Four books you should read to your kids


The Giant of Jum (Macmillan) by Elli Woollard and Benji Davies

This story is a riff on Jack and the Beanstalk; a sequel if you like. What if a giant – not the one in the original because he was quite soundly killed by Jack – came down the beanstalk to eat Jack? What if, even though he’s hungry, he feels obliged to help the children to get back their ball, to rescue their cat from a tree and give a small, tired boy a lift home? Sweet and lyrical, this one’s a firm dinnertime favourite in our house.

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The Paper Dolls (Macmillan) by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

This one makes me cry every time. It may be a bit lame, but it is because it is about the preciousness of memory and new beginnings, and how the two are inextricably linked. A little girl with a kaleidoscopic imagination sits down with her mother, who makes her a row of paper dolls: Ticky and Tacky, Jackie the Backie, Jim with Two Noses and Jo with the Bow. When they are snipped into a million pieces by her brother, they live on only in her memory. But their legacy lives on when she sits down one day with her own children to make paper dolls. The Paper Dolls is one for the classics shelf.

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Rhinocephants on the Roof (Tafelberg) by Marita van der Vyver and Dale Blankenaar

This book is really quite wonderful – full of fanciful creatures that only a child with a well-developed imagination could dream up while sleeping away from home with his grandparents. The room is darker than his one at home, the noises are different and strange – and this is how Daniel’s bedtime adventure begins. A local creation, it comes in an unusually tall book too and the pictures, drawn by Dale Blankenaar, will delight parents as much and possibly more than the children.

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The Name of the Tree is Bojabi (Human andamp; Rousseau) by Piet Grobler and Dianne Hofmeyr

The animals of the African savannah are hungry, the drought has set in and there’s nothing to eat. Well, almost nothing. There is a giant, sweet, mango melon pomegranate tree with oodles of juicy fruit on it. The trouble is that the giant python wrapped around its trunk won’t let down the fruit-laden branches until the animals tell him the name of the tree. So begins the mission to get the name from the king of the jungle, and remember it long enough to get back to the tree and tell the python. My daughter loves this one and always shouts out the name of the tree.

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June 2020

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