When Agu spots a little girl called Sam playing in a tree he sees an opportunity to make a friend. He is new to the country but so far all of his attempts at friendship have failed. Poor Agu is heartbroken when Sam says she doesn’t want to play because she doesn’t know him. Why is making friends so hard?
He watches as Sam pretends to be a pirate amongst the gnarled bows of the old tree. She sings of her adventures but when she mentions stealing diamonds from Nigeria Agu steps in. He tells her there are no diamonds there, and he knows because this is where he comes from. Intrigued, Sam asks him what else he knows and just like that the door of friendship starts to open. Agu tells her all about his former home and slowly they start to play. Soon they are sailing together on the breeze, fighting pirates and searching for seashells.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Julia Barker, the owner of Zen With Julia. I’m a professional organiser and trainee KonMari consultant working and living between Yorkshire and Malta. My wife and I have one child, a chirpy little fellow called Ciccio (say chee-cho, it’s the Italian short version of Francesco which only gets used when something Dreadful has happened…). He’s nearly 3 by the way.
What is your son’s favourite book?
At the moment it’s A Whale of a Tale – one of the Dr Seuss books (Bonnie Worth et al). We picked it together from the library and he really loves the rhyme. Now, whenever something big or exciting happens he says ‘mummy, it’s a WHALE OF A TALE’ and is generally very pleased with himself. I was quite surprised he got so into it actually as it’s quite detailed about the ol’ cetaceans.
The Good Egg is the kind of person everyone likes to have around. He rescues cats from danger, he offers to carry your groceries, change a tire for you, water your plants when you’re on holiday and even help you paint your house. He’s the kind of friend who you know will always be there in your time of need.
The problem is, being so good all the time can really take it’s toll. The other eleven eggs in his carton aren’t very well behaved so it always falls to the Good Egg to keep the peace and be, well, good.
The poor little guy ends up exhausted and small cracks begin to appear in his shell. He realises that putting all of this pressure on himself to be good is literally causing him to crack up.
Remi the rambutan is feeling sad. All the other fruit at the market is being quickly snapped up by customers, but when people see his spiky exterior they just stare and point. He begins to wonder if there is something wrong with him. Maybe he just tastes really bad and that’s why no one wants to choose him!
The little fruit feels utterly dejected, but a chance encounter with a cactus sets him on a different path. The wise succulent explains to Remi that what other people say or do isn’t important. He just needs to stop comparing himself to others, focus on his own special magic and learn to love himself.
Have you heard of The Little Black & White Book Project? Run by mum Ruth Bradford, it’s an award-winning small business which creates beautifully designed black and white board books for babies.
A newborn baby’s sight is a little blurry and their field of vision is only 6-8 inches. They cannot distinguish between shapes or colours but research has shown that the stark contrast in black and white images helps stimulate their vision. If you’ve ever worn a black and white Breton top around a baby you’ll know that they just can’t stop staring. Try it and see!
Ruth’s books are designed to help with early visual stimulation. Each one focuses on the animals from a different region and our favourite is this one – Spectacular Animals of Africa.
Class One have worked really hard all year so the teachers have decided to reward them with a special treat – a Splash Day! When the children arrive, dressed in swimsuits, trunks and wet suits, the school playground looks very different to usual. There are buckets, sand trays, crates and washing up bowls everywhere, and each one is filled to the brim with water.
Anticipation rises when the teachers appear. Taking no chances they are armed with rain coats, shower caps and wellies! Mrs Thistle lays down a few ground rules before she blows her whistle and then the children are off. They splish, splash, splosh and spray until the whistle sounds again.
But just as they are reaching for their towels, Mrs Rose appears with a hose. She wouldn’t, would she?
When Mouse, Rabbit and Shelly the Tortoise spot the sun going down they realise they need to get home quickly before it gets dark. Mouse suggests taking a shortcut through the creepy crooked creek but Rabbit isn’t sure. What if the tales of hungry crocodiles are true? Mouse is adamant that he has never seen a crocodile there so they all set off together.
It soon transpires that Shelly doesn’t even know what a crocodile is, so Mouse decides to educate him along the way. To reassure his friends, he repeats many times that he has definitely never ever seen a crocodile in the creepy crooked creek – but Rabbit and Shelly start to spot evidence to the contrary.
Here, the brilliant illustrations come in to their own as they start to diverge from the story which Mouse is telling. Just like Rabbit and Shelly, we can see that there are in fact crocodiles EVERYWHERE! The bridge they walk over is a crocodile’s back, the scratchy thorns are pointy claws and the vines they swing on are crocodiles tails – but Mouse just doesn’t seem to see it!
Felix loves to wear skirts. He likes how they feel, how they spin, and he particularly likes the fact they mean he can run faster and climb more easily. Felix borrows them from his older sister and his supportive mum even takes him to buy one of his own.
When Felix starts school he’s really excited about the prospect of wearing his new skirt but his parents aren’t so keen. They are worried that the other children won’t understand and that he will be bullied. However after a few days they finally relent and Felix is very excited about showing his outfit to his friends.
However all does not go well at the school gates where he is met with laughter and confusion. His friends tell him he looks like a girl and even the other parents whisper to each other that it just isn’t right. Felix has a very sad day at school and doesn’t understand why everyone just points and laughs. Girls can wear trousers, so why can’t boys wear skirts?
This gorgeous book celebrates the love, warmth and mayhem of a family home. The story follows a family of four as they take us on a tour of each of the rooms in their house.
First up is the kitchen where they bake, dance, sing and make a mess. Then we see the dining room where they eat, pretend to be pirates and tickle their parents feet under the table. The living room is for relaxing and getting things off your chest, whilst the bathroom is for washing and pulling funny faces in the mirror.
The richly worded rhyme and the warm illustrations show us love, laughter and tears against a familiar backdrop of toys, washing up and teetering piles of books.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
I’m Sarah – juggler of two kids aged 6 and 3, founder/designer of Cub & Pudding – my unisex kidswear brand (named after the mini’s baby bump nicknames) and wife to a Graphic Designer who came south to uni from Bolton and hasn’t left yet. We live in Crystal Palace where we spend half our time proclaiming its amazement and the other half cursing & vowing to escape London to the coast somewhere.
What are your children’s favourite books?
Urgh. I’m going to forget Peppa Pig books exist and bypass them to instead mention The Something by Rebecca Cobb. It’s the story of a mysterious hole appearing the garden and wondering what ‘The Something’ is that might live down it.. a dragon? a mole? a hungry troll?