BOOK BLOG: Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley: a beautiful story to teach children about the importance of looking after our oceans!

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“Say hello to Stanley! He’s swimming around in the sea, but he’s no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles. Other jellyfish have a magical pearly glow, but Stanley has colourful stripes. Lots of hungry fish in the sea are looking for lunch, and all of them have a taste for Stanley. But plastic bags don’t belong in the sea – or in other creatures’ tummies…”

I’m gutted that I’ve only just found this book now because I’ve done my plastic pollution topic in my class this year! But next year… next year! 

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Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a brilliant picture book telling about the tale of Stanley – a jellyfish unlike other jellyfish, because he is a plastic bag – and what happens to him when creatures of the sea try to eat him. Some manage to spit him back out, but one of the creatures isn’t so lucky, until a brilliant young man comes along and saves the day. 

There’s some incredible messages in this book about the importance of being kind to the environment and recycling. Stanley is recycled at the end of the book to be a kite and this would be a great thing to get children thinking about what we can do with our plastics once we’re finished with them, so that they don’t end up in the sea!

One of the lovely things about this book is the riddle type verses that describe the animals which eat Stanley. This would be a great thing to use with children to get them to come up with their own riddles about animals under the sea! This could be an activity you do with children from as young as KS1 all the way to Upper KS2. 

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I love this book and it will be a firm fave that I bring out every year when we talk about plastic pollution. I don’t think picture books should be reserved for only EYFS and KS1 – my Year 5s this year have LOVED being read picture books! 

What are your favourite picture books to use around this issue?
What activities do you do to raise awareness of plastic pollution?
Are you any good at writing riddles?

Talk to me. I wanna know what activities and stories you use to teach kids about the importance of lookinga fter our world!

S x 

 

Ollie’s Magic Bunny Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday!

Today I have the utter joy of hosting author Nicola Killen and we’re getting a tour around her studio. I’m really nebby so I absolutely adored reading this post when it dropped into my inbox! 

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Hello and welcome to my studio tour!  This is the place where I worked on the story and illustrations for Ollie’s Magic Bunny.  

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I share a space with two other artists – it’s a converted garage on the side of a photographer’s studio.  The door to the studio is very grey and boring so it’s hard to imagine what’s inside!

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Tada! Here’s my workspace. I’m quite embarassed to be showing you round when it’s SO messy.  I’m always untidy, but when I’m in the middle of working on a new book (like I am now), it gets even worse!  As you can probably see, I’ve got two desks: one for sitting at my computer, and one for standing at when I draw and paint.

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On my computer desk I have an iMac, and I use a wacom tablet with it.  I also have a very comfy chair and most importantly, there’s a heater next to my desk!  As it used to be a garage, the studio can get very cold at times. I always have lots of lists of things to do on my desk – I like to be able to tick things off!  

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I usually stand up when I’m painting or drawing.  I have a drawing board in the middle of the desk, which is hidden by my lightbox at the moment.  There’s an A3 scanner tucked underneath this desk, as well as sketches, boxes of books and some portfolios too.  I used to have lots more postcards and pictures up on the wall, but they keep falling down and it’s very hard to reach to put them back up!  You may also have noticed my Studio Stegasaurus which lives on this desk – it roars when you squeeze it. I’ve had the anglepoise lamp since I was at school so it’s lasted a long time!

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This is all the brushes, dip pens and inks which I’m using for the book I’m working on.  

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Then, squeezed into the corner, is my bookcase.  It’s got lots of my books in it, as well as reference, sketchbooks, paperwork and some of my childhood favourites too!

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I’m not sure I should show you this photo! When I opened the cupboard, I was worried that everything was going to fall out . . . It’s chock full of materials, inks and paper. Tidying it is on my lists of things to do!

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That’s all of my space, but we also share an area just inside the door where there’s a big plan chest with a very useful cutting mat on top.  I store a lot of my artwork and paper in the drawers here. I’m preparing some Ollie’s Magic Bunny themed activities today so have been using the cutting mat – but I will need to clear it up later in case anyone else wants to use it!

Thank you for letting me show you around my studio space – I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around and sorry about the mess!

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I hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did! It’s fascinating to see where people work and their process! I’d love to snoop in everyone’s workspaces! Check out my review of Ollie’s Magic Bunny here: BOOK BLOG: Nicola Killen

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Dinosaur Department Store

Today is my stop on The Dinosaur Department Store blog tour and I am delighted to share with you my review! 

