Because Amelia Smiled: how a little girl's smiles went round the world and back

Because Amelia Smiled: how a little girl's smiles went round the world and back

This is a wonderfully circular book. Amelia smiles, her smile is contagious and spreads all around the world and finally finds its way back to her - and she smiles again!

I love a book that shows (but doesn’t preach about) the interconnectedness of people around the world – this book manages exactly that.

And I think the key is the joyfulness of the illustrations. There’s a fuzziness* to them that invites the reader into the edges of the world each character inhabits. 

Read More

Bruno: a brilliant book for embracing differences in people and in life

Bruno: a brilliant book for embracing differences in people and in life

ages 2 to 8 years
Most everyone has had almost-perfect days, stupid days, rainy days, peculiar days and uninteresting days. It’s the mix that makes life interesting. Bruno is a cat who tells the story of six very different days in his life.

They’re the sort of days we’ve all had—with surprising, quirky twists. Among those days, there are totally relatable moments, like this one:

That day, the power went out on my street, At night, so as not to be in the dark, I lit candles. It was very pretty. Since they don’t happen very often, I really like days when the power goes out.

And totally fantastic days, like when Bruno and his friend Ringo, a horse, find that they can breathe underwater and end up in a backwards swimming race with their new friend Bup, a fish. Bruno muses:

Read More

a tender ode to the mutual 'ownership' that comes from unhurried and uncomplicated friendships

a tender ode to the mutual 'ownership' that comes from unhurried and uncomplicated friendships

ages 2 to 8 years
Ownership is one of childhood’s most profound experiences. Ownership of treasures found, gifts, emotions, and relationships all contribute to a growing sense of self and a sense of interconnectedness.

Jose Saramago*, Portugese novelist, anarcho-communist and political agitator, wrote “Liking is probably the best form of ownership, and ownership is probably the worst form of liking.” That strikes a familiar chord when thinking about children and 

Read More

a story to encourage new perspectives and herald the blessings of difference

a story to encourage new perspectives and herald the blessings of difference

ages 2 to 8 years
Sometimes our own little quirks or difficulties can be a blessing. To us and to others.

In this tremendously fun story a cute little cat with a crick in his back walks through a town, surprising people everywhere and causing them to tilt their heads as he walks past.

That simple act leads to changes in perspective, new lifestyles, decisions and even new architecture.

Read More

life lessons about tipping points and the need for balance

life lessons about tipping points and the need for balance

ages 0 to 8 years
It’s like ...who sank the boat!' That’s how my family often describes an overwhelming day, too much of something, or a time when we've gone one step too far.

In this story, there’s ‘a cow, a donkey, a sheep, a pig and a tiny little mouse’ who decide to go for a row on the bay. One by one, they gingerly climb in the rowboat and restore the equilibrium before the next passenger. Finally it’s the tiny little mouse’s turn and so in it jumps. You can guess what happens next I’m sure!

Read More

the life-changing value of speaking up—for yourself or for someone else

the life-changing value of speaking up—for yourself or for someone else

ages 2 to 8 years
When I read this book to four-year-old Ivy, she sat in silence, then, at the last page, said, “Let’s read that again.”

Twig is that sort of book—beautiful to look at, with a story that's relatable and full of interesting ideas to process. 

Read More

a very funny look at the importance of individuals and communities

a very funny look at the importance of individuals and communities

ages 2 to 8 years
Here’s a brilliantly engaging and amusing story about 71 sheep, a ball of wool, and a wolf. With a superbly developed sense of the absurd, the storyline follows the sheep and their attempt to play a game of soccer: The sheep count themselves and realise that with 71 of them, they have the perfect number for a game of soccer!

Read More