Chester the raccoon doesn’t want to go to school. He wants to stay safe at home with his mummy and his toys and books. Mrs. Raccoon draws him close to her and explains gently that sometimes we have to do things which seem a little big and scary. Although school might seem strange at first she is confident that he will grow to love it. He will make new friends, play with new toys, read new books and learn exciting new things.
Chester is unconvinced so she lets him in on a little secret – The Kissing Hand. She takes his hand, spreads out his fingers and plants a big kiss on his palm. He feels the warmth run right up his arm and straight to his heart. His mum tells him that every time he feels scared or lonely he just has to press that special spot on his hand and he will immediately be able to feel her love all around him.
I love picture books where the words and illustrations work in opposition and ‘I Will Be Fierce!’ is the best example I have seen.
The pictures show a young girl moving through an ordinary day at school but the words are those of a fierce knight going in to battle, determined to make the world a better place. The result is a powerful narrative which teaches children that they can be the hero of their own story.
At the start of the day we see the protagonist don her armour (a stripy jumper), fill her treasure chest (a rucksack of books) and head out in to the world. On her way to school she fearlessly faces monsters (dogs), giants (older children) and a dragon (the school bus). The day continues in this wonderful manner as we encounter more mythical beasts (like the Guardian of Wisdom – the school librarian) and battle against doubt and injustice.
Tiny is a little girl who lives on the shores of a mysterious lake. She watches the water as it laps on the shore and feels a deep desire to explore it but she knows that first she must prepare. She starts to take swiming lessons and she immerses herselves in books and tv shows which will help her achieve her goal.
Finally the day comes when she feels she is ready to jump in. She packs up the things she will need and heads to her chosen spot. She tests the water with her toe and checks that it is deep enough for her to jump in to and then she carefully climbs a tree whose long branches lean out over the lake.
She has thought about this moment for so long – but suddenly Tiny is filled with doubt. What if she can’t do it? What if something scary lives beneath the surface? What if? What if?
Inspired by the rainbow art which children have been displaying in their windows during the current situation, this story is all about connecting communities with kindness.
Hope is a Rainbow Fairy and it’s her job to spread colour and joy around Fairyland. She loves to wave her magic wand and make her fellow fairies smile with bright yellow sunshine and vivid green trees, but then everything changes when Fairy Flu hits and everyone has to stay indoors.
Hope starts to worry that, without her, the land will be colourless and everyone will be sad. In a bid to cheer people up, she tries sending rainbow lollies to her friends in the mail but they melt en route and when she sets up a colourful quiz online the ‘Wi-Fly’ cuts out. She even tries to magic the Fairy Flu away but her powers just aren’t strong enough.
Jabari has just learned to swim, and he is desperate to try jumping from the high diving board. However, when he gets there he isn’t quite so sure.
He doesn’t want to look weak, so he lets the other children go in front of him and spends a little time stretching and thinking about what kind of jump he might do.
Jabari’s fear is stopping him from doing the thing he wants to do the most.
But all this time, his father is alongside him. He helps his son explore how he is feeling and quietly encourages without pushing. The father shares times when he has felt scared too so that his son understands that he is not alone in his fears. And eventually, in his own time, Jabari takes a deep breath and jumps.
We recently interviewed the author about the inspiration behind this book. You can read what she had to say by clicking here.
When little Sophie starts pondering her future she is too excited to sleep. She lies under the covers, eyes wide open, thinking about all the things she might achieve in life. Excited, she leaps out of bed – she simply has to tell her parents right now!
With her mum and dad listening, Sophie lays out her plans. Perhaps she could be a pilot and fly through the clouds, or an engineer who designs planes. Or how about a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a CEO, or a coder? Maybe she could do something sporty and win medals for her country. Sophie truly believes that she can be whatever she wants to be. There are so many options – how will she choose?
Does your child have a favourite blanket or soft toy which they can’t live without? If so they’ll definitely identify with the little girl in this beautiful story.
Katie has a yellow blanket called Harry. When she’s cuddling Harry the world seems less scary so she takes him everywhere with her. He accompanies her on trips to the doctor, snuggles her during loud thunderstorms and nestles in her bag during difficult school tests. She’s ready to take on the world with Harry at her side because he comforts her and makes her feel safe and strong.
However not everybody understands Katie’s relationship with Harry. An old lady at the supermarket tells her that blankets are for babies, a boy at school points at her and laughs, and eventually even Katie’s mum thinks that perhaps it’s time for Harry to be packed away.
But brave Katie stands her ground and eloquently explains why she thinks Harry should be able to stay. In fact, Harry stays with her for many years, until one day she passes him on to someone very special indeed…
Danny’s Dream tells the story of a little boy with big ambitions and how he learns to overcome obstacles in order to achieve them. It’s aimed at a slightly older age group than the books I would normally recommend on this blog (probably best for those aged 5+) – but I’m sharing it because Ivy was fascinated by the illustrations and the story behind them.
As soon as we opened the book, Ivy had questions! The inside cover shows a photograph of the artist, Ian Parker, painting using his mouth. She was utterly intrigued by the fact this was possible and amazed that each of the 34 illustrations had been painted in this way. Before reading the story we looked through all of the artwork and talked about how long it must take to be able to paint such intricate pictures without the use of your hands – 2 whole years in fact! It sparked a great conversation about disability, a theme which would continue when we started to read…
Ivy is an extremely picky eater so I like to keep an eye out for books which might encourage her to expand her tastes a little. Results are generally a bit hit and miss but we have had some success with this one so I wanted to share it with you.
The child in the story loves dinosaurs but absolutely does not like broccoli! She refuses to try it or even touch it because she thinks it looks yucky. But mum steps in with a thought which makes her think twice. She cleverly points out that broccoli looks like tiny trees and dinosaurs like to eat trees…
The girl (who is dressed in a dinosaur costume) asks if her toy dinosaur can try it first – and together they take baby steps towards a first mouthful of broccoli.
We were lucky enough to meet the lovely Chitra Soundar at an event at Moon Lane Ink last year so I was very happy when Lantana Publishing invited us to be part of the book tour for her newest title – You’re Strong With Me.
This is the third book in a trilogy, all of which feature beautiful illustrations from Poonam Mistry. The previous books in the series are You’re Safe With Me and You’re Snug With Me and each one focuses on the wonderful bond between parent and child.
In this story we follow a mother giraffe and her calf through a day in the wild. The little giraffe encounters many things which make her scared or uncomfortable, like a hissing fire and a bird which pecks at her fur, but her mother is always there to reassure and comfort her.