What are my kids and I reading this September, 2021?

Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom By Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler and Shirin Raham and illustrated by Kate Talbot.

I was lucky enough to have been given an early copy of this lovely new picture book, by some amazing and talented writing friends in America, in exchange for an honest review. I took the opportunity to read the book with my little girl Caitlin who loved it and immediately asked when she could plant her own seed! 

This book is perfect for little ones starting pre-school or elementary school or moving from an old familiar school to a new one. It deals with anxiety and nerves common to most children on the brink of a change in a clear and sensitive way. Despite each main character coming from a different background and religion, they are given a common way to cope with the nerves on their first day – a necklace and kind words from a parent or grandparent. With this small gesture they enter the school with a little more courage and confidence and discover that they each had the same fears. Friendship soon blossoms when they begin by planting seeds to grow together and although they face some challenges along the way, they soon discover that working together they can solve them. 

This story has a strong focus on friendship, no matter what someone’s background or ethnicity, and how with care and time a friendship will grow stronger. With very few words a lot of the story is visually told – sharing time together at different festivals and a shared love of nature and taking care of our environment and each other. 

It is gently written, in a child-friendly voice and the links between nature and friendship in the lyrical language are delightful and poignant. The illustrations were gorgeous too. Talbot does a beautiful job of drawing the reader in to the characters emotions and her style is warm and inviting. The nature theme throughout is beautifully depicted and the warm palette, cosy and comforting. 

A delightful read for parents of young children starting school.

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