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.
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.
We discovered this gem in our local library about 18 months ago and Ivy loved it so much that I bought us a copy that same week. The story is beautiful and I’m not ashamed to say that I bawled my eyes out the first time I read it!
This lovely book is about a little girl whose Mummy makes her a set of 5 paper dolls. She gives them names, plays with them constantly and invents a little song for the dolls to sing about their friendship.
In the girl’s vivid imagination the paper dolls do battle with dinosaurs, tigers and crocodiles. They explore magical islands (on the breakfast table) and dance through forests (in the garden).
Together they come through every adventure unscathed. Until one day they encounter a little boy with a pair of scissors and suddenly the dolls are no more.
There’s something incredibly special about Oliver Jeffers. All of his books seem to work on two levels. Children love them because the stories are simple and the illustrations are beautiful – but there is something deep in each story which really resonates with adults too. When I pick up one of his books and read it for the first time, I know that it’s probably going to make me feel a bit weepy and this one affected me more than any of the others.
The story is about a little girl who loves life. She loves to explore, she loves to learn and she sees wonder everywhere she turns. Pictured beside her (but not mentioned in the text) is her grandfather. Then one day she discovers an empty chair in her house, and the grandfather is no longer there.
In the last few months we’ve read some fantastic self-published books and ‘Lauren Koala’ (which was recommended to us by one of our Facebook followers) is one of our faves.
The story is about a little koala called Lauren who loves to make people feel better by giving them a hug. All of the animals in the jungle know that if they feel sad Lauren will be there to comfort them. As a result, it’s a happy, joyful place filled with love.
One day, Lauren Koala hears about a rhino who is very sad because his mummy died when he was little. Determined to help, she sets off on a long journey to find him, cuddling lots of other animals along the way.
If you’re a fan of books with strong female characters then this new one from Suzanne Hemming (author of ‘She’s Not Good For A Girl, She’s Just Good‘) is definitely for you.
The story is about a young princess called Florence who has her heart set on becoming a great engineer. She has the brain and the ambition but she has one problem – her father, the King, says that instead of pursuing her dream career she has to marry a Prince and have babies.
Young Flo is devastated. She has no problem with Princes and babies but she also wants to be a great engineer and the King says she can’t do both. She flees the palace and bumps in to her old babysitter, who sits and listens to her woes. The lady tells her that you always have to be who you are, not who other people think you should be. She shows Flo a picture of her wedding day (where she married a Princess) and says that when you follow your heart, some people will accept who you are and some won’t but what matters most is that you are always true to yourself.
Ivy loves Princess Polly so we have most of this series either on our shelf or stashed ready for her to read when the time is appropriate. This title is about starting nursery (which she will be doing early next year) so we’ve recently introduced it to our rotation.
The book starts with an apprehensive Princess Polly. She’s not sure about starting nursery because she doesn’t know what it will be like and she’s worried she’ll miss her parents. She visits with her Mummy and sees lots of children having fun which sets her mind at ease.
After some settling in sessions she has her first full day and the book shows all the things your child can expect to experience at nursery – from the activities they’ll do, like painting, playing and singing to the format of the day, like snacks, naps and story time.
I’m breaking my own rules with this book as I confess it isn’t one which I have read with Ivy. It’s a tiny bit old for her just yet (the recommended age range is 3-8) but it’s an important book covering a difficult topic so I am sharing it in the hope it may be helpful to you, our followers.
The Magical Wood was written to help small children deal with the emotions they may feel around bereavement, particularly the death of a close family member.
The wood is a beautiful place which is home to a family of trees. It’s a happy place visited by lots of little animals who love to play and splash in the river. One night there is a terrible storm and when the tree family wake up they discover that the Strongest Tree (one of the oldest trees in the wood) has fallen in the night and is no longer alive. The trees know that their lives have now changed forever and many tears are shed. How can they continue without the Strongest Tree?
I definitely didn’t buy this one just because the little girl in it is called Ivy. Ok – maybe I did! But it turned out to be a good gamble as it’s a really lovely book with gorgeous illustrations.
The story starts with a little raincloud who is feeling lonely. The sun has come out so all his friends have gone away and he has no one to talk to. He sets off in search of a friend but no one seems to want him (and his raindrops) around.
He keeps searching until he spots a little girl who looks just as unhappy about the sunshine as he is. She’s grumpy in the market, grumpy on the tube and even grumpy when she gets home and tends to her garden. He starts to think that maybe the little girl is not really grumpy, just sad. He watches her in fascination as she looks after her plants, which seem to be struggling in the sun, and then he has an idea. If he rains on the plants and makes them grow, is it possible the little girl might smile again?
We love this book by Peter H. Reynolds and i’m not ashamed to say it made me cry the first time we read it!
Vashti is a little girl who thinks she can’t draw. Whilst all of her friends paint and create in art class, she just sits and stares at the plain white paper, defeated. Her teacher challenges her to draw a dot in the middle of the page and then asks her to sign it. She jabs a dot with her pen, signs her name and then skulks out of the classroom.
The next week when she walks in to the art room she sees her dot (and signature!) on the wall, displayed in a lovely shiny frame. Inspired, she sets out to draw a better dot and then a better dot and then an even better dot than that. Soon she’s so good at drawing imaginative, colourful dots that the schools puts them on display at an art show.