Our girls have both loved picture books that involve some sort of mild peril and we’ve reviewed lots of examples here before (such as Little Red, Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo and Edgar and the Sausage Inspector).

These are two of our three year old’s favourites.

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen, published by Jonathan Cape (Penguin Books)

This is the tale of fearless Billy and her slightly grumpy side-kick, Fatcat. Billy and Fatcat are having a “perfectly lovely day” of all the usual forest shenanigans, stomping, crunching, splashing and saying hello to their forest friends, when they are rudely interrupted by a “TERRIBLE RUMBLE”.

We turn the page, fearing the worst, but discover that it was only Fatcat’s tummy. Billy rummages in her fabulous hair and pulls out some delicious looking doughnuts to satisfy Fatcat. Thinking all is fine, the duo re-trace their steps but are alarmed to find their forest friends are missing. All of sudden everything goes dark and the pair are swiped by a fearsome “Terrible Beast”.
However, brave Billy is not impressed and even less so when she hears of the Terrible Beast’s plans to make a Terrible Soup using her pals as the ingredients. Billy embarks on a cunning plan to trick the Terrible Beast into using less brutal alternatives for his soup. Billy cleverly uses all sorts of things she’s stashed in her hair to fool the not terribly clever Terrible Beast and with the help of the “adorable”, yet surprisingly strong, little bunny rabbits she sees the beast off for good.

This has the perfect mix of humour and mild peril that children seem to love and is beautifully illustrated in bold colours. We love the expressive eyes and facial expressions on all of the characters. Billy is just the sort of kick-ass, female heroine that I love our girls to see in their picture books.

I Want to be in a Scary Story written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien, published by Walker Books

Since our very first read of this great book, it became a regular request at bedtime.

The story takes the form of a conversation with Little Monster, who really wants to be in his own scary story. The narrator dutifully creates scary scenes for Little Monster, but it’s all a bit too frightening for the little guy. Our daughter delights in joining in with Little Monster’s exclamations at each new addition to the story, gleefully shouting “oh my goodness me” and “oh jeepers creepers!” as we turn the pages.
In the end, Little Monster gets his own back on the narrator, with an ending that is funny and scary – the perfect combination!

The clever format of the book and the bold, not very scary, illustrations keep little ones captivated, read after read.