Spring is finally here: the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, the sun is shining (oh no, wait… it’s snowing!)… and it’s time for us to take a look at some of the most fantastic books out there with that in mind. So, here’s a list of our best books about Spring and nature, together with some eggs-cellent Easter books for those that celebrate it:
Let’s Look at Nature – Marion Deuchars (author and illustrator), Laurence King Publishing (imprint of Hachette)
What a vibrant, colourful board book to use to explore nature with your little one. Each two-page spread has the most beautiful and cute illustrations in vivid colours which enhance and reinforce the word or words on the page. There is plenty to explore on each page: you could reinforce the word and then talk about the colours with your child, or begin conversations around some of the sweetly-depicted insects, animals and birds that appear throughout the book, or talk about the different types of weather illustrated within the book. You could also use the book to introduce counting and numbers, by counting the leaves, or the flowers, or the trees for example. This would be a brilliant book to pop in your changing bag or bottom of the pushchair and bring out whenever you needed it – it’s playful, cute and wildly colourful. A perfect spring-time and summer read. We love it!
Who’s Hiding? In the Garden – Amelia Hepworth (author), Pintachan (illustrator), Little Tiger Press Ltd (publisher)
Mummy Snail has lost her five babies (I am not judging, maybe she had had a hard night on the lettuce leaves!) and she needs help trying to find them. This is an adorable lift-the-flap counting book. Your little one has to lift the flaps made out of the fruit and vegetables in the garden to try and find a baby snail which also has its own number. With vibrantly colourful pages of different shapes and sizes, this is a super book for number recognition and counting to five as well as a great starting point for basic discussions around the different animals and insects which are adorably depicted and/or different types of fruits and vegetables. It’s colourful, interactive and fun and sure to grab your little one’s attention.
Mole’s Spectacles – Julia Donaldson (author), Axel Scheffler (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)
Who doesn’t love a tale from Acorn Wood?! These lift-the-flap books are basically already childhood icons and this fantastic new addition to the series follows the story of poor old Mole who has lost his spectacles (or spectagiggles, as we call them in this house). A thorough exploration of all the nooks and crannies in his house leaves him rather sad because they are nowhere to be found. He takes his search outside but all to no avail. Have no fear though, they turn up in the most unlikely of places when all his friends come round for tea to cheer him up. With cute, vibrant illustrations in a Springtime palette from the talented Axel Scheffler and interactive lift-the-flaps, this book is a must-have for any young reader.
Hello Bee – Sophie LeDesma (illustrator), Caterpillar Books (an imprint of Little Tiger Group) (publisher)
The phrase “busy as a bee” really works for this book. Bee is having a very busy day: follow her buzzing through the flowers, explore the leaves with her and her friend caterpillar, check out the toadstools with ladybird and explore underground with worm. And after that adventure through nature, it’s surely time for bed, and for a new friend to come out to play! We love how interactive this book is. Not only are there lots of colours, textures, flaps to turn and finger-holes for your little one to explore, there is also a vibrant page of illustration at the back of the book inviting your young reader to go back through the book and spot each animal or item from the natural world. It’s a lovely read with the cutest of illustrations which your little one will adore.
Poppy and Sam’s Easter Egg Hunt – Usborne Publishing Ltd (publisher)
What an egg-cellent (sorry, I just had to!) little board book for your little one to enjoy if they celebrate Easter. Poppy and Sam are going on an Easter egg hunt around the farm, can your little one join them and help them find the basket of chocolate delights? With gorgeous finger trails and sweet little peep-holes to make your little one laugh when they don’t uncover a brightly coloured egg, this is such a gorgeous Spring-time read. The pictures are very sweet, with vibrant colours echoing the busy-ness of Spring on the farm. As well as the words, each page has lots of different conversation starters with your child – how many ducklings can they count and see, what are the insects called, what type of flowers are there, what is the name of a baby cow, how many lambs are in the field … and much more. And it’s a brilliant size to pop in a changing bag or a handbag to take on your travels. I really want to go and visit a farm now!
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Busy Spring – Sean Taylor and Alex Morss (authors), Cinyee Chiu (illustrator), Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publishers)
Part fiction, part fact book, this is a brilliantly educational read with the most fabulous artwork to (welly) boot. After the greyness and sleepiness of Winter, the outside world now looks bright, green and inviting so Jasmine, her big sister and Dad go outside to do some gardening. The animals are busy, the plants are busy, the insects are busy …. It’s such a busy, beautiful time. Nature is waking up and starting to bud and bloom. This is a gorgeous story of a young family exploring their environment and the illustrations are so colourful and beautiful that they make you want to jump right into the pages. After the story, there are some wonderful pages teaching your children about the season of Spring, giving an explanation of what it is and what various animals and plants are up to, budding and blooming, scurrying and reproducing. We also love the final page of the book which gives some tips on how we can all help animals and plants during this time.
Omar, the Bees and Me – Helen Mortimer (author), Katie Cottle (illustrator), Owlet Press (publisher)
This book is fast becoming one of the most iconic Springtime stories. And for good reason! Your heart will be buzzing happily like the proverbial bee after you read this one with your little ones. For Show and Tell at school, new boy Omar brings in some honey cake which reminds him of his beekeeping grandfather who now lives far away from Omar. Maisie’s grandpa also keeps bees. Omar overcomes his shyness under the warmth of Maisie’s welcoming personality and the two form a firm friendship throughout the book as they come up with a plan, with the help of their teacher and the rest of the community, to plant a bee friendly haven of floral wonder all the way from their school to Maisie’s grandpa’s garden. Not only is this book exquisitely illustrated with beautiful, bright and colourful drawings of nature and the community but it carries some very powerful messages of inclusion, diversity, kindness, friendship, sustainability and caring for the environment. All pitched at the perfect level for your young readers. There are so many starting points for conversations on these topics (such as why Omar might be new to the school) and the illustrations are crammed full of wonderful images of the community supporting the children and the natural environment. We can’t wait to make the honey cake from the recipe that is given at the back of the book – it looks yummy. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, you need to get your sticky honey hands on a copy!
The Littlest Elephant – Kate Read (author and illustrator), Two Hoots (publisher)
This is a wonderful, engaging story all about a little elephant, called Ellie, who is always in a big rush. We have a few Ellies in our house!! She’s just learned how to swim and wants to be first in the pool and doesn’t seem to notice who she barges past and who she upsets along the way. From chameleons to angry tigers, she is unaware of the chaos she is causing until a teeny, tiny mouse makes her stop, look and listen and pay attention to the world around her. From that moment on, she slows down, becomes aware of what (and who!) is around her and takes her time to appreciate the fun to be had when you listen to your friends. Not only is this a beautifully told story about mindfulness, empathy and helping others, there’s a trunkful (see what I did there!) of illustrated pages that are a riot of colour and fun. The facial expressions of the animals in the jungle are just exquisite. We love it.
It Starts with a Bee – Aimee Gallagher (author), Jennie Webber (illustrator), QED Publishing (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
One tiny bee bringing a world of flowers and fruit to bloom and grow. This book is absolutely exquisitely illustrated, from the endpapers, right through the beautiful, rhyming story which follows the journey of one of nature’s most industrious workers (and my favourite insect!). The flowers and fruit depicted are just magnificent and the rhyming text perfectly describes the flight of the bees and their behaviour and the magnificence of what they do for us and the environment. This book is like looking at all the beautiful bits of nature all printed out for you on glorious pages. We absolutely LOVE the pull out spread at the end of the book which has a gorgeous and riotously colourful picture ending to the perfect words of the story on one side and some wonderful facts about the process of pollination and the different types of bees on the other side. You should be buzzing with excitement to get your hands on a copy of this one. It’s a gem of a book.
Let’s Go Outside – Ben Lerwill (author), Marina Ruiz (illustrator), Welbeck Editions (publisher)
What a beautiful book for Springtime and beyond. Publishing mid-April, this is the perfect book to encourage your children to get outside into nature and do any of the things depicted in the book, like feel the wind in their hair, or the sun on their face, or hunt for minibeasts, or run as fast as their little legs can carry them. You can see the excitement and fun on the children’s faces in this gorgeously illustrated picture book and my children wanted to go outside and do ‘roly polies’ down the ‘hill’ in our garden after we had read it together! There are some brilliant pages at the back of the book which prompt activities and ideas to do with your children outside in nature and lots of nice, simple questions for children to think about and answer. I can see this being a really great book to use in nurseries and early years at schools to prompt exercise and activity outdoors, as well as for use at home to encourage children to really listen to and engage with their surroundings.
Nature Heroes: Billy Loves Birds (Jess French) (author), Duncan Beedie (illustrator), Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
Publishing mid-April, part of a fantastic new series, the Nature Heroes focus on a group of friends who are enthusiastic and passionate about the environment and nature surrounding them. Billy Loves Birds is a fact-filled story about Billy, a young nature enthusiastic who is bonkers about birds: he just loves them! Having grown up with canaries when I was little, I am #teamBilly. My happy place is listening to birdsong in the garden. So, we were very eager to review this book for Springtime and it absolutely does not disappoint. We just love the format of this book – part story, part informative text, part search puzzle (see if you can spot Terry, the great tit throughout the book), part adventure and yet a WHOLE lot of fun, this book has everything. Billy tells your little nature enthusiast what to pack for a day of bird-spotting adventure, he imparts huge amounts of knowledge all about our feathered friends (from nests, to beaks, feathers to bird sounds, there are so many fun and fascinating facts) and all accompanied by the cutest and beautifully detailed illustrations. We love the little tweets (asides) from Terry giving us a bird’s perspective on things as well and our favourite page is trying out all the bird sounds. The final page about becoming a bird-hero yourself is hugely empowering for children. A fabulous book for any child but particularly those avian enthusiasts among us.
Nature Heroes: Bella Loves Bugs (Jess French) (author), Duncan Beedie (illustrator), Happy Yak (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)
Do you have a child who is fascinated by insects and bugs? Part of the Nature Heroes series, Bella Loves Bugs is a fact-filled nature adventure book bursting with all sorts of bugs that your young nature enthusiast will love. Bella takes your young reader through a list of essentials for insect spotting and then off you go on your search for beasties and bugs! There are so many fascinating facts, in bite-sized blocks of text, to keep your reader captivated, about different kinds of insects: from ants to butterflies and bees to beetles. This book would be brilliant for use as a Springtime teaching text at home or in school about the life cycle of a butterfly, or the frog. Don’t forget to spot Nancy the house spider as you work your way through the book, she has lots of funny asides for you to laugh about! Gorgeously illustrated with bright and colourful drawings, this is a wonderful nature book, bursting with facts and fun adventure in the creepy-crawly world.
Five Little Chicks – Lily Murray (author), Holly Surplice (illustrator), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books) (publisher)
One of my son’s all-time favourite nursery rhymes is the tale of Five Little Ducks but he always used to cry if Mamma duck was sad because her ducklings didn’t come back to her. Bless. No tears here with this wonderful book, based on the nursery rhyme. In fact, there were lots of smiles and much laughter from my twins while they tried to find the chicks behind the colourful, different-sized flaps. Mamma hen is a little dizzy if you ask me though: she keeps losing a chick as they all go off on their glorious walk in the countryside past hills and farmland and ponds…. But what will get them all back home again? Cake, of course! Works here too, Mamma hen!! This is a vibrantly colourful book with wonderfully interactive flaps and a focus on counting and fun. A perfect Springtime read.
Night Night, Sleep Tight Farm Animals – Lucy Rowland (author), Monika Forsberg (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)
It’s bedtime on the farm and all the animals need a little bit of help from your young reader to tuck them into their cosy quilts for their night of sleep. We love this riotously colourful rhyming book: not only does it teach your little ones the names of baby animals but they are sure to be captivated putting them to bed by turning the specially-shaped interactive flaps, which act as a visual duvet for the tired animals. From fuzzy ducklings to fluff spring lambs, this is such a gentle book to help calm your children down for bedtime themselves. The number of animals counts down from five to one so it is also super for reinforcing numbers and counting as well. The illustrations are bright and cute and therefore captivating to the younger reader. We loved the sleep hints and tips at the end of the book and the suggestions for ways to read the book to help build a lovely bond with your child or children.
A Best Friend for Bear – Petr Horacek (author and illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)
We’ve lost our hearts a little bit to this book. What a beautiful, bear-filled delight. Black Bear is feeling lonely and goes off deep into the woods in search of a friend. There, he stumbles across Brown Bear, who is also looking for a friend. They decide to search for a friend together. While they are searching, they have lots of fun with each other and play lots of lovely games and realise that many tasks are easier when they are shared. They search everywhere looking for a friend but they cannot find one. Until, until…. They realise that they had found each other. This is such a heart-warming story, full of the most gorgeous illustrations (the bears faces are just adorable) of butterflies and bears, nature and woodland, which will have you desperate to go outside on a springtime walk with your young ones. It’s a captivating and eye-catching read, brimming with bears, friends and cheeky fun.
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Woodland Magic – Fox Cub Rescue – Julie Sykes (author), Katy Riddell (illustrator), Piccadilly Press Ltd (publisher)
The first of what promises to be a fantastic new series for 5-8-year-olds has now hit the book shelves. You know what though, as 38-year-old (plus some!), I also absolutely loved it! This book just evokes Springtime magic, in every sense of the word. Cora and Jax are desperate to become Nature Keepers in the Big Outside world, which is full of Ruffins who are careless and don’t take care of the environment they live in. The job of the Keepers is to care for the countryside and rewild the natural world, using a sprinkle of magic if they need to. Can Cora and Jax be trusted to do the tasks they are given to do; can they help a cute little fox cub who has been hurt because of the Ruffin rubbish Cora and Jax should have tidied up? Or will they fail in their duties and be forced to return to school? This is such a sweet first chapter book, full of mischief and magic, friendship and fun, as well as a serious undertone about children helping to look after the world in which they live in and caring for the countryside and the animals within it. The font size is brilliant for first chapter book readers and there are plenty of cute black and white illustrations and pages of magical stardust to keep your young reader entertained and engaged. We LOVED it here and cannot wait for the next instalment in the series! Perfect for any little nature lover.
Dirty Bertie – Poop! Alan McDonald (author), Characters created by David Roberts (illustrator), Stripes Publishing Limited (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
We are HUGE fans of Dirty Bertie in this house – how could we not be, he’s my son’s namesake! If you are not familiar with this grubby little boy then you should know that he truly is nose-pickingly, disgustingly dirty. With three hilariously grubby stories in this fun chapter book, getting to the bottom (pun intended) of “Operation Poodunnit” in the local park, trying to get Miss Boot the teacher of the year award and becoming an extra in a film production, Bertie is up to all his mad-capped plans and frolicking fun once again. This is a great little chapter book that your early reader will rip through, laughing out loud at the brilliantly funny illustrations and humorous text.
Earth, Sea and Stars (Inspiring Tales of the Natural World), retold by Isabel Otter, Ana Sender (illustrator), Caterpillar Books Ltd (imprint of Little Tiger Group) (publisher)
“Invisible threads connect all of us in the world. Humans must not forget their place in the fine balance.” This is an exquisitely beautiful collection of 20 stories taken from around the world (and visually depicted for the reader on the story map at the beginning of the book) which centre on the natural world and the importance yet frailty of it. Each story takes the reader on a wondrous adventure set in different environments and reminds us of the need to look after our wonderful planet. From the story of why ants live practically everywhere in the world to the ingenuity of a spider, the strength of a woodpecker and the bravery of a young woman, this anthology is beautifully crafted with wondrously rich stories and divine illustrations to complement each tale. We also loved the page of ‘Thinking Points’ at the back of the book which my eldest daughter and I liked to use to chat about the stories and our precious world further. You can dip and in and out of the book and read as many stories as you like in one sitting, or read a story at a time over the bedtime routine. However you choose to read it, much like our beautiful planet, this is a book to be truly treasured.
