Just Like Mummy / Superhero Mum

Just Like Mummy
Lucy Freegard
Pavilion Books

Following on from last year’s Just Like Daddy, Lucy Freegard turns her attention to mums, especially the one featured here.

The young narrator introduces his/her special super-talented mum– full of fun, both creative and practical, ready to offer some words of wisdom at just the right time and provider of cuddles whenever they’re needed. Who wouldn’t want to have a mother like that, and perhaps, to have those qualities when they grow up? Certainly that is what the little leopard here is aiming for. (We don’t know the gender so the story works well for all.)

I suspect any youngster would wish for a mother who spends so much time with her child be that making music, gardening, exploring or whatever, and the cub really does appreciate this togetherness.

It’s important to acknowledge that things don’t always go exactly how we’d like them to; there are sad times, challenging times and inevitably, times when we make mistakes, and so it is here.

Lucy Freegard’s expressive illustrations do a great job of encompassing both the highs and lows of everyday life in a book that is perfect for sharing and discussing with pre-schoolers, and especially, it’s a lovely story for giving to a special mum on Mother’s Day.

Superhero Mum
Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger
Nosy Crow

We had Superhero Dad and now Knapman and Berger even things up with a companion title about mums.

The narrative is an upbeat rhyming celebration of all the things that make them so amazing. Mums, and in particular this little girl narrator’s mum, is on the go from morning till night, whizzing around, often multi-tasking.

Whether it’s making sure we catch the bus to school,

inventing and participating in energetic playground games, administering first aid,

joining in with bath time fun, seeking out a favourite lost toy, or sharing a bedtime story, she always delivers.

In short, she’s an inspiration to every would-be super hero girl (or boy come to that.)

It takes someone special to do all these things with a smile on her face and that’s how Joe Berger’s comic book coloured, action-packed scenes portray her in every one of these seemingly ordinary, everyday activities that could be easily taken for granted.

I’ve signed the charter  

I Love You / The Chalk Rainbow

I Love You
Xiao Mao and Tang Yun
New Frontier Publishing
The complete title of this warm-hearted picture book is Ti amo, Ich liebe dich, Wo ai ni, Te quiero, Je t’aime. It tells how a pupil in Ms Giraffe’s class learns her teacher’s favourite words. Ms Giraffe writes them on the whiteboard one morning and asks her pupils what they might mean.

Little Badger’s response is just what she was hoping for: “when you say it out loud, the most wonderful things can happen,” she tells her.
Like all enthusiastic learners, Little Badger practises her new vocabulary, addressing the school, plants,

the weather, a bird, her home and practically everything in it, even a new pair of pants, and most importantly, her Mum and Dad.
It’s a wonderful way of showing young children how much pleasure they can get from showing and sharing love, and by appreciating what they have. Little Badger is one cute character and she gets this straightaway, as well as the fact that to make new words your own you need to use them often. All this is shown in Tang Yun’s wonderfully whimsical scenes wherein perspective is employed to great effect.

The Chalk Rainbow
Deborah Kelly and Gwynneth Jones
EK Books
Teachers and other professionals who work with children who have ASD constantly have to think outside the box. So it is here with Zane’s elder sister.
Young Zane isn’t like other children. So says the girl narrator of this story: he has a made-up language, likes to line things up and really hates the colour black. You’ve probably guessed by now that Zane is on the autism spectrum.
His family find life can be challenging, especially because Ollie won’t walk across anything black: that means the pedestrian crossing and the family’s driveway. His parents, in particular Dad, are seemingly unaware of the cause of Ollie’s differences and the result is Ollie goes into melt down.

His sister however is more understanding and comes up with a wonderfully imaginative way of helping her younger brother. She starts by drawing a chalk rainbow on the front steps and with his help, extends it right down the drive. The chalk runs out but his sister comes up with a clever way to extend their creative bridge building …

wherever it’s needed and before long ‘there are rainbows everywhere.’

One hopes this story with its themes of accepting difference, trust and unconditional love, will help readers and listeners to try and see things from behind the head of a child with ASD.

