Review Blog

Feb 25 2016

Hattie helps out by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell

cover image

Ill. by Freya Blackwood. Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781743435434
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Humour. Birthdays. Families. Grandparents. This delightful story shows Hattie helping her exhausted mother on the day of Dad's birthday party. While Lottie sleeps, Hattie helps Mum cook the cake, after she has lugged in an enormous pile of washing. She explains the work she still must do to prepare for the grandparents' arrival for the party, but Hattie must have her sleep. Hattie insists that Mum lie down with her as well, but in so doing, Mum falls into a deep sleep.
Hattie then does the chores Mum said were necessary to do before the party and with hilarious results. She takes her mother literally and puts flowers through the house, sticks the biscuits together, puts berries on top of the cake, and tidies the house.
Freya Blackwood's illustrations are simply divine, showing a loving family doing the most ordinary things with a wonderfully astute attention to detail. The looks on the grandparents' faces as they peruse what Hattie has done are priceless, but Mum's face is full of love and joy with her daughter's efforts.
Closer inspection of the house reveals the strain Mum is under caring for her two offspring, while what Hattie does underlines the importance of the family over a neat and tidy house.
Readers may expect one of the adults to be a little cross, but the ending brings the story to a lovely conclusion as Mum wakes and thanks her daughter for a lovely job.
Blackwood's illustrations done from many different vantage points are full of interest as they reveal a domestic scene that children will recognise instantly, sympathising with the mother as she gets things ready despite her overwhelming tiredness, and the child wanting to take some responsibility and help her mother.
Children will readily respond to this situation and it being a birthday party will entreat them even more.
Fran Knight

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