This Book is Not Rubbish by Isabel Thomas

After Daughter’s enthusiasm for Kids Fight Plastic by Martin Dorey, we thought we would have a look at This Book is Not Rubbish by Isabel Thomas.

Very similar to the previous title, this book details child-friendly ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

Firstly, as an adult reading this (and especially as an adult being expected to miraculously implement everything right now) I would have liked a link to the science that backs the claims of this book. I kept trying to find sources for the facts and figures stated, but kept coming up blank. I felt that some of the points contradicted what’s often accepted as common environmental wisdom but that’s possibly because I haven’t read enough recent literature on the subject.

That aside – again, as an adult – I felt that the illustrations and jokes were trying a little too hard to appeal to children. Daughter actually got fairly upset at the thought of sentient trees (pictured above) and would have just preferred a wholly factual approach as in the previous book. That said, we are a fairly atypical family in many respects, so perhaps this approach would work for those who found Kids Fight Plastic too blunt.

Regardless of these comments, I would definitely recommend this title for any small ecologists. The almost bullet-point nature makes it accessible to reluctant readers, or makes it a really quick read for those who are more confident. It’s also nice to have something to dip in and out of – ideal to read during short journeys, or to keep on a living room table for a quick ‘grab’ from bored little fingers.

We’ve got one earth-friendly book to review fromm our reading so far. Are there any similar books you would recommend?

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.

Generally…

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

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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.

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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 ❤

The Wooden Dragon by Joan Aiken & Bee Willey

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I first took The Wooden Dragon by Joan Aiken and Bee Willey out of the library in 2013 when we lived near Bury St Edmunds and it, or its Aberdeenshire counterpart, has been coming home with us regularly ever since.

The story is a lovely one, about discovering how to use your strengths to overcome your fears, and how, no matter what your abilities are, there’s scope to help others.

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Set in the autumn, the illustrations are full of really rich textures, and earthy colours which match the tone of the prose perfectly. I really love how no surface is just one flat shade, but instead, is composed of layers of different colours. No one could ever say that the illustrations are ‘realistic’ – they’re heavily stylised – but they’re so lively and full of character that they feel very real.

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This is a wonderful book in which the power of stories helps the protagonist overcome the difficulties in their narrative. I’m a sucker for this plot, which I guess makes sense, given how many times reading books has rescued me. 😉

Farn ❤