My Must-Have Mum

My Must-Have Mum
Maudie Smith and Jen Khatun
Lantana Publishing

This smashing story is told from the perspective of Jake and shows the special close relationship he has with his much-loved mother.

Jake’s mum is an inveterate skip scavenger seeing an opportunity for upcycling almost anything and everything, hence he calls her his ‘must-have mum.’ How the two of them manage to get some of her acquisitions up to their fourteenth floor urban flat, look like pretty difficult tasks, but Jake is hugely supportive of his mum’s unusual collecting habit.
Once home, she straightway starts working, transforming other people’s throw-aways into exciting new things, even working outdoors if necessary.

There’s one person who is anything but enthusiastic about Jake’s mum’s activities and that’s Mr Price. Indeed when he sees her latest effort his comment, “There she goes again. Your mum won’t be satisfied until she’s changed every last thing in the world!” sets alarm bells ringing as Jake lies in bed that night. Suppose she decided to change him too. Best to leave before she has the opportunity to do so, so off Jake goes outside into the cold. And there he remains until morning when he wakes to find …

What his must-have mum says to her ‘one and only must-have son’ is both hugely reassuring and uplifting.

In tandem with Maudie Smith’s words, Jen Khatun’s upbeat illustrations are bursting with energy and full of vibrant detail. This is a book I’d definitely recommend adding to family and primary school classroom collections.

The Dressing-Up Dad / Little Monster’s Day Out with Dad

The Dressing-Up Dad
Maudie Smith and Paul Howard
Oxford University Press
I’m sure most children are embarrassed by their parents from time to time: I suspect the boy in this funny story with its being yourself no matter what theme, feels increasingly that way as he gets older.
Danny’s Dad, like his son just loves to dress-up: I don’t mean in his favourite gear say, his best jeans and T-shirt. Oh no! Danny’s Dad really gets into the swing of the young lad’s fantasy play, donning whatever costume he deems appropriate for the situation in hand. He might become a space rocket, a fearsome dragon;

a wizard at the library, or a snow bear; and at Danny’s themed birthday parties, you can guess who was the most dreadful dinosaur or the dastardliest of pirates …

As Danny’s next birthday approaches, Dad contemplates his attire: should he perhaps be a ladybird, a dragonfly; there are plenty of bugs to choose from. Danny however, has other ideas for his Dad this year. And yes, he does look pretty cool as an ‘ordinary everyday’ dad but can he resist the invitation of Danny’s pals who have decided they want to be chased by a giant caterpillar. I wonder …

There’s a dilemma at the heart of this story and it’s evident in the body language and facial expressions of Danny’s Dad at the party. He’s doing his level best to enjoy being the perfect ordinary father when inside he’s torn: what he really wants is to don a costume and be a bug too; but how can he please himself and at the same time please his son? Paul Howard portrays all this and much more so adeptly in his enchanting illustrations. The presence of Danny’s lively dog wanting in on all the action and managing to creep in to almost every scene adds to the visual enjoyment of Maudie Smith’s captivating story.

Little Monster’s Day Out with Dad
Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt
Little Monster is excited at the prospect of a day trip to the fair with his dad, despite the fact that they’re going by car rather than train: that at least is the intention. No sooner on the road though than they’re held up in a traffic jam; when the car breaks down en route, after which the rescue truck gets a flat tyre, one begins to wonder whether they’ll ever reach their destination at all. Thank goodness then, for the bus: and there’s room for all aboard.

Finally they arrive at the fair ground and it seems as though Little Monster might be going to get his longed-for train ride after all …

With its funny, suitably garish Sharratt scenes with their plethora of flaps to lift, large print and sturdy pages, this will please most little monsters about the age of the chief protagonist herein.

I’ve signed the charter