Here at MFF, books are a major part of our parenting experience. We love reading with our children, it’s a great way to bond and also really important for their development. Our writer, Jonathan Brown, reviews a selection of books from publisher Quarto Knows.
‘Juniter Jupiter’ by Lizzie Stewart
Juniper Jupiter is hard to say quickly, which was funny to begin with. A girl who can fly: “a superhero a real one. It’s no big deal”. But she is lonely too. She wants a companion, a friend, someone to be super with. She arranges for auditions for a sidekick. The queue down the road is very long but after interviewing hundreds of applicants Jupiter still hasn’t found her perfect sidekick.
Finally the successful candidate is found. My daughter loving the selection process, and who’s finally chosen, agreeing wholeheartedly with the choice and the reasons for making it. This book is funny, sweet, charming, but also with a quiet message that we all need a friend, someone to make life less lonely.
‘Grandad Mandela’ by Zazi, Ziwelene, Zindzi Mandela & Sean Qualls
I have always been moved by Nelson Mandela’s story since learning of his plight, by his strength and willingness to forgive and build a new future, so it’s important for his story to be told. My daughter was very curious about his story, and the concept of Apartheid which she found deeply strange. She was curious as to how it had come about and what made people want to be divisive. Our main problem with the book was… it was quite boring.
I felt like it was written by people too close to the Mandela story, and who seemed invested in getting too much information across rather than telling a good story. It could have been far more interesting if the actual character of Mandela, a real man, had been developed. A human with faults and idiosyncrasies is someone to relate to and identify with.
This “Mandela” was a flat figure, a two dimensional icon. Likewise, the antagonists were two dimensional. This story became factual and therefore dry rather than a living and vibrant story of three-dimensional characters. How it would have benefited from being handed over to someone removed from the saga, to inject a sense of pace, peril, tragedy, redemption and emotion. Again… this takes artistic licence, to move from the “information” and into emotional drama.
‘If All The World Where’ by Joseph Coelho & Allison Colpoys
We watch the tender relationship between a girl and her grandfather as he slowly journeys towards his end days. The book is gentle, emotional, tender and poetic.
By the end my daughter and I were so touched we were both in tears, which is a huge testament to the writing and the illustration. This is a simple, beautiful book with touches of the life, colour and vibrancy of India gently splashed throughout. The book gave us plenty to talk about, including my daughters own fear and grief around my own future death and how she would miss me. Indeed she wept and we were both deeply touched. This book has been a real gift to our relationship.
‘Imagine’ by John Legend
It was fortunate the song is one my five-year-old knows quite well. Reading it to her, she enjoyed the simple pictures and likewise enjoyed and understood, through the simple graphics, the sentiments of this famous song we all grew up with.
More so on the second and third readings as we developed familiarity with the birds and the characters, and she always asked me to sing the words rather than read them. It’s not one of her favourite books, but is generally glad when it comes back out.