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The Dinosaur Department Store: a brilliantly illustrated picture book with a gorgeous nod to looking after animals! 

“Eliza Jane was an unusual child. Some called her wilful, some called her wild! Our feisty heroine Eliza Jane isn’t your average child. Instead of a cute, fluffy bunny, she has her heart firmly set on a prehistoric pet. Join Eliza Jane and her parents on a marvellous magical tour of their local dinosaur department store. From huge, stomping sauropods stretching their necks to a pair of loved-up Ankylosaurs called Maud and Frank, there are plenty of amazing dinosaurs for Eliza Jane to choose from. But this wild child is hatching a fantastic plan of her own.”

The Dinosaur Department Store tells the story of brilliant Eliza Jane who doesn’t want a fluffy bunny for her birthday. Oh no, she wants a dinosaur… obviously! Her parents take her to the perfect place for her to shop for a dinosaur… but when she gets there, she realises that what she really wants is the dinosaurs to all be free!

I LOVE that Eliza has parents of different races – which was something that one of my children noticed when I read it to them. This created a lovely talking point for some of the children in the class I read it to. I think it’s SO important to introduce children early to different families, so a massive thumbs up from me for this!

It’s such a brilliant thing to see a girl in a book who loves dinosaurs too! She’s a very determined young girl, who most definitely loves dinosaurs… which I KNOW will go down well with lots of parents of girls who love dinosaurs! Girls can love them too! This again created conversation about who can play with what toys!

I absolutely adore the bright and vibrant illustrations in this book. My eyes were constantly caught on the pages looking at all of the detail. Each page gives you something else to look at and search for. A particular shout out to the back page for its BRILLIANT pronunication guide (it certainly helped me to practice saying the names… being the dinosaur novice I am!)

Massive thank you to the publishers for sending me this gorgeous picture book – I think it’ll go down so well for so many reasons! So many brilliant things to talk about and look at in this book! This book went down SO well with the group of children I read it to! I can’t wait to read it to more children to see what their reactions will be.

Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog tour to see what some other amazing bloggers thought of this book?

DINO QUOTE CARD

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Anna and Evan meet Charles Dickens

Hello!

Today is my stop on the Anna and Evan meet Charles Darwin blog tour. This new book promises to engage and educate children, and is ideal for encouraging curiosity and interest in the natural world and science.

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“Join Anna and Evan on a magical adventure to the Galapagos Islands where they meet Charles Darwin, discover unusual animals and learn some interesting scientific facts.”

Today, I get the joy of sharing 2 extracts with you! I can’t wait to share this book as I think it will go down brilliantly in both KS1 and KS2. 

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A massive thank you to the publishers and Faye Rogers for the invite to the blog tour and again I can’t wait to share this with school – I think it will be a big hit!

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour below! Find out what they think of the book and so many other delights! 

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Monday 25th February – Rosie Writes…

Tuesday 26th February – Heavenly Good Books

Wednesday 27th February – Big Book Little Book

Thursday 28th February – A Bibliophile’s Book Blog

Friday 1st March – Bound 4 Escape

Saturday 2nd March – Black Books Blog

Sunday 3rd March – An Awfully Big Adventure

Monday 4th March – Amazeball’s Book Addict

Tuesday 5th March – Jazzy Book Reviews

Wednesday 6th March – Fantastic Feathers

Thursday 7th March – Librarian Laura

Friday 8th March – Donna’s Book Blog

Saturday 9th March – Short Book and Scribes

Sunday 10th March – Yet Another Blogging Mummy!!!


Information about the Book

Author: Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel
Illustrator: Karin Eklund
Release Date: 28th February 2019
Page Count: 30
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: Clicky click
Amazon Link: Go on… treat yo’ self!

Bio of the authors Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel

As a young girl, Dr. Tanya Hutter couldn’t imagine that she would end up being a leading scientist in nanotechnology and chemical sensing, and a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. Currently, she lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two curious children that inspired the book.

Lina Daniel has been always interested in science and medicine, eventually becoming a chemist and a pharmacist, and currently working in the pharmaceutical industry. With her husband, she is raising three enthusiastic boys. They all share a passion for scientific experiences, engineering novelties, fun historical facts, travels and adventures.

