non-fiction

Babies, Babies Everywhere!
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This is a sort of non-fiction book too! But it looks like a picture book.

The first end papers fill readers with both curiosity and amusement. Here are babies in all sorts of situations – giggling, bawling, sitting inside a cardboard box, throwing food high in the air, reading a book solo… be it upside down!… and savouring the joy of at last standing upright. Then begins a year in six different families, each with a newborn babe, or two. Every page is packed with happenings, all small activities, but each building into a babe learning to roll over, to sit unaided, then to crawl, and ‘Beware, beware, there are babies everywhere!’ With different ethnic families to identify, and parents celebrating each new achievement, every spread is packed with happenings. ‘Babies start as sleepy, cuddly bundles and soon they are walking, talking little people.’ What joy is portrayed here, from Hoffman’s direct and sensitive text to the delightful pictures throughout by Ros Asquith. Both author and illustrator have banks of highly acclaimed work in the world of children’s books, and this new publication will be welcomed in families, nurseries and libraries everywhere. Books for Keeps 250 September 2021
 

An absolutely gorgeous and inclusive celebration of babies during their first year of life. Now I’m no lover of babies, (though I have particular fondness for one particular little girl, now a toddler, a few months beyond her first year), but this book is a delight from cover to cover.

We follow the ups and downs of that first year with five families all of which welcome a new little one (or two) into their lives. To start with there’s a lot of sleeping, crying, milk drinking, burping and naturally, pooing and weeing. Then comes limb waving and laughing,

followed after a few weeks with facial recognition of those they see daily. Next is the grabbing, grasping stage often accompanied by much gurgling and cooing,

after which sitting and rolling ensue. By around six months the infants are usually ready for some solid foods – often a very messy time as can be the mobile stage when bottom shuffling and crawling, and beginning to get onto two feet, frequently leads to the little ones opening cupboards, etc and enjoying scattering the contents everywhere.

That’s nothing compared to what they can get up to once they start toddling …

One thing’s for sure though, there’s never a dull moment as Ros’s wonderfully detailed, amusing illustrations show (I love the soft toy’s thought bubbles). Mary’s straightforward narrative has a gentle playfulness with lots of baby sounds and comments from family members. (There’s a reminder on the dedication page, that babies develop at different rates and not all of them do things at the same age.)

Great fun for sharing with babies. toddlers who will enjoy spotting things at every page turn, not least the purple elephant, as well as for including in a ‘Families’ topic box in the foundation stage. RedReadingHub

The Great Big Books Series

Early on in my career I wrote the sixteen books of the Animals in the Wild series and thought that might be it for non-fiction. But later I developed the idea of the Great Big Books, illustrated by Ros Asquith and published by Janetta Otter Barry Books at Frances Lincoln. We have done seven titles in this popular and best-selling series. Read about them all here.

The Great Big Brain Book
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The last of the seven books in the series is now also available in paperback

The Great Big Brain Book explains what the brain is, how the brain grows, and many functions of the brain.

With insightful facts and illustrations to support the text. Points are made simply, in an easy way to understand. 

At the end is a glossary under the title of ‘Some Useful Words’, great for building vocabulary and comprehension.

Excellent as a starting entry point into learning about the brain. The Staffroom Readers March 2021

The Great Big Book series brings us the eighth title that celebrates our marvellous brain. Mary Hoffman’s clever, light-hearted and humorous text is surrounded and supported by Ros Asquith’s superb cartoon-style, watercolour illustrations.

 

Frame by Frame, the children’s artwork reaches its target audience in the best way possible.

 

Kids will see and learn how the brain develops, its role, and how it is the command centre that sends messages to the body using neurons. It features the weight of the brain, the amount of cells, brain food, and the senses. (There is more!)

 

 

Listed are the many areas the brain controls, including memory, muscles, movement and dreams.

 

How does the brain help us make decisions, multi-task and use language? These areas are all covered on outstanding, fully illustrated pages.

 

I must comment further on the illustrations that are truly fabulous! Both end pages exhibit all the areas controlled by the brain. It is a parade of colour and depicts the emotion-filled children that appear in the book.

