Mum and Dad Glue (2009) and Leave Me Alone (2011) both by Hodder, are brilliant books to initiate discussions about feelings with young children and perfect to use with children dealing with separation, divorce, or bullying.
Mum and Dad Glue is a rhyming text delivered from the viewpoint of a young boy whose parents are splitting up. They are broken and he needs to find some glue to fix them back together. His friends say not to worry and his parents say it’s not his fault but he wants his parents back the way they were. When he goes to find some mum and dad glue at the glue shop he is gently reassured by the shopkeeper, who explains that sometimes what must be must be. She encourages him to be strong and look ahead to a new type of family life, assuring him that his parents’ love for him will never break.
The book beautifully follows the emotions a child in the same situation would be going through; their fear that they are to blame and their hope that they will be able to get their parents back together.
Lee Wildish has created pictorial hugs for the reader, supporting the story and providing the reader with a visual representation of their feelings. It’s immensely comforting for a child to ‘see’ their feelings. To see the cracks in everyday objects like lunch boxes and walls helps them to make sense of their own feelings of a world left off-kilter and broken.
Together, the text and illustrations
gently support the reader through the realisation that they can’t fix a broken marriage but they can fix themselves and look ahead to a different, but still loved, future.
Leave Me Alone is by the same crack team, this time dealing with the subject of bullying. A sad little lad sat alone in a field is approached by various animals. Each is told ‘leave me alone’ by the boy and each replies with concern and an offer of help.
The little boy tells them they won’t be able to help because his problem is too big. He is being bullied by a giant who casts a dark shadow over him. Again, the visual representation of a child’s feelings is wonderful here, and the giant and his shadow are perfectly portrayed as a big brown and red abstract hulk, looming and blocking the sun. Wildish has made great use of texture, scratchy lines, splatters and the use of size and perspective to convey emotion.
When the giant arrives, the animals all shout together “Leave him alone.” The combined force of the animals standing up for their friend persuades the giant to leave and of course, he never comes back. The text ‘Leave him alone’ is made up of lots of very small text also saying ‘leave him alone’. It is literally made of all their voices combined.
Sadly, both of these books are very much needed by the children of the Rainbow Library and I am thankful that such wonderful resources are available to give these children a much deserved book hug. Hurrah for Kes Gray and Lee Wildish for braving tricky subjects with sensitivity and style. And thank you for the kind donation from Alison Fennell that enabled me to purchase Mum and Dad Glue for the library.