“No boy is an island and the bravest way to face problems is to talk and to listen.”
‘The Girls‘ by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie is one of our all-time favourite children’s books. It celebrates female friendship in such a relatable way and instantly made me want to buy copies for all of my childhood friends. When I shared my review back in 2018 the response was universal – we need this for boys too! It’s been a long time coming but ‘The Boys’ is finally here, and it is everything I hoped it would be.
The story is about four boys who are as close as brothers. Rey, Nattie, Bobby and Tam spend much of their childhood playing on their favourite beach under the watchful eyes of their mothers (who will look very familiar to you if you have read The Girls!). Each boy is very different but together they make a phenomenal team. The foursome build sandcastles, fly kites, learn how to swim and gather to tell stories around the campfire. Their worlds are completely entwined and they revel in each others company.
Little Tess has grown up surrounded by warmth and affection. She adores her family and, because they are never apart, love follows her like a warm scarf wherever she goes.
When it’s time for Tess to start school she is nervous because her family can’t come with her. She’s never had to do anything by herself before and she is worried that she will be seperated from her family’s love. Her mother explains that love is like a string which connects them even when they are apart. It can stretch really far and it won’t ever, ever break.
Tess isn’t sure about this theory but as she enters the school she starts to see little threads of love everywhere. Each child has a string just like hers and one boy even has a string which reaches right up to the sky, connecting him to the father which he lost when he was small. Reassured by this, Tess settles into her day and we even see a new thread start to grow between the little girl and her teacher.
In part 2 of our ‘Meet the Publisher’ series, diverse and inclusive ‘Lantana Publishing’ tells us how they got started, what they aim to achieve and which books you need to watch out for in 2021.
“Lantana Publishing was founded in 2014 by Alice Curry when she realised her mixed-race nephew would not be able to see himself in books. ‘Where are all the books about children of colour?’ she asked as she scanned bookshop and library shelves. From this question sprung the mission at the heart of Lantana: books should reflect the lives of all children, not just a few. Because ALL children deserve to see themselves in the books they read.
We are very proud to be an award-winning independent children’s publisher and social enterprise publishing inclusive books celebrating every kind of child and family.Today, Lantana is an all-female team committed to opening up a space for new and exciting voices from around the world and bringing their words to life with beautiful artwork from brilliant illustrators.
In the middle of a war-torn city a garden grows. It’s surrounded by devastation, but within these four walls there are trees and herbs, vegetables and flowers, and most importantly there is hope.
Every day Zara tends to her plants, helped by the local children, and when the work is done they climb trees and build dens. Outside the war looms, but the garden gives them the freedom to play and to shake off their worries for a short while. They pick flowers to brighten up their homes and bring baskets of fruit to their friends in hospital.
As the conflict increases their focus turns to mending the things in the garden which have been broken, but eventually the danger is too great and they are forced to leave the city behind.
When the war is finally over the families return to what is left of their homes. As Zara unocks the gate to her precious garden her anticipation rises. What will she find within those four walls?
Jake is bored and more than a little gloomy. As he sits at home staring out of the window into the cold grey street he longs for colour and excitement – but where can he find it? He twirls his globe and finds himself wondering what life is like on the other side of the world.
Feeling inspired, Jake heads out into the garden and starts to dig a hole with his bare hands. If he digs deep enough then surely he can tunnel right through the earth and pop up in the southern hemisphere.
As Jake digs something wonderful starts to happen. First a little girl appears with a spoon and asks if she can help, then a boy arrives with a toy digger. Soon the garden is full of children all working together to help Jake on his quest – but how far will they get?
Rocket is a little girl with a big passion. She loves to gaze at the night sky and when she grows up she wants to be “the greatest astronaut, star-catcher, space-traveller who has ever lived”. Every day, she pops on her tiny replica spacesuit, dons her star-shaped earrings and dreams of the day she can follow in the footsteps of her hero Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space.
The problem is that whilst she is looking up, everybody else seems to be looking down. She wants her brother to be as excited about the upcoming meteor shower as she is, but his eyes are permanently glued to his phone.
Determined to drum up some interest in this exciting event, Rocket creates flyers to distribute around her neighbourhood and even grabs the microphone at her local supermarket to make an announcement. She wants everyone to gather in their local park to view the meteor shower together – but has she done enough to get the community to join together and look to the skies?
Hands up who has a little worrier? Both Ivy and I have a tendency to be a bit anxious and the current situation has definitely exacerbated this. Who knew there were so many things to stress about?
Jeremy knows all about worries. From morning till night all he can think about is the potential danger swirling all around him, from shoe-eating worms and too-crunchy crackers right through to runaway dinosaurs and evil squirrels. His biggest fear is the wind though – so he tries not go outside on blustery days just in case.
But then one day fastidious Jeremy meets Maggie. With mismatched clothing and trailing shoelaces, she seems an unlikely friend but the two hit it off straight away. Maggie’s mantra is ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and fearful Jeremy is determined to show her!
Families come in all shapes and sizes and this gorgeous board book celebrates the ones which we often don’t see in mainstream books.
The brightly coloured pages show happy families enjoying life together whilst the words explore the different ways in which people can show their love.
We see two children waking up their dads in the morning by shaking maracas and banging a drum. We see a family with grandparent carers baking and sharing cakes. We see single mums finding lost objects and single dads jumping in puddles in the park. We see a group of children reading stories by the light of a torch with their two mums. I particularly like the inclusion of a dad wearing a baby carrier as i’m not sure i’ve seen this in any of our other picture books!
What wishes do you have for your child’s future? I have far more than I could ever put into words, which is probably why I am drawn to this heartwarming picture book (and why it made me cry the first time I read it!).
A love letter from parent to child, the beautifully-illustrated pages outline a myriad of hopes and dreams. Unsurprisingly, the narrator wishes for health and happiness, joy and wonder but the clever word play injects an element of fun.
Ivy’s favourite wishes are “I wish you more bubbles than bath” and “I wish you more WOO-HOO than WHOA!”. Personally I am drawn to “I wish you more hugs than ughs” and “I wish you more stories than stars”.
2020 will be remembered as the year we found ourselves separated from friends and family, but in many ways it brought people closer together. Our local community banded around to make sure everyone had food and shelter and there was a huge surge of support for our precious small businesses. Kindness was everywhere and I really hope that this continues into 2021 and beyond!
This gorgeous little ABC book is a great way to introduce the concept of kindness to small children. Each letter of the alphabet is illustrated with a tangible act which is easy for toddlers and pre-schoolers to understand. You can Brighten someone’s day with a smile. You can Stand up for someone else. You can Thank others and make them feel appreciated. You can Understand that everyone has their own way of doing things. Each suggestion is a small thing which costs you nothing but the positive impact it has is clear to see.