 

The title page shows the two hemisphere’s of the brain and the cat that appears all over the place. Speech bubbles allow us to see what the cat is thinking – at times funny and others not. Kids will look forward to seeing it wherever it appears.

 

Many of the pages are decorated with miniature illustrations, forming borders around the three edges.

 

Many of the illustrations are presented in child-like drawings on boards. This immediately engages the reader by making personal contact with them. Pages full of small details allow kids to spend time searching, finding and questioning.

 

Visually stimulating, a lot of thought has gone into presenting a subject that otherwise would be seen as complex to this age group.

 

With simple text, easy to follow explanations and the vibrant images, it becomes an entertaining and valuable learning tool. Larger than the usual picture book size, the text is presented in bold type and a larger font.

 

It’s a book filled with energy and humour, and addresses the ageing of the brain as well as its growth from childhood. I loved it! ShortStories4Kids

There’s so much to like about this book, that is a great introduction to an amazing and incredibly complicated part of the body. How many youngsters will have thought about the notion that their brains are responsible for every single thing that they do, be it breathing, walking, chatting, eating, thinking, feeling, learning for instance. Moreover the brain enables us to feel happy, sad, powerful, and much more.

So how does this ‘control room’, this ‘miracle of organisation’ as Mary Hoffman describes the brain, actually function? She supplies the answer so clearly and so engagingly that young readers will be hooked in from the very first spread.

Each double spread looks at a different but related aspect such as the brain’s location and development;

 

another explains how the brain functions as a transmitter sending messages around the body by means of neurons. Readers can find out about how we’re able to move our muscles, do all sorts of tricky, fiddly things such as picking up tiny objects, a jigsaw piece for instance.

Lots of other topics are discussed including the two sides of the brain and what each is responsible for, as well that of neurodiversity. Some people’s brains develop differently, while others might have problems if something goes wrong with their brain.

 

Every spread has Ros Asquith’s smashing cartoon-style illustrations that unobtrusively celebrate diversity and make each one something to pore over.

A must have in my opinion. RedReadingHub

The Great Big Book of Friends
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The Bookseller – Fiona Noble's previews – New in the excellent series which introduces topics to young children in an accessible, inclusive way. A must for schools and libraries, this is also a useful starting point for conversations about what makes a good friend.   19th April

Lovereading4kids- promotion and review by Andrea Reece- ' Making friends, being friends, falling out with friends – these are important matters for everyone, whatever their age. Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith tackle the subject with typical sensitivity in a book that will provide young readers with lots of reassurance and good advice, along with the strong sense that its authors really understand them... This is the latest in the thoroughly inspiring and useful Great Big Book of series, and as always, readers of all shapes, colours and abilities will find themselves in the pictures.'   

Minerva Reads – Book of the Week April 8th– Review - 'The Great Big Book of Friends will be a core title in helping to support a child’s well being and emotional and social development, but it’s also fun. A positive, heartening book, which may serve as a good reminder to those adults sharing the book with their child – the best friendships develop from the smallest kindnesses. Parents in Touch – review - 'Friendship comes in many forms, as this warm-hearted book shows. This is a wonderful celebration of all kinds of friendship, including family, friends around the world, pets and even imaginary friends... all the books are perfect for classroom use, to encourage discussion and to stimulate learning about other people; they are just as good at home to encourage diversity and thinking of others. An excellent addition to the series.'  19 March  

EYE – review – an excellent title...and it will be sure to spark discussion about all aspects of friendship –May

Reading Zone – KS1 Book of the Month I would thoroughly recommend this book to both teachers and parents for dealing with friendship issues or for PSHE/Life skills lessons as it is easily accessible and easy to understand and read.   April 

Bookwitch  review Both the words and the pictures in this book are so encouraging. They make you feel normal when maybe you believe you are the odd one out, who will never be like everyone else...I do hope there will be more Great Big Books.   18 April  

Red Reading hub review  With its chatty style and inclusive illustrations, this is a good book to explore with a class or group as part of a PSHE theme.20 April 

Dolphin Books – review - 'Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith celebrate friendship in a funny and honest way. It is a great way to start a conversation with children about what makes a good friend. The presentation and layout of the book are instantly appealing...Lots of opportunities for conversations, curiosity and reflection. It makes a great book for schools and also for home.' 23/04/18 

Elaine Bennett Teach Primary @editorteach May 2I love this sweet, inclusive book from @MARYMHOFFMAN & @RosAsquith. "We all have days when a teddy or special blanket ... feel more friendly to us than our actual friends do. But that's okay ... A lot of friendship is about comfort, familiarity and just being there when needed."

