Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes / Simon the Hugger

These are recent publications from Beaming Books – thanks to Suzy Senior and the publisher for sending them for review.

Mabel’s Topsy-Turvy Homes
Candy Wellins and Jess Rose

Many children find themselves facing a situation similar to that of Mabel the protagonist in this story. Her parents are separated and as a consequence she has to move back and forth between her mother’s and her father’s homes. With different layouts and different routines she finds this rather difficult to cope with.
When it’s Mabel’s turn to care for the class pet iguana for the weekend, having read the accompanying diary, she cannot help but compare her existence with that of a creature that is passed between many different homes and also has lots of fun adventures. In so doing she realises just how much fun she’s had and how having two homes has its advantages as well as downsides.

The book ends on an upbeat note, ‘… two houses means double the fun.’

With the diverse cast of characters shown in Jess Rose’s vibrant, expressive illustrations, the story provides children with a safe space within which to think about some of the unsettling feelings – positives and negatives – their own parents’ separation causes.

A useful book to have among class resources for a topic on families or homes.

Simon the Hugger
Stacy B. Davids and Ana Sebastián

Simon the sloth loves to hug: he hugs pretty much anything and anyone from his friends and family to flowers and rocks, he even hugs himself.

But then one day his friend Elsa the jaguar doesn’t want his farewell hug at the end of their game, Trixy the owl turns down his congratulatory hug for her art prowess and when he tries hugging the baby Tamarin, Bingo, she too says “NO!”

Confused and upset, Simon makes himself a sign asking others to hug him. Along comes Ricky porcupine to do just that but as he advances, Simon realises that for the very first time he doesn’t want to be hugged. Ricky however is happy to offer an alternative way of showing friendship. That, and a cry of hurt from Elsa, help Simon realise that not everyone is in hugging mood at exactly the same time and the other person must always give their consent prior to a hug.

Cartoon style illustrations and a simple, straightforward text convey the important message about invading another’s personal space without their permission.

In the back matter, the author offers a guided discussion and questions that teachers and caregivers could use to discuss the topic with young children.

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