Heartwarming début picture books about kindness

posted in: Celestine and the Hare | 5

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.

A spread from 'Honey for Tea'
A spread from ‘Honey for Tea’
A spread from 'Paper Boat for Panda'
A spread from ‘Paper Boat for Panda’

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.

A spread from the craft activity pages in 'Paper Boat for Panda'.
A spread from the craft activity pages in ‘Paper Boat for Panda’.

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.

A spread from the craft activity pages of 'Honey for Tea'
A spread from the craft activity pages of ‘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:

  • Paper Boat by Belle And Sebastian
  • Honey in My Tea by One Horse Shy
  • Milkman of Human Kindness by Billy Bragg
  • We All Need More Kindness in This World by We Banjo 3

    We All Need More Kindness In This World (Guy Davis) from We Banjo 3 on Vimeo.

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading these heart-warming stories include:

  • Capturing your kids’ stories which they tell with their toys – use your camera or phone to take photos, print them off and write the text together. You could even try creating comics together with your kids’ favourite toys, using this helpful how-to guide from Neill Cameron
  • Playing and crafting with felt. The Crafty Crow has a lovely round-up of ideal starting points.
  • Challenging your family to a year of kindness – be inspired by Bernadette Russell’s 366 Days of Kindness!

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • Felting hats to go with When We Lived in Uncle’s Hat by Jutta Bauer
  • Making boats using materials from the recycling bin to go with The Encyclopedia of Flags
  • Carrying out a science experiment with honey to go with Mrs. Mo’s Monster by Paul Beavis
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    Disclosure: I was sent free review copies of these books by their publisher, Graffeg.

    5 Responses

    1. Sue Fowler

      We have a baby weasel (Ronald Weasely) and a tiny panda from the lovely Celestine and the hare and look forward to the next installment of books. Lovely, life affirming joyful creations

    2. Morgan

      These books are all so cute, and the pictures you posted are wonderful! Your projects turned out so nicely, too! Great job! Thanks so much for sharing!

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