It’s the morning of Bunny’s first day at school and he has a long list of reasons why he definitely shouldn’t go. He’s too tired. He can’t find his underpants. His socks are too short. He thinks he might be coming down with a cold and it feels like there’s a giant frog jumping up and down in his tummy.
Fortunately his older sister is on hand to calm his nerves. As he rattles off excuses she talks about her own experience of starting school and assuages his fears. It’s fine that he doesn’t know how to tie his shoes because he can wear ones without laces. It’s ok that he doesn’t know how to read because the teacher will be there to help him learn. Although meeting lots of new children might sound scary he will soon make friends just like she did.
Sunnyville is a beautiful place to live. The residents are a friendly bunch and everything looks pristine – until one day Rhino drops a sweet wrapper on the floor and everything starts to spiral out of control.
“What? says Rhino “It’s only one…” – but of course it’s never as simple as that. Soon everyone in town thinks it’s ok to drop litter and the streets start to pile up with rubbish.
The mess makes Giraffe very unhappy so he picks a flower from the local park to brighten up his home. “What? says Giraffe “It’s only one… – but the town’s flower beds are quickly emptied as everyone picks ‘just one’ flower of their own.
Things go from bad to worse when Pigeon decides to play music in the park to cheer himself up. Yes – you’ve guessed it. Just one song!
I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t label children based on their behaviour so the first time I read this book I practically punched the air with joy. Lauren Child totally gets it! A positive label can put pressure on a child to conform and a negative label can affect their self worth or give them something to hide behind when faced with a challenge. No one is ever completely good/bad, or quiet/loud or any other combination of opposites we regularly see used to categorise people.
Chirton is a good boy. He eats broccoli, goes to bed on time and cleans the rabbit’s cage without making a fuss. He’s so good that his parents have even given him a badge with ‘Goody’ written on it. Chirton tells us: “If people have decided you are good, do not disappoint them by being bad.”
Life is different for his sister Myrtle though as she is a bad child. She won’t eat broccoli, doesn’t go to bed on time and never cleans the rabbit’s cage. Their parents don’t even try to make her behave anymore as it’s just too difficult. Myrtle tells us: “If people have decided you are bad, do not disappoint them by being good.”
Evie is a little apprehensive about starting school. Every time she thinks about it she gets a wobbly feeling in her tummy and feels a tiny bit sick. When her Dad takes her shopping for her new school uniform she drags her feet, but the expedition turns out to be a little bit more magical than she expected!
Madam Lexi’s Uniform Emporium is packed full of blazers, ties, sports kit and everything else a child might need for their first term, but if you look closely at the owner you’ll spot that she is a little bit special. A ittle cloud of twinkling stars seem to follow her wherever she goes…
Evie nervously tries on her uniform and her dad is pleased to see that everything fits, but when he’s not looking Madam Lexi leans forward and whispers in to her ear. Evie blinks with confusion. The lady mentioned her ‘School Unicorn’ but surely she meant ‘School Uniform’? But then the pocket of Evie’s cardigan starts to wiggle!
I’ve met lots of wonderful women since starting my blog but without doubt one of the nicest is the lovely Sarah Parrott.
Sarah runs Write Sparks, a small business based in South East London which offers creative writing clubs for kids as well as learning support for schools.
In this guest post she talks about how creative writing has helped her cope with the trials and tribulations of parenting, and why she thinks you should try it too.
“Throughout our IVF adventure, a complicated pregnancy and a fairly turbulent time with our son’s medical needs, it was writing (and an unholy number of bourbon biscuits) that kept me going. I bought a cheap notebook early in my pregnancy, which soon became one of the most valuable things I own; filled with writing for Joel, for me to give to him when he grows up, or if he chooses to have children of his own.
Reading this book with Ivy feels a little like meditation. The gentle words and muted colours calm us both, making it perfect for a snuggly read at the end of the day.
The gentle rhyme asks us to take time to be still and to observe the world around us. Listen to bird song. Feel the beat of your cat’s heart as it purrs. Look at the vastness of the sky and the stars. Listen to the waves as they lap the shore. It also encourages us to look deeply at each other and to find new ways to be kind and to cherish those around us.
The text is minimal but the illustrations speak a thousand words. Each double page spread shows a child from a different country observing their environment and there is so much detail to explore and discuss. We see diferent types of clothes and modes of transport, cultural traditions and breathtaking landscapes. The countries included are the UK, Alaska, Ecuador, Norway, Russia, Egypt, Tanzania, India, Nepal, China and Japan, so the range is really broad.
What’s your bedtime ritual with your child? Our routine is generally bathtime, pyjamas, milk, teeth, books and then bed although this sometimes gets shaken up a little if we’re away or one of us is ill. You may do something similar but equally your evenings may look very different to ours. ‘Goodnight World’ by Nicola Edwards and Hannah Tolson follows a group of children from around the world as they come to the end of their day.
The gentle rhyme guides us through the different things a child may do before going to sleep. We see a baby being rocked, a boy having a bath and a group of children jostling around a sink brushing their teeth. We see siblings tidying up toys and snuggling up for a story, a child saying goodnight to an absent loved one on the phone and even a group in a tent, settling down to watch the stars.
Bella is a Bridge Master’s cat who lives at a very famous location – Tower Bridge! Today she is very excited as it’s the Queen’s birthday and the Royal Barge will be passing through. Everyone around her is preparing for a big celebration and it’s Bella’s job to make sure everything is on track.
As she visits each member of the team we get a lovely insight in to the inner workings of the bridge. We meet Stan the Stoker, Eddy the Engineer, Olly the Oiler and Hannah the Cook, each of whom has a special role to play in the festivities.
Finally everything is ready and Bella sits down to watch for the Royal Barge. As the Queen nears the bridge the bascules start to rise but Bella spots a problem. The traffic lights are green and there’s a double decker bus heading right towards the big gap at the centre of the bridge!
Ivy and I were very excited when this board book landed on our doorstep as it has a built-in emoji spinner! Amusingly, I wasn’t allowed to even touch it for the first 15 minutes because Ivy wanted to play with it by herself, twirling the faces and looking at the pictures inside. Definitely the sign of a good read!
The toddler-friendly introduction explains that the expressions on our faces will often change to reflect our mood. By observing these changes we can tell how someone else may be feeling.
The emoji spinner features six faces, each representing a different emotion – happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, calmness and confusion. As we move through the book your child is presented with lots of scenarios and then invited to choose the face which they think best represents how they would feel. How do they feel when it rains? How do they feel when they dance? How about when they eat a tomato?
Cat lives with her large, noisy family in a smelly alleyway behind a fishmonger’s shop in Paris. Surrounded by fish bones and squabbling cousins, she finds herself dreaming of a bigger life. She wants to see more of this fabulous city and find out what it has to offer.
One night she slinks in to a crowded cafe where she sees Edith Piaf singing to a sophisticated crowd. Filled with confidence, Cat joins in but is quickly ejected for caterwauling. She finds herself outside in the rain so she climbs a fire escape and sneaks into a nice warm room to sleep.
When she awakens Cat realises she is in an atelier surrounded by busy seamstresses, taffeta, velvet and racks of beautiful dresses. She watches carefully and by the time the workers leave for the day she has formulated a plan. She gathers up scraps of fabric and using her new found knowledge she creates herself an outfit befitting of a high-society cat.