Violet is usually a cheerful, bubbly little girl but right now she feels a little lost. She’s recently discovered that she will be playing one of the lead roles in her school play and she’s plagued with worry. Learning the lines isn’t a problem for her but she’s really nervous about public speaking. What if she messes up? What if she freezes? What if everyone laughs at her?
As Violet’s emotions swirl, her family and friends surround her with love and support. Her grandmother provides cuddles and patiently sews her a costume, her uncles suggest ways she could feel more confident on stage, and her teacher calmly and quietly reassures her at every rehearsal. Everyone knows she is capable of doing a fantastic job but all Violet feels is doubt. Why did they choose her? Why didn’t they select someone ‘better’?
This was not the book I was planning on reviewing today. It’s not even a book I was planning to review this week or even this month as I didn’t know it existed until it dropped through my door about an hour ago and made me cry big, ugly, shoulder-shuddering tears. I’m choosing to write about it right now because i’m not sure i’ve ever responded to a picture book this strongly before, and I need to get all the words out before I forget how reading it through for the first time made me feel. I’m not sure I can do it justice – but here goes!
The last 18 months have been incredibly hard for everyone. There has been loss, loneliness, separation, sadness and hardship – but through it all there has been hope that better days are coming. At 5, Ivy is old enough to understand why so many restrictions have been placed on our lives but has still struggled with the fact that so many of the fun things have been stripped away for so long.
Charlie doesn’t like to make decisions. How can you choose between chocolate and vanilla ice cream when both are so delicious? How can you choose between spotty or stripy underpants when both look so fabulous?
Every single day Charlie finds himself overwhelmed by choices and he finds it really hard. He worries that he will make the wrong decision and what the consequences of that might be. What if he chooses sunglasses instead of an umbrella and then it rains? What if he keeps his light on at bedtime but then he can’t sleep?
All of Charlie’s worries come to a head when he is asked to choose a present for his birthday. Faced with such a momentous decision he panics, but fate intervenes when a flyer about rescue dogs land on his lap at the park. However when he gets to the centre he is greeted by dozens of adorable dogs and he can only take one home! The boy knows he will never be able to choose so he turns around and sadly walks away.
Have you read The Hugasaurus yet? It’s the latest story in the ‘DinoFeelings’ series from Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton and we love it! Whereas book one – The Worrysaurus – focused on anxiety and worries, this one is all about the importance of kindness.
Little Hugasaurus is a very happy dinosaur. She’s off on her very first adventure away from home and she’s looking forward to having fun and making new friends. When she arrives at her destination she is greeted by a group of friendly dinos and after some short introductions they quickly get down to the serious business of playing and laughing. They skip and climb in the sunshine but eventually the inevitable happens…
Two of the dinosaurs start to squabble in the middle of a game of hide and seek and soon everyone is yelling and shouting. Insults are thrown, feet are stomped and backs are turned. Poor little Hugasaurus doesn’t know what to do. How can she stop all the unnecessary fighting and get everyone playing harmoniously again?
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.
I totally meant to post about this book on Valentine’s Day but, despite searching the whole house, I couldn’t find it anywhere. This morning I found it lodged down the side of Ivy’s bed which means she must have snuck it upstairs to read by herself! I’m not surprised though, as we have so many happy memories attached to lovely Gerald the Giraffe.
The original ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ story was one of the first picture books I read with Ivy when she was a baby and it is still a firm favourite. We were both so happy to receive this gorgeous new board book featuring all over our favourite characters.
The beautiful rhyme, written in Giles Andreae’s signature style, celebrates all of the ways which love can make us feel. Our favourite line is:
‘You make me want to somersault and leap up in the air.
You make me want to sing and skip and boogie everywhere!’
We live in a society which tells boys that they need to be strong, that they need to be leaders, play sports and show no fear. However, these behaviours don’t come naturally to most, so what does it mean for the majority when they don’t think they measure up and then aren’t able to share how they feel?
Toxic masculinity is a very real phenomenon and boys need to be reassured that they can show their emotions – especially right now.
Big Boys Cry is about a little boy who is nervous about starting school, unaware that his father is much more worried than he is. It’s a moving look at how our words can affect our children, and why we need to choose them carefully.
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!
Since Ivy started school last September we’ve had some struggles with perfectionism. If she’s not immediately the best at something then she gets disheartened and doesn’t want to try. It’s an uphill battle but, as always, we’ve found books really helpful to try and put things into perspective for her.
This new title in the Mini Monsters series has therefore come at just the right time for us. We both loved the first book – ‘Can I Play?’ – so Ivy was very excited to see a new story with familiar characters.
Scout, Sparkle, Arthur and Tiny are back once again and, having worked out how to play nicely together in book one, they have a brand new pres-school problem. They each want to be THE BEST.
Well here we are again! It’s lockdown 3.0 and I am really feeling it this time around. Ivy hasn’t seen her grandparents since August so she’s really missing them, plus the dreary weather and general sense of uncertainty is adding an extra layer of gloom.
If your little ones are feeling the same then you might want to take a peek at this heartwarming story which talks about how it feels to be separated from your nearest and dearest.
Hedgehog and Tortoise are the best of friends. They love to spend time together but they’re sad because they’re not allowed to go near each other right now. How can they show each other they care if they can’t hug?