Schools Out (The LGBT Education Charity)  newsletter  Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith have produced several books that are well used by people who want their children to explore basic things like the diversity of families, feelings and now friends. The books are simple and engaging and the latest one, The Great Big Book of Friends, is no exception. The text from Hoffman invites us to explore all the different ways we can be friends, who can be our friends and also finds a way to celebrate being alone. The pictures from Asquith are exquisite and fill the pages. The joy is every time you look you will discover another gem. There is a running gag through all the books of an idiosyncratic cat on every page that she weaves into each and every theme. Diversity is built into the books so every child will see themselves involved in some way. The past books are firm favourites with parents and children alike, designed as they are to bear much rereading and re-looking and I am sure this will soon be as well. A must for parents, schools and libraries!   May 

Books for Keeps 4 star review  Another great book in the series by these two authors! ... This is a book for everyone, and it will prove a useful tool for group discussion at school and for reading at home. May Issue 

Teachwire /Teach Primary - 'an upbeat and inclusive way. It's an invalubale tool for starting conversations in the classroom about what makes a good friend...lots of visual humour...the boo's final message, that there's no right number of friends to have, is a vital one for KS2 children to hear.'- August  

English 4 – 11 – review in Autumn 2018 edition - ‘Friendship is a topic that can dominate children’s lives, especially when things aren’t going so well, so an informative, fun book like this can only help … This book would be an excellent addition to any home, school library or classroom, and would appeal to children in KS1 and KS2.’ 

Teach Primary –  ‘50 Modern Reads every school library needs” included in the strong minds section – these books will help you to pass on positive strategies to help pupils remain resilient in testing times.   an upbeat and inclusive way. It's an invaluable tool for starting conversations in the classroom about what makes a good friend...lots of visual humour...the book's final message, that there's no right number of friends to have, is a vital one for KS2 children to hear.'-   

The Great Big Book of Life
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Tackling a huge topic, this book offers a whistle stop tour of life’s main stages with a particular focus on babies. Seven of its double page spreads look at what babies can do, how they communicate, why they wake at night, what they eat, potty training and how they are protected from illness. The reader is invited to make connections with babies they know.

Childhood, teenage years and adulthood are dealt with very briefly, but some important ideas are included, for example that in old age some people may become forgetful and more in need of support while others on the other hand may continue with an active life working or pursuing their interests. There is an effort to demonstrate there is no one ‘right’ way to live; for example, indicating not everyone has a partner or gets married. These insights may serve to reassure children some of whom may make connections with people they know. The book introduces children to other information too, such as the fact that some children in the world don’t go to school and some adults can’t find a job.

The illustrations bring the text to life and add to the text, for example two children communicating with sign language adds another dimension to the pages focused on language. Illustrations such as the teenager’s bedroom will chime with many adult readers and add humour. A caption on the title page invites eagle eyed readers to spot the cat on every page.

This book is 6th in a highly acclaimed series which includes the Great Big Book of Feelings and The Great Big Book of Families from the same writer/illustrator team. This addition celebrates life and how amazing humans are. It leaves readers with the valuable message that we all have a life worth living and we should make the most of every day.

