Picture books: 4 books about Friendship and Harmony (March 2019)
Lubna And Pebble by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egnéus.
When Lubna arrives in the camp a long way from home, she finds the pebble. She draws a face on it, and it becomes her friend through all the time she spends in the tent. Pebble listens to her stories about home and the war. She befriends a little boy called Amir who is very unhappy when it is time to say goodbye. Perhaps Pebble could keep him company too?
A story about the power of friendship in desperate circumstances.
As Lubna talks to Pebble, letting out all the bad memories of the war-torn country she has fled, we realise that Pebble listens without judgement and is reliably there. These are lessons we can take into our lives even though Pebble is not a human being.
Lubna puts Amir first when it is time to leave and sees what he needs. There are so positive messages about friendship in this story, and it allows us a small insight into the emotional side of displacement.
This story only uses the word war once. It is implied that Lubna has lost or become separated from her brothers. Younger readers will only understand as much about her situation as they already know. This would be a lovely story for readers who are just starting to question why terrible things happen, but still need some distance from the horrific details of war.
The illustrations are extraordinary, making much of the tents and arms and sleeping-bags where Lubna finds shelter. In other pictures, we see open grey skies and endless lines of washing. There is a sense that she is lost in the big world and searching for a safe place all at the same time.
A special book which reminds us that a good friend can make the world feel that tiny bit safer.
Cyril The Lonely Cloud by Tim Hopgood
It’s a bright and lovely day, the perfect day for a picnic, until Cyril the lonely cloud shows up. Everybody agrees he is a bore and a spoilsport and that things are just plain gloomier with him around.
Cyril drifts away, floating for miles and miles until he comes to a baking hot land. The animals and people are so pleased to see him, to feel his raindrops and to see the rainbow he casts with the help of the sun.
A beautiful story about perspective and kindness. Sometimes an apparently gloomy person is just a happy person in need of encouragement.
We’re not all social butterflies. It is daunting and depressing to constantly be the one who fails to get a laugh at parties. Whose words stumble out in the wrong order. Whose lengthy stories bore others to tears. I saw Cyril as the person who has so much to give and share, who struggles to show that in social situations. This would be a beautiful book to promote inclusion. We all have different strengths and difficulties, and being that bit kinder can bring out the best in other people.
The story also showed how behaviour isn’t about one person in isolation. We all bounce off each other. When managing our own behaviour, we should think about what kind of climate will encourage others to manage their own. When Cyril is welcomed instead of shunned, he shows his dazzling colours.
The landscapes in this book remind me of Madeline. We first look side to side, then at all the details crowded into the background. The pictures use an uplifting range of colours and the textures in the backgrounds would be brilliant for inspiring pastel drawings.
It is impossible not to love Cyril and I adore this uplifting book about empathy and kindness.
This Love by Isabel Otter and Harriet Lynas.
Love doesn’t need words. It is a special language which is understood by all.
Do you nestle down with a parent or guardian? Share a quiet moment of reflection? Do you have an animal who stays by your side? Has your grandparent taught you a new skill? Love takes many shapes and forms but we all know it when it hits us.
Love is worldwide and this beautiful picture book takes us in a tour of different loving moments.
With the news featuring ever more division, it can feel at times as if the world is drifting further apart. This story reminds us of what we have in common and it is also a celebration of those special moments we share with family, friends and companions.
I was delighted to see bonds with other animals recognised and celebrated. Empathy and love should go beyond our own species and learning to communicate with other animals (and trust me, you learn so many of their signals and gestures) is a precious experience.
This would also be a lovely book to look at for early geography. Different landscapes and buildings, plants and animal life are shown on this tour of love around the world.
The illustrations are bright and accessible and I love the many patterns which are used to show different plants and clothes and weather.
A book which allows us to talk about different types of love: the love we share we our close ones, and the love and harmony we might feel with human beings around the world. A precious and beautiful message.
Rhino Neil by Mini Goss
Rhino Neil lives in a safari zoo with lots of other animals. The other animals are afraid of him. Everything from his horn to his feet to his huge tummy scares them away, so Rhino Neil is lonely. Then one day an even bigger animal arrives. Elephant Tuscany and Rhino Neil strike up a friendship and are able to keep each other company.
A story about social exclusion, friendship and the ability to see past our differences.
The reader is rooting for Rhino Neil all the way along. He has never done anything wrong, exactly, but still the other animals are afraid of him. Maybe the reader can think of someone like that in real life. Someone taller or louder or bossier or just plain not like everyone else. The animals who are unable to see past these differences lose out on the friendship of two perfectly kind animals.
The close-up animal pictures will be a hit with anyone who has ever watched funny animal videos. For all the zebras are shrieking in terror, they look a bit ridiculous and this will gain lots of laughs.
A wonderful story which allows the reader to question how they treat their peers.
Thanks to Oxford University Press, Little Tiger Press and New Frontier Publishing for gifting the books in this feature. Opinions remain my own.