Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 5: You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey

Did you know that not only are all things made of atoms but these same atoms once came from an exploding star? That’s right, that means that you, me, our pets and even our books have the universe inside them.

Everything is Connected

The more we think about this fact the more mind-blowing the thought becomes as the realisation emerges that everything on planet earth is a part of the whole universe. Think of yourself more like a cell within the body of the universe. You’re a small part of the body but essential to the mechanics of its entire function. So when you next feel detached from the world you live in, think bigger, put life into perspective and the infinite connections will become clear.

Book review on You are Stardust by author Elin Kelsey.

You Are Stardust

What’s it all about?

You Are Stardust draws comparisons between humans and the rest of the world. We like to think we’re the superior creatures on this planet but this beautiful children’s book gently shows us that all nature and living things are more alike than we care to recognise. We are all a part of the earth, just as the earth is a part of us; from what we are made of to what we do and how we feel and behave, the similarties may astound you.

Which age group is it aimed at?

The short and simple text suggests this book is aimed at 4-7 year olds but in practise it’s a thought-provoking book for any age.

Conclusion

It’s not often I feel a fondness for a book, but for this one I do. This book portrays a sense of modesty and oozes orginality.

Being a little longer than your average picture book, including fifteen double page spreads and illustrated with photographic artwork, it’s clearly a non-fiction book which is determined to break the picture book mould and stand out from the crowd. This empathic story of nature is an eye opener which reminds us of our connections to planet earth in an endearing but factual way.

Author: Elin Kelsey

Illustrator: Soyeon Kim

Publisher: Flying Eye Books, March 2016.

Our Rating: 5/5

CLICK TO BUY You are Stardust: Our Amazing Connections With Planet Earth

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Source: Own copy

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 1: The Story of Life

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 2: The Adventures of Water

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 3: Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go

Discovering our World in Picture Books PART 4: Atomic Adventure

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Book Review: The Three Ninja Pigs by David Bedford

The Three Ninja Pigs

Synopsis: Everyone gets cross when these lively, ninja kicking pigs seem to be leaving a trail of destruction behind them everywhere they go … but who is really causing the mess and how can they retaliate?

Conclusion: These unlikely martial arts heroes karate their way through this fast paced picture book. The action packed illustrations and their amusing additional comments successfully portray the pig’s good intentions mixed up in mayhem. A truly original take on a classic tale.

Book Genre: Picture Book

Recommended Age Range: 2-6 years.

Author: David Bedford

Illustrator: Becka Moor

Published: Simon and Schuster Children’s UK, Jan 2016.

Source: Own copy

Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: There’s a Lion in my Cornflakes by Michelle Robinson

There's a Lion in my Cornflakes

Synopsis: Eric and Dan collect one hundred coupons, just like it says on their their cereal packet, to be exchanged for a real pet lion. It sounds straight forward enough. Only pet lions seem to be very popular of late so they don’t quite get what they’d hoped for. It begins to look like a complete disaster … or is it?

Conclusion: This book will get both you and your children giggling. A funny, contemporary story with illustrations to match. Still a firm favourite of ours. Forget saving up for books, posters or cuddly toys. The stakes have just got higher!

Book Genre: Picture Book

Recommended Age Range: 2-6 years.

Author: Michelle Robinson

Illustrator: Jim Field

Published: Bloomsbury Children’s July 2014

Source: Own copy

Rating: 5/5

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Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 3: Positive Thinking

One of the hardest things to do in life is to remain positive when we’re facing events which make us unhappy, anxious or confused and there’s always a fine line between burying our head in the sand and viewing the situation positively. So how do we remain positive in adverse situations without feeling like we’re blatantly lying to ourselves? Today I’m reviewing a book called I Think, I Am which explores instances of when children might need help turning negative thoughts into positive ones.

Understanding Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is a chosen perspective. We always have the choice to decide how we’re going to think and react towards a situation. Being positive comes naturally to most of us when we’re faced with a rewarding or enjoyable situation but as soon as we’re faced with a bad situation to conjure up any positive thoughts and feelings requires ever increasing conscious effort on our part. One way to do this is to look for what we’ve learnt from the event and how it can help us be better or create a more desirable outcome for the future. A more proactive way is to use affirmations, the oral or mental repetition of positive desires or outcomes. They’re almost like a little reminder to ourselves that it’s up to us to change the things we don’t like. However if we want to avoid these affirmations feeling like we’re announcing the sun is shining while we’re battling our way through a blizzard it has to be a statement which we can believe in, something that we know in our hearts to be true or has the possibility of becoming true. For example, I can feel the blizzard easing off might have been a more successful affirmation in this instance. The belief behind a positive thought is often triggered by how we phrase the thought in our minds and the words we use to contradict the undesirable situation we’re in. As soon as we start saying these positive words and phrases our minds cannot help but start to picture the scenario in our minds.

Book Review on I Think, I Am! by author/s Louise Hay and Kristina Tracy.

I Think, I Am

What’s it all about?

I Think, I Am is a picture book set in a fairground and each colourful double page spread covers a new scene depicting twelve everyday issues that any child may experience. In turn each scene talks of the negative feelings which may accompany these situations, such as feeling left out, jealous of how someone else looks or frustrated at not being able to do something in the same way as someone else has.  For each issue encountered the story provides a simple positive affirmation to be used to replace the negative thoughts talked about. At the end of the book there are seven tips for how to do affirmations.

Which age group is it aimed at?

From the illustrations and basic text I would say this is aimed at 4 to 7 year olds when life is generally much simpler. However most children regardless of age would still relate to the examples given so it could serve as an introduction to the topic for older children as it highlights the kind of situations when they may fall into negative thinking without realising it. In this instance the book could be better used as a starting point from which to build on this knowledge of how to be positive. Once they’ve grasped the basic idea they could start to come up with their own positive thoughts that are believable to them so they become better able to adapt and deal with any new situations as their insecurities and interactions become more complex.

Conclusion: Although I like the idea of giving children examples of positive thoughts to replace negative ones, unfortunately I’m not convinced that all the affirmations suggested in this book would be believable at the precise moment that the child was in the thick of the upsetting situation. They could be useful for them to use when reflecting back on their experience but the leap between the negative to the positive thought feels too large in some instances, leaving me feeling that in order to keep the book simple too many crucial steps may have been omitted for the positive thought to be considered remotely achievable. However, what this book does do is clearly explain the concept, relate it to situations a child can identify with and encourage them to be aware of their thoughts, question them and provide a platform for the reader to discuss more gradual affirmations with the child and maybe even real life situations. In so doing they can learn that what they’re seeing and experiencing is not the whole picture and is merely a temporary situation where they have the power to take control, change what they’re thinking and make their life a happier place. With mental health issues among children on the increase this is an invaluable life skill to master from an early age.

Author/s: Louise Hay and Kristina Tracy.

Illustrator: Manuela Schwarz

Publisher: Hay House UK Ltd (2008)

Our Rating: 3 out of 5

CLICK TO BUY I Think, I Am!

Next week in PART 4 I’ll be reviewing a book about overcoming fears.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 1: Emotions.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 2: Visualisation.

Books About Things We’re Not Taught in School – PART 4: Overcoming Fears.

 

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