Here are a few more stories with heart that encompass the three pillars of great picture books: to enlighten, educate and entertain.
It’s wrenching when something or someone you love is lost. No one knows this better than Rachel Noble who was inspired to write Finn’s Feather after the loss of her son, Hamish. However if you think this story is a maudlin narrative on grief and loss, think again.
Finn’s Feather embraces all the love and joy families share for one another. It is a sublime examination of the emotions of heartache, anguish and sorrow expressed through the eyes of a child, which makes it immediately relatable and real. When a parent carries the burden of grief, children often slump along beside them under the same weight but unsure of why they are even there. The way they might experience the loss (of a sibling) understandably has to be different from the despair their parents are experiencing. This is precisely what Finn is going through after he discovers a pristine white feather on his doorstep one morning.
He is convinced the feather is a gift from his brother Hamish. The only other person who agrees that this is a really cool gift from angel Hamish is Finn’s best friend, Lucas. Together entwined by their beautiful friendship and natural childhood innocence, they play with Finn’s feather until it is no longer white nor perfect. It is nonetheless, still amazing. Just as life is.
Noble’s gentle considered prose couples beautifully with Abbott’s jovial line drawings. Whilst the genesis of this story is sobering and sorrowful, the bright cheerful palette and Finn’s irrepressible nature exude hope and give credence to the belief that like sunsets, endings can be beautiful.
Playful yet sensitively and eloquently presented, Finn’s Feather radiates love leaving you with nothing but joy in your heart.
Enchanted Lion Books June 2018
One of the most magical parts of authoring a children’s book is not knowing how it will be ultimately imagined. The illustrator often forms the first impressions. Their interpretations can set the tone and enhance the story in ways the author never dreamed of or perhaps hoped for but never dared to ask for. I wonder if this was the case in Want to Play Trucks?.
Jack and Alex have a daily thing; they convene almost every morning in the sandpit in the playground. Jack likes trucks. Alex likes dolls. Straightaway assumptions may be made here if it were not for the ingenious slant Graham provides in the illustrations; Alex is a boy; the name cleverly lending itself to either gender. And why shouldn’t Alex like dolls.
Diversity need not be rammed down children’s throats as this picture book aptly illustrates. Kids do not choose their playmates with the need for diversity in mind. They simple follow their whims and wants and are who they are.
This delightful, recognisable storyline embraces individualism and childhood innocence in the most delicious and humorous way and pays homage to that wondrous playing-field leveller – a mutual love of ice cream. Well it works for me!
Perfect for pre-schoolers be they little girls or boys.
Walker Books August 2018
This story is thoughtful and immediate, told through the eyes of Zane’s older sister. Zane is a young lad who is a bit different from other kids, a bit more exact and fearful of things, like the colour black. Zane’s family find it difficult and frustrating at times to live with his irregularities, not his sister however. Her imaginative way of helping Zane overcome his anxieties and rise above his fears and frustrations is both ingenious and beautiful. She never gives up on Zane or belittles his anxieties. Kelly’s narrative sings and swirls and envelopes readers with understanding.
The fluid, rainbow coloured typesetting of this book and sensationally sensitive endpapers all help to make this important story very special. The Chalk Rainbow would make a useful classroom text to create positive responses for common conditions like Autism but is a pleasure to enjoy and share even if you are not faced with this issue.
EK Books May 2017