Books for Keeps 236 May 2019

What a fantastic book! The Great Big Book of Life includes different sections of information on each stage of life from being a baby to dying. Each section has incredible detail include covering how babies clap their hands, blow bubbles and chuckle with pleasure before turning into children who are able to go to school to learn and make friends. It then moves onto being an adult who goes to work (explaining that some people are luckier than others and really enjoy their jobs!) which then turns into people who are classed as old age. Finally, the book gives information about death - a fantastic, child-friendly way of talking about a difficult topic. It explains how all bodies wear out eventually and people die because there wouldn't be space in the world for new babies if old people didn't die eventually. This book is packed with information about human development throughout each stage of life in great detail. It would make a brilliant read for children of all ages but also a really good teaching book for parents or schools, to open up a conversation with young children about topics which are notoriously difficult to talk about - including where babies come from and how to deal with the death of people we care about. A really informative and interesting book with an appropriately informal tone. ReadingZone Reviewed by Lucy Newton, teacher

The Great Big Body Book
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Like the other titles in The Great Big Book series, The Great Big Body Book explores an important subject with a light touch.  Young readers and listeners from every heritage will see boys and girls just like themselves as they are taken through the growing and changing that happens at different stages from birth to death.  The amazing development that takes place in babies’ first year as they become able to smile, walk and talk is shown through amusing pictures –for example we see a baby eating in a delightfully messy manner.  Children will be entertained, too, by the observation that if we kept up the rate of growing that babies do in their first year ‘we’d all be giants!’  ‘Kittens can walk at FIVE days old’ boasts the little tabby cat whose witty speech bubble comments can be found on every spread.  Hoffman and Asquith take on issues like the implications of an individual’s gender – not everyone ‘fits neatly into a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ box’. The spreads showing middle childhood celebrate the many physical competencies achieved like swimming, cycling and climbing and remind us that minds are developing as well as bodies.  The physical changes that come about in the teenage years as puberty takes hold are explained and the issues to do with spots, examinations and the search for an identity are addressed with humour and reassurance that most people cope well.  Changes and challenges continue into adulthood and young readers are informed about the stages of pregnancy and of the demands and joys of family life.

Throughout the book a succinct but skilful written text and lively pictures show the ways in which human beings are similar at particular life stages, but also point out those ways in which they can be different.  We see a picture of a little boy with one short and one long arm and, near the end of the book, a young artist paints from her wheelchair. Interspersed between the spreads tracing development through time are some with useful information about keeping bodies and minds fit through exercise and a balanced diet.

The physical limitations that an aging body is heir to are not avoided.  However, a chart shows the fine achievements of some older people: Mary Wesley published her first adult novel at 71 and Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mount Fuji at age 100!  The section on ‘Dead Bodies’ shows a family looking sad by the grave of a loved one. Some comfort is offered:  the person who is gone ‘lives on in our memories of them’.  I like the upbeat ending to the book: lots of children and adults are pictured enjoying physical activities and young readers are invited to answer the question: ‘What are YOU like?’

Books for Keeps 221 November 2016

The fourth book in this internationally best-selling series says that everybody needs some body! Our bodies come in all shapes and sizes and they change throughout our lives, from newborn babies and children through to teenagers, and maybe to mums and dads and grandparents. Find out about growing and learning, big and small, keeping fit, breaks and bruises, the five senses, using our minds, how we are the same and how we are different - and lots more. There are all kinds of bodies in the world. What are YOU like?

LoveReading4Kids

We love The Great Big Book series by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, this is the latest one we have read, all about the body. It gives information in a simple and friendly way, and always feels kind and supportive. Like the others, this book is inclusive and I was really happy to see a bit introducing the idea that not everyone is happy with their assigned gender and might want to change. Brilliant introduction to bodies of everyone and how they work.

Molly loves this book because it is filled with funny and informative illustrations and speech bubbles. She soaks up the facts and has read this over and over and over. She also loves it because it makes her feel good about herself and her family and friends. 
I love this book - and the whole series it belongs to - because it is beautifully inclusive, and encouraging positive body image, this book belongs in every school and library. It is incredibly diverse, ensuring that every child can find a representation of themselves and their families within the book. It celebrates difference whilst being fun and informative and positively reflecting the beautifully diverse world we live in. Bravo all involved! I can't recommend it enough. 

Toppsta

September
The Great Big Green Book

> The Great Big Green Book is a wonderful educational book packed with ideas and inspiration for ways to keep our planet safe and beautiful for the future.