Real Pigeons Nest Hard – Andrew McDonald (author), Ben Wood (illustrator), Farshore (imprint of HarperCollins) (publisher)
Ok, so it’s not*exactly* about Springtime but it is about birds. And nesting. Sort of! The Real Pigeons are a pack of crime and bully-busting birds protecting their city from all sorts of mayhem and trouble. Three interlinking stories form this riotously funny illustrated book. Tumbler, Homey, Rock, Frillback and Grandpouter (all based on different types of real-life pigeons – see the back of the book for some fascinating facts relating to this) have to deal with a bone-crunching vulture and his stolen nest, a wayward, runaway child who just loves to hug, and a team of feathered villains led by the evil Jackie the Pigeon who have kidnapped Homey’s family and taken over their bakery to make anti-pigeon chilli bread to be distributed throughout the world! The black and white illustrations are hilarious, providing much humour and warmth to the text of the stories and the little asides. It’s a brilliantly funny book and, in particular, I think this would be a fantastic set of stories for any reader who struggles with large blocks of text. There is even a section at the back of the book for children to practice drawing some of the Real Pigeons. How coo(l) is that?!
The Bird Singers – Eve Wersocki Morris (author), Hodder Children’s Books (publisher)
Ooo, I was a little bit scared reading this book. It’s a chilling, spine-tingling tale evoking fantastical images of Polish folklore which was both terrifying and un-put-downable. Layah and her family are taking a “holiday” in the Lake District for the summer. A holiday that Layah does not want to be on and on which she begins to hear strange whistlings and see enigmatic people with blank, yellow eyes. What unfurls (and I use that word strategically) is a brilliant story full of swooping twists and turns, dark secrets and feather-filled fantasies and, I don’t mind admitting, one of the most chilling villains I have come across in the form of the terrifying Vilsestra, Mesula. Will Layah get to the bottom of the secrecy and darkness within her family and be able to save them? You will just have to read the book to find out. And, my, do I recommend that you do.
Raven Winter -Susanna Bailey (author), Farshore (imprint of HarperCollins) (publisher)
We raced through this heartfelt story of friendship and kindness, particularly because it is partly set around the area in which we live. The descriptions of nature and the harsh yet beautiful natural scenery are fantastic. The story is centred around Billie, who has had to move to a bleak and grey flat with her mother after her father made a huge mistake and had to be sent to prison. The story begins when Billie’s mother’s boyfriend, Daniel, is moving in with them. Controlling and abusive, Daniel’s presence in their lives means that there is a dark undertone to the family relationship which makes for uncomfortable reading. Billie strikes up a beautiful and powerful relationship with a hurt Raven whom she names ‘Bird’ and what follows is a moving tale of resilience and hope as Billie sets out on a journey to try and find her father in the Yorkshire Dales after he doesn’t return to them following his prison sentence. Billie makes strong friendships along the way and themes of loyalty and kindness abound to counteract some of the darker themes in the book. This is a fast-paced and gripping read, set against the backdrop of beautiful and breath-taking Yorkshire Dales.
When the War Came Home -Lesley Parr (author), Bloomsbury Children’s Books (publisher)
What a heart-warming, beautifully researched and written story about the devastating and far-reaching effects of the First World War. Set in the Welsh valleys, post-World War I, Natty and her mother are forced to move in with her Uncle Dewi on his smallholding in a new village. There she meets two young soldiers whose lives have been changed forever. Her cousin Huw cannot forget the atrocities that he has seen on the battlefield and the friends he has lost and Johnny cannot remember anything about who he is. Natty really wants to help them both but also has her own battles to fight when she witnesses the harsh poverty of some of her new schoolfriends and she has to struggle with her beliefs to try and figure out the best way to combat that injustice. Can Natty help everyone, and discover who she is in the process? There’s a wonderful twist at the end of the book which will have you grinning from ear to ear but I won’t spoil that one for you. There are difficult themes of grief, loss, poverty, social injustice, inequality and mental illness within the book but these are dealt with in a gentle way and the reader is left with an uplifting feeling of hope and happiness at the end of the story. We loved Natty as the main protagonist and we would thoroughly recommend this as a compulsive read from start to finish. It’s a five star, must-read from us. Oooo, and we also loved the mystery puzzle that needs to be unravelled at the end of the book! We managed it – will you?
Max Counts to a Million -Jeremy Williams (author), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)
A book all about counting?! How does that work, I hear you cry! Well, the answer is very well. Very well indeed. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading this book and whether it might bring up all sorts of anxieties to do with “the virus” (it’s set in Springtime, at the beginning of what we now affectionately term “the first [proper] lockdown”) but I genuinely loved it and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a heart-warming story of community spirit and sheer determination, interspersed with lots of laugh out loud moments. What’s it about though? Well, the spoiler is (kinda) in the title. But this book isn’t just about numbers. It’s about Max, an 8-year-old boy, who starts to count to one million as a way of getting back at his mother who has annoyed him, and then as a way to keep his mind busy so he doesn’t worry about his Dad who is a ‘front-line’ doctor, and ultimately as a way to raise money for charity. Along the way, there are friends, neighbours, trampolines, marbles and reporters who all help make this into a beautiful, poignant and heart-warming story about resilience and determination. We are absolutely #teamMax in this house.
Every Cloud – Ros Roberts (author), Stripes Publishing Limited (imprint of Little Tiger) (publisher)
I know this book is set during Summertime but the cover is such a shade of daffodil, happy yellow that I just had to include it in my Springtime round-up! It seems like Amy’s summer is going very wrong. First, her mother tells her that she hasn’t got into the secondary school of her choice and she is going to have leave all her friends behind after the summer and THEN, Amy is told that her beloved Pops’ dementia is getting worse and they have to move into her grandparents’ house for weeks over the summer to look after him while her Gran is recovering from hurting her ankle. Amy thinks her social life is over! She thinks there will be no fun to be had but she could not be more wrong. Amy forms a wonderful bond with a quiet yet kind and thoughtful boy, Jay, and they both support each other through the weeks that follow. Amy allows Jay (who has a stammer) to feel comfortable enough and supported enough to always speak his mind and Jay is a soothing presence to Amy and an understanding friend and sympathiser when her Pops thinks he is a schoolfriend from his past. I loved this book. It’s certainly not all blue skies: there are difficult themes of dementia of beloved grandparents and, for me in particular (because my youngest has a pronounced stammer), the effect of speech impediments. The book also deals very well with portraying how young people have to try to navigate the tricky politics around starting secondary school. And yet, your young reader will end the book with such a feeling of hope and optimism, feeling almost as bright and yellow as the lovely cover of the book. This is a story of friendship, familial love, footballs, penguins, shove ha’penny (you’ll just have to read the book to find out about that one!) and the hope of the sunshine breaking through the clouds. It’s a warm, poignant read and I truly loved it.
Hedgewitch – Skye McKenna (author), Tomislav Tomic (illustrator), Welbeck Flame (publisher)
Talking cats, flying brooms, ghastly goblins, enchanted villages, midsummer magic and so much more. What a debut from Skye McKenna! I love this story of mystery and magic from start to finish. Cassie Morgan has run away from her boring, safe boarding school but finds out very quickly that the outside world is not as safe (or as dull!) as she thought it was: children are disappearing and no one knows why. Cassie almost gets taken by some fantastical beings herself but, with the help of a talking cat called Montague, she manages to escape and finds herself in a somewhat magical village called Hedgely. There, she finds a family she never knew she had, friendship from some young witches and lots of mischief, fairy folk, goblins, imps and magical beings inside the enchanted forest of Hedge. Cassie is desperate to join her friends in the Hedgely Coven (think Girl Guides for witches and you won’t go far wrong!) but needs to prove her skills as a witch first but she is also desperate to find her long-lost mother. And what of the children that have been taken? Can Cassie solve that mystery too and defeat the wicked Erl King over the border in Faerie? That’s a lot for one girl to achieve. With the help of her loyal friends and family, she might just manage some of it (but, sshhhhh, I am keeping quiet about which bits that might be!). Publishing mid-April, this is a must-read for anyone who would like to be transported to a fantastical world. We can’t wait for the sequel here! Witches hats off to you Skye McKenna!
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One Little Seed – Becky Davies (author), Charlotte Pepper (illustrator), Little Tiger Press Ltd (publisher)
We have oodles of love for this work of non-fiction which is bursting with sunshine and seeds. Beautifully colourful illustrations make up the design of the gorgeous lift-the-flap educational board book, taking your young nature enthusiasts through the life cycle of a seed to flower and fruit and explaining the importance of these tiny seeds within nature. Behind each flap is a wealth of fascinating information about flowers and the natural world. This book positively oozes Springtime, making you all want to pull on your wellies and get outside in the garden or allotment and get digging in the soil for all the treasures you can find and wonders you can grow. Our favourite page is the huge sunflower prompting you to lift each petal and use all of your senses to really explore the flowers in their natural environment. The flaps are of all different shapes and sizes, storing a wealth of information behind them and making learning about flowers and seeds all kinds of fun. This is such a beautiful book with so many practical uses and ideas for allowing children to help with planting and sowing, no matter whether you have your own outside space or not. It’s bloomin’ marvellous.
