Tag Archives: Child’s Play

Gender play is Child’s Play

9 Mar

Child’s Play produce beautiful and inclusive books that celebrate diversity and tolerance. It’s their thing and they excel at it. Here are three brilliant examples that I want to share.

Mayday Mouse by Seb Braun

‘When Captain Mouse sets sail on a bright, sunny day with a birthday present for her brother, little does she know the sea-going perils she will have to face! Her cheerful, optimistic nature refuses to be downcast by storms, caves, rocks and shipwrecks. Resourceful and inventive, she’s able to save the day – with just a little help from her friends!’

Yes, you read that correctly… ‘she’! Captain Mouse is a girl. Hurrah! I’m making a big deal out of it, but Seb Braun and Child’s Play don’t at all. Their casual inclusion is their super strength. Because of course a captain can be a girl, and children growing up listening to and reading this story shouldn’t be surprised by that. They haven’t (yet) been trained to see the world through gender stereotyped eyes and, as long as there are books like this around, they will be able to envision an equal future. But for me, this is glorious and I salute it.

A heartwarming story that celebrates optimism, determination, and the power of friendship,  Mayday Mouse is a beautiful read.

You can get your copy here.

My Tail’s Not Tired! by Jana Novotny Hunter and Paula Bowles

‘How can any little monster possibly go to bed when their tail isn’t even tired? And when their knees still have plenty of bounce in them? And when their arms still want to fly like a jet plane? Bedtime is surely a long way off! Luckily, Big Monster has a strategy to outwit Little Monster, with the inevitable result!’

I love the gender-neutrality of this book. Big Monster and Little Monster could represent any big person/small person relationship and therefore opens up the book to be entirely relevant to every child. They can be Little Monster and Big Monster could be whoever is reading the book to them.

The illustrations are gorgeous. Look at the use of the page layout to make Big Monster always slightly outside of the picture, slightly too large to fit on the page. And Little Monster’s wigglyness is just adorable – and certainly reminiscent of a few energetic toddlers I know!

A delightful celebration of carer/child relationships, My Tail’s Not Tired is the perfect book to act out together.

You can get your copy here.

Henry and Boo! by Megan Brewis

‘Henry isn’t happy when an uninvited guest suddenly interrupts his tea break. And he is less than thrilled when the little creature decides to stay – along with its annoying habit. With the unwelcome visitor getting under his feet all day, it’s easy for Henry to miss the signs that a dangerous and hungry bear has been seen in the area. How can he avoid being the next victim?’

With its catchy refrains and speech bubbles, Henry and Boo! is wonderful to read aloud and act out together. And again, Boo is gender-neutral, allowing any child to become Boo – with all the shouting and jumping that entails. It’s also nice to see a male character in a domestic setting.

Its gentle message of tolerance, and humorous illustrations make Henry and Boo! a winner.

You can get your copy here.

Source – kindly sent for review by Child’s Play.

Encountering dementia

18 Mar

More and more children are encountering dementia in their families and are learning to adapt their relationships to account for dementia’s effects on their loved ones. Grandma by Jessica Shepherd (Child’s Play) and Really and Truly by Emile Rivard and Anne-Claire Deslisle (Franklin Watts) explore a child’s changing relationship with a grandparent who has developed dementia. Both books would be a sensitive and helpful way of discussing dementia’s effects with children who are experiencing them in their families, but they also work on a wider level- celebrating the bond between grandchild and grandparent and the value and power of play and shared stories.

Grandma is a beautifully sensitive and child-centred look at the changing relationship between Oscar and his Grandma.

The strength and warmth of their relationship is made obvious from the cover of the book – look at the positioning of them on the page, everything in the picture draws the eye in to them cuddling in the chair. The title is like a banner celebrating Grandma, the word itself embraced by flowers. This illustration cries warmth and love and sets the tone for the whole book.

Told in Oscar’s words, the games they play together and the things they share are lovingly portrayed. When Grandma starts to forget things and needs more care, dad tells Oscar that Grandma needs to move to a special home and Oscar is sad and lonely. When he visits her at the home for the first time he is a bit scared but soon he and Grandma are sharing cupcakes and enjoying their time together. It is not always easy and sometimes Grandma is upset and angry but Oscar still thinks his Grandma is the best in the world.