                                                                                                                 What's Good to Do 15.6.2015

 

> The world needs trees. And water. And children need this book, The Great Big Green Book by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith. I'd love to think that it can make a difference. The world needs people to do things that will make a difference. A positive one, obviously.

Children are nearly always very open to new ideas, and are far more prepared than adults to change their lifestyles. They just need to be told what they can do.

Words can change a lot, but I wonder if pictures - especially ones like these by Ros - do even more. You just need to see those polar bears on their shrinking piece of ice to understand.

Children do need words, though. I was reading just the other day that a children's dictionary had got rid of a number of nature words, in favour of more 'in' terminology; out with the blackberry and in with the Blackberry. It can be hard to save a world of things when you don't have words for what needs saving.

Recycle, turn the lights off, compost, don't flush the toilet every time and share a shower. Well, actually, I might skip that last idea. Re-use, don't fly everywhere and put another blanket on the bed.

And remember the world almost stands and falls with the bees.

                                                                                                        Bookwitch 2.3.2015

 

> Conservation and recycling are buzzwords in our household especially with the upcoming BBC series all about waste currently being filmed on our street. The arrival of the ‘The Great Big Book of Green‘ by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith could not have come at a better time and it  is proving to be an incredibly important addition to our library.

 

The book is  packed with ideas to encourage children to keep our planet safe. There are colourful, thought provoking illustrations along with detailed information about a range of issues from what we need to sustain life on Earth to how the things we take for granted are running out. There is a brilliant glossary of useful words at the back of the book as well as an extensive list of useful websites where children can continue their research.

 

The action plans in the book include saving water, saving energy, recycling, repairing, growing food, cooking fresh food, saving on packaging and thinking of new inventions. My children have asked lots of questions since reading the book which is a sure sign that the text has resonated with them.

My 10 year old has found ‘The Great Big Book of Green’ very inspirational and he has been thinking of lots of ways to save energy around the house. The book is suitable for younger children too – my 5 year old adores the illustrations and will spend extended periods of time carefully inspecting each image.

This book highlights the importance of keeping the planet beautiful for future generations  and what could be a more important message than that for our children?

                                                                                                 Adventures in Homeschool

 

The Great Big Book of Feelings

> reviews

The huge success of The Great Big Book of Familes encouraged Ros and me to develop one aspect of it into a whole book. It is fairly common to find a children’s book focussing on one emotion but we wanted to explore the whole gamut. Pre-publication in March 2013 it had already scooped up 14 foreign editions.


Published by Frances Lincoln (2012) Buy from Amazon
Published by Dial in the USA (2011)

I almost approached this book out of a sense of duty. You know how some books appear to be so ‘worthy’?  I thought that The Great Big Book of Feelings might be one of those. It’s not.

Instead Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith have come up with something really beautiful. Put simply, it’s a book that describes feelings, and as such I reckon would work quite well for aspie children (perhaps even older people) who need to learn what faces look like for different emotions.

But that’s not why I think it’s so great. It seems so full of life, somehow. (Except for the page about bereavement, which actually had me in tears within seconds. That’s how powerful the combination of Ros’s illustrations and Mary’s words is.)

Right, I will turn the page over and leave the ‘biggest rain cloud ever.’

It’s almost strange that you can get away with a book that just lists feelings, but it seems as if Mary has found every feeling you’d want, and Ros has drawn the loveliest pictures. I know that she always does, but still feel I must point it out.

(Have to admit that the Swedish proverb had me stumped. Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention that day.)

And I have never been scared of knees. Thought you’d want to know…

 

                                                                                                                                                                Bookwitch

Spread by spread, this warm-hearted and entertaining picture book explores a whole range of different feelings and emotions that children might experience - from loneliness and fear to silliness and happiness - in both family and school settings. ..... This is a book which could be particularly useful for children who struggle with understanding or dealing with human behaviour and emotions, but also of course has enormous universal appeal.

​Like the award-winning The Great Big Book of Families, the lively illustrations in this book represent a true celebration of diversity. As well as being wonderfully ethnically diverse, the inclusive cast features children with wheelchairs and walkers and glasses for visual impairments such as Amblyopia. Asquith’s inclusive approach is casual, convincing and never contrived.

