Mine, all Mine!
There are time when we all feel selfish, when we want something, no matter how big or small, just to ourselves. It may be the last chocolate, sweetie or slice of cake, it may be a few minutes peace or time to just finish the latest chapter of a book. Whatever the reason, sometimes we want to be able to say that something is 'mine'. All mine!
Have you ever thought about having your very own city, your very own star or even your very own magic? Well you can have all three - in book form at least. And even more than that: through three very special books, you can learn to see and understand how sometimes having something for ourselves actually means we are sharing it with others. And there's nothing remotely selfish about that, I am sure you will agree!
I think with this one we need to start big, so I am going to start with Joanne Liu's My City (Prestel). Its end pages suggest this is very much a children's book: the wonderful blue scribbled lines suggest someone having great fun learning to draw. Then we meet the culprit - Max, who is being allowed to take a letter to the mailbox all by himself today. What follows is Max's journey to the post box brought to us without words. We see Max walking past cyclists and cars, past shops and a launderette (what fun can be had here!), safely crossing the road and enjoying the fun of a puddle. There is the enormous museum, the sights, sounds, traffic and people of the city. BUT before you worry about young Max exploring this great big city all by himself, get to the end of the book for a very wonderful surprise!
Colourful, playful and unique in its design and interpretation of an idea, this book spends time revealing to the reader just how much is hidden in the moments that might often pass us by. There is so much room for discussion and storytelling in this title along with art styles to compare and attempt that readers old and young will delight in turning its pages again and again.
Next I want to take an even bigger leap. We are going to investigate the idea of having one's very own pet. But this is no ordinary pet - this one is a star. Corrinne Averiss and Rosalind Beardshaw explore the adventures that one little girl can have when she finds a fallen star. My Pet Star (Orchard Books) is at once a profound, deep and beautiful story of the deepest of friendships between child and pet but also the very moral and grounding story of how children sometimes need to learn how to let go. Not only ideal for all those children who have ever longed for a pet, this is a beautiful story of how friendships can develop and endure.
Gentle rhyming language flows from page to page allowing readers to read the words, say them aloud or in their minds and yet not rush them to turn the page. It encourages them to take time to look at the accompanying illustrations too - whilst colour fills the page, there is a very clever technique at use here which also isolates the most important parts of text and illustration bringing them to the reader's attention - look at the little girl finding the star, using here telescope, playing games and teaching ...
The little girl has many plans for her new pet star - she will be his vet, he will be her pet, she will wash him, fix him, read to him and play with him. She will learn from him and he from her. But one day she will have to learn and accept a very important lesson. This lesson is very sympathetically told, warming the hearts of all readers and encouraging them to understand and share her feelings. A beautiful and evocative story.
Finally, let us share some magic with My Magic by Gaia Guasti and Simona Mulazzani (Ragged Bears). This story teaches us that everything we have on our wonderful planet is our magic - you magic, my magic, our magic. And not only on the earth, but out there, in the solar system too - it is all our magic. Why, I hear you ask, is all of this our magic? Quite simply because everything that we see, hear, feel, do is magic. It is a magic we can experience and it is a magic we can learn from.
The spread with the cat who purrs just for our character shows us the child, an oversize cat and an undersize chair. There is of course plenty to explore in this imagery but most importantly for me it is the illustration inside the cat that really needs our attention - the house, the sun, the weather, all this magic which makes the cat happy, makes it purr and makes us happy - it is all magic.
What we see and what we learn is that there is magic all around us, from the light of the sun to the dark nights and the glittery stars; it is all done for us and it all gives us more than first impressions would suggest. Wonder at the magic if the everyday and the not-so everyday in this simple but evocative book, learn not to take them for granted any longer. Discover more and more magic with every turn of the page and every time you pick up and explore this most fabulous, exquisite picture book.