Helping Hand Books

As you may be aware The Duchess of York has been in the press recently but that is not what I am writing about today. Today I am writing about her books, specifically the Helping Hand series that she has authored and partnered with illustrator Ian Cunliffe to bring attention to significant issues facing every day kids. The four titles that were sent to me by the publisher ( or as my son tells it ” The UPS man brought me books!” ) deal with bullying, strangers, new sibling and going to school for the first time.   I haven’t been paid or even asked to blog about this, just sent the books to check out free of charge.

Helping Hand Books: Ashley Learns About Strangers is all about wondering off and realizing too late that your parent is no where to be seen.  The book addresses not just the emotions both parent and child experience but also the action a child should take in that situation. Ashley finds the security guard and asks for help, and is reunited with her mom. Something I wish the book included and failed to was telling a child never to leave the store if they are lost. In all the presentations that police have given to children in my years working with them that was always stressed. Never leave the store in an attempt to look for your parent. That said the tips at the back of the book for parents was helpful and even though in my post partum state I started crying thinking about this ever happening I am glad to have this book in my home library.

Helping Hand Books: Emily’s First Day of School is a a timely book for the coming months when many children of varying ages will be entering school for the first time . Although the book doesn’t specifically tell us Emily’s age she seems to be entering kindergarten since there are older children at her school , but this book will work with any child entering school or even going to a new school. I liked the story but it wasn’t anything spectacular, it was very predictable and I was hoping it would be a fresh take on this theme. My son liked it but of the 4 books it’s the only one I have read only twice. My main issues with the book is that while Emily seems to be entering kindergarten the daily activities seem more like preschool. The tips at the back of the book are great , I especially like the one that suggests parents practice routines like independently going to the bathroom, washing hands , putting on their coat etc… However the story doesn’t reflect these practical and useful suggestions, and I wish it did.

Helping Hand Books: Matthew and the Bullies both impressed me and left me wanting a little more. Overall this book does a good job addressing bullying and how it feels and how to deal with it. In it Matthew is bullied by 2 boys in his class and reluctant to tell his teacher or mom about it. That is the part I liked, I think the author did a good job portraying the feelings of a child who is bullied and wants to fix it themselves, feels shame but is also not sure how to fix things.  I also really loved that the bullying affected Matthew by making him afraid to give a presentation to his class, it reminds readers that bullying isn’t just something that happens and stays on the playground.  Where I wanted more was the resolution, it seemed too easy but perhaps that is in order to have children see that adults can and should get involved. My son learned a lot from this book and like the one about strangers I am glad i have it as a resource.


Helping Hand Books: Michael and His New Baby Brother has been read 200 times in the past few days. Okay maybe not 200 but at least 50, no lie. My son loves this book, I am sure because he has been a big brother for a whopping 22 days and can relate intimately to the story. What is interesting about this book is that it doesn’t focus on the pregnancy at all, which most books about new babies do. Instead it’s all about Micheal and his transition, and I like that at the start it even says that he wasn’t too interested in his mom’s bump. I think this would be a great book for families facing a new birth with siblings who are not interested in umbilical cords,the  uterus, and going with mom to the OB. That said my son was way into all aspects of his sister’s arrival and still really enjoyed this book.

Books About “Issues”

We all go through them as parents our kids won’t give up a pacifier, won’t go to sleep, won’t do something that until we were parents wasn’t even on our radar! These books are all about those “issues” .

Edwardo The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World

Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide Worldby John Burningham is a must read for anyone who is in a position of authority among children, it is a poignant look at what happens when you scold and belittle a child and then what the outcome is when you praise.  I have always had a extra special place in my heart for students who act out it’s rarely not for a reason and this book will help remind anyone how children need understanding more than harsh words and punishment especially when they are being horrible.

Jake's Best Thumb

Jake’s Best Thumb by Ilene Cooper is a pretty realistic look at a preschooler who is happily sucking his thumb despite the adults in his life warning him about bad teeth, thumb sucking not being for big boys and asking his gently when he thinks he will be ready to stop. What I love about this book is that Jake’s reactions are spot on. I like how sometimes he doesn’t even know he is sucking his thumb, how he denies he is a bog boy ( compared to his big sister) when it’s suggested he is too big to suck his thumb now and the shame he feels when he starts kindergarten and is teased for doing it. School is a turning point, teasing hurts but it’s not just the realistic reaction of a bully that forces Jake to suck only at night. It’s the realization that lots of kids need something at night, even as he discovers the class bully.

Oh No , Gotta Go #2

Oh No, Gotta Go #2! by Susan Middleton Elya was an instant hit with my 3 year old. He relates perfectly to the little girl who is off to the park with her parents to have a picnic and ride her trike when all of a sudden she feels it… she needs to poop!  Whether you are in the middle of potty training or at the stage where times like these still occur your child will probably love this book. My son needs little help in the potty these days but absolutely gets that paniced look when he knows he needs to go but isn’t sure where or if there is a potty. Parents will giggle at the her parent’s reaction of grabbing her off her trike,  running, throwing keys to each other and their panic. Also this book is bilingual, with Spanish words threaded into a mostly English text. Don’t worry if you don’t read Spanish there is a quick pronunciation guide at the start of the book.

Owen This book warms my heart. Owen is attached to his fuzzy blanket but some people think Owen is too big for a blanket and it’s time to grow up. Owen goes everywhere and needs his blanket still, but his parents are getting pressure from a nosy neighbor to take it away. I think this is an amazing book about parenting. I know that as a mom who is still nursing her 2 year old that I have been told many times the same things that Owen’s parent’s are told “He can’t be a baby forever, can’t you just say no etc…” like Owen’s parent’s I know what my child is ready for and don’t give into nosy neighbors but instead do the best thing for my child. No matter what your child’s lovey is, whether it’s a plush animal, blanket, pacifier or you – you’ll relate to this book. Oh and kids love it too, my son often asks for this one before bed.

Mama Always Comes Home by Karma Wilson was a last minute grab at the library that I am so thankful I saw. It starts off with animal mother’s leaving their babies, for all different reasons . A bird gathering food, a dog greeting his master and more. The animal mothers leave, but they also always return to their babies. Then it switches to a child and mother. She reassures the child that she will be back and we watch her leave, and return . I loved this book because my son isn’t the best when I leave him, he related to this book immediately and was repeating ” Mama always comes home!” half way through.


Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright made both my husband and I laugh hysterically my son liked it too, but we loved it. It’s about a little boy who can’t sleep without his parents and they don’t like sleeping with feet in their faces. Can you relate? We can which is why we found this book so funny. What I liked was that Jake wasn’t disciplined for wanting to sleep with his parents, and they tried and tired all different places to sleep, they were just being honest that it wasn’t working anymore! My son loved the page that they were all sleeping in garbage cans and I loved that Jake looked to be about 12 , it gives me hope that my son may sleep alone by puberty.