Tanya and Lina have been close friends for over two decades. The fact that they are both raising young children enhanced their desire to encourage kids to learn about science, and finally, drew them to write their first illustration book for small children. Hopefully, this will be the first one in a series of books about notable scientists and engineers.  

BOOK BLOG: Nicola Killeen

Ollie’s Magic Bunny: a beautifully illustrated and charming story, perfect for bedtime!

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“Ollie and her toy Bunny have been waiting for the day that the rain would stop and they can play in the puddles… Finally that day has arrived! But when a magical breeze of blossom turns Bunny into a real rabbit, Ollie’s day takes an unexpected turn. After Bunny runs off with the other rabbits, Ollie has to find and save her beloved pet toy!”

Ollie’s Magic Bunny is a wonderfully charming tale about Ollie and her bunny rabbit, who one blustery day ends up turning into a real rabbit. When Bunny turns into a real rabbit, it runs away from Ollie, and she must find different, ingenious I may add, ways in which to save Bunny! 

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Lots of children have a teddy that’s special to them, who they carry around with them constantly, so this will appeal to them. It would make a brilliant rainy day read, or a bed time read. It would make for a brilliant question: what would happen if your teddy came to life? Kids will come up with some weird and wonderful answers! 

Ollie has to be clever to follow her bunny as he goes across a big puddle of water, and jumps into the air – transforming her brilliant yellow umbrella into a boat and a parachute at different times!

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The colour palette for this book makes me so happy. It’s all yellow, green and grey. I’m particularly fond of Ollie’s bunny onesie and her yellow boots. The simplicity makes this so much more appealing. There’s cut outs and some beautiful gold foiling on the pages too… to make it even more pleasing to the eye! 

This is a gorgeous and sweet story that would go down brilliantly at bedtime, or any kind of story time. I look forward to reading it to my own bunch of wonderful kids at school! 

Thank you to the brilliant publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me a review copy! 

S x 

An Amazing Blog Tour

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Today I have the ABSOLUTE joy of being part of the Amazing blog tour. I was so incredibly lucky to be asked to host a Q&A with the incredibly brilliant Steve Antony – author and illustrator extraordinare.

As soon as I knew I was doing a Q&A, it was inevitable that I had to get my kids involved, so they helped me write the questions (there were SO many they had, so I had to whittle it down!)

Check out the questions and some brilliant responses from the man himself! 

What’s your favourite thing about going to schools?

Apart from chomping biscuits and nattering with teachers in the staff room, I always enjoy seeing all the artwork that classes have created. Whether it be acrylic self-portraits, cardboard dioramas, character pumpkins or even something as simple as paper snowflakes, I really do believe that art brings a school to life.

Funniest memory of visiting schools?

The funniest moments come during Q&A. Children don’t have filters, do they? The younger the audience the odder the questions. Is the Queen your granny? Are you Ed Sheeran? Why don’t you comb your hair?

Also, being greeted by over 200 children (and teachers) dressed as pandas on World Book Day was something I will never forget.

What memories do you have of reading as a child?

Most of my earliest and clearest memories of reading take me back to my school library. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of stories just waiting to be discovered. I was never a fast reader and I preferred books with pictures, I still do, but there was something empowering about just being in my school library. Sadly, many children may never know that feeling, which is why the #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign is so important. The campaign aims to bring school libraries and librarians back to every school in the UK, because every child deserves a great library. You can find out more about the Great School Libraries campaign at: http://www.greatschoollibraries.edublogs.org

I also have fond memories of our public library. That’s where I discovered some of my favourite authors and Illustrators.

Do you remember the first book you read as a child that made you want to write?

Even as a very young child I loved to draw. But it was picture books like Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Munch Bunch (created by Barrie and Elizabeth Henderson and illustrated by Angela Mitson) that inspired me to imagine my own characters and tell stories with drawings.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I believe that inspiration is everywhere, but you have to tune in to it. I like to prove this theory in my story-building workshops. By the end of each workshop almost everybody has an idea for a story, and some even have synopses!

Books are a fantastic source of inspiration, which is why the library is the perfect place to feel inspired. Many of my stories were inspired by something I’d seen in a book, magazine or newspaper.

What is your typical writing routine? From first draft to final draft?

