That’s Nice, Love by Owen Gent (Book Island)
That’s Nice Love is a beautiful picture book about noticing, sharing and treasuring the magical moments. If I could share just one new picture book with parents I think it would be this one. Its important message for us all is conveyed with kindness and understanding.
A small child and an adult wander into the park. The little boy is keen to explore, to discover and to enjoy his surroundings. The parent meanwhile is looking down at their phone. The child experiences joy and hidden treasures among the trees, his imagination adding to the excitement and surprises. Every so often the adult responds with a distracted, “That’s nice, love.” Once they return home the adult finally listens and the excited child recounts his adventures and, wonderfully, the adult responds.
Comparisons with Not Now, Bernard, the David McKee classic, are inevitable but this, I think, has a kinder more hopeful tone. We are all guilty to some extent of not paying attention, of being distracted by our technological gadgets, of not listening enough, or indeed of looking enough. This thoughtful book reminds us of what we are missing. The illustrations are wonderful, including the clever endpapers which are so much part of the story. I like this book very much and have learned from reading it. A book and a message to hold on to.
Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)
Based on the Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song of the same name this book is a celebration of home, family, love and the traditions of the Indigenous community. The eye-catching illustrations by Julie Flett portray this life well, capturing the scale of the landscape and lives of the individual people. The animals, the birds and the seasons all feature in both the text and the pictures but it is the feeling of home and family that is conveyed most strongly in this lovely book. It highlights the importance of our heritage, our background and where we come from and the joy we experience when we are reunited with those things that matter most to us. This something with which everyone from any background can recognise and empathise with. The cover is beautiful and invites the reader to explore more. As we turn the pages we experience the passage of time and also the writer’s love for her subject.
The lyrical text is perfect to read aloud at the end of the book sheet music for the song itself is included enabling it to be sung too which is a lovely bonus. The thoughtful notes from both the writer and the illustrator add to our understanding and enjoyment of this beautiful book.
Old Oak and Little Acorn by Elena Mannion Illustrated by Erin Brown (Pikku Publishing)
This follow up to last year’s The Happy Hedgerow is another visit to our natural world for young readers, this time looking at the life cycle of the oak tree. Little acorn is growing safe and secure within the care of the old oak tree but when a string wind blows and he is carried away from the safety of the tree to the ground he is fearful of the changes this will bring. As the seasons slowly change the acorn is carried away by a squirrel, buried within the earth and must survive the threats that winter brings. Finally in the spring the little acorn gradually emerges as a young sapling growing in the field not far from the aged and kindly oak from which he fell.
This lovely story is a wonderful way of nurturing an interest in and love for our natural environment. The personification of the acorn provides an appealing hook for a child who will be encouraged to care about the fate of this small seed. His adventure and the happy outcome despite his trepidation will reassure and comfort too. The depiction of the countryside, the flora and fauna found in the rural landscape, in the detailed illustrations is carefully presented in a rich palette subtly changing with the seasons. As our countryside faces steadily increasing threats from different sources this picture book is a great tool to encourage a connection with nature. Old Oak and Little Acorn could be shared equally well in both educational settings and the home. A book with a traditional appeal but of great value to a contemporary audience.
Each of these books were published this month and I should like to thank the publishers and Catherine Ward for providing my review copies.
That’s Nice, Love sounds hopeful and affirming,. and since image counts a lot with me from the cover I’d guess the inside illustrations work well with the story and message. (I hate that term but I guess it’s the best one here.)
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The illustrations are beautiful, yes, I should have expanded on that really. Like you I’m not keen on children’s books that preach a message too obviously but in this case I’ll make an exception. This is as you say hopeful and it’s more encouraging than critical which I like. I’m guilty of too much tech time and it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. This book would encourage thoughtful discussion among older children too.
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