April’s 4-7 Book Box
In April’s 4-7 Book Box, we are proud to include books that demonstrate just how varied family set-ups can be. As well as this, we have a book by Rose Robbins, author-illustrator who is populating shelves with picture books featuring neurodiverse characters. In our box this month, we have an early chapter book featuring a heart-warming relationship between grandparent and grandchild.
The Hairdo That Got Away by Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Fiona Lumbers
Dad takes the narrator to the barber’s once a month. However, after an argument with the narrator’s mother, Dad disappears for months. The narrator is ever aware of the time passed since they last saw Dad. Without Dad there to take him to the barber’s, the child’s hair grows and grows until he becomes unrecognisable. The long hair is a symbol of the unmanageable emotions that the child is feeling. Yet, resolution comes when Dad appears at the school pick-up. This book is especially well-suited to families experiencing separation and needing guidance to address complex emotions. Even if your child is not in a separated family, it is likely they know another child who is, so you could use this book to talk about different family set-ups.
Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers make a wonderful pair. Check out Luna Loves Library Day, another book featuring a separated family.
Loud by Rose Robbins
Rose Robbins writes children’s books about neurodiversity. Her previous story, Me and My Sister, is about a neurodiverse sibling duo. Talking is Not My Thing features a non-verbal autistic child. In Loud, the protagonist Abigail meets the criteria for ADHD. In class, Abigail did not want to do writing. She wanted to scribble and fiddle with hair. It is not until music class that Abigail finds an outlet. Miss Butler does not try to silence Abigail, instead, she encourages to use her energy in music class.
This book is a great for adults, not just children, in illustrating how to respond to behaviour that is often dubbed “challenging”. Children with ADHD or similar behaviours will feel seen by this book. And it will help other children to be more understanding of difference.
Me, in the Middle by Annette Demetriou and illustrated by Angela Mayers
During an exercise in school, the children create a world map in the playground. They are asked to walk over to where their family comes from. Kids go to England, India, and Japan. But Georgie doesn’t know where to go. She is torn between East Africa and England. At home, with her parents, she goes through her family tree. Her parents help her appreciate just how big and beautiful both sides of her family tree are. The next day at school, the children compare their families to trees outside. There is a slender tree that represents an only child, whose parents and grandparents are also only children. One tree had a trunk that had grown into two new trunks, representing a separated family.
This is the ideal read for exploring just how varied families can be. Both in ethnicity and in family set-up.
The Marvellous Granny Jinks and Me by Serena Holly and illustrated by Selom Sunu
After school, Jada goes to Granny Jinks’ house. Jada’s Dad works long hours as an accountant and her mother is absent. However, Jada and Granny Jinks have a fun-loving, doting relationship. Grandpa Jinks died when Jada’s dad was boy. Grandpa was a magician and Granny Jinks was a theatre manager, and that is where they met. Magic is still present in the Jinks household, though Jada’s Dad dislikes magic. There’s the Ingenious Jinks’ Box of Magic Tricks, containing a silk handkerchief; slippery cards; and a dark-skinned thumb prop. Granny Jinks shares with Jada that she had always had an ambition to be a magician too.
Jada loves going to Granny Jinks after school. But, at parents’ evening, Dad learns that Jada is struggling to articulate when she is asked a maths question in class. So, he signs her up for extra maths classes in the community centre.
At school, Jada meets the new girl, Tilda. Tilda and Jada bond over a shared love of magic. Tilda tells Jada that she is auditioning to be in the Magician’s society. Auditions for the Magician’s society are held in the community centre where Jada is having extra maths classes. Jada devises a plan to get Granny Jinks to audition for the Magician’s society and fulfil her dream of being a magician.
This is a really sweet story. Jada’s drive to fulfil Granny Jinks’ dream of magician is truly touching. Often, extended family members step in to help out with childcare, and it is wonderful to see that not treated as a negative, but as an opportunity for a strong, loving bond to be formed between two people.
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