On Twitter, author Anna Friend kindly contacted me asking me if I reviewed children’s books. When I said that they weren’t my specialty and I’d rather do a good job and so suggested that my partner who is a primary school teacher reads them, she said this sounded like a great opportunity.
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Friend sent me Who Will Love Me When You’re Gone?, How Will It Be with Baby & Me and When Can I Go Back to School, three books she’s released over the past couple of years with a cumulative aim of helping children and parents with difficult conversations in their lives.
When Can I Go Back to School?
First up we’ll cover When Can I Go Back to School? which is Friend’s first novel about lockdown. I spoke to my partner Bron about her thoughts on this book:
“This one was about lockdown isn’t overly relatable anymore. I imagine at the time though it was a great way to educate kids on what lockdown was and how to cope with it. Like the other two, it’s written very poetically which is great to read for the adults but may confuse some children,” she said.
“In this one, I felt like it does skirt around the actual subject a bit. There’s no mention of the pandemic or why we’re inside, just that we are and how to deal with it. I felt it didn’t go into enough about the lockdown itself either. I imagine this might have been because the author may have written it wanting to make it more relatable to all families, including those who didn’t want to discuss the actual virus with their children but wanted to help them understand lockdown though.”
Who Will Love Me When You’re Gone?
Who Will Love Me When You’re Gone? is about bereavement and the questions a child might have if a family member of theirs was ill.
Bron said: “This one is about a boy called Jack, his mum is ill and he’s worried about life without her. It’s a heart-wrenching read that has some really nice messages for children if they were worrying.”
“This is definitely the best of the three as it’s a book that if you knew someone who had a parent who was very ill, it would be very good to share with them. It feels like it is a realistic representation of the potential of loss.
“There are some lovely poetic moments in it too which, for a child, will make it very relatable such as ‘When you’re at school and when you play, I’ll be the sun that warms your day’. This is such a lovely line.
“I would very much recommend this to parents of or friends/families of an ill parent whose child has questions. It may not answer all of them but will teach them about what’s to come in a mature and approachable way.”
How Will It Be with Baby & Me?
Friend’s most recent release which came out in July (2022) is called How Will it Be with Baby & Me? which is a story about a child and his pregnant mother. It explores the questions children may have when they’ve been the only child and suddenly they have a sibling on the way.
Bron said: “This one is about a child and his pregnant mother. The boy wonders how the family dynamic will change when the new baby arrives.”
“It has a nice flow to it as it’s poetic but as a result, I do feel that it’s something that you’d read to a child but they may not necessarily directly understand due to its poetic tone.
“It would be a great book to start the conversation with your child but not one that would instantly educate them or answer all their questions. It may lead them to have more questions about their future.”
“I loved the drawings and designs of Anna’s books and they all had a clear intention with their flow. The poetic style is written beautifully and as the adult/parent reading it that will be appreciated, however, I feel as the child this may just confuse them a tad depending on what age you’re reading to.
“I’d definitely recommend Who Will Love Me When You’re Gone and How Will It Be with Baby & Me if you know of families going through these situations, however, the When Can I Go Back To School? about lockdown feels like something that’s hard to relate to these days. However, if in the future you wanted to educate your child about why they went through lockdown, it may be a good book to use to look back with.”