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2022 | Best Children's Books (under 6s)

It was really hard to choose five books amongst the beautiful picture books published in 2022. The creativity of the authors and illustrators in describing the world around us and taking us deep into imaginary landscape is as diverse as it is surprising. I could have chosen: Méli-mélo au pôle Nord by Martine Perrin, La petite sœur est un diplodocus by Aurore Petit, Maison by Isabelle Simler, Rue du bout du monde by Stéphanie Demasse-Pottier and Pauline Kerleroux, Règlobus by Pierre Alexis, M. Firmin dans le désert by Quentin Blake, Papa, regarde mon tableau! by Anaïs Brunet or Le dipoilocus et autres dinosaures méconnus by Lise Benincà and Clémence Lallemand.

But here are 5 absolute gems to read and reread over and over again:

Book cover: Orage by Anaïs Brunet

Orage, Anaïs Brunet | Didier jeunesse/ ages 1+

The main character in this colourful board book is… a storm. In a sweet and beautifully illustrated story for toddlers, Anais Brunet highlights the beauty of the elements. Each page looks like a painting that shows the different phases of a storm, from the electrifying air to the first drops of rain, from bright flashes to booming thunder. Each scene is teeming with fabulous details to pore over as well as touch. What a wonderful book! 

Book cover: Un oiseau, une fleur by Cécile Roumiguière and Julia Spiers

Un oiseau, une fleur, Cécile Roumiguière & Julia Spiers | Seuil jeunesse/ ages 2+

This board book begins slowly with the arrival of a bird, then another, and another. Finally, we enter a wonderful garden where the birds cohabit alongside the flowers. This book is an invitation to look closely at the nature around us and to appreciate it. The garden is Mamilande's, where a little girl spends her summer holidays. The birds look alike and yet they are all very different- can you recognise them? It's the same with the flowers, look at their colours and the diversity of their shapes- the reader can almost smell them! Look carefully, Mamilande is there to accompany you and teach you. The soft watercolour pictures by Julia Spiers illuminate Cécile de Roumiguière’s poetic text, and whilst the birds and flowers are all named but the book remains very accessible. This book will make you want to go out and explore your own garden in search of these flora and fauna!

Book cover: Pétille colère by Amélie Carpentier

Pétille Colère, Amélie Carpentier | L'étagère du bas/ ages 3+

This joyful and liberating picture book examines the feeling of anger. Anger is a whirlwind that enters little Pétille's body, and everything is turned upside down. But the angry little girl meets in turn a bird, a rabbit, and a weasel. The animals show her how anger can be transformed... by dancing. Learning to deal with this emotion is nothing short of a liberation. This cheerful book tackles the important theme of children's anger in an intelligent, funny, and artistic way. The words used are melodic, well-chosen and beautiful. Amelie Carpentier's illustrations play with contrasts- the full and the empty, the plain and the colourful, and are as energetic as they are poetic. A gem to put in everyone's hands.

Book cover: Maddi dans la grotte by Pauline Barzilaï

Maddi dans la grotte, Pauline Barzilaï | MeMo/ ages 4+

Maddi travels through a multicoloured cave and meets many surprising people and animals along the way: a chilly cat, dancers, cheating card players, an unobliging schoolteacher, big crocodiles, and a chip machine. The situations are alternately strange, worrying, and funny, but Maddi always keeps moving forward in complete freedom. The book is full of interpretations and discussions about everyday life, the realm of dreams, the different emotions we can have and the road we choose to take. This same feeling of freedom can be found in Pauline Barzilaï’s illustrations. The free forms and the bright colours of the characters and the scenery make this picture book a real work of art, reminiscent of fauvist paintings. A unique children's book and a must read!

Book cover: LÂge de la forêt by Charline Collette

L'âge de la forêt, Charline Collette | La Joie de lire/ ages 5+

Part way between fiction and non-fiction, L'Âge de la forêt is a growing awareness of nature brought about through the dialogue between a grandfather and his granddaughter. During a walk, Ama questions her grandfather whose answers pass on his knowledge and his passion for the forest to his granddaughter. The reader will learn a lot of biological and historical information about the ecosystem of the forest and the beings that live there, the bushes and trees, the herbivorous and carnivorous animals. Charline Colette's brightly coloured illustrations bring the forest to life by alternating the viewpoints between large landscapes and small details. This originally formatted book, long and thin like a tree, helps us learn through its poetic text.

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