Month

May 2020

Picture Books which Help Children Process Loss and Grief

In recent months I have seen a sharp increase in the number of messages and emails I receive from parents asking me to recommend books to help children cope with a bereavement.

There are many stories out there which offer great comfort and encourage children to talk about their loss and how it makes them feel, but trying to find the right one for your child when you are dealing with your own grief can feel like an enormous task.

Here is a list of the 24 books which I would recommend. I hope you find it helpful, and please do share it with friends and family who you think may need it.

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Where The Sea Meets The Sky
by Peter Bently & Riko Sekiguchi

When Sophie the baby sea otter learns about the horizon she is determined to swim all the way there. Her Mum warns her it’s impossible but Sophie thinks it doesn’t look that far, so she sneaks off on an epic journey.

On her travels she finds a magnificent lighthouse, befriends a walrus, meets a whale and dives deep under the water to swim with colourful tropical fish – but no matter how far she travels that pesky horizon eludes her.

As night falls Sophie realises that perhaps her Mum was right. Tired and alone, she bristles with fear when she spots a mighty ship heading in her direction. She has swum so far, how will she ever make it home?

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Don’t Mess With Duck!
by Becky Davies & Emma Levey

Duck likes nothing more than having some peace and quiet to kick back and relax, but the trouble is everyone around him is just so noisy! The other birds in his pond love to quack and flap around which makes Duck very grumpy indeed. One day, after being splashed in the face whilst trying to read his book, Duck grabs his suitcase and leaves.

He travels far and wide in search of the perfect peaceful home but everywhere he goes he is surrounded by noise. At one pond he finds a group of birds dancing around a stereo wearing sunglasses and in the next he finds himself surrounded by a duck choir in straw hats!

Exasperated, Duck travels further afield. He tries a city fountain, a mountain spring and a deep dark pool in a hidden cave but each and every one has very noisy occupants.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Alice Boland, Co-Founder, Tiny Treat Boutique

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hello! I’m Alice and I run Tiny Treat Boutique with my sister Caroline. I live Hastings and I have a daughter aged 4.

What is your daughter’s favourite book?

We love reading ‘Diary of a Wombat’ by Jackie French. It’s about a wombat and his struggles with his humans. It is very funny and has a great rhythm, which we can take turns reading and reciting.

She is also a big fan of Don’t Put Your Finger in the Jelly, Nelly! There’s a hole on every page for her to poke her finger through and upset the monster on the other side.

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Toddler’s World: Feelings
by Pat-A-Cake & Villie Karabatzia

This chunky board book from Pat-A-Cake is an ideal introduction to feelings for little ones. It teaches small children what it means to be happy, sad, brave, angry, scared or jealous.

Each double page spread is dedicated to a specific emotion. The illustrations and text show us multiple different scenarios which might make you feel this way, so for example you might feel angry when you are tired, when someone is mean to you or when you want something which you can’t have. It then offers practical suggestions to help you overcome the emotion (where relevant) and reassurances that your feelings are perfectly normal. Each page asks the child to recall a time they felt this way and to talk about it with an adult when the emotion feels too big to handle.

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The Monkey with a Bright Blue Bottom
by Steve Smallman & Nick Schon

Have you ever wondered why some animals have really distinctive markings? Steve Smallman and Nick Schon think it might have something to do with a rather mischievous monkey…

Once upon a time all of the animals on land were a dull shade of beige, but the birds in the sky were bright and colourful. Monkey is a little bit jealous of their splendour so when he finds a paintbox he decides to have some fun. He waits until his friends are sleeping and then paints elaborate designs on their bodies.

He starts small, with some stripy snakes and bright green frogs, but soon he’s painting black stripes on zebras and big brown squares on giraffes. When he spots a big sleepy bear he decides to have some fun and draw some spectacles on him, but the Bear wakes with a start and soon all of the other animals are wide awake too.

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Pirate Mouse by Kirstie Watson & Sirma Karaguiozova

Pirate Mouse is very good at being a pirate, but she’s not a huge fan of water. In fact, she hates it so much that she hasn’t had a wash in years! Her stinky habits mean that she hasn’t got a lot of friends left, so when she discovers an exciting treasure map she is forced to set off alone.

Her adventure leads her to a big ship, but in order to find the treasure she has to face her nemesis – water! To reach her goal she needs to dodge a giant splashy mop, avoid a massive bucket water, hide from the rain and jump over great big puddles.

But when she arrives at the treasure she is met with an unexpected surprise – a puffin wearing a crown, trapped all on his own in a fishing net.

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A Climate in Chaos by Neal Layton

Whilst we were playing in the garden yesterday Ivy noted that there are more animals around than usual, and she’s right. Over the last few weeks we’ve spotted lots of birds, a family of squirrels and even a baby fox venturing in to our little patch of South London. The current situation means that, with fewer cars on the roads and fewer people in the streets, the animals are starting to claim back their territory. And it’s wonderful!

I  jumped at the opportunity to have a little chat about how humans have encroached on the natural world and later we grabbed this book off the shelf and explored the subject further. She’s only 4 so she’s a little young to grasp the enormity of climate change but Neal Layton has done a fantastic job of breaking down the science so that it’s easy for childen to understand.

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Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug by Jonathan Stutzman & Jay Fleck

Tiny T. Rex has a big heart but he has very small arms. This isn’t usually a problem, until one day Tiny sees that his friend Pointy is feeling sad and needs some cheering up. Tiny knows that the best thing to do is to give his friend a great big hug, but his teensy little arms won’t let him!

Determined to find a solution to his hugging problem, Tiny turns to his family for advice. Each of them offers up some wisdom, but nothing seems quite right until he speaks to his brother and sister. They tell him that if he wants to do something which everyone believes is impossible then he needs a plan and he needs to practise, practise, practise. Tiny takes their advice and we’re treated to a wonderful montage of him getting fit and attempting to hug all manner of objects (including a flower, an ice cream and cactus!).

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Sam O’Neill, Founder, Balance the Load

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hello my name is Sam, I’m founder of Balance the Load, parent of a 3-year-old firecracker called Sally and a 10-month-old meatball called Frank. We live in Nottingham but are originally from the south where houses cost too much for us. My partner and I are attempting to split childcare right down the middle – especially now we are on lockdown – which is making for some interesting conversations and challenges but also means we’re getting a lot of quality time with the kids and plenty of time for reading together.

What are your children’s favourite books?

My daughter Sally absolutely loves Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. Julián’s daydreams of being a mermaid are made reality when he smears on his grandmother’s lipstick and tears down her curtain to use as a tail. The beautiful watercolour illustrations and fantastic character designs captivate Sally each time we read it together. It also helps that she’s as fanatical about mermaids as Julián is.

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