BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Emmett and Caleb (Available here)
Authors/Illustrator: Delphine Renon & Karen Hottois
Publisher: Book Island
Publication Date: September 2018
Most Suitable for: Years 1-4
Reviewed By: Tim Dunford, Class Teacher
Emmett and Caleb is a charming story told in four parts that match the four seasons of a year. Two friends see out a year in touch with nature. They share meals, walks and parties with other friends. They fall out then restore their friendship in a story that touches on why friendships can work despite different personalities and how friends can depend on each other and draw comfort from this stability.
The structure and pictures make this book feel shorter than it is and it would be a good story for children making the transition to longer, chapter books. This would be a good book to look at seasonal changes and examine changes to the landscape, clothes and activities that the pair get up to such as picking mushrooms in autumn and sunbathing in the summer. I used it in my class to practise making predictions about the story (what activities will they do next, how will their garden change and so on). The pictures are well-detailed, quirky and use bold colours. Children will enjoy returning to them and looking for new details and they are unlike other books out there at the moment.
There are many opportunities for PHSE and P4C in this book and this is why it could be used in several year groups, depending how deep you want to go with it. At times it is very philosophical and this translation retains a very “French” feel from the original text, with tones of The Little Prince at times. For example, one of the “most precious” birthday presents given is the “flutter of an eyelash”. It is really good for work around friendships. The two characters are different but they compliment each other and neither is “better” than the other. They also have a wider group of friends who look and behave differently but come together for a wonderful birthday party. It was a good text to discuss how friends often share interests but they are allowed to be different and have individuality which makes Emmett and Caleb’s bond special.
Curriculum links: PHSE, P4C, nature, seasons.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Tim for reviewing it.