Grumpy Duck

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Nothing is going right for Duck. With a dry pond and no one to play with, she is feeling grumpy and a little grey cloud appears above her head. From then on, no matter who she meets, everything just makes her more grumpy and the grey cloud get bigger until it is a ginormous black cloud hanging over everyone.

Suddenly, the cloud bursts with millions of shiny, wet raindrops and all of sudden, things don't seem so bad any more. Everyone is having fun, splashing and playing in puddles. The cloud has disappeared and in its place is a beautiful rainbow.

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Everyone has days where nothing seems to be going right and this lovely story sees all Duck's friends trying to cheer her up. The story also acknowledges how one person feeling gloomy can affect others as Duck's grey cloud spreads over everyone, making them all sad. But as soon as the cloud bursts and Duck's mood changes, everyone's mood lifts and they all join in the fun!

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The illustrations are joyful- Petr Horacek's distinctive style and bold use of colour are so appealing and his characters are always so full of life. The rainbow at the end of the story is lovely - perfect for inspiring practice with watercolours, colour mixing and just having fun with colour.

'Grumpy Duck' is a delightful story, which will bring a splash of colour to the dullest day!

 

Grumpy Duck    Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Petr Horacek

Walker Books    ISBN: 978-1406378245

Grumpy Duck will be published on the 4th October 2018

Tomorrow

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Everything has changed for Yazan. There are no more trips to the park, no more riding his shiny red bike- even his mother has changed. They no longer spend hours together, painting; now she spends all her time watching the news with the volume turned right up. Even school has changed- he goes one day, but not the next. 

One day, after attempting to entertain himself, Yazan decides to take himself to the park, but the world outside is not as he remembers.

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I wrote this story because I saw children like Yazan in my hometown of Damascus. Their lives were changing and they couldn't understand why. All of a sudden, the Fridays that were supposed to mark our weekends became frightening instead of fun. Families were afraid to go outside and instead stayed at home...

Nadine Kaadan

Published today, 'Tomorrow' is a poignant story, told from a young child's perspective, about living with the reality of war. There have been a number of books recently about people fleeing conflict and rebuilding their lives somewhere new; this one challenges the reader to consider the impact of war on those still living at home.

Nadine has really captured a young child's sense of frustration- his boredom at being confined, his lack of understanding of why this is and his confusion by the change in his parents. His fear at being outside and the world as he knew it having changed is also clearly conveyed. The illustrations show dark buildings with empty windows and damaged walls surrounding him, towering over him and yet, the true horror of war is not explicitly conveyed. Once safely with his parents again, his mother tells him 'people are fighting in the streets and going out of the house is too dangerous', offering sufficient explanation for Yazan being kept at home, but allowing room for further discussion.

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Colour is cleverly used throughout the book. The bright yellow through the window mocks Yazan sitting in a dark corner of a room, tempting him with memories of 'outside'. Dark, sinister shadows ooze from the television as his mother watches. This contrasts powerfully with the use of colour for the things he loves- his bright red bike, his mother's red dress, the memories of the park which they paint together.  

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With older children, the text could be explored in greater depth, encouraging empathy and understanding of others. Why does Yazan's mother constantly watch the news? Why might Yazan have school one day but not the next? Why does his mother no longer paint? Why does she paint on the walls at the end? There is also much that could be explored through discussing the illustrations. 

This is a beautiful book, powerful in its seeming simplicity, telling a story of family love in circumstances the like of which most of us are lucky enough to have never experienced. 

Today, we wait for a time when 'tomorrow' can be a better day for all Syrian children.

Nadine Kaadan

Ruby's Worry

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Ruby is a happy, adventurous little girl who one day, discovers a worry. It's only a small worry and she tries to ignore it, but little by little the Worry grows until it dominates everything she does and everywhere she goes. Ruby is now worrying about her worry and can't think about anything else. However, a chance meeting with a little boy in the park helps her to control her worry by talking about it. Finally, Ruby stars to feel like herself again with the new found knowledge of how to deal with another worry should one come along.

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This is a wonderful book for encouraging children -and adults- to discuss their worries. With mental health issues being a real concern, 'Ruby's Worry' offers an excellent starting point for talking about how we can deal with things when they are troubling us. Ruby does what many of us do when faced with a worry- she bottles up her feelings and tries to pretend there is nothing wrong. Meeting someone who also has a worry allows her to realise that she is not alone- and this makes everyone more likely to talk about things. 

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Beautifully illustrated, colour has been cleverly used to focus on the scale of Ruby's worry. The colour is gradually leached from the pages as Ruby's worry grows and then a rainbow surrounds her and her new friend as their worries shrink. Ruby is delightful with a wonderfully expressive face and the her worry is no made to look threatening, just anxious, offering a safe way of visualising problems if needed. 

I really like the way that the story doesn't promise that Ruby will have no more worries or that all her problems will be solved, but that problems can be made more manageable when shared. The story makes worries seem something normal, something which can be coped with. An excellent book- visually appealing and with a lovely sentiment. Every class/ home should have one!

Ruby's Worry     Tom Percival

Bloomsbury      ISBN: 978-1408892138