Mum's Jumper by Jayde Perkin

Values: Love, Kindness, Compassion and Hope.

Having had two children in my classes over the last few years who have lost a parent, I would have loved to have had a book like this to hand. Jayde Perkin has created a compassionate and heartfelt picturebook that deals with the loss of a parent.

Mum's Jumper is a book about the emotions and journey through grief that can come after bereavement. It talks of leaving hospital after losing Mum, the funeral and the weeks and months afterwards for this little girl. Teachers and friends are kind, but Perkin uses metaphors such as "a dark space followed me around" and "My body ached, like I'd been swimming for days; how could I get to shore?". She finds some comfort in wearing her Mum's jumper, as it smelt and felt like her mother, and at the end of the story, we see the little girl gradually learn to accept her mum has gone, but that her world will carry on and the jumper will always be there for when she needs it.

The pictures in the book are child-like and show grief as a black cloud. But they are also uplifting and relatable. I love the emotions displayed on the faces of the characters so poignantly - anger, sadness, confusion and happiness are all noticeable. Children will be able to infer a huge amount from the imagery and show empathy for the main character. This photo on the left has created very deep conversations about why the little girl is all alone and how she may feel about this.

It is also a really helpful book for any parent/carer/teacher to talk to a child who has lost a parent using the metaphors of dark clouds and swimming to a distant shoreline, for example; asking children if this is how they feel or can they think of another way to share their feelings? I also believe the pictorial style may encourage some children to share their thoughts this way.

The Values in this book are clearly centered around kindness, compassion and love. I personally wouldn't use this book in Assembly or even with a whole class, preferring to explore it with individuals or small groups as I think it may stir some powerful emotions in children regardless of whether they have experienced loss first-hand or not. However, in those small groups, it would be really interesting to discuss how other people are showing her kindness and compassion; and yet why she still feels alone. There are many examples of the Value of love in this book - the little girl's love for her mum, the relationship between the father and his daughter, the love other adults and peers at school show the child too. In the beautiful illustrations, we can see Valentine's Day cards, Mother's Day cards and photographs all of which depict this Value in symbolic ways. A sensitive circle-time or bedtime dialogue might happen about the ways in which we remember people (or pets) when they have gone.

There is also the Value of hope in this book. We see brighter colours, flowers growing, bees buzzing, smiles on faces and the notion of a holiday at the end of the story. This is an uplifting way for the book to end and for children to understand that grief is a journey that has different stages. It will always be there, but that there are positive experiences ahead too. The story could help open up discussions about coping with grief, the future, but also memories that children would like to remember with their loved one and how they could do this.

I don't have another book like this on my Values bookshelf and so when I saw it on Book Island's online shop, I knew I had to have it. This independent publisher based in Bristol has a wealth of beautiful and unique books - often translated from other languages - and all have teacher notes to go alongside. What an amazing resource! A small quote from their mission statement tells me everything I need to know about this small business:

"We publish picture books for the brilliant, resilient children of today, growing up in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual world. 

We select titles from around the world and translate them into English, building bridges between cultures, while we also create our own titles." 

I implore you all to check out their website and find a book you may not see in your high street bookshop. They are also on Twitter: @BookIslandBooks and Instagram: @bookislanduk

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