Mark & Rowan Sommerset: It's not a book, but it's something we made!

[a place] where a couple of Children’s Book makers, a small boy and a cat have spent their time dreaming and creating these past years ...
 
 

We’ve long been fans of the the uber-talented, uber-funny, author/illustrator duo Mark and Rowan Sommerset so, when the email came to say they’re selling their home, I immediately checked it out. Well, my oh my! Their publishing arm is worthily called Dreamboat Books and their house is all of that. I couldn’t wait to share it with you! Video below, but first click here for a gorgeous slide show (there’s a luxury yurt!)

And here are the Sommerset books that have had all of our kids rolling with laughter - click the images for their posts.

Have you read them? They’re hilarious, optimistic and the perfect little bit embarrassing for kids.

The Huge Bag of Worries - a comforting tale for little or big worriers

...she even worried about wars and bombs… until one day she woke to find… a HUGE BAG OF WORRIES
 
 

Ivy is a worrier; she comes from a long line of worriers on my side so there was really no escaping it. She worries that she will miss out, that someone might speak unkindly and that she won’t get to hug me when I’m in hospital having the baby. Nearly every day there is a new worry or 10. I wasn’t really sure how to help her because it’s something I only learned to deal with in adulthood, and those methods don’t really work for a 5 year old.

Talking to a friend, she recommended The Huge Bag of Worries (she uses in her speech pathology practise) and it has been a game changer!

The Huge Bag of Worries is the story of Jenny, who is a mostly happy girl with a happy life. But slowly she starts to worry about things. She worries that she is getting too fat or that her dog has fleas. She worries about her parents arguing and kids whispering about her at school.

 “she even worried about wars and bombs… until one day she woke to find…
…a HUGE BAG OF WORRIES.

The bag followed her everywhere… to school, to swimming, to the toilet, and it stuck by her even when she was watching TV.

Jenny tries everything she can think of to get rid of the bag but nothing works. She tries talking about The Bag to her family but no one else can see it so they don’t understand. One morning Jenny has had enough; she goes and sits on the curb to cry. But she isn’t as alone as she feels:

“’Goodness!’ said the old lady. ‘What on earth is that HUGE bag of worries?’

Through her tears, Jenny explains how it had followed her for weeks, and got bigger and bigger, and just wouldn’t go away.

Now let’s just open it up and see what’s inside,’ said the old lady.” 

Together, Jenny and the lady look at and talk about the worries.

This is a fabulous book for visualising and giving voice to feelings. It gave Ivy a way to open up and a method for communicating what she was feeling, and it’s been a great anchor point to return to when she’s feeling overwhelmed. We’ve had some wonderful discussions along these lines:

  • Worries don’t like being talked about, so voicing them can help.

  • Who owns the worry? Kids often worry about things outside of their control so I find it can help to take Ivy’s worries from her because ‘as her mum that’s mine to worry about, not hers’.

  • There are worries we can do something about vs worries that everyone has.

  • How to scare/fix worries, like frightening them or breathing them away.

  • Everyone worries, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.

  • We can’t see other people’s worries, so it’s important to notice them and listen when they want to talk.

The Huge Bag of Worries is suitable for children ages 3 to 10 years and is great for helping both children and adults communicate about feelings. I’ve tagged it in Emotional Resilience and Anxiety, but also Heartwarmers, Emotions and Empathy.

The Huge Bag of Worries
by Virginia Ironside illustrated by Frank Rodgers – Macdonald Young Books, 1996
ages 3 to 10 years

 

a timely reminder (to me) that reading together should be a treat, not a prescription

When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child’, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.
— Mem Fox

This from Mem Fox really resonated with me today.

I always love reading to my kids, it’s one of the highlights of my day and gives me rest from constant busyness + connections on a physical, mental and emotional level and great discussions that give me insight into their amazing minds.

 But, in my enthusiasm to read many and varied books to them, our reading doesn’t always come across like chocolate (sometimes you’d think I’m trying to take them to the dentist!).

 So I’m grateful for this timely reminder that what is most important is helping my kids love books, not how many we read in a day.

get ready for a fun and noisy chain reaction of calamities!

get ready for a fun and noisy chain reaction of calamities!

ages 3 to 8 years
When I was in my early 20’s I was privileged to teach English in China, an amazing experience filled with people, culture and experiences. And I got to visit the Beijing Zoo.

I had no real interest in the zoo itself, but I’d always wanted to see a panda. So in 42-degree heat and what felt like 110% humidity I made my way across Beijing. And … it was rather disappointing. The panda WAS cute, but

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move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

move over fractured fairy tales, fantasy can be good for us all!

I’m always a little embarrassed when someone asks me what I like to read. My favourite genre (although I will basically read and enjoy anything) is fantasy, with a particular love of fairy tale re-telling.

I know in general it’s a popular genre, but I like to think of myself as a practical sort of person, and I almost feel like it’s a weakness, that little part of myself that won’t grow up (ok there is probably more than just one small part that hasn’t grown up : )).

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it's springtime in Tasmania: we're exploring and loving our colourful world

it's springtime in Tasmania: we're exploring and loving our colourful world

ages 1 to 8 years
Spring is in full bloom in Tasmania, it’s the most divine season. Lush green from all the rain, vibrant splashes of colour from the blossoms and spring blooms (daffodils everywhere!) and all that bright sunshine! There’s a whole mass of colours you forget exist in the long cold winter.  

All the Colours I See is the perfect book to compliment our spring colour fever. It’s a beautiful die-cut colours primer that explores the different hues in the world around us.

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after our marathon break—books about running to inspire, educate and entertain

after our marathon break—books about running to inspire, educate and entertain

Well that turned into a marathon break - the best laid plans and all that! (If you're reading this post in isolation, we took what turned into a way-too-long break from WTBA to get a few other things in order.) 

Speaking of marathons :), I’ve been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s witty and conversational in tone, fascinating and eye opening. Quite inspiring.

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