People often think I spend all day writing and drawing, but there’s so much involved in being an author and illustrator. In fact, last week I only spent around 5 hours working on my next picture book because the rest of my time was spent on emails, events, my website, blogs, taxes and marketing. As part of this blog tour, I wrote a ‘Day in the Life’ guest post for Acorn Books, which you might find interesting. https://acornbooksblog.wordpress.com

It takes about 4-5 months to start and finish a picture book. Normally my publisher will select a couple of ideas from my sketchbook for me to develop (this usually happens when I’m at the tail- end stages of finishing another picture book). In order to develop ideas into stories I do need plenty of time and space to breath because I find it hard to tap into my imagination during busy spells. I normally get a gut feeling if a story is working or not. As a general rule it has to feel easy, and if ever I feel like I’m rowing upstream, I let go of the oars. Once I’m happy with my story concept, I move on to character development, pacing and paginating. This can take weeks or months. The very last stage involves drawing the final artwork and tweaking the text, which can take anywhere up to three months.

What’s next for you?

Magic Light Pictures are currently developing the Mr Panda cartoon series, which is incredibly exciting. I’ve got more books in the pipeline, including a brand-new character that I’ve yet to create! The next Mr Panda book, We Love You, Mr Panda, comes out later in the year. I’ll soon be meeting with Swindon Libraries to discuss the next borough-wide art completion (I hold at least one art contest with them per year). Also, I hope to start writing a chapter book soon, but not even my publisher knows that yet! But before any of that happens, I’m going on my honeymoon, because I just got married!

It’s only day 3 of this blog tour and it has already been amazing (no pun intended!). Go check out the other blog posts so far, and watch out for the rest of the posts coming in the next few days! I am so incredibly excited for this book.

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Massive massive thank you to the brilliant people of Hachette Kids for asking me to be on this blog tour and Steve Antony for answering our questions! My kids and I had such a blast, and it’s been a pleasure reading Steve’s answers. I’ll be sharing them with my kids at some point today! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Sam Usher

Snow: the perfect addition to your shelves for the wintery season!

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“Every child loves a snow day—no school and snowball fights galore! But Sam has to wait for Granddad, even though all the other kids have already gone to the park . . . and all the dogs . . . and all the zoo animals! Only when the two finally arrive does Granddad see why Sam was in such a hurry—and they have the best time playing with everyone in the snow.”

As a massive fan of the book Storm, when I saw there was another Sam Usher book (with a very festive snowy theme) I knew I needed to treat myself to it! I mean, just look at that cover. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the penguin casually strolling down their street? 

Snow tells the story of a very impatient young boy who wants to go out into the snow, while his grandfather thinks they should stay in for a little while. There’s so much joy in the young man’s face when he sees the snow. We’ve all been there. Wanting to be the first one to stand on snow – is there anything more irresistable than a patch of freshly fallen snow? 

When they do eventually get outside, they wander down to the park and end up having an awful lot of fun with a new bunch of friends. It’s all a bit silly, but this would make a perfect readaloud. Kids will love this story. What’s more fun than snow ball fights? Snowball fights with animals… obviously! 

With gorgeous illustrations, characters who are realistic and a brilliant portrayal of family (I loved seeing this story of a young man and his grandfather, rather than a mam/dad or sibling), this book is going to be a great one to read aloud to kids (and adults alike!). I am loving this Weather series from Sam Usher and can’t wait to get even more! I would recommend wholeheartedly getting on the series! I own Snow and Storm so far, I need to check out Rain and Sun. 

Have you read any of Sam Usher’s books?
What’s your perfect wintery read aloud?
Are you a snow lover, or not a fan?

Let me know your thoughts! Speak to you soon… fingers crossed the snow stays away! I don’t want to run into a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at me! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post: a whole lot of fun and friendship! 

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I’d seen this on my friend’s Instagram and as I’m a lover of The Day The Crayons Quit and the trusty The Jolly Postman, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. With beautiful letters inside and an endearing young main character, Dragon Post was an absolute delight to read! 

Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs and knows that the most sensible thing to do would be to write to different people to get their advice on the whole situation. (Alex is very sensible, in my opinion! I don’t know what I would do!)

This is where the humour for adults comes in. There’s puns a plenty with the names of the people Alex writes letters to. I read this book aloud to my mam, and she and I had many a chuckle! Not all of the letters are positive… with one suggesting that the writer of the letter would like to eat the dragon. Most of the letters Alex receives give him good advice however! 

