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Harvest of the imagination

Two books with exotic, vibrant illustrations share watery subject matter. An Island in the Sun (Barefoot Books pound;9.99) has a simple, cumulative, lyrical text by Stella Blackstone, in which a boy sets off in a boat, playing "I spy" with his telescope.

Nicoletta Ceccoli's stylised rich turquoise illustrations of a sea-scape combine with the words to create a whimsical voyage of the imagination for children in Reception and Year 1.

Underwater Farmyard (Macmillan Children's Books pound;9.99) offers an original take on the countryside in which a mermaid milks sea-cows while pink-and-blue jellyfish float by and the farm horse waltzes with a dolphin to the sounds of an octopus playing the trumpet, sax and violin. The illustrations by Joel Stewart are stylish and funny, and Carol Ann Duffy's rhyming text will appeal to those in Years 1 and 2.

Back on dry land, Cow by Malachy Doyle (Simon amp; Schuster pound;9.99) is a stunning homage to a fine beast and can be used on many levels with children from Reception to Year 3. The evocative text is suitably ponderous as it describes a day in the life of a cow. Angelo Rinaldi's beautiful ultra-realistic pictures transport the reader to a hot, sultry summer's day in the country.

Fiona Lafferty is librarian at St Swithun's junior school, Winchester

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