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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang is probably as old as I am, if not older. Whilst it could conceivably be argued that I’m reviewing it for nostalgic reasons, this isn’t one of the books that I (knowingly) enjoyed in childhood. For me, this was another golden charity shop find and has since been adored by both Son and Daughter for the past seven years.
First of all, I love the artwork – the book’s blurb describes it as having, ‘rich, bold colours’ and I couldn’t agree more. I also love the language used – in all the (many) books I’ve read to my daughter in the last seven-and-a-bit years, this is the only one which has referred to a girl as strong in the physical sense of the word. Later books – intended for older readers – have used the adjective to describe personality but bodily strength is not a characteristic that’s normally attached to female protagonists. Which is an issue, when you’re raising a girl who happens to have the beginnings of a six-pack.
I love the realism of the book – that there are seven shoes along the edge of the bed, one half of a pair temporarily misplaced. I love the detail in the illustrations – the cat that’s present in nearly all of the pictures seems to be up to something new in each one. I love that it’s Dad, tenderly putting his daughter to bed and that this isn’t a laboured point.
The poem that carries us through the countdown is simple and neat, but equally warm and affectionate. Whilst I can pretty much recite it from memory, I haven’t grown tired of it yet, which is always a good sign.
This is another older book that I really would urge you to go out of your way to find. As you can tell from the pictures above, our copy has been well-loved and though both children are, if I’m being honest, too old for it, I can’t imagine not having it in the house so I’m on the hunt for another copy.
Tell me I’m not the only person who can’t let go of books – which have you clung on to?
I am yet to meet a child who doesn’t love poetry.
I think the rhythm of it and the almost musical nature of a poem when read aloud is what makes it so very appealing to little people, even if they don’t understand the content. As a result, it’s the ideal medium for introducing books and stories – the pattern of the reader’s voice providing as much enjoyment as the words themselves.
In A Great Big Cuddle – Poems For The Very Young, Michael Rosen manages to distil concepts such as anger and belonging into things a child might relate to, and creates verses about them using the bare bones of language. There’s an Edward Lear-esque element to some of the verses – whimsical and fun, full of opportunities for the reader and listener to play with the text.
Coupled with Chris Riddell’s amazing artwork – did I mention I love his drawings more than a little? – and this is a book that’s very easy to read and enjoy.
Which are your favourite poetry books for children?