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Just imagine

TES Primary examines a selection of picture books

A paddling pool is never just a paddling pool. It is always a lake, the Amazon, a treacherous stretch of water. In Coral Goes Swimming by Simon Puttock and Stephen Lambert (Hodder Children's Books pound;4.99) a little girl allows her imagination to circle the world as she splashes about in her back garden. Lambert's illustrations, full of light and passages of delicious colour, make this a book of enormous charm.

Cicely Mary Barker's fairy illustrations have fashioned the nation's consciousness. When we think of fairies, we more often than not conjure up her fine, whimsical paintings which evoke the Pre-Raphaelite era. Children and adults will enjoy a 75th anniversary edition of Flower Fairies of the Summer (Frederick Warne pound;12.99) which includes some "lost" fairy pictures (taken out of earlier editions because of deterioration). The high production values of this edition do justice to the outstanding craftsmanship of Barker's artwork.

Picture books can be strikingly effective at dealing with difficult issues for children. Babette Cole, children's write and illustrator, has demonstrated that powerfully with her flamboyant series on death, divorce, sex and ill-health. On a more sober note, Good Day, Bad Day by Kathryn White, illustrated by Cliff Wright, (Oxford University Press pound;4.99) portrays, through the eye of a badger cub, the emotional turmoil experienced by children when parents fight. Wright's fine, watercolours are most suited to the job. It is a simple, powerful story which seeks to reassure.

Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild and Anne Spudvilas (Viking pound;10.99) is the yet more painful, but moving tale of a girl who seeks to be a guardian angel to her dying brother. Jenny believes that if she stays on guard every night the doctors will be wrong and Davy will not die. An intense and evocative exploration of bereavement.

Miaow Miaow Bow Wow by Francesca Simon and Emily Bolam (Orion Children's Books pound;10.99) is the uproariously illustrated tale of Buffin Street and the comings and goings of its resident cats and dogs. Bolam's colourful and energetic line drawings are, as always, a match for Simon's bouncy text, which begs to be read aloud. EW

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