I’m (almost) Never Bored

I’m (almost) Never Bored
Anna Milbourne and Åsa Gilland

This is a wonderful celebration of the power of childhood imagination, in this case called into play when one wise father decides to curtail a little girl’s screen time. Furthermore his response to his daughter’s “I’m BOOORED!’ is “Oh, that’s great … being bored comes right before having a Really Good Idea.” And so the young narrator discovers, first when she spies a large cardboard box among those her dad is unpacking. This she turns into a magic train by using coloured pens

and then most importantly, in the company of Mr.Unicorn, imagining a wonderful adventure that involves visiting all manner of strange places – a land of wibbly-wobbly jellies, for instance.

Fortunately the girl’s mother is of the same mind and she responds in similar fashion to her daughter’s complaints about being bored. This time pens and mind conjure up a massive monster with a seemingly insatiable appetite. And so it goes on until our young narrator is sufficiently convinced by what she’s been told by her parents that she is ready to give a confident reply to the boy next door’s “I’m bored!” and you won’t need to use much imagination to guess what she says …

Åsa Gillard has clearly used her imagination to bring Anna Milborne’s text to life in exuberant scenes (with strategically placed die-cuts) of the little girl’s wonderfully playful flights of fancy.
If any parents/ carers have doubts about the necessity to limit young children’s screen time, then this story will surely convince them to do so. Most certainly a smashing book to share both at home and in foundation stage settings.

The Perfect Shelter

The Perfect Shelter
Clare Helen Welsh and Åsa Gilland
Little Tiger

Clare knows how to write about areas many people find difficult, her last book being the beautiful story The Tide, featuring a loved family member with dementia.

The new book, The Perfect Shelter is also based on personal experiences, this time of cancer. It’s equally beautifully told and illustrated and it’s evident immediately that a great deal of thought and loving care has gone into its creation.

As the story starts a family shares what the little girl narrator calls ‘the perfect day’, just right for her and her older sister to build a den in the woods – the perfect shelter.

Suddenly though as the evening draws in, it’s evident that something is not right with big sister.

Back home comes the news, her sister is ill.
A storm rages but the den repairs must continue as the narrator’s beloved sibling undergoes an operation.

But then come the questions, “How did it get there? … Why MY sister?”

Eventually although the den seems beyond fixing, the narrator’s internal storm begins to abate as big sister starts to regain her strength and with it her determination: there’s a new perfect time and perfect place to build a new shelter …

And with it come smiles, new plans and that wonderful feeling of togetherness.

Although we share in the gamut of emotions of this family, it’s optimism that is key in the poignant telling and Åsa Gilland’s slightly quirky illustrations capturing the family sharing a difficult time are superbly expressive of all the uncertainty inherent in Claire’s story. I love the way she adds gorgeous tiny detail and patterning to every scene.

That there is no mention of any specific illness makes this a book that will help untie the knot of emotions in many families when one of their number (Or indeed a close friend) is diagnosed with a serious illness.