Welcome to Your World

Welcome to Your World
Smriti Halls and Jaime Kim
Walker Books

Strangely enough this gorgeous book arrived in the same week as my nephew’s wife had a new baby girl so it was particularly timely. I can already imagine her seven-year-old sister reading Smriti’s, lyrical, almost prayerful text to her and showing her the beautiful scenes of the natural world. That though will have to wait until the next time I see them.

‘Welcome, little baby, / round your mother curled. / Welcome, little baby. / Welcome to your world.’ begins the exhortation to the infant to use every sense to experience the delights of nature from morning to nightfall: the warm rays of the sun; the flora and fauna of the forests, the splashing ocean with its fish and turtles; the sound of the eagles as they soar and swoop; the wondrous sight of the Arctic light;

to feel the water from the rain and the waterfall as the elephants do. There are juicy berries waiting to be tasted (though not just yet and not without adult say so) as well as sweet-smelling blossoms and many other wonderful experiences.

When the sky darkens there are twinkly stars far out and closer, the moon to shine upon your lovely face.

The mother concludes by repeating ‘Welcome to your world’ continuing – ‘it loves you through and through. / Welcome to your world … // will you love it too?’

Just beautiful!

Our Favourite Day / Around the Table That Grandpa Built

Our Favourite Day
Joowon Oh
Walker Books

As we’re shown in Joowon Oh’s expressive watercolour, gouache collaged illustrations, Grandpa has a routine: every day he gets up, drinks tea, tends his plants, does the odd domestic job, dresses and catches the bus into town.

There he takes a walk, window shops, partakes of his favourite dumpling lunch, returns home and on this particular night is in bed early with an idea in his head generated by his walk past the town craft shop.

The following day he starts off in the same manner but stops at the craft shop to buy some supplies

before heading to the usual restaurant. Today however, he doesn’t eat in; instead he orders two take-away portions of dumplings, stops to pick wild flowers on his way home and then waits.

Once all his preparations are set out on the table, a page turn shows the reason for his different actions – his granddaughter appears.

The joy of both on meeting is palpable as she dashes into his open arms; and so it is too in what they then do together.
The remaining narrative takes the form of the dialogue between the two as they spend an uplifting Thursday together.

Full of warmth and tenderness, debut author/illustrator Joowon Oh’s portrayal of the special relationship between a child and grandparent is a charmer.

Around the Table That Grandpa Built
Melanie Heiiser Hill and Jaime Kim
Walker Books

Using the rhythmic structure of ‘The House that Jack Built’ Melanie Hill has created a lovely story as we join in the celebration meal that is being prepared for when family and friends come together ‘Around the table that Grandad built.’

The table isn’t the only item with family associations: there are sunflowers picked by the young narrator’s cousins; napkins sewn by Mum; glasses from Mum and Dad’s wedding are set out; and the cutlery was given long ago by Dad’s grandma.

Then comes a look at the food – squash, roast potatoes and peppers, beans, ‘toasty tamales’, spicy samosas and rice pudding; there’s warm bread, butter made by the children and jam made by Dad; not to mention pies a plenty.

Everyone is thankful for the tasty food and for the bonds they share ‘around this table that Grandad built.’

Feelings of joy radiate from Jaime Kim’s bright mixed media illustrations in this story that celebrates togetherness and sharing the bounties of the season.

Isle of You

Isle of You
David LaRochelle and Jaime Kim
Walker Books

The unseen narrator invites a sad-looking child to leave all worries behind and take a journey (a sailing boat awaits) to a very special place – the Isle of You. This fantastical land is one bathed in soft llght and on shore are a host of welcoming animals and small humans ready to indulge their visitor.

Choices abound: there’s a waterfall in which to swim, a stallion to ride, mountains to climb or perhaps a ride on the back of an eagle, or a restful stretch in a hammock is preferable.

‘Take your time. The choice is yours.’ That’s the assurance.

There’s entertainment laid on courtesy of dancing polar bears

and a delicious-looking feast to partake of before perhaps, a moonlit stroll on the beach before it’s time to depart, safe in the knowledge that ‘Someone loves you very, very, very much.’

This reads like a guided visualisation in picture book form – mindfulness for little ones after a bad day.

David LaRochelle’s gentle whimsical story is a sweet one (perhaps some will find it overly so) and Jaime Kim’s glowing pastel shades of yellow, pinks, blues and purples help bring feelings of comfort and an otherworldy atmosphere to a fantasy that will help youngster listeners, (safe in the knowledge that it’s sometimes okay to feel sad), to set aside the day’s trials and worries and undertake a mindful journey to a magical place, that’s closer than they think, the ISLE OF YOU.