BK’s Book Pouch: Refuge


Despite the fact that most of the kids in my life are getting bears for Christmas this year (because that’s what happens when I work in a shop where I stuff a lot of bears), that hasn’t stopped me from perusing and purchasing books from my favourite shop in the world.

I was on the lookout for some new Christmas books, and for many years have been frustrated about the lack of books that tell the Christmas story in a real way. Every nativity book is white-washed with blue nun Mary, pristine mansion stables, white blonde baby Jesus, white Magii wearing crowns that look like the metal versions of the ones you get in Christmas crackers…

…it drives me nuts. If I’m going to share with children the story of Jesus’ birth, I want them to get an impression of the real thing.

Then on a table next to the original Christmas book from the Mog the cat series was a book called Refuge that was published this year by one of my favourite publishers – Nosy Crow (I had the pleasure of meeting someone who works for Nosy Crow last year at University of Glasgow’s Picturebook conference).

The story tells the story of Jesus birth and the family’s escape to Egypt all from the point of view of the donkey. It is a moving and poignant telling, and I have bought a copy (pictured above) and was most upset today when I went to buy another that I couldn’t find one in either of the city centre Waterstone’s booksellers in Edinburgh.

Given everything going on in the Middle East right now, the place where most of the bible’s stories happened…I couldn’t think of a more apt book to be taking down from your bookshelf to read this December.

I do know that Hive, John Lewis and Waterstone’s (and hopefully your local independent bookshops) are selling copies. And it has my stamp of approval!




BK’s BookPouch: Books Always Everywhere


In February, I became friends with a woman I roomed together with while we were both representing our university on an ERASMUS winter school programme in Würzbürg. In a few weeks time, she will graduate with her Masters degree in Children’s Literature. I had no idea that her postgraduate programme existed until we met, and I was immediately envious and no doubt irritated her no end for details of her studies which sounded so much more fun that the stuff I was doing (as much as I love Community Development – her assignments sounded much more fun than mine!)

In June, there was a conference open to all students looking at Picturebooks, and I had the pleasure of attending the second day – I was gutted that work stopped me from attending both days! One of the first workshops I went to was being run by Jane Blatt. As she talked about her research on how babies interact with books, I was fascinated. At the time, two of my friends had babies around the same age as the babies that Jane’s videos showed. I recognised so much of the signs of child development and learning that I had observed in them in the videos.

Jane wrote a picturebook illustrated by Sarah Massini called Books Always Everywhere which shows her findings – babies using books as hats, blankets and all sorts of other things.

I bought two copies for my friends’ babies – one for Princess Monkey, the other for Jambino (not their real names – I give all my friends kids nicknames!), which Jane kindly signed for me. I have been told that Jambino LOVES this book. His parents have him choose 5 books from ‘his’ bookshelf every night before bed and then they read them together. He often picks Jane’s book, and it’s apparently a favourite of his.

So, I can’t give a better recommendation of a book for the 0-3 age group than one given by an actual member of the 0-3 demographic! If you have an ickle person in your life, I recommend getting a copy of Jane’s book.