I’ve signed the charter  

Pandora

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Pandora
Victoria Turnbull
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
I have to admit to doing a little dance when I saw this. I’ve loved all Victoria Turnbull’s books so far, but this one, with its tactile, satin, gold-sheened cover, is sublime. It takes picture book perfection to another level as it draws readers into Pandora’s lone world of broken things …

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where she spends her time collecting, mending and recycling whatever she can.
Into that world one day crashes a small creature. That too needs fixing, but Pandora’s mending skills are, she feels, inadequate. Clearly not her caring though, for she nurses it with tenderness …

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as it gradually gains strength and is able to fly once more. Pandora’s kindness is rewarded with small treasures …

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But then one day she is faced with an empty box.
The emotional turmoil this creates is as devastatingly heart-wrenching for the reader as for Pandora. Alone once more she nurses her broken heart and, as it slowly grows back together,

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other things start to grow in that box until one morning, the sun shines into her room drawing her outdoors to the best of all possible surprises …

 

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The spare text means that every turn of the page is part of an exquisite contemplative experience that has you in its thrall throughout Pandora’s highs and lows, as you linger to explore every delicate detail of this ultimately, uplifting, fable of transformation; for as Alexander Pope said, ‘Hope springs eternal …’

Monster Night-Nights & A Noisy Baby

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Monsters Go Night-Night
Aaron Zenz
Abrams Appleseed
Bedtime for infant humans usually involves bathing, tooth brushing, donning pjs or onesie and a bedtime story, followed by hugs and kisses. Monsters’ bedtimes are somewhat different. Monsters snack (on umbrellas can you believe?) And yes, they do bath although with chocolate puddings – no need for soap then; they can just lick themselves clean. Their night attire is of the disposable kind …

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and there are snuggles, albeit with something pretty ‘unsnuggleable’ – which of these do you think it is? (One of my listeners thought it was a super place to hide)

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They have assistance with tooth brushing – hint, from something pink and many-legged.

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You may be surprised after all that monstrous behaviour that young monsters are not generally nappy-poopers; they do know how to use a potty …

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and they absolutely delight in ‘night-night‘ kisses – lots of them.
There’s one final part of their routine that I’d better keep under wraps though just in case it shocks you. (You might want to avoid that last page when you share this fun book with your youngster(s), just in case it gives them ideas …
This extended guessing game is bound to delight very young ‘monsters’ with its predictable patterned text, printed in a large typeface and populated by a host of endearing, brightly coloured little monsters.
All of the above makes it ideal for beginning readers too (preferably once someone has shared it with them); and infinitely more enjoyable than a dull phonic reading scheme book.

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Lulu and the Noisy Baby
Camilla Reid and Ailie Busby
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
When preschooler Lulu notices that her mum’s tummy is increasing in size, it’s time to tell her that she’s to become a big sis. and she’s thrilled to see the ultrasound scan of the baby.

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Inevitably Mummy gets tired and her rest time provides an opportunity for Lulu and Daddy to make something for the new arrival.

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A few weeks later granny comes to stay and Daddy drives Mummy to the hospital. Granny and Lulu have great fun together and the next day, there’s a howling babe and smiling parents at the door; and Lulu meets brother Freddy for the very first time.

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She’s thrilled with her new sibling and is soon excitedly helping to change him. Now Mummy is often busy with Freddy and so Lulu and her dad get on with jobs like cooking, though that doesn’t mean there’s no quality time together for Lulu and her mum. But now Lulu has an important new role – that of BIG sister.
Lulu, as described by Camilla Reid and depicted by Ailie Busby, is a cute, already popular character with the very young and as such is a good one to demonstrate the role of a new big sister to the very young, although perhaps, in addition to the odd bit of quarrelling, it would have been good to see some of those feelings of jealousy that are bound to be part and parcel of the new arrival scenario. With a plethora of flaps to open, this is assuredly a book to engage tinies and keep them involved throughout the story. Its sturdy binding will mean that it should stand up to the numerous re-reads it’s likely to get at home or in early years settings.

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