Sometimes emotions can be conveyed more easily through picture books, especially those created for younger children. There are times too when they can be invaluable for helping to explain a situation a child may not understand or need some reassurance in order to learn how to cope with it. These three recently published books do all of this well.
Two Places To Call Home by Phil Earle illustrated by Jess Rose
The bright and cheerful cover of Two Places to Call Home sets the tone for this positive and uplifting book about a little girl learning to adapt to living in two different houses, one with Dad and another with Mum, and discovering that both places can be ‘home’. Phil Earle writes with a kind understanding of the reality of separation and divorce ensuring the story acts as a wise guide to children reading or listening.
Florrie loves her Dad and her Mum and she knows that they both love her too. What Florrie finds hard is leaving one parent behind when she goes to visit the other. Her sensible parents give the little girl something to take with her to each home, a special stone from Dad’s and a magic flower on a necklace from Mum’s. Armed with this reassurance Florrie discovers that she is brave enough to manage this new situation and the story depicts her playing, using her imagination and, importantly, sharing her happiness with both parents.
This delightful story would do a great deal to reassure an anxious child in a similar situation that even when a family doesn’t live under the same roof they are still a family. Two Places to Call Home would be an excellent book for a school staff collection, for school libraries and Early Years settings. Phil Earle wrote this insightful article about the reasons for writing this book which you may find interesting. Two Places to Call Home was published on 16th February by Ladybird Books.
When I’m Gone by Marguerite McLaren illustrated by Hayley Wells
This profoundly moving picture book was written by Marguerite McLaren in response to her own situation and will help children learn how to cope with bereavement and grief. She has managed to find the right words to convey her message beautifully yet it is hard to find the right words to review this tender and gentle book.
The endpapers depict happy photos of precious family memories of a new baby’s arrival, holidays, Christmas, outings and family gatherings. There is love in these warm tinted pictures and this warmth and love is evident in Hayley Wells’ illustrations throughout. The book is a love letter to the author’s children, wise, kind and tender urging her children to live their own lives full of joy and adventure but also reassuring them that her love for them will endure. In writing When I’m Gone Marguerite McLaren hopes that it will help her own children and others in similar situations. This book also lets children know that their own emotions and reactions are normal, be they angry, confused or sad. An utterly lovely book, both heartbreakingly sad and life affirming at the same time.
The book ends with expert advice from the charity Child Bereavement UK and their website address. When I’m Gone was published on 9th March by Ladybird Books.
My Momma Zo by Kelly and Zoey Allen illustrated by Tara O’Brien
This vibrantly illustrated picture book shows how a family support each other through a time of change and also conveys how families can come in all shapes and sizes.
Told by little Molly she describes how she lives with her brother George and her two mums: Mommy Kel and Momma Zo. Molly lists their likes and dislikes, their similarities and their differences. Through Molly’s narration we learn that Momma Zo used to be called Daddy and was frequently unhappy and reluctant to join in family fun. Molly then goes on to describe how happy Momma Zo is now. The text and illustrations show the family with their pet dog and enjoying spending time together. There is mention of how some people can be unkind but the emphasis throughout is on the strength of the family bond and the love they share, “no matter what.” A sensitively written and thoughtful book.
Zoey Allen wrote a guest piece on the importance of representation on the My Book Corner blog to coincide with publication of this book and you can read it here. My Momma Zo was published on 2nd March by Uclan Publishing.
These sound like three incredibly powerful and important books, thank you for sharing your insightful reviews of them Anne 😊
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They could be extremely useful in schools, particularly as part of a PSHE collection. All three are sensitive in their approach to their subject matter. When I’m Gone is beautiful but heartbreaking though, I confess that I welled up.
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