What I read | September / October 2021

Fletcher and the rainbow by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. We all know that getting outside and into nature, whether it is in a city park or the rural countryside or an old railway track path, is good for our wellbeing and inspires childrens' imaginations and creativity. So these seasonal-inspired picture books give us the opportunity to relive and talk about some of the things we experience outdoors with small children. Fletcher is out and about on a windy, wet and stormy day when a rainbow appears. His mum thinks it will soon be gone so Fletcher sets out to find the rainbow's end so he can help it to stay forever. The rainbow didn't stay forever but he did find many other beautiful, colourful things in the woods, and together with his friends makes his own rainbow. This story enables us to talk about determination, motivation and perseverance, alongside brilliant "sciencey things" like rainbows and colour mixing. Published by Graffeg in August 2021. Find out more here https://graffeg.com/products/fletcher-and-the-rainbow.

Alex and Alex by Ziggy Hanaor and illustrated by Ben Javens. Alex and Alex are best friends, like some of the same things, and like doing some things differently. The book takes us on a journey around some of their similarities and differences, including a trip to a museum that ends in a bit of a sulk. But in the end friendship is more important than a salad roll. You'll have to read it to find out what that means! Published in September 2021 by Cicada Books . Find out more here https://www.cicadabooks.co.uk/books/p/alex-and-alex

The Missing Trick by Robin Jacobs and illustrated by Aimee Wright. Louis is setting up his magic show, but can't find the rabbit, in the hat where he left him. We are treated to a series of possibilities where the rabbit might be, in Louis's cloak or pocket, under the tablecloth, in his big bag? A much better trick than the rabbit one ensues, delighting the audience, but does the rabbit reappear? A really funny story brought to life by hilarious and detailed illustrations. Published by Cicada Books in October 2021. Find out more here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57526305-the-missing-trick?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=5r87s2toKO&rank=1 and here https://aimeewright.co.uk/

Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now by Jaron Lanier. The world-famous Silicon Valley scientist suggests here that social media is making us sadder, angrier, less empathetic, more fearful, more isolated and more tribal, resulting in phenomenons like the rise of fake news and populism and undermining democracy. The arguments are convincing, the big social media companies are manipulating us and using our data to do so. And OK, I didn't "delete all my accounts right now", but it did make me think about the effects it is having, and the data they are collecting, because, as the author points out, we won't be able to change things unless the big social media giants change their business model, removing us and our data as their product. I strongly suggest watching (if possible) the Netflix documentaty The Social Dilemma, which explains it all visually too. Raising awareness of the consequences of the current business model of socail medi giants is a good place to start. Published by Vintage Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Planning in the moment with young children by Anna Ephgrave. Inspiring, accessible, and such a simple pedagogy to embrace, wth the unique child and their involvement, engagement and well-being at the heart of practice. If you read one early childhood book this year, please read this.

In order to live - a North Korean girl's journey to freedom by Yeonmi Park. The amazing memoir of Yeonmi Park who escaped North Korea aged 13. The reader imagines a time period many years ago, but in fact Yeonmi Park was born in 1993 and much of the book is set in the early 2000's, in North Korea whiere there are food shortages, poverty, propoganda, manipulation, starvation and labour camps. She paints a picture of a country that most of us know nothing about, because it is hidden from the rest of the world. So a story like this not only raises awareness, and teaches us a bit of history, but also helps us to empathise with people in places around the world where life is so much harder than we could imagine. Published by Penguin Random House

Nanook and the Melting Arctic by Ryan Mizzen and illustrated by Paul Winward. Another title in Ryan's Time to Care series (www.ryanmizzen.com). Nanook is the Inuit for polar bear, and this story is about a polar bear who is very worried as the ice around him is melting. He's a cool polar bear - he even has a poster of Greta Thunberg in his igloo. But it is a serious problem and needs a serious solution, so a story like this that can raise awareness in the form of a gentle rhyming story is a perfect way to help us talk to our little ones about the problems that our planet faces. Perfect timing too with the upcoming COP26 conference where the world's leaders take centre stage and hopefully agree on some serious action. Co-incidentally, the story does contain a climate change conference, where the leaders seem to be making no progress at all, until Nanook and his friends try to make them see sense - with some hilarity and plenty of serious admissions of guilt from the world leaders. It is possible to solve our crisis, and in this story the world leaders do see sense and promise to act to save the animals and the planet. Lets hope our real world leaders can do the same. 💚

Making Waldorf Crafts by Nina Taylor. A book for a parent or carer and a child to share, perfect as a gift. This lovely book, illustrated with many photos and clear diagrams and drawings, shows children (slightly older than my usual remit of 0-5's) how to begin to learn sewing, knitting and weaving skills, which I've decided are lovley skills to have as you get older - I would love to be able to knit or crochet and definitely have this on my to do list for the future. This selection of easy projects are great for an adult and child to work on together to build confidence and fine motor skills, as well as a sense of achievement with a finished item, and the mindfulness of creating something. Published by Hawthorn Press

