Thought Provoking Books
The Proudest Blue
Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K Ali & Hatem Aly
Asiya's hijab is like the ocean and the sky, no line between them, saying hello with a loud wave. It's Faizah's first day of school, and her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab - made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful. In the face of hurtful, confusing words, will Faizah find new ways to be strong? This is an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond shared by siblings and of being proud of who you are, from Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
The Emerald Forest
Catherine Ward & Karin Littlewood
‘The Emerald Forest’ is a gorgeous and moving picture book bringing to life the plight of orangutans on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The story, written by Catherine Ward, is written in prose but its language is poetic and has a lovely rhythm to it, making it perfect for reading aloud. Karin Littlewood’s illustrations are stunning, and the size of the pages and the scope of the pictures, bursting with the greenery and light of the Indonesian forest, create an immersive experience. In one illustration, it feels as if orangutan is looking right at you. Because of this, the experience of the orangutans as their habitat comes under attack is felt on an emotional level too. The plight of the orangutans is unsettling, but the message overall is one of hope, as the orangutans are rescued and rehomed in the story. The book encourages the reader to look towards a future where the forests of Sumatra might recover if people play a part in protecting them. This stunning picturebook would be invaluable for use in a class topic on the use of palm oil, or more generally in talking about the impact of human activity – for better and for worse – on the environment.
Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is a hit in classrooms up and down the country. Children love the personification of big feelings like worry, fear or anger and enjoy seeing how recognising and dealing with big feelings is better than ignoring them or bottling things up. This story is about dealing with jealousy, which aptly appears as a green-eyed monster. The monster keeps popping up with Milo when his best friend is playing with a new neighbour.
Children love the appeal of the big bright monster that gives a visual way of showing an all too familiar emotion. Young readers also love that the story shows a very relatable scenario and will help them to navigate the daily ups and downs of friendships.
A super story belonging to a highly recommendable series.
Isabel Otter & Clara Anganuzzi
Inspired by her Grandpa’s tales of global exploration, a little girl chooses to pen a love letter to the Earth, gently exploring both the diverse beauty and the fragility of our planet.
As Tessa walks with her Grandpa, she listens to his tales of adventures from his days as an explorer. As Grandpa describes different places he has visited, he paints in Tessa’s mind vivid images of the Earth’s diverse natural wonders. Inspired by what she has heard, Tessa decides to write a letter to the planet, letting her imagination flow as she dreams of global explorations of her own. Through Tessa’s imaginative lines, coupled with Clara Anganuzzi’s gently flowing illustrations, the book addresses the aspects of nature that capture a child’s heart and imagination: Tessa imagines sliding down desert dunes, floating in lagoons, gliding like a turtle, flitting with butterflies, sliding and soaring with birds. Tessa wants to revel in the Earth’s natural beauty – to play gleefully in it, to partake, to sense it, to fully experience it, but not for a second spoil it. At the end of her letter, Tessa’s mind falls to thoughts of the Earth’s need for love, care and healing from the damage caused by humans.
Finishing her letter with ‘Love from Tessa’, she holds Grandpa’s hand and together they wander along the beach and discuss what might cause more people to be better at treasuring the Earth instead of harming it. The pair agree that sharing a message of the planet’s wondrous beauty might be the best way to help people to realise how special the Earth is and to begin to take more care of it.
This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that is perfectly gentle and encouraging in its message of appreciation and environmental care. There’s nothing to scare young children here – instead, it simply moves readers towards reflecting on the diversity of the planet’s natural wonders, as the additional facts and tips at the end of the book gently move readers onto positive and achievable steps to help to care for the planet.
Two Places to Call Home
Phil Earle & Jess Ross
Popular author Phil Earle offers a new picturebook with an authentic representation of a child experiencing parental separation and divorce.
Meet Florrie. Florrie has two of everything…. including two different homes. Her mum’s and her dad’s. When her parents separated, Florrie and her brothers were expected to divide their time between the two homes, and at the beginning of the book, this makes her feel a little uneasy.
This book shows how each parent works separately with her to make her feel comfortable about the situation, giving her coping mechanisms when she misses her other home. The lovely twist at the end is how Florrie is then able to help her father, when she realises that he misses her when she is not with him too.
This uplifting picture book will help children to embrace change, and could be a brilliant starting point for discussion about feelings about separation and divorce as well as about navigating negative thoughts and feelings towards changes outside of own’s own control. Beautifully illustrated by Jess Rose, the details in the pictures really bring the story alive, and provide great talking points when reading this story with your child, whether they have personally experienced separation or not.
Anthony Browne is at his most brilliant in a new edition of this profound picture book about sibling relations and one that has become a classic Y2 book to study and pore over in the classroom.Once upon a time there lived a brother and sister who were complete opposites and constantly fought and argued. One day they discovered the tunnel. The boy goes through it at once, dismissing his sister's fears. When he doesn't return his sister has to pluck up the courage to go through the tunnel too. She finds her brother in a mysterious forest where he has been turned to stone...
The Wall and the Wild
Christina Dendy & Katie Rewse
A wonderful picturebook about the desire for control and tidiness, and the wonders that can occur when we accept a little mess and freedom into our lives.
Ana builds a beautiful garden on the edge of her town but is determined to keep the disorderly wild out, so she builds a boundary wall to separate the two. She wants her garden to be perfect, full of only the sweetest-smelling flowers, leafiest trees and tastiest fruit and vegetables. Any seeds that are not absolutely perfect get thrown away into the wild. The plants begins to wilt and both people and animals stop bothering to visit. Until eventually, Ana sees some sunlight beaming from over her wall and decides to climb and see what is on the other side. As soon as she sees the beauty and unrestrained nature of the Wild, helped along by all her imperfect seeds, she decides that maybe it is time to start removing some bricks from her wall.