Book reviews

Two great kid’s books about managing life’s trickier moments

We review two very different kid’s books that’ll give kids food for thought about navigating your way through a problem. ‘That’s NOT how you do it’ is a real-life scenario that many pre-schoolers will come across, and Home and Dry is a fantasy tale, where there is grave danger, but everything turns out alright in the end.

That’s NOT how you do it!  Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar

Lucy’s got the hang of the world, but when Toshi arrives, she’s astonished that he doesn’t know how to do things right, just like she does.  She can paint elephants, build a tower and eat with a fork.  Lucy’s friends ask her to help them to do things the right way.

Toshi makes Lucy’s jaw drop.  Not only does he not eat with a fork, he builds a different type of tower,  and he can’t make a paper star just like Lucy’s.  And he doesn’t even ask for her help.  Eventually, Lucy’s frustration bursts out, and she tells Toshi that he’s got it all wrong.

This sweet, light-touch story combines a pre-schooler’s certainty with the discovery that difference doesn’t equal wrong, and can be oodles of fun too.   It’s a story that shows sharing another culture’s traditions and practices has lots to offer.  

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When Toshi gives Lucy a swan to match her paper stars, she learns that there’s more than one way to do things.  She gets the lesson too that she might not always be right.  She and Toshi become firm friends.

This is a lovely read for pre-schoolers or reception age kids, who’re starting to make friends and discovering the world outside their families.  It’s a great way for children to celebrate their differences.

The simple illustrations are colourful and engaging. That’s NOT how you do it will appeal to teachers, parents and kids, and Lucy’s very expressive face will make children giggle!    


Home and Dry by Sarah L Smith

Rain, rain and more rain is just what the Paddling family love.  But when summer arrives and dries up the water, they set off in search of somewhere to paddle, and that’s when the trouble starts.

The Paddling family live on a tiny island and water is their lifeblood; they catch fish, teach swimming and the ferry delivers their food and mail.  While the wind and the rain cocoons them in their cozy home and lulls them to sleep every night.  

When the sun comes out and dries up the water, the Paddlings no longer live on an island and they have nowhere to fish and nothing to sail their boat in.  They set off on a journey to find water, and unexpectedly, their long-lost uncle Bastian sets off a journey to find them.

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As Uncle Bastian arrives at the Paddlings’ home, the rain lashes down and the tide rises.  Uncle Bastian can’t swim.  He’s swept away on the rising tide.   Will Uncle Bastian be rescued in time to make it home and dry?

Home and Dry is a wistful and charmingly odd story.  The pleasure of this meandering book is the repetition of the ‘pitter patter’ and the ‘whoosh whoosh’ right through the story, giving it rhythm and atmosphere.  

The illustrations have lovely detail which kids will enjoy; from hairy dogs in lifejackets to boats on wheels.  They’re reminiscent of Shirley Hughes’ books, who wrote classics such as Alfie and Dogger, and whose drawings pick out the cozy intimacies of family life that feel so familiar to kids

Home and Dry is a perfect book to share by the fire on a rainy afternoon.

Both books are published by Child’s Play International 2016 and were sent to us for review purposes. Child’s Play’s children’s books are renowned for celebrating life’s diversity.

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