This thoughtful, engaging and inclusive book is ideal for primary schools and libraries, as well as for reading at home.

BookTrust

 

Happy, Lonely, Interested, Worried, Jealous – in words and pictures this book wittily and sympathetically explores the feelings common to all and some of the reasons for them. With imaginative and seemingly endless variety, Ros Asquith’s illustrations convey how people look while experiencing different emotions while Mary Hoffman’s text provides a thoughtful commentary on the feelings that might lie behind the looks. Perfect for children to absorb on their own, this is also a useful as a spur to discussion.

Julia Eccleshare, LoveReading4Kids

"How are you feeling today?" A difficult question for children to answer - but one that this book will help them to respond to. The book opens with the question: "How are you feeling today?" Each double page looks at one of a range of feelings - there's happy and sad; bored and excited and there is a range within each feeling.The last page is about Feeling Better because sharing and talking about feelings helps us to feel better and it ends the book on a positive note.Lots of different children grace the pages of the book; there are elements of humour - and look out for the cat; how's he feeling? He gives an opportunity for more discussion. Sensitive and thought-provoking.

ParentsinTouch

The Great Big Book of Families

> reviews

The Great Big Book of Familes, illustrated by Ros Asquith (2010), is a picturebook that straddles the divide between fiction and non-fiction. I couldn't believe this book didn't already exist before I wrote it! I had the idea for it many years ago but thought I could only do it if I could find an artist who felt the same way as I did about how families are shown in children’s books. I really wanted Ros Asquith but didn’t know how she would feel about it. Fortunately Ros understood straightaway what I wanted the book to do. It was a joy to work with her on it and to feel we understood each other. And it does seem to have filled a gap in many countries: it has 18 foreign editions.


Published by Frances Lincoln (2010) Buy from Amazon
and by Dial in the USA

Winner of the Under-7 category of the inaugural School Library Association Information Book Awards 2011.

Shortlisted for the NASEN Awards 2011

Reviews of the paperback:

 

This book is another fantastic collaboration, ready to show young readers that they are normal and everything is fine, and you don't need to be like those others who might seem to be 'the real thing.' (You know, the kind of family the governing class have in mind as the only acceptable life form. Which always makes me wonder what's wrong with single people.)

                                                                                                       Bookwitch 15.3.2015

 

This is a great book to get the whole family talking and thinking about diversity. It’s fun (there’s even a spot-the-cat-on-every-page game), it’s educational, and most of all it’s real. Perfect for school or home, it’s a lovely book full of children who are modern day children, none of whom at the least beat synthetic.

                                                                                                      Bookbag 21.3.2015

 

 

Families have changed dramatically, but you might not know it from picture books. Hoffman and Asquith have brought the notion of families into the 21st century. This book explores the various aspects of families, including who might be in the family (even pets), where they live and work, how they go to school, what they celebrate, and even how emotions are expressed. Each two-page spread examines an aspect in brief text and bright watercolor illustrations, with smaller pictures related to the topic parading around the pages. Families are multi-racial, single parent, and having two dads or moms. Dads may cook and homeschool children while moms work, and some families even struggle with joblessness and homelessness. And yes, traditional families are shown as well. There’s even a bit of a game, with a cat to be found an each spread. This is an extremely valuable title for all elementary schools to celebrate the diversity of our world. Highly Recommended.

Susan A.M. Poulter, Cataloguing Librarian,
Nashville (Tennessee) Public Library
Library Media Connection

A primer on families in words and pictures. "Once upon a time," Hoffman begins, "most families in books looked like this." Asquith's illustration shows Caucasian daddy, mommy, son, daughter, dog and cat, all smiling and standing in a line. In the background is a neat little house with an apple tree, flowers and a white picket fence in front of it. "But in real life, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes." Hoffman breaks it down with two-page spreads covering various topics: Who's in Your Family, Homes, School, Jobs, Holidays, Food ("Some moms and dads are great cooks...Others prefer to buy ready-made meals. Most families get their food from shops or markets. But some people grow their own") and more. Each spread is bordered by dozens of small illustrations; the spread on School, for example, features school books, varieties of writing utensils, paper and other items. The book ends with a challenge to try and make a family tree and a gallery of more than a dozen families, in framed pictures. "What's yours like today?" Hoffman asks. The text is packed with examples, and the same goes for Asquith's energetic watercolors. They celebrate diversity, not by proselytizing but by simply presenting it. For the very young, it will seem like a colorful reference book. A sublimely simple idea, brilliantly executed.

