This is a book about baby loss so if this topic is a trigger for you then please do not read any further———————————————-
I am breaking with tradition a little for this review. This is not a book which I have read with Ivy but it is one that I believe needs to be shared as it addresses an important topic – baby loss (during pregnancy and shortly after birth).
When a baby dies the focus is very much on the grieving parents, but often there are young siblings who will struggle to understand why the baby brother or sister they were expecting didn’t come home. This book seeks to address this, both gently and honestly, in language that is easy for a child to comprehend.
The soft rhyme acknowledges that often there is no reason for the loss and that no one is to blame. It helps children name and understand the emotions they might be experiencing and the beautiful illustrations show grief in its many forms.
The little spider in this book is very lonely – all he wants is a family of his own. So the enterprising little fellow finds a family he likes and sets about trying to become their pet. The problem is that they’re all scared of spiders!
He tries to impress them with his dancing, he shows them how nice and clean he is by hanging out in the bath and he builds a web and catches flies to prove he’s self-sufficient and can feed himself. However every time they seem him they yell ‘Aaaarrgghh! Spider!’ and throw him back outside.
Feeling defeated, the poor lonely spider decides to set up house in their garden instead and builds himself a giant sparkly web. Will this be the final straw for the family or will they see the spider as a potential pet after all?
This gorgeous classic tells the true story of two very special male penguins at Central Park Zoo.
Choosing to ignore the female penguins, Roy and Silo are inseparable. They sing together, bow to each other and go on little strolls around the penguin enclosure. When they see the other penguins pair up and build a nest of stones they do the same and snuggle up to sleep. Soon however they see that the other penguins all have eggs in their nests. They watch as the eggs grow then hatch, and they want a baby penguin of their own.
Clever Roy spots a large round stone which looks just like an egg. He brings it home to Silo and they pop it in their nest. For days and days they take turns sitting on the egg, just as they have seen the other penguins do, but no baby penguin appears.
It’s Valentine’s Day so we thought we’d take the opportunity to share our favourite books which focus on love.
Aalfred and Aalbert by Morag Hood
A lovely tale about two (male) aardvarks who are potentially a perfect couple, and the little blue bird who plays matchmaker.
Read the full review
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram
A gorgeous book about trying to vocalise the extent of your love. This makes a perfect gift for a small child (or even a grown up!)
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Since discovering the joy that is Tracey Corderoy, Ivy and I have been on a mission to read all of her books. We have devoured all of the Shifty McGifty picture books and now we are loving this Hubble Bubble series about a very unusual grandparent.
The little girl in the story wants to tel us all about her Granny, who happens to be a little bit different. She dresses all in black, has a pointy hat, keeps frogs and bats as pets and the food she serves is extremely unconventional! She loves her granny but sometimes she wishes she could be a little bit more like the kind of grannies her friends have.
She suggests to her Granny that it might be fun to have a makeover day together and she sets about making little changes which she thinks will make her more ‘normal’. They knit some hats together, travel in to town by bus (rather than broomstick!), buy some new clothes and get their hair done. By the time they are finished, her Granny looks just like all the other grannies in the street.
We have recently discovered Parakeet Books – a small independent publisher whose focus is on stories which are truly inclusive – and we LOVE their ethos. Our favourite title so far is Buddy’s Pancakes, a story which will be very familiar to parents of fussy toddlers (us included!).
Buddy is a little boy who is far more interested in playing than eating. At breakfast time his dad asks him if he would like some pancakes and the answer is a resounding no.
As Buddy plays, his dad serves up food to the rest of the family and we see how everyone likes their pancakes a different way. Granny likes lemon and honey, Grandad likes blueberries, whilst Mummy prefers to have hers with slices of banana. Each time a new variation is suggested, they ask Buddy if he would like some but he always replies that he’s not hungry.
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.
Ivy’s dad and I will be getting married later this year so it seems appropriate to kick off 2019 with a book about a wedding – although hopefully ours will go a little more smoothly than the one in this story!
Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay are two scarecrows who are very much in love. When Harry proposes, Betty is overjoyed and the pair start planning the best wedding the farm has ever seen. They make a list of all the things they will need – “a dress of white feathers, a necklace of shells, lots of pink flowers, two rings and some bells” – and then set off together to gather the beloved items together.
Soon they have everything except the pink flowers so Harry heads off on his own to find some whilst Betty has a little nap. However things don’t quite go to plan and Harry ends up being away for such a long time that the Farmer brings in a new scarecrow to replace him! Reginald Rake is the total opposite of Harry O’Hay. He’s selfish and showy and he isn’t nice to Betty at all. He boasts about all the things he can do but Betty isn’t impressed – she just wants her lovely Harry back.
But then things take a perilous turn. Reginald Rake tries to show Betty how good he is at blowing smoke rings, but he drops his cigar and sets the field alight. Will Harry make it back in time to save his bride?
This is one of our favourites from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. There’s a lovely mix of romance and adventure and Ivy gets very excited as the story twists and turns at the end.
I guess you could choose to criticise the fact that we have a girl scarecrow being rescued by a boy scarecrow – but I think that does the story a disservice. I prefer to focus on the way the story shows the difference between someone who respects women and someone who doesn’t.
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2GQEo7Z
Our whole family is very excited about Christmas this year. Previously Ivy has been a little too young to grasp what was going on, but having just turned 3 she’s starting to understand the concept and is finding the whole thing really magical!
This lovely book is perfect for her right now as it introduces lots of different aspects of a modern Christmas and shows her what she can expect over the coming weeks.
In the story, little Suzie can’t wait for Christmas to arrive. We see her start opening the doors on her advent calendar and write a letter to Santa. She visits a garden centre with her parents to choose a tree and then they all decorate it together. On Christmas Eve she hangs up her stocking and leaves a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph. The next morning she wakes up early and runs downstairs in excitement. Will Santa have been?
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.