Kindness across the generations, challenging stereotypes, the journey our food makes and a welcome re-issue, just some of the picture books I have enjoyed over recent weeks.
Many families will have experience of elderly relatives developing dementia and may also have witnessed how friendship across the generations can provide both comfort and encouragement. Phyllis and Grace written with understanding by Nigel Gray and tenderly illustrated by Bethan Welby is a touching and sensitive portrayal of such a situation. Little Grace and her parents live next to an old lady named Phyllis who lives alone and whose memory is failing. The family keep an eye on Phyllis, doing small DIY jobs and sending meals around to her. But it is Grace that becomes her special friend. As the story progresses Phyllis’s memory and ability to cope deteriorate but the friendship deepens. I loved this gentle, moving and empathetic picture book; it captures so well the confusion of an elderly person in this situation but also the care they still are able to show for others. This would be an excellent way to introduce the topic of dementia and also depicts the importance of community and understanding of others in difficult situations. Published by Scallywag Press on 7th April.
The cover of I am NOT a Prince written by Rachael Davis and illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher is bold and eye catching and sets the tone for this alternative version of a fairy tale that challenges stereotypes. The rhyming text is fun to read aloud but conveys a serious and important message. Hopp the little frog knows that he is different but finds it impossible to explain to others quite how he feels. This book is a lovely way of allowing children to see that it is important to be true to yourself and is presented in a kind and appropriate way. It promotes inclusivity in a positive manner and would be a good discussion prompt for slightly older children. The bold, vibrant graphic style illustrations are great including details of the story for children to notice as they listen or read and the whole book has a joyful feel to it. Published by Hachette Press in paperback 26th May.
Picture books can be a wonderful way of introducing young children to narrative non-fiction and Shelly Hen Lays Eggs written by Deborah Chancellor and illustrated by Julia Groves is an excellent example. This is the latest in a series showing children where there food comes from and is presented in the same simple and stylish way as the previous books. We accompany a little boy as he follows the life of Shelly Hen as she searches for food, finds a shady place to have a nap and eventually lays a beautiful, brown egg ready to be eaten for tea. Incorporating a trail for children to follow matching words and additional facts about ‘happy hens’ this encourages children understand the work that goes into producing food and become environmentally aware. An excellent book for Early Years settings published by Scallywag Press on 7th April.
The Most Beautiful Child by William Papas was first published in 1973 and this welcome re-issue in paperback will bring it to a new audience. This story has a charm and a subtle humour to it that is extremely appealing as is its thoughtful and kindly message about the dangers of vanity and pride. Mr Peacock asks Mrs Owl to take his child’s lunch to school and kind Mrs Owl agrees. How will she recognise his child she asks? Just look for the most beautiful child there replies Mr Peacock. There follows a lesson in the power of a parent’s love as Mrs Owl can find no child more beautiful than her own! The glorious illustrations of all the birds in the school are lovely and provide a way into bird identification and naming too. A cheerful and thoughtful tale published by Pikku Publishing on 7th April.