Sweep by Louise Greig & illustrated by Julia Sardà

By Maureen Tai, 16 June 2020

Ed was in a bad mood.

IMG_1492Books about big emotions are popular in our household. One of my favourites is Sweep, a gorgeously illustrated picture book that tells the charming cautionary tale of what happens when a sandy haired boy called Ed allows his bad mood to sweep him off his feet. We open with Ed, all bundled up in a heavy coat, a woolly hat on his head and a long scarf twirled around his neck, pulled up to cover almost all of his face. He’s dressed for Covid-19, and he’s very, very angry. Continue reading

Hattie by Frida Nilsson & illustrated by Stina Wirsén

By Maureen Tai, 9 June 2020

Hattie doesn’t even live in the middle of nowhere. She lives outside it.

IMG_1194I love growing-up stories (fictional or otherwise) as they allow me to relive my own rather idyllic childhood spent in a small town in Malaysia. Hattie is a charming, not-quite-middle grade chapter book, translated from Swedish, that follows the irrepressibly mischievous yet irresistibly loveable six-year old from her first day of her first year of school to the summer holidays. Each chapter is a short, self-contained story of an event in Hattie’s life and while each event is actually pretty “normal”, they are very, very funny to read about. Ben points out when we read together that he is reminded of Nicholas and the Gang and I agree very much with his observation. Continue reading

The Man Who Wore All His Clothes by Allan Ahlberg & Katharine McEwan

By Maureen Tai, 30 April 2020

IMG_9146

When Ben was just starting to read for himself, it was a little tricky to find gender-neutral chapter books that were easy enough for him to read largely on his own, yet interesting enough to hold his attention. I hit the jackpot with Allan Ahlberg’s series about the escapades of the Gaskitt family. I’ve been a huge fan of the prolific British author ever since discovering his baby board book masterpiece, Each Peach Pear Plum, and The Man Who Wore All His Clothes does not disappoint. This slim tome has simple text, colourful illustrations, and is chock-full of engaging characters who find themselves in laugh-out-loud situations, perfect for the emerging reader. Continue reading

Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola

By Maureen Tai, 27 April 2020

IMG_8888Tomie dePaola’s recent and unexpected demise prompted me to revisit one of his classic stories, Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs. First published in 1973, this softly illustrated picture book is based on the author’s life when he was a child. It is a touching memoir of the close relationship between a little boy, Tommy, and his grandmothers, and is a lovely, albeit lump-in-the-throat inducing read, in particular for young ones who are grieving the loss of a grandparent. Death is never an easy topic to discuss with children and dePaola’s simple yet heartfelt story makes talking about loss a little easier. It also reminds us to savour the moments that we spend with our loved ones as each of those moments, however trivial or fleeting, becomes a memory that we can treasure once that person is gone. Continue reading