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Let's face it, we can't get too soppy at the moment. How Big is Love by Emma Dodd (Templar, £7.99) will have mummy ducks cooing and little ones enjoying the gentle pictures and the shiny foil cover on some of the pages. Love, Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, £6.99) is a celebration of dancing and love in a chunky board book format. Slug in Love by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Nadia Shireen (Simon & Schuster, £12.99) finds Doug the slug in search of a hug. But who wants to hug a slug? Perfect antidote to socially-distanced days.
Wolf Girl by Jo Loring-Fisher Frances Lincoln £12.99
A gentle dreamy story about finding your voice. Loring-Fisher is brilliant at creating a world the perfect shape and size for children. The pages come to life, from the lonely playground to a snowy forest. Perfect t for ages 5–7.
Love by Corrinne Averiss and Kirsti Beautyman Quarto £11.99 is about love and separation and understanding that the people you care about still care about you even when you can’t see them. When Tess has to go to school she wonders whether her family’s love will stretch that far and what happens if the string breaks? This perfectly completes a trio of books tackling difficult topics that children come across, the first joy and then hope. Ages 0–5.
Mr Tickle 50th anniversary edition Egmont £6.99
This is a special anniversary edition of the first Mr Men book including the story of how it all began. It would be nice for this to bring the Mr Men and Little Miss series back to the forefront as some of them are just wonderful. Which is your favourite? Mine has to be Mr Muddle. This golden large format paperback is a great way to remember them all.
The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr Bloomsbury £6.99 This book gets a massive thumbs-up from us all. The characters come to life from the first moment and you are willing on Jimmy, little Ronnie and their new friend Florence every step of the way. Set during WW2, we meet two brothers and a group of school children from Islington who are evacuated to a Welsh hillside town and forced to make sense of a very new type of normal. Coupled with the disorientation of being away from home and in-school rivalries, there are secrets from the past that shroud the valley in suspicion. Jimmy and his brave little brother Ronnie are determined to get to the bottom of things. Teacakes, bacon sandwiches and a kitchen that ‘smells warm, peppery and sweet’ make every page a delight. This book has deeply rooted sense of place and the backdrop of the Welsh colliers gives it an important historical reference point. Perfect for 8+.
Claire Gill and Emily Turner, 15 January 2021