This gorgeous book takes a close look at what it means to be smart. Does it mean being good with letters and numbers and getting top marks at school – or could it be so much more than that?
With a gentle, lilting rhyme the author shows you that there are many, many different ways to be smart and that children do clever things all day long without even realising it. Some kids know lots about dinosaurs and some are excellent at making witches hats. Others show their smarts by being kind and compassionate when they see they someone else is feeling sad or shy. Your skill might be mixing coloured potions or being a mermaid or blowing bubbles. Whatever your talent is, it’s important and it’s special to you.
The story reassures that all kids are talented and that being ‘school smart’ isn’t the be all and end all. We all have our own special skills which we use to make the world a better place every day – whether we realise it or not.
The adorable little snowman in this story is lonely. He sits atop a snowy hill, forever hoping that the little girl who made him will return and play. Little woodland animals come and go. Some nestle awhile in his scarf and hat, others sniff around his feet for nuts and berries, but none of them stay very long. The poor snowman begins to think that he must be very dull indeed if no one wants to stay and be his friend.
Then one day he sneezes and accidentally swallows a firefly – and everything changes. The firefly causes his tummy to glow and soon this spectacle draws creatures from far and wide. They all want to see the wonder of the glowing snowman!
Ezra is a zebra who doesn’t want to be a zebra anymore. He is sore and tired and he doesn’t know any other zebras so he feels lonely too. Instead he wants to be a racehorse because they are big and strong.
One day Ezra comes up with a plan. He paints himself so that his stripes disappear and he looks just like a regular horse. He walks around town and nobody recognises him or notices him. This is just what he has always wanted – not to stand out – but he soon realises that being just like everyone else doesn’t make him happy either.
He sits down with his friend Lindsay the llama and he tells her exactly how he feels. Wise Lindsay explains that the things that make him different are the things which make him special. People love him just the way he is and although it might be tough sometime he should wear his zebra stripes with pride.
Everyone knows what lions are like. They’re big and fierce and they love to chomp on any animals which come their way. Right? Well what if that that’s not the case? What if that’s just a stereotype and all lions are individuals, just like people?
Meet Leonard. Leonard is a lion and he’s not fierce at all (except when he’s protecting his friends). He likes poetry, thinking important thoughts and having long intelligent conversations with his pal, Marianne the duck.
When Leonard and Marianne chance upon a pack of other lions they are mocked and ridiculed. These lions thinks that Leonard is no lion at all. Real lions would have eaten the duck and they certainly wouldn’t sit around watching shooting stars and talking about the universe.
In Huffenpuffen Valley, dragons and humans live peacefully side by side. The dragons are very well-liked because they are really useful companions – in the winter they light bonfires and fireworks, and in the summer they help with campfires and roast corn on the cob with their flames!
But there’s one dragon who is a little bit different. Jasper breathes water instead of fire! He tries his absolute hardest to assist the people in the valley but the jets of water he sprays just leave them cold, wet and unhappy. Poor Jasper decides that the best thing to do is leave the people alone and just be by himself.
Then one day a fire breaks out at a nearby house and Jasper realises he can help. He swoops down and sprays his water through the windows and over the roof and soon the fire is distinguished. Jasper has saved the day! He may not be able to breathe fire but it turns out he has a very bright future ahead of him as a firefighter.
A few weeks ago a lovely lady called Helen dropped me a message to recommend us a book which her son had picked out at the library – The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight. It wasn’t one that i’d heard of so I want to give a big shout out to her to say thank you as we LOVE it! (It should be noted here that this is definitely a different Helen to the one who wrote the book!)
The story is about a little mouse called Leo who likes nothing more than to curl up with a good book. However Leo is a knight so, despite his protestations, his parents insist that he has to go out in to the world and fight dragons.
Leo packs a bag with some sandwiches (and lots of books of course!) and heads off on his horse to fight a dragon who has been terrorising a town a few hours ride away. En route he faces a fearsome griffin and an angry troll, but defeats them quickly and easily using not his sword but his collection of books. It turns out that nasty creatures can be quite vain and love to hear stories about themselves!
Our choice for World Mental Health Day is this lovely book of mindfulness, which encourages children to slow down and connect with the world around them.
Each double page focuses on a sense or emotional state – listening, feeling, relaxing, tasting, touching, discovering, smelling, loving, appreciating and breathing. There is a simple rhyme for each one which encourages your child to stop and anchor themselves in their surroundings or the way they are feeling. Many of the pages also feature a question or instruction which will provoke additional conversation.
The illustrations are both calming and intensely detailed so there are lots of interesting things for your child to take in.
There are so many reasons to love this magical and unique story, not least because it’s the first children’s book I have encountered which features a non-binary character using they/them/their pronouns.
From the moment they are born, little Miu-Lan is different to other children. Neither boy or girl, they are are a magical being able to shape shift at their will from one fantastical creature to another. Miu-Lan changes their appearance at will to reflect how they are feeling – one day they may soar through the skies with wings and feathers and the next have scales and a tail to swim through the ocean. Supported by their amazing mother who encourages them to be whoever they want whenever they want, Miu-Lan is happy.
We were lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this lovely new story which is out today in the UK and we’ve been looking forward to sharing it with you. We’re big fans of Rachel Bright and Jim Field’s previous collaborations (‘The Lion Inside’ is in our all-time top five!) and fortunately this new title is just as good!
The heartwarming tale is about a little wolf cub called Wilf who is extremely strong-willed and independent. He wants to do everything by himself and he wants to do it right now – which will sound very familiar to any parent with a toddler!
When his wolf pack is forced to leave their cave, Wilf wants to lead the expedition to find a new home. But the little wolf soon discovers that life in the wilderness is much tougher than it looks and he finds himself lost in a storm. Too proud to call for help he sits alone on the ice, which at that very moment begins to crack. It looks as though all hope is lost but then a friendly face appears from the depths.
This uplifting story is about a little girl called Grace who loves stories and has a big imagination. She likes nothing more than to act out the stories she hears. One day she’s Joan of Arc and the next she’s Mowgli!
At school she discovers they are going to be putting on a play and she is desperate to get the lead role of Peter Pan. However her classmates laugh at her and tell her she can’t possibly play Peter because of her gender and the colour of her skin. Deflated, Grace goes home and tells her family – who rally together to show her that she can be anything that she wants if she puts her mind to it.
When Monday arrives it’s audition time and Grace wows her friends with her acting ability. But will she get the part?
This is such a lovely book about finding the strength to follow your dreams. The life-like illustrations are fantastic and Ivy finds them fascinating. She likes to copy all of Grace’s different acting poses!