Peep Inside a Bird’s Nest – Anna Milbourne (author), Stephanie Fizer Coleman (illustrator), Usborne Publishing Limited (publisher)
It’s Springtime and a little bird (a goldfinch) is busying itself building a nest to lay its eggs in. Another bird (a thrush) is sitting on the eggs that she has laid. Soon, the eggs start to hatch and the chicks are born. How many can you count when you lift the flaps? From hummingbirds to lots of little weaver birds, flamingos to penguins, this book is a wonderfully interactive look at the different types of nests that birds make. There are multiple flaps to open and peepholes to explore and look through, making this a colourful, fun and educational read for young children. The illustrations are a sweet depiction of the birds mentioned in the book and the colours used are vibrant and appealing to younger readers. But there is a surprise at the end… who is that snuggling down in the big messy nest? It’s not a bird but that is all I will say. We love this Springtime work of non-fiction.
The Secret Signs of Nature – Craig Caudill (author), Carrie Shryock (illustrator), Magic Cat Publishing Ltd (publisher)
Sea rhymes that help sailors, butterflies that help us tell how warm it is, cows that can forecast the rain and protect their patch of grass by lying down, birds that can tell the time… there are so many awe-inspiring tips in this book of how to read nature’s secret signs. This is a fantastic book for connecting with nature and your young explorer is given lots of tools to help them on their journey in the natural world. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic and so detailed, following the two young navigators who are discovering the lost art of reading the clues from the natural world in lots of different landscapes. From coastline to woodland, deserts to jungles, the plants, animals, moon and stars are all trying to tell us something….. but only if we take the time to really stop, look and listen. My eldest daughter absolutely loves this book. She is desperate to be an explorer and loves finding out about things in the natural world. There is also a brilliant glossary at the end of the book which helps to explain the terms used in the text. For any budding (get it!?) explorer or any nature enthusiast, this book is a must-buy when it publishes in mid-April.
Animal SideKicks – Macken Murphy (author), Dragan Kordic (illustrator), Neon Squid (publisher)
Wanna know about BFFs in the animal world? This is the book for you. It has a posh name too – it’s called symbiosis. Although, according to this fascinating book, symbiosis doesn’t just occur when animals are friends, it can also happen when only one species benefits from the relationship, and even when one species actually suffers (sob). Your young reader can find out how tarantulas and frogs are friends, how a seabird called a skua terrorises puffins at sea, and how woodpeckers nest in cacti but save them from a far worse fate. Some of the facts in this book are jaw-droppingly awesome and the illustrations are fantastic, providing a wonderful visual aid to accompany the text-blocks of information. For any child who is interested in the natural world and the relationships of the plants and animals within it, this is a cool, unique and absolutely fascinating must-read.
The Magic of the Seasons – Vicky Woodgate (author and illustrator), Dorling Kindersley Limited (publisher)
Did you know that cats are very good at predicting the weather (time to take shelter from the storm if you see your furry friend frantically grooming!)? Me neither but Mimi, the cutest of cats, takes your reader on an exciting fact-filled journey around the planet explaining all about the seasons. Some places in the world have only one season, others have four, in some places animals predict the weather and in some places they use exploding snowmen (true story!). This book is absolutely fantastic. It’s filled with fascinating facts all about the seasons – from festivals and customs based around the seasons, to famous weather pioneers and much more – there are quizzes to take, unbelievable facts to digest and gorgeous and colourful illustrations to marvel at. We loved the activity ideas for the different seasons of the year at the back of the book too. Mimi is one very special (and very clever cat) – thanks for taking us on your journey Mimi, we loved what we learned!
