Humphrey the whale is never quite satisfied. He glides through the ocean with his many possessions strapped to his back, always on the look out for the next new thing to capture his attention. However, no matter how many treasures he amasses, he always wants more.
Driven by his desire to consume, Humphrey lives a lonely and dissatisfied life until one day he spots a reef which is bursting with colour and life. There are so many shiny, fun things – surely this is what he has been looking for? He circles above, constructing a plan.
Unbeknownst to him, the creatures who live below are also unhappy. Instead of seeing the beauty of their magical surroundings they bicker and shout at each other, jostling for space amongst the coral. They’re too busy being grumpy to notice the covetous whale start to swim down towards them…
On an ordinary day, in an ordinary park, a little boy called Joe is playing pirates. As he leans over the edge of his ship and waves his trusty sword in the faces of imaginary (moustached!) sharks, he is interrupted by a shout from another child. “YOU’VE ONLY GOT ONE LEG!” she yells – and just like that, Joe’s game is ruined.
It’s clear that the girl hasn’t seen anyone with a missing limb before and she has a lot of questions. She wants to know where the leg is and she’s determined to get some answers. Soon other children join in and they each try to guess what has happened to Joe. Did his leg fall off? Was it stolen by a burglar? Was it eaten by a lion?
For the group of children, the fact that Joe has one leg seems extraordinary, but for Joe this is his everyday reality. He’s perfectly aware he only has one leg but he doesn’t want to talk about it all the time and he certainly doesn’t want to talk about it in the middle of a game of pirates. There are sharks to defeat and crocodiles to vanquish!
When Sonny finds a pink bunny in the sandpit he is beyond excited. A new toy just for him! He gives it a snuggle and names it Bun-Bun. Sonny likes the bunny so much he is completely consumed by it. He feeds it sand, reads it a story and swings it around with joy.
However in his excitement Sonny has forgotten all about the friends he came to the park to see. Mid-game he looks up and sees his pals Honey and Suki walking towards him. Suki is crying because she has lost her favourite pink bunny – the exact same bunny that Sonny has been playing with. Sonny panics that his new toy will be taken away and quickly hides it under a bucket. He even lies when Honey asks him directly is he has seen it.
“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.
In the beautiful city of Aleppo in Syria a little stray cat plays happily in the sunshine. She lives a charmed life, chasing butterflies, exploring the marble mosques and being fed by the locals – until one day, humans in big boots arrive and everything goes dark.
Now surrounded by sadness and war, the little cat doesn’t know what to do. She watches the city crumble around her and is startled by the loud noises and angry voices. She doesn’t understand where her friends have gone and why there is suddenly no food. She is hungry and afraid so she hides herself away in the darkness of the city.
I’ve read countless stories by Beatrix Potter but I have to admit that until I read this beautifully illustrated picture book I didn’t know anything about her life. Did you know that Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit were real live animals which she befriended? Nope. Me either!
At the start of Rebecca Colby’s story, young Beatrix is living in London and feeling very lonely indeed. She loves animals and has lots of pets but none of them can really play with her in the way that she’d like. But then, on a visit to the countryside, she meets Benjamin, a mischievous bunny who loves snuggles and games. Finally the little girl has a friend!
On the edge of a busy, bustling town is a hill with a little house on top. This is the home of Billy McGill, a solitary child who avoids people and noise. He enjoys his own company and spends his days alone with his books for company, until one day he hears the squeak of a mouse…
Billy definitely doesn’t want to share his house with the tiny furry creature so he heads into town to fetch a cat to scare away the mouse. This seems like a great idea, until the two animals unexpectedly become friends. Billy then finds a dog to scare the cat, but this doesn’t work either. The boy’s plan soon spirals out of control and he soon finds himself co-habiting with a mouse, a cat, a dog, a bear, a tiger, a vet, a sheep, a hairdresser, a baby and a big red balloon!
Overwhelmed by the noise and the chaos, Billy storms out of his house and finds a new hill, but as he stares into the sunset he finds himself thinking of everything he has left behind. Could he be ready to let some new friends into his life?
This heartwarming and stunningly illustrated book will tug on the heart strings of anyone who has ever had a beloved pet. Reading it brought back lots of happy memories of the cocker spaniel we had when I was a child. Pugsley (yes – I know! My brother and I were fans of The Addams Family at the time!) was incredibly naughty but gave the best snuggles.
At the start of this story we see a small stray dog brandishing a stick. He is looking for someone to play with him so he approaches a lonely little girl. What follows is a beautiful love story which lasts for many years.
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?
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.