Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories, by Reinhardt Jung

One of the things that I’ve missed most about the pre-Covid world, is the ability to browse. So many of my very favourite children’s books have been fluke finds in charity shops or the library. From The Year At Maple Hill Farm, to Rosy’s Garden and the myriad of titles in between, these small-print-run, out-of-print gems have quickly become family favoruites.

Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung is another book which fits this description.

I don’t know whether I can properly call this a ‘browsing’ find, but it was down to a hunger for running my fingers along a shelf of spines which led me to it. Bored, uninspired, and stuck in a rut, I went searching for videos of other peoples’ bookshelves on YouTube. I eventually stumbled on the videos of Leena Norms, and in particular, one of her bookshelf tours. And in that tour, she mentioned Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories.

At its core, this book is a collection of very short tales, but beyond that, it also chronicles the man who gathers these stories together. Old and in pain, the eponymous Bambert writes himself stories as a way to combat loneliness. One day, he settles on the idea of releasing his work into the world so that it can find its own setting.

I bought the book before I’d even finished hearing the plot.

I have always been, and always will be, a total romantic when it comes to story telling. The stories around stories – the tales of the writers and the bards – make my heart sing.

And Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories is that – a book about a book – but it’s also so much more.

The writer – Reinhardt Jung – was born in Germany in 1949, and some of the themes in Bambert’s tales seem to deal with the country’s fascist past. The text doesn’t do this overtly, but the story about the glass rafts is clearly about the concentration camps of the Nazi regime. Another two stories deal with war directly, with children as protagonists.

It might sound, at this point, like the book is a somewhat dark affair, but it really isn’t. Interlaced through the stories are insights into Bambert’s life, and the budding, gentle friendship which forms with the shopkeeper in the store below. It’s a rare tale about men befriending one another in a way that is supportive and caring. This happens so seldom in children’s literature that I feel it merits a mention.

A few points of note: the protagonist drinks to forget his pain, both he and the shopkeeper smoke cigars, and there is character death (though this is dealt with tenderly and poetically). The book touches on love and disability, and the fact that these things may not necessarily go hand-in-hand. It is a work which – for my part – I feel needs to be debriefed with older children, or read aloud to younger children to facilitate discussion about the events it contains.

But it should absolutely be read and enjoyed by children.

We don’t give young people enough credit for the levels of complexity that they’re able to process, and we can be neglectful when it comes to providing stories which deal in shades of grey, or which deal with death, or disappointment. But by showing them examples of these things in literature, we can better equip them for when life is less than ideal – by getting to know Bambert, for example, they might come to know that they’re not alone in feeling lonely.

I would love to hear your opinions on Bamburt’s Book of Missing Stories, if you’ve read it. And I would love to hear if you know of any other books which provide challenging content.


Farn ❤

M is for Autism by The Students of Limpsfield Grange School & Vicky Martin

M is for Autism is a book by The Students of Limpsfield Grange School & Vicky Martin.

I definitely think that this is essential reading – not just for children/young teens, but also for their parents. The searing truth with which its written makes it one of the clearest, most concise insights into what life is like as an autistic person that I have read.

There were two sections which really stood out for me as being especially piercingly honest.

The first is from M’s perspective and concerns her feelings following her diagnosis;

It’s like I can be shelved correctly or put in the right section. I mean, do people even know what being autistic is? The truth is they don’t really know me. I wonder if they really knew me they might get scared, so it’s easy for them to say ‘she’s autistic’ and label me but the truth is they have no idea of the shape, texture and size of my world.

The next is from M’s mother’s point of view;

So here I am, chopping onions and trying to bond with my beautiful daughter but it’s not easy. It should be, shouldn’t it? But reaching her and connecting with her feels so hopeless, so futile, but today I am making a big effort. I am her mother and I cannot give up on her or let her down.

The prose is this vital, this direct, throughout the book. So, although it’s a very slim volume which reads really naturally, it actually took me a long time to digest the words properly – I took my time over it, which I think everyone who reads it needs to do.

The artwork is also really honest – bright, block colours and really graphic prints. The art can be quirky and fun whilst simultaneously thought-provoking, generally just suiting the age and feel of the protagonist perfectly.

I feel as though this is one of those books which every home needs – whether autism impacts you directly or not. If everyone read this, there might be a greater degree of understanding and awareness in the world.

Have you read M is for Autism, or another book with a female autistic character?

— Farn ❤

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Super Duper You by Sophy Henn

I really liked Sophy Henn’s book, Pass It On, so when I saw she had written Super Duper You, we checked it out of the library and took it home for a read.

Before I start, talking about the book-proper, I just wanted to say that even though our house seems to be constantly overflowing with books, I don’t often buy them. Generally, we only really use the library, read a story until everyone is tired of it and then take it back, knowing that should we want to read it again we only need to place our order and then go to pick the book up.


Every so often though, we read a book and I want to own  it. Super Duper You is one of those. It’s got shades of ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go!’ by Dr Seuss to it, but it’s vastly more succinct and I love that it’s accessible to even the smallest of listeners. Again the art-work is modern and bright and pleasing. Again, I feel like my accent works against me with the rhyme.

I think I love the illustrations and the colours of this book most of all – especially the rainbows and the quirky background ‘grafitti’. I wish my big, special camera was more cooperative so I could take better photos for you, but for now you’ll have to make-do with my tablet’s lens and have a look the book for yourself… 😉

I think the page above is my favourite. It can be used in conjunction with other books to start conversations about the positives of neurodiversity, or about differences in family situations – or about anything, really..

I also really like the fact that it is a love-letter between siblings. There are lots of books which explore the parent/child relationship, but off the top of my head, the only nurturing siblings I can think of are Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola or The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton. It makes a nice change from the usual ‘my brother smells’ dynamic that seems so prevalent in children’s books.

Have you come across Sophy Henn’s work yet? I’d love to hear what you think.

  • Farn ❤

Feelings by Libby Walden & Richard Jones


We’re pretty big on books about emotions in our house, which is why it came as quite a surprise when I hadn’t heard of this little beauty, lent to me by a friend.

Feelings by Libby Walden and Richard Jones is a wonderful book of short verses which explain our emotions. Whilst it has a similar vibe to A Great Big Cuddle, Feelings uses slightly more complex language and references a lot of things from the wider world. Whilst it might be tempting to say that this is a good alternative for older children, I think that would be underselling it – the fact that it’s poetry, and beautiful, means that anyone can enjoy it.


I really love the colour palette that the artist has used, and I love the cut-out of the child at the heart of the book – specifically the way the that on the left, you can see the layers of different emotions building up, one page at a time.

And it’s a small thing, but the pages are really thick and it just feels good to turn them. They’re matt too, and incredibly tactile. As an object, before you even open the first page, it’s just begging to be picked up. The only other book that I’ve ever wanted to stroke quite this much has been The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, but I’ll get to that another day…

Are there any books you enjoy which just feel inviting?

Farn ❤

Pass it on by Sophy Henn


Pass It On by Sophy Henn is a lovely little book about happiness, and how we can share our joy with others.


It covers the big, exciting things in life – like spotting a whale! – and the smaller things which bring joy from day-to-day like jumping in puddles.


The illustrations are fun and stylish, and the poem which forms the text of the book is nicely written, though at times, I feel like my accent works against me with the rhyme scheme and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

This is a great book to couple with those about more unpleasant feelings. If you’re looking to start a collection of stories which deal with emotions then this is definitely a nice one to keep in there. It’s easy to focus on the things a child might find difficult – sadness, anger, frustration and fear – and forget to provide examples of the more positive things in life. This isn’t a failing on our part – just a tendency to take for granted the ability to shine a light on the things that are good. I know this is something I’ve been guilty of in the past – trying to help my children navigate and accept their big feelings through stories but neglecting to remind them to celebrate the good they find along the way.  I’m forever telling them that they can’t control what other people do, only their own actions and Pass It On is a really lovely reminder of the positive things that can happen when you make the decision to share what’s good in your life.

Which are your favourite books about being happy, and about sharing joy?

Farn ❤