The Missing Trick by Robin Jacobs

Values: Happiness, Perseverance and Pride.

This new picture book is perfect for little ones and my nieces have enjoyed reading this several times (they are three). It is the story of Louis, an aspiring magician, who loses his rabbit as he is setting up for his show. As Louis searches high and low for it, unbeknown to him a large crowd gather and are amused by his 'show'. When Louis tries to search his bag, he disappears into it and emerges with a puff of smoke. The crowd go wild! The rabbit turns up at the end... but where has it been all of this time?

There are lots of simple values you could discuss with little children in this gentle yet entertaining story. Firstly, the value of happiness. In this book, there is a sense of happiness that runs through every page. The audience find Louis funny, entertaining and endearing as they watch his magic 'show': their faces and body language give plenty of opportunity for young children to infer that they are happy. This could be followed about an informal discussion about what makes us happy or what makes us laugh. How can you tell when someone is feeling happy? Incidentally, Aimee Wright's beautifully illustrated audience are diverse too - meaning every child reading this book can relate to the people they see shown on the pages.

Secondly, the value of pride. I love the way all of the people watching Louis are increasingly proud of him - and he has no idea! They are cheering him on, celebrating when he eventually finds the rabbit and applauding his humour and success. It is lovely when we see children showing pride in their friends and teaching this is something that often should be done explicitly. Some children may not have families that act as cheerleaders for them - their successes, their failures and their experiences. That means that we need to be cheerleaders for them at school; and teach them to be proud of each other. Even more powerfully, Louis - who originally thought everything had gone wrong - realises the crowd are still happy and feels proud of himself! It is a simple yet striking moment as Louis stands proudly with his hands on hips and a smile plastered across his face.

Thirdly, the value of perseverance. Things continually go wrong for Louis and he feels decidedly frustrated. Yet, he doesn't give up. He keeps searching for the rabbit regardless of how long it takes him as he wants to produce a good show for his audience. In the end, it works out, but all too many times we see children who give up - particularly when all eyes are on them. Louis could teach our children a lot about staying calm under pressure and persevering.

I like this simple yet powerful book and think it offers really valuable opportunities for rich discussion with children up to the age of 7 or 8. Thank you Cicada for my copy - I feel lucky to have one of the first copies! Cicada have some wonderfully diverse and quality texts which can be found on their website.

If you would like to read other posts with the same Values, try clicking on these links: