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 ❤

Kids Fight Plastic by Martin Dorey

I have seldom seen Daughter as excited by a book as she was when we found Kids Fight Plastic by Martin Dorey at our library. Which is saying something – she gets really excited by books.

Just before the summer holidays started, she took part in a litter-pick and since then has been on a one-child mission to eliminate plastic waste from our home. Now, fully armed with a handbook on how to do that, she’s become a force to be reckoned with.

So, having had this book flashed at me more times than I care to admit to, I thought I would take a closer look.

For the most part, I really like the tone of the book. It’s not anti-all-plastic – there is mention at the beginning of good vs bad (i.e. Lego & medical equiptment = good plastic, single-use straws & clingfilm = bad plastic). I also really like that nothing is dumbed down because it’s written for children. It states in black and white that sea birds are dying because of what we’re throwing away, and whilst that’s a grim fact, it’s not going to change unless we talk about it and let our children make informed choices for themselves.

On the other hand… titles of segments such as ‘Fight Plastic With Pester Power’ made me feel as though the book was targeted at a very… specific demographic. Suggestions of ditching the supermarket in favour of farmers’ markets are well meant, for example, but they’re just not within everyone’s means – whether as a result of financial restraints or the fact that there just aren’t any farmers’ markets in your area.

But that aside – the illustrations are lovely and as I said, the text isn’t in the least bit patronising. And whilst living where we do, there’s no way I could use a milk-man, or visit a weekly farmers’ market (they only run monthly and ours tends to sell hobby crafts rather than produce), I did get some ideas as to how I can further reduce our household waste, particularly in regards to things like stationery.

I think, coupled with a healthy dose of managed expectations, this is a great book to get small people thinking about, and talking about, the waste we’re creating. Hopefully doing so will help them to make wise decisions further down the line.

What are your favourite books about the environment?

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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The Usborne Write Your Own Story Book

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The Usborne Write Your Own Story Book was recently gifted to Daughter and not only am I seriously impressed by its contents,  I’m also a little jealous that I didn’t have a copy growing up.

I think what I like best about this book is how it manages to convey important elements of writing in a way that is simultaneously child-friendly and technical. It also manages to offer a range of activities for budding authors to practice on,  without making them feel like work-sheets.

 

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There’s a wonderful sense of fun to all of the suggestions – a cheekiness that Daughter just loves. I really like the fact that the reader is encouraged to write in the book, meaning that there’s a record of work to look back on at the end – it essentially becomes a DIY short story compilation. As someone who wrote prolifically as a child but who has few remaining examples,  I feel as though this will grow into a lovely keepsake. 

Which childhood hobbies have you maintained?  Are there any books out there to encourage more young people to engage in them?

Farn ❤

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

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Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a book that I wish I’d had in my life a long time ago. 

Whilst not technically a children’s book, I decided to include this on The Inquisitive Newt for two reasons.

Firstly, because I wish I had read this during my teenage years, when I was stumbling into my initial romantic relationships. I feel that having reasonable expectations, printed in black and white, would have given me permission to advocate for myself and my rights within the ‘partnerships’ more.  I plan to give a copy to Daughter when puberty takes hold.

Secondly,  I included it because I would have loved to read it after having given birth.  I came to a lot of the conclusions myself, but I often felt alone in my convictions regarding feminism and motherhood.  Ironically,  given that I’ve categorised this review as my first ‘parenting’ title,  I especially loved the section regarding the use of ‘parenting’ as a verb.

I really love the tone of the text – that it was adapted from a letter gives it an enormous warmth and immediacy. I’ve read a lot of books about feminism but they can often feel… Academic,  rather than practical.  This one felt like a conversation with a friend, which I suppose it is.

Are there any books you wish you had come across sooner? Are there any you plan to read/gift to your children for this reason?

Farn ❤

 

Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson

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Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson is a really fun introduction to gardening, and is one of those books which call for a high degree of interaction between reader and listener – something I absolutely love.

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Told in verse and requiring lots of finger actions, this is a fantastically fun little gem of a book. Beginning with the page above and ending with a row of flowers, there are all kinds of things to giggle at in between.

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There isn’t a great deal more to be said about this book – lots of bright illustrations, few well-chosen words… it’s a delight to read to small people.

It’s definitely one I would recommend getting a copy of and just trying for yourself.

Have you read Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson? Did you like it as much as me?

Farn ❤

The Gifts of Autism by Katherine Uher

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The Gifts of Autism by Katherine Uher is a fairly rare thing – being one of only a handful of books I’ve come across so far which is both written specifically for children, and aims to highlight the positive aspects of autism.

Whilst other factual books exist about autism, they focus on parts of the condition which might result in a child feeling stigmatised or even inferior to their peers. This book, conversely, describes various autistic traits – as the title suggests – as gifts.

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I always feel that you can tell the quality of an alphabet book by the choice of word for the letter Q and this didn’t disappoint – the word ‘Queen’ doesn’t make a tenuous appearance and the alternative word isn’t something entirely un-Q-related with the word ‘quite’ whacked in front. Whilst this might not seem like big praise, but you’d be amazed at how often the above happens, so full marks there!

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The book also contains a section designed to encourage self-reflection with a focus on positive autistic traits – indeed, positive traits for anyone to possess. I really like this invitation to praise oneself in detail – whilst drawing in a book, or even drawing-at-all, might not be every child’s cup-of-tea, the art pages can still serve as cues to think about what makes us awesome. Autistic or not, self-praise is something that doesn’t happen nearly enough – particularly not in the UK, where we seem to be bound by some unwritten law to downplay our own achievements for fear of sounding like we’re boasting. I think we’d all feel a lot better if we took the time to acknowledge the things that make us great, whether we’re autistic or not.

I also feel like it’s important to add that this is an excellent book for any child. As I’ve said above, the vast majority books that I’ve found on autism focus on traits that are often perceived as negative, even if the book is trying to take a neutral, fact-based approach. If we want to live in a society which values everyone for the contributions they do make then we need to make sure we that we focus on this when we explain the world. By thinking about the gifts of autism, the condition becomes a lot less isolating and neurotypical children might begin to see their autistic peers in a more positive light. And a little understanding can go a very, very long way.

Do you know of any positive books on autism I might not have come across yet? I’d love to hear about them if you do!

Farn ❤