We recently interviewed the author about the inspiration behind this book. You can read what she had to say by clicking here.
Scout, Sparkle, Arthur and Tiny are four colourful little monsters who go to pre-school together. They are all friends but sometimes – like most children – they find the politics of playtime somewhat difficult to navigate.
When Arthur and Sparkle put on a pretend magic show Scout really wants to join in. The problem is that Sparkle doesn’t want him to get involved. It’s her show, she’s the star and she only wants Arthur in the audience. There is shouting and snatching and eventually there are tears. As Scout and Arthur retreat outside to find a new game Sparkle finds herself all alone. Even Tiny doesn’t want to play with her now.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions experienced by children but it can be a difficult topic to discuss with someone who is too young to put their feelings in to words. This book uses the metaphor of a monster, albeit a friendly yellow one, to help kids understand.
At the start of the story a young boy introduces his monster and explains that it has been around for as long as he can remember. It’s large, loud and bossy, and it often gets in his way when he’s trying to enjoy himself. When his parents are around the monster hides so he doesn’t feel like he can talk to them about it, but he really wishes it would go away.
One day it all becomes too much and he opens his heart to his grandmother. In tears, he tells her all about the intolerable monster and how it just won’t leave him alone – but as he talks, something special happens. The monster starts to shrink! As the words tumble from his mouth the monster gets smaller and smaller until eventually he can pick it up and pop it in his pocket. Although he knows the monster will always be there, the little boy now knows that he is in control rather than the other way around.
When a bright pink Beast catches a little boy he is very excited about the prospect of eating him all up. He names the boy ‘Dinner’ and sets about inviting all of his friends to a very special feast.
Naturally Dinner is a little worried, but when the RSVPs start to arrive he proves himself to be very smart indeed.
The Beasts friends turn out to be very picky and they have lots of dietary requirements which they want Beast to consider. Sir Gutguzzler can’t eat anything scrawny so he suggests that Beast fatten Dinner up a little bit. Madam Gargoyle requests that Dinner is served extra salty and Giant Grumbo needs Dinner to be slimy!
There’s no getting around it, Sid Gibbons is a little bit naughty. Just this week he’s smashed a bird bath, thrown his dinner on the floor, trashed his bedroom and left his colouring pens on the floor for so long that they’ve all dried out. His poor mum doesn’t know what to do, because when she asks him about these misdemeanours he just lies and says that his imaginary friend Kevin did it all. Kevin is invisible and no one can see him except Sid, so he’s the perfect fall guy.
Then one day, when Sid has once again been sent to bed for being naughty, a hatch in the ceiling opens and a bright light appears. Sid climbs up to take a peek and finds himself faced with none other Kevin himself – he is real! Sid is super excited to see his (incredibly cute and fluffy!) friend and they have lots of fun playing together. However it soon becomes apparent that in Kevin’s world, it is Sid who is the invisible friend.
Cutesville is home to lots of cute and fluffy creatures, like puppies and bunnies and kittens. However it has one resident who is a tiny bit different – Monster. Monster isn’t cute or fluffy. He’s red and hairy with googly eyes and little pointy teeth.
Everyone loves cute things, but nobody seems to love him. He looks so different to everyone in Cutesville that sometimes people point and laugh. This makes Monster sad as all he wants is for someone to love him.
The sadness spurs him to take action. Instead of sitting at home moping he’s going to head out in to world and try to find a life partner. He looks everywhere but love continues to evade him! Disheartened, he decides to give up and head back to Cutesville – but when the bus finally arrives, something amazing happens…
This simple but effective book is designed to help your toddler understand and talk about their emotions.
At the start we are introduced to a character called the Colour Monster who has just woken up feeling very confused. His body is a mass of different coloured squiggly lines which represent his emotions. His friend explains to him that he feels all mixed up because his colours are all mixed up. She takes hold of his hand and offers to help.
To sort out his colours she suggests popping each one a jar and then examining it further. As the little jars fill up we learn that yellow is happiness, blue is sadness, red is anger, black is fear and green is calm. The girl explains how each one feels inside you and the illustrations do a wonderful job of evoking the sensations and showing the associated facial expressions.
In Huffenpuffen Valley, dragons and humans live peacefully side by side. The dragons are very well-liked because they are really useful companions – in the winter they light bonfires and fireworks, and in the summer they help with campfires and roast corn on the cob with their flames!
But there’s one dragon who is a little bit different. Jasper breathes water instead of fire! He tries his absolute hardest to assist the people in the valley but the jets of water he sprays just leave them cold, wet and unhappy. Poor Jasper decides that the best thing to do is leave the people alone and just be by himself.
Then one day a fire breaks out at a nearby house and Jasper realises he can help. He swoops down and sprays his water through the windows and over the roof and soon the fire is distinguished. Jasper has saved the day! He may not be able to breathe fire but it turns out he has a very bright future ahead of him as a firefighter.
A few weeks ago a lovely lady called Helen dropped me a message to recommend us a book which her son had picked out at the library – The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight. It wasn’t one that i’d heard of so I want to give a big shout out to her to say thank you as we LOVE it! (It should be noted here that this is definitely a different Helen to the one who wrote the book!)
The story is about a little mouse called Leo who likes nothing more than to curl up with a good book. However Leo is a knight so, despite his protestations, his parents insist that he has to go out in to the world and fight dragons.
Leo packs a bag with some sandwiches (and lots of books of course!) and heads off on his horse to fight a dragon who has been terrorising a town a few hours ride away. En route he faces a fearsome griffin and an angry troll, but defeats them quickly and easily using not his sword but his collection of books. It turns out that nasty creatures can be quite vain and love to hear stories about themselves!
Two of my closest female friends are primary school teachers so when I spotted this I knew we had to buy it!
The story is about a little boy called Bobby who doesn’t like school because he is always getting told off by his teacher, Miss Kirby. He doesn’t like her and thinks she’s a monster!
Then one weekend he bumps in to her when he’s walking in his favourite park, and neither of them are quite sure what to do. They both feel a little awkward seeing each other outside of school. Just as it’s becoming super uncomfortable a gust of wind catches Miss Kirby’s favourite hat and blows it away.
Bobby manages to save the hat and in the process learns a little bit more about Miss Kirby and she learns a little bit more about him. Bobby comes to realise that she’s not a monster at all. She’s just a regular person – who is actually rather nice! – and just needs to be strict at school because it’s her job (and because he’s actually quite naughty).
We are big fans of the ‘Ten Little …” series by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty and this one is our second favourite (Nothing beats Ten Little Dinosaurs!).
The story sees our ten tiny heroes take on the League of Bad Guys who have an evil plan to take over the city. They do their best to battle the hilarious baddies (which include Hippo Man, Glue Girl, Crab Man and Hypno Girl) but on each page we see one superhero disappear. The book counts backwards from ten until eventually there’s only one hero left. The bad guys think they’ve won and start to celebrate but the Super Kids have one last trick up their sleeve. Can all ten of them reassemble and save the day?
Ivy gets really excited when we read this as the rhyme is really bouncy, the illustrations are a riot of colour and there are lots of big superhero words to shout as you read – POW! ZAP! SPLAT!
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2Jybh5x