Under The Great Plum Tree by Sufiya Ahmed & Reza Dalvand

I am a tiny bit fascinated by the animal fables which have been passed down through many generations and cultures. I love trying to piece together the moral at the core of the story and the fact they’re often accompanied by traditional illustrations in bright and bold colours.

This particular book is a modern reworking of ‘the monkey and the crocodile’ which comes from the Panchatantra, an ancient indian collection of fables which dates back to 200-300 AD.

Miss Bandari is a monkey with a heart of gold who befriends an old crocodile called Mr Magarmach. He is hungry and tired so she lets him rest beneath her tree and she throws down juicy red plums for him to eat. The pair become best pals and they spend many hours together, sharing tales of adventure and enjoying each others company.

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Oscar Seeks A Friend
by Pawel Pawlak

Oscar has lost a tooth and he’s worried that this will stop him from making friends. It’s tough being a skeleton at the best of times, but surely no one will want to play with him now when he looks so dreadful? Sad and lonely, Oscar resigns himself to the fact that his dog will probably be the only friend he ever has.

But then one day he spots a little girl burying a tooth in the ground. She has heard that doing so will make her dreams come true and what she wants more than anything is to find a friend. She agrees to give the tooth to Oscar if he will help her on her quest, so they join hands and set off together on an adventure.

Oscar and the girl spend the most wonderful day together, discussing what they would do if they each found a friend.  The girl shows him a rainbow and her favourite meadow. They smell the cut grass and talk of family and the seaside. Then Oscar leads her in to his own world which is dark and mysterious. They watch skeletons skate on the ice and listen to a strange creature with pointy teeth play the harp.

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It isn’t RUDE to be NUDE
by Rosie Haine

What’s this? A book about nudity for kids? Surely that’s a bit, well…weird?

In short – NOPE. I think it’s fabulous and it’s perfect for showing children that our bodies are wonderful things which need to be celebrated and looked after.

The text is minimal but the pictures speak volumes. The gorgeous illustrations show us bums and tummies both big and small. We see nipples in a wide range of hues and forms. There are pages on male and female genitalia, body hair (including ladies with underarm and leg hair) and certain skin conditions.

The characters are diverse and inclusive. They show us different races and ages and we also see characters with disabilites including a wheelchair user, a girl with a prosthetic leg, a man with one arm and a man with restricted growth. There are also people with scars and a lady who has had a breast removed.

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Super Sapiens: 3-in-1 Game

We have something slightly different for you this evening – a review of a product which isn’t a book! This isn’t something I usually do but I wanted to share this with you because it fits so nicely with our values and I think that you will like it too.

The lovely folk over at Super Sapiens recently gifted us a copy of their card game which is aimed at players aged 3 to 103. The cards feature 12 inspirational women from around the world who are real-life superheroes. Each card has an illustrated image of the ‘super sapien’, their name, where they were born, when they lived and some information about what they achieved. They’re a diverse mix of ladies and many were previously unknown to me so it’s definitely educational. It has been reviewed by The Conscious Kid and their expertise helped to make the game more inclusive and ensure it promotes positive racial identities.

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This Is Crab
by Harriet Evans & Jacqui Lee

Ivy loves books which require a little bit of audience participation and this is one of her current favourites!

At the start of the story we join Crab as he sets off on an adventure across the ocean floor. He needs some gentle coaxing and some assistance along the way though. Can your child help?

There is arm waving, finger tapping, book shaking, counting, tickling and lots, lots more. At one point crab even gets lost and you need to lift the flaps to find him!

This is such an entertaining book and Ivy returns to it again and again. The brightly coloured illustrations are wonderful and we spot new details every time we read it. It’s a great way of introducing kids to life on the sea bed and Crab encounters lots of different creatures which are fun to identify, including an octopus, sea turtles and clown fish. Ivy was also fascinated to discover that crabs shed their shells in the same way that snakes shed their skin!

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Big Words For Little Geniuses
by Susan and James Patterson & Hsinping Pan

If you are in need of a little pick-me-up then i’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a copy of this wonderful word book. There is officially nothing cuter (or more hilarious) than listening to Ivy attempting to say words like catawampus, dulcifluous, onomatopoeia and rapscallion!

The colourful pages take us on a journey from A-Z as we learn some exciting new words which have lots of syllables. Each word comes with a short explanation and a phonetic breakdown so that grown ups can be sure that they’re passing on the correct information when they read. Some of the words were new to me and really quite tough so I definitely appreciated this. I take my hat off to you if arachibutyrophobia rolls easily off your tongue or if you can tell me what idioglossia means without googling it!

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by Airlie Anderson

If you’re looking for picture books which teach acceptance and encourage children to celebrate their differences then you NEED to have this story on your shelf. It’s such a simple story but it packs a very powerful punch.

In The Land of This and That there are two types of creatures – blue bunnies and yellow birds. Everyone is either one or the other, until the day an egg hatches and out pops Neither.

Neither isn’t a blue bunny or a yellow bird so everyone is a little confused. They see their green body, their bunny ears and their bird-like feet and they demand to know what they are. They cheerfully explains that they’re both but the creatures of the land declare this impossible. They can’t be both therefore they must be neither.

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Today I’m Strong
by Nadiya Hussain & Ella Bailey

” I love to go to school. Well most days I do. There are some days when what I really want is to stay home with you.”

School has always been fun for our little protagonist. She enjoys playing and chatting with her friends, writing about her favourite things and climbing to the very top of the climbing frame in the playground – but lately school has felt like a sad place. Some days she just wants to stay at home with her tiger, because she knows he loves her and will always listen.

You see, there’s a kid at school who isn’t very nice to her. She stares at her and she laughs. She blocks her way and takes her lunch. This makes the little girl feel powerless and makes her want to run and hide.

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Sleep Well Siba & Saba
by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl & Sandra Van Doorn

Siba and Saba are Ugandan sisters who are a tiny bit forgetful. They leave their sweaters on buses and their sandals at the beach. They leave slippers at sleepovers and sashes on safaris.  And every evening, when they go to sleep, their dreams are filled with the things they have lost.

But then one night something strange happens. Siba dreams of a silver shilling and Saba dreams of a school uniform. The girls wake in the morning feeling very confused. They have never lost these things, in fact they have never even had these things, so why have they infiltrated their dreams?

In the days that follow Siba and Saba discover that their dreams are now giving them hints of the future instead of the past. A future filled with books, knowledge, travel and adventure. A future beyond their wildest dreams.

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Surgery on Sunday
by Kat Harrison & Shane Crampton

Sunday has a tiny tear in her eardrum which requires an operation under general anaesthetic. She’s never been in to hospital before so she doesn’t know what to expect and is naturally very nervous. Perfect for little ones who may be about to go through a similar experience, the story outlines the day of her surgery and also her recovery.

From the strange gown and super-tight socks through to the IV insertion and the operating room, we see all of the detail through the eyes of a child. Sunday is a plucky little character with a big imagination so, despite her obvious nerves, her bravery shines through and she tries to be as positive as she can. Soon her ear is better and she is playing with her friends once more.

The book closes with Sunday’s ‘unofficial rules of surgery’ which are both practical and funny, including a little warning that you might get a cold bum because the hospital gowns usually don’t have a back!

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