Imagine a world where kindness is the order of the day. Where cynicism is put to one side and a simple innocence is instead allowed to blossom into imaginative storytelling. This is the world of Celestine and the Hare, a place full of gentle adventure, generosity and respect for each other and the world around us.
Three uplifting tales of a band of furry friends form the first books from felt artist and début author Karin Celestine. In Small Finds a Home an act of selflessness is the starting point for a lasting friendship. In Paper Boat for Panda, a friend goes the extra mile to make a dream come true, and in Honey for Tea, the friends find an creative way to show their gratitude for something they love.
The delicate, finespun storytelling avoids cloying sentiment (helped by a hint or two of mischief occasionally alluded to). The felted friends exude an enormous amount of charm and – if I can coin a word- cuddlability. Echoes of Bagpuss mingle with reminders off the small world play beloved by many children; the use of favourite toys (whether playmobil, lego or plastic animals) and found objects to set up scenes and scenarios is where many children first and most freely experience themselves as storytellers, and Karin Celestine’s wonderful, life-affirming books encourage us all to keep in touch with and to nurture the playfulness, exploration and hope of childhood. These are books that make the world a better place.
The second part of each Celestine and the Hare book features well-explained and amusingly illustrated instructions for a least one craft project related to the story at hand. These invitations to take the story out of the pages of the book and into the living-breathing lives of readers and listeners naturally appealed enormously to all at Playing by the Book Towers. Thus a happy and relaxed day was spent making, sailing and flying boats and bees – a delightful day, the sort I wish all children (and their grown ups) could share.
Inspired by Paper Boat for Panda we made a flotilla of paper boats and sailed them down a nearby stream.
On some of our boats we wrote poems for the fish and ducks to enjoy!
We didn’t manage to keep our socks dry, but felt all the more like intrepid explorers for that!
As well as setting our boats on the high seas, we made bees out of alder cones and ash keys, inspired by the craft project in Honey for Tea.
My kids are always happy to have an excuse to climb trees, especially if it’s a means to spreading a bit of joy; the sight of these bees amongst the first blossom of spring certainly made us smile.
Whilst we folder our paper boats and made our bees in preparation for launching them all out into the wide world we listened to:
Other activities which might work well alongside reading these heart-warming stories include:
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Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of these books by their publisher, Graffeg.