Authors' Best Picture Books of 2016

Published on: 06 December 2016 Author: Robbie Hunt

2016 has been a fantastic year for children's picture books, but which ones were the best? Some of our favourite authors and illustrators pick their gems of the year.

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Nadia Shireen illustration

Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of How to Train your Dragon and BookTrust Writer in Residence

Cressida Cowell recommends Charlie and Lola: One Thing

Charlie and Lola: One Thing by Lauren Child

This is a brilliant, brand new Charlie and Lola picture book, that is clever and funny and a joy to read aloud. What's the difference between twelve and a squillion when you are first learning numbers? Any parent who's ever said 'two more minutes!' or 'just ONE thing each' (and surely that's every parent ever) will relate to how often numbers are not only fascinating to small children, but also part of the negotiation of everyday family life.

Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and former Children's Laureate

Julia Donaldson recommends Frog and Toad

Frog and Toad - The Complete Collection by Arnold Lobel

The four books of warm, funny stories about Frog and Toad first published in the 1970s can now be enjoyed in one handsome volume. I love this amphibian duo, and so do my children and now my grandchildren. Frog is the straight guy while Toad comically embodies human failings such as stubbornness, impatience, greed and adherence to routine. The stories are quite short and equally suitable for beginner readers or as a family read-aloud.

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo

Axel Scheffler recommends Tickle My Ears

Tickle My Ears by Jörg Mühle

One of my favourite books of 2016 is a board book by the German illustrator Jörg Mühle, Tickle My Ears from Gecko Press. It's a charming bedtime story for very young children and proof that books can be as interactive as an app with beautiful, heartwarming rabbit drawings by Jörg Mühle. More than ever we need books in translation.

Nick Sharratt, illustrator of Jacqueline Wilson's books plus author of The Cat and the King

NIck Sharratt recommends Tidy

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Emily Gravett has created many wonderfully clever picture books and she's done it again with Tidy, the story of an excessively neat badger who goes too far smartening up the world around him. The illustrations are delightful, the rhyming tale neatly pulls off the trick of being funny and thought-provoking at the same time (environmental issues are lightly touched upon) and the special cover with its cut-out holes will entrance young readers. Plus a book with the message that it's possible to be TOO tidy just has to be a winner in my view!

Babette Cole, author and illustrator of Princess Smartypants

Babette Cole recommends There's A Snake In My School

There's a Snake in my School! by David Walliams and Tony Ross

It is the best of all the other books I have read that have been published 2016. It is a real picture book. The design department there has done a brilliant job. It is funny, daring, easy to read with a Dahl-like ending. Brilliant pics by Tony, with a great cover you can see a mile away. I am very jealous!

Mary Hoffman, author of The Great Big Body Book, illustrated by Ros Asquith

Mary Hoffman recommends Odd Dog Out

Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

I loved this daft and glorious picture book about how one dog defies convention to find her own style and place in the world. It's a wonderful story about non-conformity and acceptance.

Chris Haughton, author of Ssh! We Have a Plan

Chris Haughton recommends Don't Cross The Line

Don't Cross the Line by Isabel Minhós Martins and Bernardo P Carvalho

This is my favourite book of the year. No contest. It's a story about border control and migration that has been reduced and distilled down to clever bold graphics. They have managed to tell the whole story visually so it can be understood by the young. It is timely, clever, funny, thoughtful and brilliant. I really wish I had made it.

Viviane Schwarz, author and illustrator of I Am Henry Finch

Viviane Schwarz recommends Du Iz Tak

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

There is no greater joy than understanding something, or someone. This book shows that sometimes all you need to understand is to listen for a while, with empathy and patience, and it does so effortlessly. There is no greater lesson to be put into a book.

Laura Dockrill, former BookTrust Writer in Residence and author of Darcy Burdock

Laura Dockrill recommends A Child of Books

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

It captures the beauty of books and the imagination within the pages of the actual book, it reads how the mind works - beautiful, scruffy and unapologetic. You can feel the amount of time spent on it. It is a rare treasure of a book and I love it. 'An imagination is free' is such a good message.

Catherine Barr, author of The Story of Life: A First Book About Evolution

Animal Rescue

Animal Rescue by Patrick George

This is definitely my book of the year. I love the creative and innovative way in which this 'story' without words engages children with a visually arresting message about animal welfare.

Mick Manning & Brita Granström, authors & illustrators of Charles Dickens - Scenes from an Extraordinary Life and Taff in the WAAF

MIck Manning and Brita Granström recommend Stanley The Amazing Knitting Cat

Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat by Emily MacKenzie

This book won the IBW Book Award 2016 and we can see why. It is both funny and charming and children love it - our children do, that's for sure. A tomcat called Stanley that is crazy about knitting - what's not to like? This is a follow up to Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar. Our boys can't wait for the next title in the loveable, scribbly world of Emily MacKenzie.

Brendan Wenzel, author/illustrator of They All Saw a Cat

Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis

Ellis's entertaining and beautiful story of a group of tiny creatures experiencing the growth of a plant, was written in a language of her own invention. Her brilliant images are packed with layer upon layer of story and charm, and if you're anything like me, you'll spend hours glued to this remarkable book.

Pamela Butchart, author of Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon and the Blue Peter Book Award-winning The Spy Who Loved School Dinners

Pamela Butchart recommends Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: The Diamond Chase by Tracey Corderoy

I LOVE this book. I mean, dogs who have given up a life of crime to bake cakes... what's not to love?! Shifty and Sam may have swapped their SWAG bags for cupcakes, yet somehow trouble always seems to find them. A dogtasticly awesome story with stunning illustrations!

Jackie Morris, author and illustrator of The White Fox

Jackie Morris recommends A First Book of Animals

A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies and Petr Horacek

This is the most beautiful book. The size of the book, the quality of the production, the vibrant beautifully drawn illustrations and the words that slide facts into the mind sideways with the use of rhyme and rhythm. It's perfect for inspiring a new generation into a love of the wild life of the world. It makes a perfect companion to Nicola's A First Book of Nature illustrated by Mark Hearld. Both are published by Walker Books.

Emily Gravett, author and illustrator of Wolves, Monkey and Me and Tidy

Emily Gravett recommends A Beginner's Guide To Bear Spotting

A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting by David Roberts & Michelle Robinson

I'm a bit of a bear addict, so I'm in awe of David Robert's gorgeous scratchy bear illustrations, and the story made me laugh too!

Lizzy Stewart, illustrator and author of There's a Tiger in the Garden

Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis is more or less, one hundred percent, the reason I became an illustrator and her newest book just confirms that my love for her work is not misplaced. Written completely in a made-up bug language, Du Iz Tak is the beautifully-illustrated story of two bugs that turn a sprouting stork into a tree house. Despite the nonsense words the story unfolds into a funny, slightly tragic tale about the power of nature but also, I think, the power of play!

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