Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for, ‘Extraordinary,’ one of the most thoughtful and stunning books that I’ve read in a long time. In a world where we are encouraged to reach for the stars and celebrate the amazing things, it becomes easy to forget the joy of the ordinary in our lives which in it’s own ways can be extraordinary. Penny’s lilting rhymes bob along beautifully capturing the wonder of the quiet moments in the world we live. It embraces how simple pleasures like, sleeping under stars, splashing in puddles or enjoying the stillness of the forest, can be truly remarkable if we only take the time to stop and appreciate them. Exquisitely illustrated by Katie, she takes this glorious tale and turns it into a book of joy. A truly wonderful collaboration, that is perfect for sharing at home and in school.
To celebrate the release of this stunning book, I have a special guest post from the author Penny Harrison.
Penny Harrison – Guest Post
For years, I’ve had this favourite quote of mine, from William Martin (beautifully illustrated by children’s author/illustrator Jess Racklyeft), pinned to my wall:
I don’t know about you, but, as a parent, I find it so easy to get caught up in this world of excelling; of telling our children how talented they are, of constantly entertaining them and enrolling them in a dizzying array of extra-curricular activities.
I have this quote on my wall as a constant reminder to slow down — to let my children be bored, to let them play outside for hours in their own imaginative worlds, and to let them make the house and yard messy with their potions and creations.
Many of my books aim to inspire a love of nature in children, but Extraordinary was inspired by this quote and the increasing need I feel for the world to return to simpler times.
When I was growing up, on a cattle farm in New South Wales, Australia, with four brothers and sisters, my mum would often send us outdoors with the comment: “Don’t come back until dinner time”. The natural world became our playground as we made cubbies in the bush, went searching for bushranger’s gold, swam in the river and foraged for natural treasures.
Weekends and holidays were spent helping out on the farm. We scrambled up mountains to chase runaways during cattle musters and drove around the paddocks in a rusty old truck, feeding out hay. It was wild and free (and, at times, slightly dangerous), but it was always an adventure and it instilled in me a strong sense of place.
My children don’t have a farm as their backyard, but I still want them to experience that fervent connection to the natural world; to appreciate the ever-changing beauty that stimulates all our senses. Because, surely, by allowing them to explore and experience nature, it will encourage them to cherish and protect it.
I’ve started with a few simple things:
- A nature table, where my youngest can store her collections of interesting rocks, feathers, leaves and foliage, along with a range of bottles and jars for making magic potions, using dirt and petals and other treasures from the park or garden.
- A little patch of garden for each of the kids to let their imaginations run wild. My son dug a hole, lined it with black plastic, surrounded it with rocks, and created his own little frog pond. My daughter turned her patch into a fairy garden, with stepping stones, flowers and, of course, a fairy door.
- Growing some of our own food. All it takes is a pot on a balcony or a small, sunny area for you to plant a few herbs and leafy greens (and, seriously, nothing beats the taste of a home-grown tomato!)
- Taking nature walks, during the day and, sometimes, at night, and then writing/drawing in our journals about everything we noticed, experienced and wondered.
- Sending them outdoors with the comment: “Don’t come back ‘til dinner time”!
Thank you to Penny for this thoughtful and insightful blog post.
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and features.
Thank you to New Frontier Publishing for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of the book. ‘Extraordinary,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.