One of the everyday delights in my life is getting post; the sort that comes through the letter box and thuds satisfylingly on the mat. Indeed, it’s one of the fringe benefits of reviewing children’s books, that most weeks I get beautiful and exciting mail, literally turning each day into a small gift.
Two very lovely books recently delivered by our fantastic post woman feature bears delivering and receiving letters, just perfect in the run up to the busiest time of year for the mail service.
Herman’s Letter by Tom Percival (@tompercivalsays) is a humorous and sweet exploration of long distance friendship, and how difficult it can be to see your best friend having fun without you. The book trailer below gives a great précis of the plot (voiced by Lenny Henry) but what it doesn’t tell you is that this book comes with flaps and real letters to open, not quite on a par with The Jolly Postman, but certainly capturing some of the same magic that physical interaction with a book can conjure up.
“No illustrated bears were harmed during the making of this animation”
With cuddly characters, a nod to Rosen/Oxenbury’s Going on a Bear Hunt and witty flourishes (check out what’s being read whilst the bear snores), the illustrations have bags of kid appeal at the same time as having something to make the parents smile.
Herman’s Letter is a ideal winter time read with hibernation, snowstorms and the sort of warmth that emanates from an open fire. Touching on jealousy and the difficulty we can all have telling people how much they mean to us, this book balances serious feelings with super laugh-out-loud silliness.
You should be able to find Herman’s Letter in your bookshops already, but a brilliant book I’d like to recommend you read alongside it isn’t out till next month.
In Lucas’ tale, Bear spends his life delivering other people’s post but never receives any himself. He realises that this is perhaps hardly surprising given that he has never written anyone a letter. Instead of simply accepting the situation, Bear decides to “be the change” he wishes to see in the world, and so sets about writing a few letters of his own. But will his efforts be acknowledged? Will his courage reward him?
This is an exquisitely produced book (Flying Eye certainly specialise in this!) brimming with Lucas’ highly decorative and iconic illustrations in Christmas setting. A Letter for Bear is a perfect gift that should NOT wait for a place under the Christmas tree; I’d recommend it now as the ideal read for getting ready to make and write seasonal cards.
With all this reading about letters, cards and post, and making and sustaining friendships through the mail system, I was keen to encourage my girls to getting writing. Inspired by these lovely writing centres on Playful Learning, I decided to set up our own Postal Centre. I wanted to create an area which would be just too alluring not to sit down and write.
Here’s what I started with:
And using ideas from Simple Kids’ Letter Writing Kit, here’s what I ended up with:
Some fun stamps (the UK currently has some great dinosaur themed stamps out), and a selection of stickers to decorate cards and envelopes, along with a few new pens and pencils helped ensure this Postal Station was an instant hit.
Once our first batch of mail was ready, we had to deliver it, and to do that in style I made two bags for my budding Posties to use, each one with a nod to the lovely books we’d enjoyed:
All our first batch of letters have now taken flight…
…and we’re hoping it won’t be too long till the Postie delivers some letters our way!
Lettery music we’ve been enjoying includes:
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What’s the nicest thing you’ve received in the post recently?
Disclosure: I received free review copies of both books in today’s post.