Sand Between My Toes / Covered in Adventures

Sand Between My Toes
Caroline Cross and Jenny Duke
Child’s Play

The opening spread of this lovely book shows a little girl walking slightly behind the rest of her family as they arrive on the cliff above the beach. Immediately many adult readers will be transported back to their own childhood memories of such occasions when family seaside holidays and days beside the sea were the norm. What unfolds thereafter is the family enjoying a wealth of experiences: barefoot toe wriggling on the sandy shore, playing ball and splashing in the waves, 

discovering what’s in a rockpool, relishing a fast melting, dripping ice-cream (dog hot on the trail); there’s sandcastle constructing 

and some inevitable upsets too, as well as a sudden downpour. All ends happily with the entire family sitting together consuming chips beneath a shelter and then once the rain has stopped, wending their way back towards home beneath a gorgeously hued sky.
Caroline Cross’s spare poetic rhyming text allows plenty of space for Jenny Duke’s beautiful, almost dreamy scenes, as well as child audiences to fill in the gaps.

Covered in Adventures
Gillian Hibbs
Child’s Play

There are certain articles of clothing that we hang on to for years, unable to part with them for the memories they hold. One such is the old sweater belonging to young Sasha. Dad Greg’s comment in response to Dad Toby’s suggestion that she gets rid of said sweater is “ … at least let us wash it. Look how dirty it is!” Sasha disagrees: “It’s covered in adventures!” she asserts and together they begin to reminisce about some of what has happened to contribute to the garment’s appearance of having seen better days.

Yes, the sweater shows wear and mess from her imaginative journey on the high seas, from science experiments, 

cooking, camping, nature explorations, a game of soccer, some DIY to her go-kart and more, but all this is evidence of her many and varied adventures. 

It was even nibbled by a goat during a farm visit.
However, rather than despairing about her mucky sweater, Sasha’s supportive dads surprise her and at the same time she realises that actually it was herself rather than the sweater that made all those wonderful adventures happen. Moreover, she is now ready for some exciting new ones.

Gently humorous and uplifting, with Gillian Hibbs’ captivating illustrations this is a picture book for sharing at home or in the classroom.

Dearest One / The Smile

Dearest One
Arielle Dance and Jenny Duke
Lantana Publishing

Warm, heartfelt affirmations of the kind your loving grandmother might share with you are presented in this book.

Look for rainbows and have fun puddle jumping on rainy days, sow seeds of kindness – their effects will last long after you’re gone, 

dance to the song of the wind – it’s music for your soul; be kind to your body and mindful of what you put in it; draw on your inner power to reach your true potential; develop resilience and understand that neither you nor others can always be winners. Then on those dark days use your inner light to find something to get that flame of yours burning 

and never forget that your ancestors’ magic lies within you always acting as a guide, so never forget the stories they’ve told and remember to pass them on to others too. And always keep an open heart: that way love can find you no matter where you are.

Arielle Dance’s lyrical text convey words of wisdom that are not only important in the here and now, but also thoughts to hold within and draw upon at any time, especially when you’re feeling unsure about the future. In combination with Jenny Duke’s uplifting illustrations into which they’re set, they offer a beautiful book to give a young child, that an adult will surely love reading too.

The Smile
Marie Voigt
Oxford Children’s Books

At the start of a picnic, a baby smiles at an older sibling and the joyful reaction of the recipient has such power it begins a chain response that travels all around the world, eventually coming full circle in this series of visual anecdotes.

The thing about smiles is that we have the power to give an infinite number: a single smile might turn someone’s sadness into happiness there and then; or alternatively a seemingly simple action such as sending a loving message to somebody far away can, after some time has passed, also bring a smile to the face of the receiver; perhaps even somebody unknown.

In the country village and its environs where I currently spend a lot of my time, almost every person one encounters while out walking smiles at you or smiles back at your smile, whereas in suburban London where I spend the rest of my time, it’s relatively rare for somebody to look you in the face, let alone smile. Perhaps if a copy of Marie’s beautifully illustrated book were given to all parents of young children, it might start a smile revolution.