A Day in the Life of Bugs – Dr Jessica L. Ware (author), Chaaya Prabhat (illustrator), Neon Squid (publisher)
Ooo, what a riot of colour and fun this book is!! Not often words you will hear said about a work of non-fiction but this book is just glorious. Teeming full of all sorts of squirming, creeping, crawling and flying insects, your little entomologist can find out what an insect really does all day. Honestly. From morning until night. The book follows various insects across the globe to find out what they are doing at different times of the day. How cool is that? My youngest daughter is fascinated by insects (no squeals of “Spider” from her (or me, in fairness!)) and she has asked for this book on repeat – she is particularly fascinated by the ‘hitchhikers’ (the fleas and lice (although, to be honest, this page kinda makes me itchy!!)). The artwork is absolutely stunning – colourful, vibrant and intricately detailed – and there are blocks of text split up over the page meaning that information is given in easy to digest, bite-sized chunks. A superb concept and a brilliant book for any bug enthusiast.
Activity Books and Puzzles
Where’s the Bunny? An Egg-Cellent Search Book – Helen Brown (author), Chuck Whelon (illustrator), Buster Books (publisher)
What a treat this book is! We love a good search and find book and this one will keep your children entertained for as long as they can concentrate! Disaster has struck in the Easterland workshop because a whole batch of brightly coloured eggs have fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in Fairyland. Each two-page spread is intricately and beautifully illustrated around a particular fairyland theme (Cinderella, Pinocchio, The Frog Prince, Jack and the Beanstalk, to name but a few) and you have to find Bunny (the expert egg hunter) and ten chocolate eggs in each picture. There are also cute little chicks at various stages of hatching in each picture too, plus the answers and extra things to spot at the back of the book. It’s a fun, egg-stravaganza of activity and colour to keep your children entertained. It would be a great book to pack for holidays or long journeys.
Little Country Cottage: A Spring Treasury of Recipes, Crafts and Wisdom – Angela Ferraro-Fanning (author), Annelies Draws (illustrator) – Ivy Kids (an imprint of Quarto)
The magic of Spring has arrived with this superb, Spring-themed activity book. Get ready to get your wellies on, roll up your sleeves and immerse yourselves in the wonder of the season. This weekend’s job is to make a phenology wheel to keep track of the nature around us so that we know what to plant when…. So, did you know that when lilacs and apple blossom bloom, it’s the perfect time to plant green beans, cucumber and squash, or when the dandelions come out in full force, it’s time to plant your potatoes? Amazing. This book is a wonderful mix of easy recipes to enjoy, craft activities to do and bright and colourful illustrations supporting blocks of informative text about the season. It’s a wonderful craftivity book helping children (and their grown-ups – I’ve certainly learnt a thing or two) make the most of nature’s gifts of the Spring season.
In Search of Sea Life – Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington (authors), Fine Feather Press (publisher) (7 plus)
Dive (#sorrynotsorry for the pun) into this wonderful box set which combines reading, colouring and puzzling all in one place. With a gorgeously detailed and beautiful 500-piece jigsaw puzzle to fit together all about the wonders of the marine world, plus a double-sided poster with fascinating facts to read about sea life and the magnificent creatures that swim in our seas and oceans on one side and intricate colouring to do on the other, this activity box is sure to keep your children engaged and interested for a long time. Colouring, reading and puzzle making are all soothing, mindful tasks and a great way to keep your children entertained and this box combines all three while also featuring an ecological message about the plight of our oceans in light of pollution from plastic and climate change. This would be a wonderful alternative to an Easter egg or the perfect Springtime gift for any eco-warrier.
The Egg-cellent Easter Activity Book- Lara Murphy (author and editor), Kathryn Selbert (illustrator) Buster Books (publisher)
What a cracking (ha ha, get it?!) activity book filled with Easter and Spring-themed games and puzzles. There are dot to dots to complete, quizzes to take, the cutest spot the differences, memory games (my eldest daughter LOVES these), Easter egg spotting, games to play and gorgeous pictures to colour in … and that is just a few of the things your child can immerse themselves in. The answers are also helpfully at the back of the book (we always Sellotape these together to start off with – sneaky, I know!). The black and white artwork is very cute and intricately detailed, even those pages which aren’t “colouring in” pages would make a wonderful mindful colouring exercise. With over fifty pages of puzzles, games and colouring, this would be a fantastic book to take on long journeys or on holiday to keep your child entertained. There is something for everyone.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.