I Love Me! / We Are the Rainbow!

I Love Me!
Marvyn Harrison and Diane Ewen
Macmillan Children’s Books

Narrated by two small children, this enormously empowering book of positive affirmations came about as a result of the author Marvyn’s own child-rearing experience.

Starting on a Monday, it takes us through the week giving examples to back up the powerful statement. So, Monday’s declaration, ‘I am brave’ is demonstrated by using the big slide, superhero play, facing up to monsters and showing courage in new situations.

Tuesday is brain boosting day with showing one’s skill at maths, reading, dressing and potion brewing. And so it continues through the week as in turn the focus word is brave, kind, 

happy, loving and on Sunday, ‘We are beautiful!’ Those though aren’t the only uplifting statements the book contains, as is revealed beneath the fold-out page that comes before the author’s notes for parents and carers.

This book, with Diane Ewen’s bold, eye-catching mixed media illustrations of the affirmations in practice might have originated with black parents/carers and their offspring in mind, but the powerful feelings of self-worth it will engender in children are crucial to developing confidence in every single youngster no matter who they are, making it an important book for all family and classroom collections.

We Are the Rainbow!
Claire Winslow and Riley Samels
Sunbird Books

One colour at a time, this lovely little rainbow of a board book explores the LGBTQIA+ flag, its symbolism and history. The first eight spreads each use a colour to highlight a particular attribute: purple is for spirit, a reminder to listen to your heart, you are unique. Blue is for harmony, ‘Together our voices can change the world.’ Yellow is sunlight – ‘Happiness grows when you let your light shine.’ These important heartfelt messages are for everyone so the next colour, brown, is for inclusivity and this is followed by black for diversity.

Having presented each of the colours of the rainbow plus black and brown, 

we see a joyful rainbow spread: ‘The rainbow is for PRIDE. Pride means being glad to be who you are’. The final spread is devoted to a short history of how the Pride flag developed since it was first created in 1973.

Yes, this is a board book but its messages of acceptance, empathy, kindness, inclusivity and celebrating who you are, are vital for everyone; it can easily be used with older children, perhaps in a circle time or assembly.

The Littlest Yak

The Littlest Yak
Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Despite her prowess at clip-clopping up slippery cliffs and her wonderfully curly, whirly woolly back, little Gertie yak is unhappy on account of her lack of “bigness’. She longs to grow up great and tall, when she assumes, her horns and hooves will be impressively huge.

Her mum assures her that ‘bigness’ can take a variety of guises but Gertie remains impatient to assume a larger form.

To that end she embarks on a ‘growing-up’ regime: a diet of healthy veggies and vigorous physical exercise as well as mental training, thanks to her extensive library.

None of which have the desired effect.

Then all of a sudden as Gertie is near to despair, there comes a cry for help from the yak herd. The teeniest, weeniest is stranded in a perilously precarious position on a cliff edge.

Now is the time for Gertie to make use of those super-grippy hooves of hers and so she does. Onto her back leaps the teeny weeny yak and down the mountainside they both go, to safety and a congratulatory crowd.

Later, wrapped up warmly under the stars, might just be the time for one little yak to realise that she’s just right as she is.

Debut picture book author, Lu Fraser’s rhyming text flows beautifully, making it a super read aloud; and she has the perfect illustrator in Kate Hindley whose funny details – look out for the bird characters – add gigglesome delight to many of the spreads. Love those bobble hats, blankets, scarves and other items of warm clothing worn by the yaks. Perfect for this heartwarming tale.

Odd Dog Out

Odd Dog Out
Rob Biddulph
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Here’s a splendiferous book about being yourself, happy in your own skin and most important, being an individual unafraid of being different. I was blown right away by Rob Biddulph’s debut picture book, growled in delight at his second offering and this is every bit as good, and better.
As a divergent thinker who refuses to conform I was totally hooked by the time I reached here …

That this small dog just doesn’t quite sing from the same song sheet as all the other dogs …

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causes her such sadness she decides to up and leave her home town and strike out alone …

which she does, travelling until she reaches Doggywood. But is this the right place for our canine pal? There certainly seem to be a lot of others looking just like her …

But it’s not being like those same-looking others that convince Odd Dog she’s perfectly fine just as she is; it’s an encounter with another who is totally at home with her own difference that convinces her that her heart and home are right back where she came from. Being happy with who and what you are, is the important thing: let the rest of the world accommodate you and perhaps even celebrate yours and everyone’s uniqueness …

Super-brilliant stuff, Rob Biddulph: you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. ‘ … blaze a trail. Be who you are.’ What better message to give children, and indeed adults, than this. Cracking rhyming text and illustrations: a MUST have for every family and classroom.

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