Every now and again a book comes our way which both captures Ivy’s imagination and brings me to tears, and this is most definitely one of those books.
The simple, yet extremely moving, story is about the relationship between a little girl and her favourite dress. The girl and the dress are the best of friends and they go on many adventures together. They play and explore but they also stare out at the ocean and wish for something more.
One day the girl discovers that everything is about to change. The dress is bundled in to a trunk and the girl and her family take a long journey on a boat to start a new life in New York. But somehow the trunk is lost in the hustle and bustle of their arrival. The dress finds itself alone and the girl does not come back.
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.
Felicity and Jane are two African snails who are very much in love. The pair are inseparable and are looking forward to spending their lives together. Then something very special happens – Felicity finds out that she is going to have a little baby snail. She can’t wait to tell Jane, but when she does it turns out that Jane also has some special news, as she is pregnant too. They are going to be a family and are very excited!
The two expectant mums work hard to create the perfect egg chamber for their new arrivals and then together they lay their eggs and wait. It’s not long before the tiny snails start to hatch and soon Felicity and Jane are the proudest mums on the planet.
This magical story is about a little girl called Josephine who loves to run. When her running shoes begin to get a little tight she buys a new pair from an old lady who has a shoe shop filled with cats. The lady tells her that the shoes are magic bit she won’t reveal their special powers!
When Josephine leaves the shop she discovers she is being chased by a big white polar bear. She runs and runs and runs until she reaches a tall, snow-capped mountain. Feeling defeated, Josephine worries that she won’t be able to climb it to escape the bear – but then her shoes start to talk. They utter a little motivational rhyme before magically turning in to snow boots!
Josephine successfully climbs the mountain but the bear is still hot on her heels. Fortunately the magic shoes know just what to do. When they encounter snow, they turn in to skis. For a muddy bog they transform in to yellow wellies. And when Josephine stumbles upon the shores of a lake they become flippers and power her across to an island.
We have a number of books from this fantastic Little People Big Dreams series. I bought them with the intention of putting them away until Ivy was a little bit older but she’s really drawn to the pictures and often asks for them to be read to her.
I recently visited the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A museum as I am hugely fascinated by her story and her art. In the gift shop I bought Ivy a flowered headband in a similar style to the one you can see on the front cover. She loved it and squealed with delight when I showed her that she looked like the lady on the book. As a result we’ve read this one lots of times over the last few weeks!
This beautifully illustrated title gives a brief overview of Frida Kahlo’s short and troubled life but deals with it in an age-appropriate way. We see that she suffers a childhood illness which affects her leg and is later involved in an accident which means she must spend much of her time in bed.
We are big fans of this brightly-coloured book which introduces the concept of a metaphorical ‘love umbrella’.
The neon images throughout the story show a diverse group of children encountering situations out in the world which may make them feel sad or uncomfortable – like being afraid of the dark, feeling shy around other children, moving house or starting a new school.
The lovely rhyming text explains that even if the child is on their own, their loved one is always with them ‘under their love umbrella’. They may not always be physically present but they are right there with them in spirit to help them through, because of the strength of their love.
This is a really comforting read and it’s definitely a good one to snuggle up with before bed. There are so many scenarios in which this book could be helpful to a small child – from being worried about being left at nursery for the first time right through to the loss of a loved one.
This lovely book about hearing loss was recommended to us by one of our recent interviewees – Nell Nash of Tatty Rose. I really liked the look of it so bought us a copy and it’s currently one of Ivy’s favourite bedtime reads.
The story is about a little boy called Freddie who finds a fairy called Bessie-Belle tangled in a tree. He helps her down and she says she will grant him some wishes to say thank you. She tells him that she can’t hear very well and if you look carefully at the illustrations you can see that she’s wearing a little blue hearing aid.
Freddie doesn’t really understand this though so he mumbles when he asks for his wishes. He really wants a pet but because she can’t hear him the fairy doesn’t quite get it right. Freddie’s requests for a cat, a dog or a parrot result in a bat, a frog and a carrot – none of which make great pets!
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.
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!
If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that we are big fans of picture books which take on big emotions and break them down in a way which makes it easy for children to digest. Me And My Fear by Francesca Sanna is one of the best we’ve seen.
The book is about a little girl who has moved to a new country and is starting a new school. She has always lived with fear, who is depicted as a little ghost-like creature who goes everywhere with her – but the prospect of this new school causes her fear to grow so large that it takes up more space than she does. It fills her whole house and stops her from leaving her home. This super-sized fear doesn’t want her to go to school and doesn’t want her to make new friends. As a result the girl is lonely and her experience at her new school is a miserable one.