Clare Helen Welsh and Åsa Gilland
A parental break up is never easy for a young child and it’s certainly challenging for the young narrator of this picture book.
Clare Helen Welsh is a perceptive and skilled writer who handles difficult topics with great sensitivity, always keeping in mind that she’s creating a compelling story that is also a source of acknowledgement, guidance, and comfort. Through her sensitive words and Åsa Gilland’s exquisite illustrations we see and feel the emotional upheaval of the child from the time Mummy and Daddy announce one summer’s day against the backdrop of the seashore, that they can no longer live together.
The parents in this story both clearly very much love their child and using the natural world against which to have this story unfold is, like The Perfect Shelter, inspired. Herein we see the changing seasons as we follow the changes in the life of the three characters through the eyes of the child. Autumn brings a new house for dad, a garden with trees that shed their leaves forming a ‘blanket of red and orange’ and strong wind that causes the little one to wonder, ‘Was it my fault?’ Dad’s reassuring explanation in response calms his daughter’s inner turbulence however and her worries dissipate.
Winter brings snowy days and discussions with both mum and dad, further reassurance of their love for the narrator for ‘ it isn’t about hoping that the storm will pass … it’s about learning to dance in the raindrops!’
The story ends with a celebratory sixth birthday gathering of adults and children and the uplifting narrative conclusion, that change can bring good things and once you know that, everything changes. Åsa Gilland uses a changing colour palette for her striking illustrations that capture superbly the gamut of emotions and the different seasons of the text.
When You Joined Our Family
Harriet Evans and Nia Tudor
This is a wonderfully warm look at the experience of adoption and a celebration belonging in a family, seen through the eyes of several adopters. Love is the key element that unites a family and love is what shines out from Nia Tudor’s illustrations on every spread.
The children adopted might look different from their new parent(s), be differently abled, tiny babies or of school age, it matters not. In this book we share in the entire adoption experience from those very first meetings to feeling a part of something unique and special:
there’s excitement, strangeness, reassurances, pride, unconditional love, a sharing of stories, sometimes the meeting of a new brother or sister and the beginning of new family traditions. All this is presented through a straightforward, affirmative text and Nia Tudor’s beautifully patterned, details illustrations that underscore the positive nature of Harriet’s words.
Both books are musts for primary school collections. I’d also recommend any family experiencing a break up to get hold of Everything Changes, and any new adoptive parents to have a copy of When You Joined Our Family to share.