Books of the Week
For our final contribution to the Grimsdell Newsletter for this academic year, we finish with three exciting book recommendations from our last cohort of Year 2 Junior Librarians.
Firstly, Theo from 2AM recommends ‘Mr Men Adventure in Space’ by Roger Hargreaves.
Theo’s reason for his choice: “This book has great pictures and a very funny story and I think it will appeal to lots of Grimsdell’s children!”
Mrs Harvey can also vouch for the continuing popularity of the Mr Men and Little Miss series of books. We have a varied selection of these books in our library. The writing style of Roger Hargreaves is simple and direct, the humour and personality traits that come with each character are a lot of fun and memorable. The illustrations are bright and vivid, drawing the reader into the story.
As I am sure you already know, each character is named after what represents their personalities. The books go deeper than that though, they teach that it is ok to be who you are. They make readers aware that you should embrace who you are yourself. Whether you are as loud as Mr Noisy, moody like Mr Grumpy or a talker like Little Miss Chatterbox, it is important to love yourself. The compassion that we should all have towards each other shines throughout the books too. Using the interaction between other characters within the narrative teaches us how important it is to not only accept ourselves, but also to appreciate the different traits that others possess. Working towards self-acceptance and respect for others is important from a young age.
Extending from self-acceptance and compassion towards others, the books also teach us the importance of helping each other and ow paramount selfless acts can be. The examples being that Little Miss Chatterbox ensures that nobody feels lonely and Mr Tickle uses his long arms to rescue cats from trees. The stories represent that everybody has a worth and that it is important to help those who need your personal skills. The moral of each story often portrays how important it is to work as a team together.
Secondly, Elsie, a Junior Librarian from 2HD, recommends ‘Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker’ by James Mayhew.
Elsie shares the reason for her choice: “I love dancing and fairies, so this is the perfect story. The illustrations are magical!”
Mrs Harvey supports Elsie’s choice – the Ella Bella series of books are very popular with our Grimsdell readership. In this story, Ella Bella the eponymous little ballerina in author/illustrator James Mayhew’s picture-book series devoted to her adventures, returns for her fourth appearance in a story based on a famous ballet, this time in a dreamlike interaction with the cast of the Nutcracker. The ballet’s plot is skillfully summarised and delicate watercolour-and-ink illustrations capture the exciting battle scene and create an ethereal atmosphere for the Land of Sweets with backgrounds of pink blossoms and candies. James Mayhew’s richly detailed storytelling and his exquisite, retro art-style make this book perfect for all would-be prima ballerinas. The final page is devoted to ballet facts, so children can learn about the original ballet The Nutcracker.
The Grimsdell Library has all five of the books in the Ella Bella Ballerina series as well as the entire set of the Katie series. James Mayhew’s first book for children was Katie’s Pictures Show, (Orchard Books 1989) establishing the long running series about a child’s adventures in an art gallery. Many of his books have a cultural agenda and James is passionate about introducing children to art, music, opera, ballet and traditional tales. His series of Katie books are much-loved and respected as an early introduction to art. He has published over 60 books and illustrated and written for many other colleagues including Philippa Pearce, Martin Waddell and Jackie Morris.
Finally, Reuben from 2HD recommends a non-fiction book, ‘The Earth’ by Alice Harman.
Reuben tells us: “I really enjoy non-fiction books and finding out about our world.”
Mrs Harvey would also recommend Reuben’s choice – non-fiction plays a vital role in the reading repertoire of a child.
Why we need to seek out and celebrate non-fiction:
Even if you can’t remember back to when you were 3 or 4, you may have experienced (perhaps with tinge of exasperation) a small child asking you, “But why? Why is it like that? Why does it do that?”
We start out life immensely hungry for understanding. We want to work out how things work; we’re full of questions and insatiably curious about the world. When we discover an answer to our questioning, the world seems to make a little more sense and we feel braver and bolder than before. To be curious is not only natural, but it also helps us lead rich and wonderful lives. This is why I’m a passionate advocate for doing whatever possible to enable children and young people to keep asking “Why?”
Non-fiction books are my tools of choice for this; once opened, not only do they feed enthusiasm, foster wonder and put wind beneath wings, they enable readers by delivering knowledge and feeding passion.
Like me, you probably want your child to fall in love with books – perhaps because you know that all the research points to frequent readers being more successful in life, or perhaps simply because you know how enjoyable reading is and want others to experience that warmth, delight and pleasure.
But to fall in love with reading, children have to find books they love. Making their own choices about what they read is an important aspect of this.