Howl by Kat Patrick

Values: Patience, Kindness and Responsibility.

I was very kindly sent Howl from Scribble Kids Books and it is PERFECT for The Values Bookshelf! For teachers or parents, even better is that you can download resources to go with the book from their website (linked above).

Howl is a story about Maggie. Maggie is having a very bad day - everything is making her cross! From the sun being the wrong shape, her shoes not going on properly and the squiggles she drew being too squiggly. The scenes beautifully illustrated are no doubt so relatable for many parents and anyone working with young children! I love the way that the illustrator, Evie Barrow, has used crayons to further emphasise the child's perspective in this book. As night draws and Maggie continues to feel angry, to her surprise two little fangs grow and her hands curl into paws. Maggie feels very wolfish! Maggie wants to howl, but... nothing comes out. Maggie can't believe her eyes when Mum shows her how to howl into the night and dance wildly under the moon. After letting out all of their bottled-up emotions, Mum and Maggie are finally able to head inside and into bed.

This is such a wonderful book for exploring those big emotions that children have. I really love the way Maggie learns that her mum also has these big feelings (look at Mum's shadow of a wolf!), and they are not bad feelings - in fact, they are perfectly normal. I also really admire the way the book portrays Mum showing Maggie practical ways to calm herself down and take control of those emotions. It is a really empowering message! I also enjoyed the way the book has a female protagonist who is struggling with emotions such as anger and frustration as I believe these are too often associated with boys in books. A perfect book for Early Years, KS1 and even into KS2 I would suggest. An even better book for families during lockdown when everyone's feelings are heightened.

Firstly, I think you could talk about patience as a Value. In the book, Maggie learns to accept her emotions and her mum patiently shows her how to manage them. Maggie watches her Mum and learns from her. Maggie takes control of her feelings, but this takes time and it isn't until she has been able to learn these strategies that she is calm enough to go inside and sleep. This is a big message for children: sometimes we have to allow ourselves to just feel and be patient with this. Feelings of frustration, anger and upset pass, but they are valid emotions and sometimes they require patience!

Secondly, I think Howl is a great book for discussing kindness. The kindness that Maggie's Mum shows her when allowing her daughter to see that adults have big emotions too, and the kindness that Maggie shows herself. We often talk to children about being kind to each other, but it is equally important to remind children to be kind to themselves. Especially at a time like now when lots of families are spending all their time together and emotions become heightened.

Lastly, the Value of responsibility could be used as a focus from this story. Maggie learns some strategies for managing her feelings and turning them into something positive, and she takes responsibility for this. We are all responsible for our reactions - and this means knowing when we need to take time out and do some things that calm us down. This is an important lesson for children to learn. These big feelings are normal, but it isn't fair to lash out at others and we also need to take responsibility for them!

As always, these are only suggestions and it depends on the age of the child/ren that you share this wonderful book with. Other Values could include compassion, honesty, determination or love for example. If you would like to get hold of this book, try some independent booksellers. Through this website, you can find lots of indie bookshops (online or physical).

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