Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.
*His social media alter ego, not his real name!
It’s a books-as-gifts special on Peapod’s Picks this week, as my little bundle of sleepless joy turned a huge, big 1 yesterday!
He didn’t actually get many books. Whaaaaaat?! I hear you cry in disbelief and dismay. He didn’t get many as gifts for his birthday, but as either bookpost from publishers or bought books, he has had at least 7 new books already this week so it’s not like the poor child’s got nothing to read!
So, for his actual birthday we just got him some special books to (hopefully) keep. He already has Peapod Lullaby, which was a first Christmas gift but which I’ve still never got round to posting about (though I know I’ve mentioned it several times) so we’ll backtrack to that before his birthday books!
Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King
This is an absolutely beautiful book. We bought this without reading it, knowing much about it or seeing inside just because Pea Pod, taking a risk that the story and interior illustrations would live up to how lovely it looked from the cover.
They definitely did. It’s the story if a journey, taken literally, the journey of a refugee family, but it’s also a metaphorical journey – through life, through difficulty, through change.
It gently and subtly encompasses not just the issue of war and displacement, but also points a finger to climate change and despite serious themes sends out such positivity and hope.
Likewise, the illustrations in particular highlight the power of nature, but mostly the wonder and joy it has the ability to conjure.
The smudgy, splodgy, loose, drippy, runny watercolour illustrations are utterly gorgeous and are perfectly in tune with the text and it’s messages.
Lyrical, poetic and emotive, this is a book of looking after each other, of togetherness and openness and support. I love reading this at bedtime – calm, hopeful and full of love, compassion and ‘being there’-ness – what could be better?
You’re Safe With Me/You’re Snug With Me/You’re Strong With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry
We bought You’re Safe With Me after seeing it on either another blog or twitter (I wish I could remember who to credit for this recommendation but I really can’t – if it was you, thank you!) and it is just stunning.
So we bought the other two to go with it for Peapod’s birthday.
All have messages of parental love, reassurance and presence. All are an ode to nature – to its majesty, its balance, its cycles, its wonder. And all are beautifully written and illustrated with the most amazing and intricately patterned full spread illustrations (each with its own style and gorgeous pallette matching its setting). They are truly books to treasure.
They’d really make a wonderful gift for a young child or new family – a great alternative to religious or character based christening gifts, baby shower or new baby presents, or of course a special birthday gift to cherish and keep (like we did this year).
You’re Safe With Me sees Mama Elephant reassuring the baby animals in the forest when a thunderstorm hits.
It’s full of onomatopoeia and folktake-like explanations for the weather and it’s noise which are full of the wonders of nature and ever so soothing.
By the end, the baby animals are calmed and settled and sleeping happily – and Peapod was too!
We haven’t actually read You’re Snug With Me or You’re Strong With Me with Peapod yet (I’ll update the post with his reaction when we have it!!) but I’ll share my thoughts on his behslf (since that’s pretty much what I do anyway!)
You’re Strong With Me follows Mama Giraffe and Baby Giraffe through the African grassland as baby slowly learns about the creatures and land they live in and how to survive it.
As with the others, this shows how interdependent our world is, as well as showing how seemingly unpleasant, difficult or unknown things can actually become positive.
There’s also a message of supporting each other through these experiences when we’re not strong enough on our own – that’s its ok to lean on each other til you can stand alone.
You’re Snug With Me sees Mama Bear give birth to two cubs and, as they hibernate under the ice and snow, she tells them about the world beyond.
Like ‘Safe’, it has a lovely folktale feel, with the “earth dancing on her toes”, and it reads as though Mama Bear speaks directly to us too.
Here especially we are shown the importance of respecting, preserving and protecting our earth. There is a strong theme of give and take with nature and of not taking it for granted or acting superior no matter how mighty you may be.
It has some beautiful spreads – the icy lands, the ocean’s wonders, pregnant Mama Bear in her den, the earth and sun dancing – just outstanding.
As a mum, this is a book with a bittersweet ending. We know Mama Bear is leading up to letting her cubs go and her almost wistful last ‘you’re snug with me’ is guaranteed to get me blubbing at some point – it certainly had a lump in my throat!
I’ve certainly got a lot to live up to at Christmas and in the years to come, but I absolutely afore all four of these books – aside from being completely gorgeous, they really are something special and I can’t recommend them enough, especially if you have’ keep forever’ gifts to buy.
Nothing at all to do with the books – just a birthday pic from Sunday!
Have you read any of these?
Do you have any special books you love to buy, or have been bought, as gifts?