space, where the stars sparkle with magic and wonder. When a spaceship lands at Cotton Rock, it seems that all of her dreams have come true. But soon the alien has to leave. Will the spaceship ever come back? And if it does, is Heather ready to leave everything on Earth behind? This beautiful story for all ages about family and dreams travels through space and time to show us that what we are looking for might be closer than we think.
David is the king of light. He is also a damn fine picturebook writer. Light’s on Cotton Rock is possibly his finest yet. A wonderful out of this world story about valuing what you have. The details and references are fantastic, but the visual storytelling is the thing that really leaps out, part picturebook, part graphic novel. It’s amazing. Karl Duke and I spent a day planning a picturebook session using this, we chose it because it is so brilliant. Sadly it didn’t happen due to Covid… We need to make it so.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Yuyi Morales tells her own immigration story in this picture-book tribute to the transformative power of hope . . . and reading.
In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.
She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories.
A much underrated book about immigration, it is also about the power of books and libraries. What makes it standout is that this is Yuyi’s story. A true immigrant story and therefore much needed. Powerful hopeful storytelling and stunning art.A story that should be shared in every classroom.
The Moose of Ewenki by by Gerelchimeg Blackcrane, Jiu Er (Translated by Helen Mixter)
From one of China’s bestselling children’s authors comes this story of friendship and empathy, which celebrates the traditional way of life for the Indigenous Ewenki peoples of Mongolia.
When a Mongolian elder named Gree Shrek hunts a female moose by mistake, her young calf is left behind. Saddened by her loss, Gree Shrek names the calf Xiao Han (“Little Moose”) and the moose and man form an authentic attachment. Xiao Han accompanies Gree Shrek as the hunter-gatherer herds reindeer, sets up camp, forages for food in the forest, and visits his peoples’ village, where many fun adventures happen. But as the little moose grows bigger, Gree Shrek knows he must return his companion to the forest.
A fantastic book that helps us understand the traditional way of life of the Ewenki people of Mongolia. Fantastic characterful illustrations bring the story to life with empathy and humour. A book that is perfect for helping to explore and understand differences.
Lift by Minh Le and Dan Santat
When Iris’s elevator button-pushing is disrupted by a new member of the family, she’s pretty put out.
That is, until the sudden appearance of a mysterious new button opens up entire realms of possibility, places where she can escape and explore on her own. But when it becomes a question between going it alone or letting someone else tag along, Iris finds that sharing a disc
A fantastic wild creative story. I mean who hasn’t wanted a button that can literally take you anywhere. This is a perfect inspiration for writing, the art and visual storytelling is top-notch and the characters emotions and motivations are utterly believable. A totally magical. top-drawer book. Le and Santat make quite a team (if you haven’t seen the cross generational, language barrier breaking story ‘Drawn Together’ then hunt it out )
A Stone sat Still by Brenden Wenzel
The follow-up to They All Saw a Cat
A Stone Sat Still tells the story of a seemingly ordinary rock—but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven…even an entire world.
A book about perspectives. This is a great book to share ideas about perspective and how it changes and seeing the possibilities in things. This is a book to help children understand viewpoint and why people can see things differently. A great PSHE book to spark a discussion. Philosophical, calm and thoughtful. (also get They all Saw a Cat)
Elvis is King by Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studios
Elvis Presley–the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, still beloved by millions of Americans–comes to vibrant, gyrating life in this extraordinary picture-book biography from an award-winning author and the winner of a New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award.
Here’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock ‘n’ roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page “chapters” with titles like “The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis” and “Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager,” readers can follow key moments in Presley’s life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world!
Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio have created a tour-de-force that captures a boy’s loneliness and longing, along with the energy and excitement, passion, and raw talent that was Elvis Presley.
This book captures Elvis. Elvis was a bit before my time so I didn’t really get the fuss, but this completely nails, the energy, buzz and excitement. It made me realise how a skinny blonde kid changed the world. It’s about the power of music and rebellion. It is equally a might fine picturebook biography. Tying into history, music and perseverance this book ticks a lot of boxes.
Finding Narnia by Caroline McAlister and Jessica Lanan
Finding Narnia is Caroline McAlister and Jessica Lanan’s captivating picture book biography of two brothers, Jack and Warnie Lewis, whose rich imaginations led to the creation of the magical world of Narnia.
Before C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, he was a young boy named Jack who spent his days dreaming up stories of other worlds filled with knights, castles, and talking animals. His brother, Warnie, spent his days imagining worlds filled with trains, boats, and technology. One rainy day, they found a wardrobe in a little room next to the attic, and they wondered, What if the wardrobe had no end?
Years later, Jack began to think about what could be beyond that wardrobe, and about a girl named Lucy and her siblings. This picture book biography introduces the beloved creator of The Chronicles of Narnia to a new generation of children who see hidden magic in the world around them.
I still think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a book all children should have read to them. I also happen to think Year 4 is the perfect age for that book to be read. With that in mind, this picturebook biography would make a stunning accompaniment to the sharing of that book. It is a fascinating story of how the two brothers branched in different directions but how their childhood was instrumental in creating the beloved land of Narnia.
Hope they’re helpful.
2nd year 6 list..
2nd year 5 list…
1st year 4 list
Collated list of links for Picturebooks so far (Y1-Y6)