The final letter Alex writes is to his best friend (who he calls one of the best people he knows) and I absolutely adored this! I love the idea that the person Alex thinks is the smartest person in his world is another child – I think this can have quite a profound effect on kids. The very last letter Alex receives is from a very special someone indeed and I know kids are going to ADORE seeing the letter to Alex! 

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This book, just like The Day The Crayons Quit and The Jolly Postman, is going to be taken in my classrooms and children alike. With the inclusion of the letters, the incredible illustrations and the brilliant story, this is one that will inspire writers of letters, stories and illustrations (I only wish I could come up with something this brilliant!) I can see this working in so many houses, minds and ways. As a Y5 teacher, I’d love to use this book, but it equally has a very important place in every classroom. I know the KS1 teachers in school will love this book… and I can’t wait to read it to Reception for their Advent Story time! 

Would you like a dragon as a pet?
Have you read Dragon Post? 
Who would you write to if you found a dragon under your bed?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Lara Hawthorne

Silent Night: the classic, beautifully illustrated!

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“Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.”

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Christmas is coming and what’s more perfect than one of the greatest Christmas carols beautifully illustrated? Silent Night is one of those classics that everyone knows. I even know the chorus and the first verse in German (I’m not sure why!). I think Christmas is such a lovely time of year and music is an important part of that. 

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Silent Night has been beautifully illustrated in this book, with the lyrics of the book broken into little scenes of the night that Jesus was born. The book features the key people in the Christmas story – angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, kings and the stable! 

This book is going to be SO perfect to use at school. Whether kids know the song or not, it is a brilliantly simple, yet beautiful, way to teach them the story of Christmas. 

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I also love that it comes with this information page in the back all about the song. Great for older children to find out more about the song. This could inspire some of your KS2 kids to make their own book of a Christmas song and write their own “about the carol” page. 

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This would make the perfect Christmas present. I already know it’s going to go down brilliantly at school. 

A massive thank you to the wonderful Quarto for sending me a copy of this book! I do now however want to start singing Christmas songs… (but not yet… I can’t until after Halloween!)

Silent Night is out now! 

Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
Is Silent Night up there in your top 10?
What’s your Christmas rules?

Talk to me! Which carol would you like to see made into a book?!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Human: a beautiful picture book, delivering an important message of empathy

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“I am human
I am a work in progress
Striving to be the best version of ME

From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong”

This book is the 3rd in a series from this pair, with the other two being I am Yoga and I am Peace. These books explore things which children could see as complex, and puts it into words and sentences that children can relate to and use in their lives. 

Something which I loved about this book is there’s a lot of positive, but there’s also the important thing to explore with children about when things don’t quite go right – when you make mistakes, get hurt and hurt others. These things are all human. These things make us human and these are things that children need to develop an understanding of in order to become empathetic. 

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This book explores fear and sadness – some things that as teachers, or caregivers, we can be afraid to explore. Books are excellent pathmakers (that’s not a word!) so that these conversations can happen. These conversations are essential. 

It’s important that children learn the importance of making choices and through this book, children (and adults) can see that making a choice matters. What you say, what you do, what you think… it all matters. Choosing to keep going, choosing to have hope, listening, being generous. 

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The illustrations in this book are quintessential Peter H Reynolds and I love it. If you’ve seen any of the books he’s illustrated before, your kids will instantly recognise his style. I love the fact that the characters are all multicultural and that children will feel seen by this. This book is full of colour – from happy and vibrant colours, to sad and dull colours. We, as humans, attach meaning to colour and this is used brilliantly in the book. 

As a teacher, it’s important that I help my children to understand themselves and to understand others. By creating empathetic people in my classroom, I’m enabling them to be kind, loving, compassionate, thoughtful, not only to each other, but to themselves. This book would fit BEAUTIFULLY in any classroom, regardless of how old the children are and would create some incredible talking points around behaviour, choice and what it means to be human. I can’t wait to read it to my kids to get them thinking and talking. It’s going to be one of those fail-safe books I have around. 

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A massive thank you to the people of Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book, I am so grateful and I know my kids (and the people I work with) will love reading this! 

Have you got any books you use when talking about empathy?
What’s one piece of advice you give children when exploring empathy?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

S x