I love that Grandma doesn’t hide the facts or the emotional responses to Grandma’s dementia. It is dealt with in a very child-friendly way, explaining through Oscar’s eyes and emotions. Jessica Shepherd has captured Oscar’s voice beautifully and included lots of child-observations to really bring the child’s viewpoint to life.


The map of the home with child’s labelling is a great touch, as are the illustrations of items from a memory box and Grandma’s stories – involving the child reader in the story and inviting them to join in and discuss. Lovely!

This level of child-friendly interaction continues at the end of the book with a very child-centred fact sheet about dementia and it’s effects on people and their families.

This book radiates love and care, sensitivity and positivity. It is clear that Jessica Shepherd creates from the heart – she is one to watch!

Really Truly takes a more playful approach to the changing relationship between grandchild and grandparent, whilst retaining the emotional sensitivity and child-centred viewpoint.

Charlie loved his Grandpa’s stories about pirates living in his attic and witches hiding in his shed. But when he got older, his Grandpa stopped telling stories and an awful disease ate up his memories and his smiles. Grandpa’s distance makes Charlie sad and he uses the stories Grandpa told him to catch his attention and reconnect.

The magic in this book comes from the use of storytelling. The relationship between Charlie and his Grandpa is portrayed with such fun and tenderness. Look at how adoringly Charlie is looking up at his Grandpa and how engrossed they both are in their roles.

The illustrations bring this story to life for the child reader, using black line drawings to highlight the imaginary characters from Grandpa and Charlie’s storytelling and including lots of humorous detail that enhances the portrayal of their relationship. I love the little pirates running off with the biscuits! In Grandpa and Charlie’s world, stories are adventures and are – really and truly – happening all around them.

The role reversal of Charlie becoming the storyteller is a beautifully child-friendly way of describing the changing role of a family member supporting a loved one with dementia. I love Really and Truly‘s positivity and the way it manages to express a child’s fear and sadness and confusion whilst giving the reader coping strategies and the knowledge that they can still have a fun and meaningful relationship with a grandparent.

A beautiful book that celebrates the relationship between Grandparent and Grandchild and the magical power of storytelling.

Grandma – bought from my lovely local bookshop, Bags of Books.
Really and Truly – kindly sent for review by Franklin Watts, now heading to the Rainbow Library to support the children who need it.

Noisy! Illustrated by Annie Kubler

5 Mar

This is a Child’s Play book produced for Bookstart and one of the big hits at the Rainbow Library.

The children love it! It is one of those brilliant books that has universal appeal. The youngest children pick it up and are able to look through it independently, it is a good sized board book and they can manage it themselves. It’s full of bright but gentle pictures of very young children having fun making noise and even the youngest children are able to copy them and join in.

For the older children who are just beginning to learn to read, this book is a favourite and a confidence booster. The words are simple to sound out and read, they are in big bold print and (hooray) in a font that children can read! Look at the ‘a’!


The older children talk about the pictures; why is the baby crying? What songs are they listening to? and they use this book to inspire their own noise making. Mainly this page it has to be said:


An absolute hit! I’d love to post a picture of the children enjoying this book but you’ll have to make do with me instead.


Source: Picked up in a charity shop for the Rainbow library.

Rabbityness by Jo Empson

23 Feb

Rabbityness is an ideal book for introducing children to the theme of loss or bereavement in a gentle and subtle way, with the added bonus of being bright, modern and fun; a book that will really appeal to children.


Rabbit loves to do rabbity things like hopping and twirling his whiskers but he also loves unrabbity things like painting and making music. The unrabbity things make Rabbit so happy that he fills the wood with happiness and creativity.


All the other rabbits come to love the music and the colours and catch Rabbit’s happiness. Until one day, Rabbit disappears. The woods are quiet and dull and the rabbits miss their friend. But Rabbit has left behind everything they need to remember him and unlock their own creativity.

Everything about this book is pitched perfectly at its little people audience. The text is simple and easy for children to connect with, the font is easy for early readers to cope with and the layout is enticing with bouncy text and great use of colour. Jo Empson uses the artwork and layout on the page to carry the reader through and deliver an emotional journey. The use of negative space is gorgeous.


A perfect book to explore and celebrate individuality and creativity and introduce loss in any form. I love the positivity throughout the book. A real winner.

Jo Empson has recently released her second book, Never Ever, which explores boredom and looks to be equally as inclusive and positive. One to watch!

Source: Our lovely local library.