Violet Mackerel's Formal Occasion, by Anna Branford & Sarah Davis

“This is the best small thing we’ve ever found,” says Rose.Violet Mackerel's Formal Occasion
“By far,” agrees Violet.

When Violet Mackerel and her friend Rose find a beautiful locket buried in the dirt at the park, they are very excited, although they worry whether someone is missing the locket. Then, when Mum loses a basket of precious knitted toys on the train, they realise just how sad and worried somebody can be when they lose something. They hatch a plan to give Mum a lovely surprise – a formal occasion. In the meantime, Violet tries to cheer Mum up by writing stories about what might have happened to the missing toys.

The eighth in Violet Mackerel’s ongoing adventures, Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion is also a beautiful stand alone story. Violet is a likeable main character, who is caring, resourceful and funny, a combination sure to appeal to young readers. The gentleness of the series means they are just as perfect for sharing as they are for individual reading, and the soft, grey-scale illustrations are a beautiful complement.

With acts of kindness, friendship, and cupcakes, and in a delightful hardcover format, Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion is delightful.

Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion, by Anna Branford, illustrated by Sarah Davis
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781925081091

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Playground is Like the Jungle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs

Playgrounds are a little bit like the jungle. Lots of creatures come together to live and play in the jungle. And when lots of creatures come together in one spot, things can get really wild and adventurous.

Using the extended simile of the jungle to represent the playground, author/psychologist Shone Innes explains to young readers the dynamics of playground interactions, highlighting the fun and pleasure that can be had there, but also some of the pitfalls. She identifies some of the personalities that may show up in the playground – cheeky monkeys who chase and tease, tigers that lash out when they’re angry, and slipper snakes who pretend to be friends – before offering suggestions for being safe and comfortable in their midst.

The Playground is Like a Jungle is a Big Hug book, designed to help young children understand and tackle life’s challenges. There are also back of book notes for parents and teachers. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines, have plenty of movement and an appropriately gentle humour.

A great resource for home, childcare centres or schools.

The Playground is Like a Jungle, by Shona Innes & Irisz Agocs
Five Mile Press, 2015
ISBN 9781760064150

Available from good bookstores and online.