Values: Confidence, Pride, Courage.
The Littlest Yak has stolen my heart! This is actually a book I have bought one of my nieces for her birthday, but I couldn't resist a sneaky peek (and blog) before wrapping it!
This is the story of Gertie. Gertie has all the skills of the other yaks, except that she doesn't see any 'bigness' in herself. She thinks that there isn't anything a big yak can't do. Gertie tries everything in her power to grow big and strong like the other yaks. Nothing helps, and it really gets her down. However, one day, a teeny, tiny yak (even smaller than Gertie!) gets stuck on a ledge. Gertie is the only one small enough to save the day! At the end of the story, Gertie learns there are things that make her special and things that she can do because she is a little yak.
As you may have guessed from the synopsis, The Littlest Yak is a really empowering story about celebrating difference and recognising strengths in all of us. Lu Fraser's language is great for discussion around growth mindset, confidence or resilience; Kate Hindley's illustrations pair beautifully to really bring the story to life and make the reader empathise with Gertie. This is a book that could be used from Nursery to Year 6 - it's eye-catching pages and bold message will stick with children (and adults) for a long time.
There are plenty of Values links in this book, but I will delve into confidence, pride and courage. Firstly, the Value of confidence shines through in this book. At the start of the story, Gertie compares herself to the rest of the pack of yaks: she feels insignificant because of her size, and this undermines her confidence. Gertie tries all kinds of things to help her grow - eating her veggies, hopping, skipping... but to no avail. However, one life-changing moment and the chance to be a hero boosts Gertie's confidence. The fact she is little means she is the only yak that can save another. And this is the event that changes Gertie's mindset and helps build her own self confidence. I know in schools we are always trying to build children's confidence and tell them not to compare themselves to others - this story perfectly illustrates this.
The Value of pride is another avenue you could explore with Gertie's story. When Gertie manages to save the teeniest yak, the rest of the yaks celebrate her success:
"GERTIE YOU DID IT!" they all grunted proudly.
And the last two pages help the reader see how proud Gertie is of herself too:
For I'm just the right size that a Gertie should be.
I'm perfectly little...
... and perfectly me!
Pride can be quite a simple word yet an abstract concept to children who may struggle to feel proud of themselves for many reasons. This book enables lots of discussions of when we have been proud of others and proud of ourselves.
Thirdly, the Value of courage is evident. Gertie shows immense courage when she leaps into action to save the teeniest yak. In the moment, she doesn't consider her size a problem anymore - but sees it as a strength that will enable her to help someone else! Gertie leaps up the mountain on to a tiny, slippery ledge and has no hesitation in using her grippy feet to rescue the yak. The ledge is perilous, but Gertie is confident in her abilities. A really accessible way of showing this Value to young children!
Overall, I think this rhyming book is a great addition to your bookshelf for home or school. It is fun, memorable and has depth of meaning. I will now have to buy another for myself! You can buy yours at Bookshop.org or plenty of other places (buy from indies if you can!). You can follow the author on Twitter @_lufraser and the illustrator @hindleyillos .
Find other books with these Values on the blog: