When three little girls find a tattered hot air balloon hidden away in an old shed they realise they have found something special. The balloon used to belong to their grandmother, and they have heard many stories about the adventures she had in it as a girl.
With a flicker of excitement they realise that, if they can fix the balloon, they could have some adventures of their very own! Working together, they mend the holes in the fabric and soon find themselves soaring through the sky.
However it’s not long before they discover that flying a hot air balloon isn’t quite as easy as it looks, and after a minor collision with a tree they start to doubt their own abilities. Will they manage to fly the balloon safely to Grandma’s house, and what on earth might she say when they arrive?
Every parent hopes that their child will grow up to be kind, and for that reason I think this book should be on bookshelves everywhere. It teaches children the value of kindness and the difference it can make to the world.
The tiniest little things can turn someone’s whole day around and they cost you absolutely nothing – a smile, a hug, a hand to hold. The book asks children to think about what they can do to help those around them. This could be something as simple as carrying a bag, being a little bit patient or sharing your toys.
It also encourages kids to think about how others might be feeling. If there is a new person in their class then they might be nervous or scared, so how can they make it easier for them?
At first glance, Westburrow Wood seems like a friendly place. All the weasels who live there look the same and they all follow the same rules so there is little for them to argue about. But then there is Wesley.
Wesley likes to wear clothes, which is unusual for a weasel, and his clothes are designed to stand out. Wesley thinks nothing of rocking a baseball cap with earmuffs, two watches, a waistcoat, some cowboy boots and a skirt. And why shouldn’t he? They’re just clothes and they’re a fun way of expressing his personality. Wesley thinks being just like everyone else is dull (and we have to admit we agree!).
The problem is that Wesley’s appearance makes the other weasel’s uncomfortable so they decide that something has to be done. They gang up on Wesley and tell him that he’s weird and needs to change.
Umar is a little boy with a big obsession. He absolutely loves keys! He likes to look at all the keys his family own and observe how they work. He watches his dad as he locks the door when they go for a walk. He watches his grandmother when she unlocks her front door for him to visit. He notes that his teacher has a different kind of key which he swipes to open the doors at nursery. How do they all work?
Umar is fascinated, and he dreams that one day he will be able to use keys all by himself. His grown ups let him practise all the time but he can’t quite master the skill. Will his hard work and determination pay off?
Ivy is fascinated by this beautiful little board book which celebrates the fact that all children are different.
The gentle rhyme encourages the reader to think about their own personalities as they explore the detailed illustrations. Are they a big kid or a little kid? Are they calm or a little crazy? Do they like hugs? Are they outdoorsy? Do they like to make a mess?
There is a diverse host of characters, playing in lots of different ways and I like the fact that care has been taken not to genderise the activities. We see little girls climbing, making a mess and dressing as superheroes and little boys snuggling with teddy bears and showing emotion.
When little Allie breaks her crayon she flies into a rage. Depicted as an angry red monster, her frustration is very much apparent as she tears up paper, throws her other crayons on the floor, stomps on the box and rolls around on the floor screaming.
Her older brother steps forward and thoughtfully offers up a pillow for her to punch so that she can release her anger without hurting herself or breaking anything further. This helps so much that the monster sheds her red furry skin and we see an amber-coloured monster emerge.
This version of Allie is still very angry and she’s still not able to articulate what’s wrong so her brother encourages her to hold her favourite toy and squeeze it as hard as she can. Another layer is shed and the fur is now green. Allie is now at that stage where she’s still pretty mad but she’s not really sure why so she’s irritable. This is solved with some breathing exercises which turn the monster blue.
At the moment, if you ask Ivy to go and pick a book then this is the one she inevitably comes back with. We read it every day and she’s even made me construct a sparkly beard out of an old headband so she can pretend to be the main character!
The story is about a girl called Peg who is utterly fed up of living with her wicked Step-Great-Grand Auntie. Her only refuge from all the chores she has to do is her beloved collection of adventure books.
One day she takes the cat for a walk and discovers that the pirates have come to town and are looking for new recruits to help them find treasure. Seeing a way out of her miserable life, she asks if she can join them but they rudely refuse. They tell her that she’s too nice, too small and, most importantly, she doesn’t have a beard therefore she can’t ever be a pirate!
Sally is the smallest girl in the school, which means that most of time people don’t notice her. She passes unseen in the school corridors but she is very special because she notices absolutely everything.
She sees the tiny details all around her, but most importantly she sees the people and how they behave with one another. She watches as the children are unkind to each other in the playground, and she notices how this makes the bullied and excluded kids feel. She watches as mean words are exchanged and tears fall.
And then one day Sally decides she’s had enough.
The tiny little girl steps out of the lunch line in the cafeteria, raises her hand in the air to quieten the room and then she opens her mouth and tells everyone what she has observed and how it should change. She expects to be laughed at but one by one she sees hands slowly rise in to the air in solidarity.
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.
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.