I realise that it has been a little time since I shared some reviews on here - the summer holidays have left me with more than a bit o...

Books which Teach Little Life Lessons - Quick Reviews

Thursday, September 12, 2019 BookBairn 4 Comments

I realise that it has been a little time since I shared some reviews on here - the summer holidays have left me with more than a bit of a backlog of books to review but in actual fact it's a precariously balanced tower (ok two towers) which now requires structural support. In short, I have too many to review and not enough time but I am determined to do them justice. So I thought I would pop together a post of books which I have reviewed recently on social media that all fit loosely together under the theme of teaching us a little life lesson. Picture books are a great way to instil our values and share messages with our children showing them the world as we want to see it and helping them to build this sort of world by becoming like the characters that they admire. So without further waffling from me here are six new picture books that will help little ones learn to be super people and to create that better world.

Dare by Lorna Gutierrez & Polly Noakes

This is such a wonderful inspirational book packed full of messages of empowerment, encouragement and daring to be the best person you can be. The whole thing is such a beautiful poem with lines starting “dare to...” followed by a positive affirmation. I could quote the whole book as it's so good but that would be unfair to do here so just take my word for it that this poem will have you uplifted and feeling awesome by the end! The illustrations feature children of all different backgrounds, all different colours, as well as more subtle messages of inclusion like a boy in a tutu and a character with a noticeable blue hearing aid. And I say subtle because it’s so brilliant to see these children in the illustrations without it being the explicit message of the story (i.e.they aren’t just depicted because the story is about a child getting a hearing aid, or a boy choosing to do ballet.) They are just there. Just like they are just there in the real world too. This is the sort of messages of empowerment and inclusion that we need to see in books too. To tell children that we see them. And allow them to see themselves in a story. It’s such a wonderful message for children, young readers and adults alike! My plan is to pop this one out regularly with breakfast so that BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner hear it’s wonderful message before they pop off to nursery in the mornings!

Quill Soup by Alan Durant & Dale Blankenaar

You might be familiar with the story of Stone Soup: it’s a story that I love for it’s message of generosity and kindness and one I have used in my classrooms often. However, I’m going to have to change that because the African version of the story which has been beautifully put together in this new picture book is so much better! Noko the porcupine has travelled far and wide, he’s tired and very hungry and seeking support and refuge. But not one of the other creatures in the jungle village are willing to share their food. So Noko hatches a plan to help them to help him. He puts thrill quills from his porcupine back into a soup pot with some water and tells them the story of how he cooked this special quill soup for the king so that they want to taste it too. But if only he had some carrots, wait… rabbit has carrots, and mealies and beans and potatoes and spinach and then as if by magic… they have a pot of delicious soup. What a powerful message: if we all share our resources we can create something delicious, something wonderful and perhaps overcome our fears of strangers and become more understanding and make new friends too. The beauty of this story is through the vibrant and powerful illustrations. Where the animals say they have no food to spare, the illustrations show them hoarding, which little readers instantly notice and see the injustice in that. The colour palette is striking and the images are full of movement, energy and life!

Tiny Acts of Kindness by Thuy Ha

I think children are naturally kind. They are intrinsically programmed to show kindness to others. But it’s something that we need to foster, to encourage to model for them to continue to be kind and grow into kind adults. And this lovely new book does just that: it shows them simple acts of kindness can create moments of magic for people. And that kindness grows and spreads. The more kindness we share, the more kindness there will be in the world. From warm simple smiles to gentle words to a hug to larger acts of kindness whatever we do will take wings and fly and grow into more and more kindness in the world. This book also has a focus on being kind to yourself too - to take time along, to sing a song out loud - that self-kindness is important too. With some truly beautiful phrasing that will gently carry you through the pages, and illustrations that glow and illuminate, this is a wonderfully woven tale about the beauty of kindness.

Sneaky Beak by Tracey Corderoy & Tony Neal

This is one that has a great message for grown-up readers as well as children as you may find yourself relating to the main character more than you would like to believe you do! When Bear sees an advert for a brand new bed, he starts to doubt that his current bed is good enough. Is his bath bubbly enough? His cereal crunchy enough? Little by little Sneak Beak the sales bird provides all the gadgets, gizmos and thingummies to improve and upgrade Bear’s life. But do all these new purchases actually make Bear feel any happier? This is a laugh out loud caper about learning to be satisfied with what you have in our consumerist driven world. And no doubt children will see through Sneaky Beak quicker than the adults do! This hilarious book has come at just the right time to remind me to cut back on unnecessary spending (though I’m not generally worried about FOMO or driven to buy things we don’t need - unless it’s books and children’s toys which are apparently my big weakness, according to the accountant husband anyway) and a reminder to appreciate all that we already have and making each new purchase a considered rather than an impulse buy. This book is such a perfect reminder of that, but in a riotous and laugh-out-loud way, with illustrations that demonstrate all the sneakiness and ridiculousness of Sneaky Bird and his products. As well as the realisation on Bear’s face that things won’t make him happy as much as relationships and friendships do! A fun story for kids and grown ups alike!

Together We Can by Caryl Hart & Ali Pye

There are lots of things that I want for my children as they grow older. But I think one of the things I want above all the others is that they have good friends and that they are good friends to others. I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my wonderful networks of friends over the years and I want my children to have that too! So when I first read this wonderful picture book about friendship, about being a good friend, about valuing others and ourselves I just knew it would go straight onto BookBairn’s bedtime bookshelf! Written in the perfect rhyming prose it’s a joy to read aloud and the illustrations are utterly joyous also! Packed full of bright and bold colours and characters it shows children forming friendships, displaying kindness and enjoying togetherness. Such a happy book! And it would make a great gift for anyone about to start a new school or nursery who is nervous about making friends as not only does it show you ways to be a good friend it also shows that others want to make friends with you too. Another wonderful book from this fabulous author and illustrator pairing!

A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel

“A stone sat still
with the water, grass, and dirt
and it was as it was
where it was in the world.

Sometimes a stone is more than a simple stone. This incredibly powerful new picture book tells the story of a humble and seemingly ordinary stone. But a stone can be more than a stone: it can be a pebble to some and a mountain to others, a resting place, a safe haven, a kitchen. It just depends on perspective. With beautiful illustrations accompanying the soothing rhythms, this a glorious exploration of perception as well as a timely discussion about the passing of time and changing environments. A poignant and moving story. About a simple stone.

I hope that you are intrigued by the messages that these books are sharing! For other great books sharing little life lessons check out my previous reccomnendations here.

Happy little life lessons!
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: We were sent some of these books free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


  1. I love these books and the sentiments behind them. What could be interesting about a stone that doesn’t move but I found the story fascinating when I read it.
    PS - I think I could be susceptible to Sneaky Beak.

  2. It sounds like a very lovely book, I used to be a Stone..until I got married again. :) #KLTR

  3. For some reason when I clicked the link it took me straight to the last book, it wasnt until I submitted my comment that I realised there were other books in the post. They all sound really delightful, Sneaky Beak sounds like it would be my favourite. #KLTR

  4. These all look so good, I love books with a message, although they tend to go over my children's heads! I'll be looking out for these books. #KLTR