Harriet’s Expanding Heart

Harriet’s Expanding Heart
Rachel Brace and Angela Perrini
Little Steps Publishing

Harriet’s mum and dad are separated and for the little girl that means that in addition to two parents, she has two homes, two different bedrooms, one school and a cat Ginger. Moving between the two homes also means she has to cope with two different sets of rules and routines. No matter what though, she always feels both much loved and safe.

Then one day on a visit to her dad’s, he shares some news: he and his new partner Emily are going to move in together. ‘We’re going to be a step family,’ he tells his daughter. For Harriet this also means a new little stepbrother, Cooper. This announcement leaves her feeling apprehensive and anxious. There follow explanations about what this all means that only leave Harriet with a whole lot of worries whizzing around in her head: what if Dad chooses Emily and Cooper over me? being just one.

After the move some things change, others remain the same for Harriet who experiences feelings being an outsider and sometimes even anger.

It’s going to take time to get used to living with a grown up who isn’t either your mum or dad.

However, little by little with sympathetic understanding and reassurances from her Dad, Harriet begins to feel much less anxious and as her mum explains, ‘there is no right or wrong way to feel’ but no matter what, both her parents will continue to love her very much. She in turn gradually sees that being a member of a stepfamily doesn’t change how much she loves her mum or her dad; it’s more that her heart, along with her family has grown a little bit bigger.

Written by a family psychologist, Rachel’s story, with its straightforward easy to understand language, is especially apposite for new stepfamilies where there are young children. (The author also gives some helpful tips for parents and stepparents.) Angela Perrini really captures the gamut of emotions Harriet experiences during the upheaval in her life.

Little Spiral / Friends Don’t Like Roaring

Little Spiral
Pat Simmons and Patrick Shirvington
Little Steps

Deep in the rainforest ‘In a pearl-like egg’ grows Little Spiral safely tucked away but when he hatches, a tiny baby forest snail with a perfect spiral shell, the little mollusc must grow

and survive dangerous environments as he traverses the pages journeying over the forest floor, over stones, leaves and bracken through day and night as he encounters other creatures one of which – a rustling rat – scares him and another, a hungry lizard for which a snail would make a tasty snack.

Can he thrive as well as survive as he slowly moves and grows on his way to continue nature’s cycle: ‘Stay safe, Little Spiral’.

Perfectly complementing Pat Simmons’ poetic narrative, Patrick Shrivington’s wildlife watercolour illustrations provide a veritable visual feast of Little Spiral in his natural habitat.

Nature isn’t really magical but this book makes it seem almost so.

Friends Don’t Like Roaring
Antje Taylor and Matt Howarth
Little Steps

Lap is a small dinosaur with a large problem: he wants to play with the other little dinosaurs in the playground but he cannot figure out why they all beat a hasty retreat when he approaches them.

Happily Mummy Dinosaur is on hand to pacify her little one and having done so, to offer some words of about how to approach his potential playmates: “try using your words” she suggests and with a helpful lesson learnt, the day ends happily for Lap and all the little dinosaurs.

Antje Taylor’s straightforward present tense telling in combination with Matt Howorth’s bright, digital illustrations provide a simple story about building empathy and developing social interaction to share with the very young, especially those who are finding making friends and playing with others something of a challenge.