We're going places by Mick Jackson and illustrated by John Broadley. This is the second collaboration by this author-illustrator pairing, the first, While you're Sleeping, is shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize. This title follows a child's growth through the theme of travel, but also looking at the journey of life from birth to old age. The illustrations use a limited colour palette which is beautifully timeless and faultlessly mirror the lyrical text. "Sometimes it's good to take your time, to dilly-dally. Other times, everything's a mad flap, dash and scramble because WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE! Some journeys you just can't wait to get there. Others you'd be happy to never arrive." Probably some of my favourite illustrations this year. Published on 9/9/21 by Pavilion Books . Find out more here - https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/were-going-places/

Little Glow by Katie Sahota and illustrated by Harry Woodgate. Little Glow is a candle who wishes to be bolder and brighter, as she watches the different festivals and celebrations over the year, like Diwali, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Ramadan and Hannukkah, as we see candles and light being celebrated. The rhyming, lyrical text is perfect for this story, giving us the feeling of the flickering candle light. And an ending that provides hope, as candles flicker all over our diverse and inclusive communities. Highly recommended, it's a celebration of family, community and togetherness. Published by Owlet Press on 14th October 2021

Oh Monty! cats...cakes...crumbs! by Susannah Lloyd and illustrated by Nici Gregory. Tiddles and Monty are their owners dear little perfect pooches, so what could go wrong leaving them alone to look after a most marvellous freshly baked cake. It looks like something from Bake Off its so impressive... Another cake later, and another performance of innocence by the amateur dramatist Monty, it couldn't have really been her who destroyed two cool cakes, could it? Hilarious expressions on the faces of the two cats make this a jewel of a comedy caper. Published by Pavilion Books on 16/9/21. Find out more here - https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/oh-monty/

Albert and the Wind by Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke. Another installment in the adventures of Albert, based on the author's real life family pet, brought to life by the illustrator's expressive and humorous designs. Albert's hungry and its windy...and the wind's blown away his food stash. On his journey to find his food, he encounters the bee, spider, snail and worm, until all the creatures are trying to help, with some very comical consequences involving "a loud noise from Albert's back end"! And all he wanted to do was to say a big thank you to all his friends. Delightful. Published by Graffeg on 14/10/21. Find out more here - https://graffeg.com/collections/books-1/products/albert-and-the-wind

The Squirrel's Tale by Julian Reisz and illustrated by Alex Beeching. About a squirrel called Hazel who lives in the middle of the Great Forest with her Dad, and loves exploring, feasting on berries and meeting the forest creatures. The illustrations capture perfectly the shapes and movement of the squirrel and the trees. Hazel takes her biggest adventure yet when she climbs the Big Enormous Oak, suddenly able to see far and wide across the land. But getting down is trickier than she thinks, and results in disaster and running home to Dad to tell him all about it. A lovely ending results though, capturing the spirit of resilience and boundless energy of children, and squirrels! Published by Otherwise Publishing

National Poetry Day, and I thought this was worth a mention. My daughter has introduced me to the world of poetry recently, and I was inspired to read more after coming across the Mary Oliver poem The Messenger (https://wordsfortheyear.com/2020/04/04/messenger-by-mary-oliver/). I picked this book up in a charity shop the orher day "Read Me, A Poem for Every Day of the Year" chosen by Gaby Morgan and published by Pan Macmillan. It's a very diverse collection but I'm doing as it says and reading the poem for the day each day rather than be tempted to flick through for my favourites or familiar poets. It's so easy to forget poetry, although we are all introduced to it from a very young age through picture books, more recently by the likes of Julia Donaldson and her brilliant rhyming prose. Have a browse at the poetry section in the charity shop or library, and try something new on #NationalPoetryDay.

Rita wants a witch by Maire Zepf and illustrated by Mr Ando (aka Andrew Whitson). Rita has big ideas and a big imagination, and who loves Halloween. So she decides she wants a witch. After weighing up several pros and cons - the magic which could help with homework and cleaning, and the fact that the witch might be spooky, scary or mean, Rita comes to a decison. You'll have to read it to find out, but suffice to say she prefers her dressed up family to anything too real... Published on 28/10/21 by Graffeg, find out more here - https://graffeg.com/products/rita-wants-a-witch

The Confession by Jessie Burton. Brilliant storytelling in this latest novel from the author of The Miniaturist. Set in 1983 and 2013, we meet Elise who escapes London with the novelist Constance Holden for an exciting new life in LA, and Rose who, in 2013, is searching for the mother she never met. The connection seems to be the author Constance Holden, and Rose will go to great lengths to uncover a confession.

And these are the books we shared with the children in September and October

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