Kirkus

The most joyful and inclusive book of the year! A glorious, multicultural celebration of contemporary family life. Includes lesbian/gay parents, single parents, adopted/fostered children and people from different economic backgrounds. All wrapped up in delightful illustrations and great dollops of humour!

Letterbox Library

With simple language, Hoffman describes almost every imaginable familial configuration, including those with single, same-sex, and foster parents. Asquith expands on the diversity suggested in the text by including mixed-race families and family members with disabilities in her color cartoon illustrations. Hoffman also discusses the differences in jobs, celebrations, clothes, hobbies, and pets found in the various types of homes. As she does so, she alludes to some difficult social issues such as homelessness and unemployment, but suggests that family members help one another through hard times. The artist adds simple clues to make some of these issues accessible to young children. For example, on the page where the parents are unemployed, the child is shown offering a small piggy bank to the concerned mother and father. Although the text is at times serious, the pages are busy and bright, and the format helps the book feel lighthearted and energetic. Todd Parr’s The Family Book (Little, Brown, 2003) covers many of the same basic principles but is written for an even younger audience and uses animals to represent different kinds of families. In this book, children are likely to find representation of their own situations, whatever they may be, and assurance that their family is just right.

Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

School Library Journal

Spin-off

> reviews

> Arising out of The Great Big Books, Welcome to the Family is an exploration of the ways in which children and babies can enter families. And all in ways that ages 4-7 can understand. Welcome to the Family has been shortlisted for the School Library Association (SLA) Information Books award

> By the inclusion dream team of Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith … Perhaps Gove should scrap all his education reform and, instead of donating a King James Bible to every school, he could put a set of the Hoffman/Asquith books in every school library. He could change the world.’ - 9th July Rhino Reads

 

> This chatty, informative book covers all the bases—and then some—in its survey of how families are made. Friendly cartoon illustrations highlight various permutations, from families formed by birth and adoption to foster and blended families. Same-sex and single parents are represented in the art and text; mixed-race families are depicted in the illustrations. After a very brief and age-appropriate explanation of reproduction (“You need two cells to make a baby—one from a man and one from a woman”), the discussion touches on in vitro fertilization and—somewhat misleadingly—sperm donation (“when there are two mommies”) and surrogacy (“when there are two daddies”). ...The tone throughout is light and straightforward, though Hoffman acknowledges that things don’t always “go smoothly” in families. A little teddy bear appears on most spreads, adding its own commentary (“Two moms. I never had one”) or clarifying information. The final page offers this discussion starter: “How did you come into YOUR family?” Nine kids (and one teddy) chime in with speech-bubble answers: “I’ve got two daddies”; “My foster dad was adopted”; “Me and my brothers ALL started in a glass dish.”... this is a useful and accessible treatment.

                                                                                             The Horn Book USA
 

> selected by Marilyn Brocklehurst as a Bookseller Choice for September - describes all combinations of families in different circumstances, offering lots of points for discussion.  Asquith's exuberant illustrations add life to this entertaining book. - 11 July
 -Bookseller
 

Other non-fiction

I wrote sixteen titles in the Animals in the Wild series for Belitha.

Tiger Belitha/Windward (1983) Buy from Amazon

Monkey Belitha/Windward (1983) Buy from Amazon

Panda Belitha/Windward (1983) Buy from Amazon

Elephant Belitha/Windward (1983) Buy from Amazon

Gorilla Belitha/Windward (1985) Buy from Amazon

Lion Belitha/Windward (1985) Buy from Amazon

Zebra Belitha/Windward (1985) Buy from Amazon

Hippo Belitha/Windward (1985) Buy from Amazon

Snake Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Bear Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Wild Cat Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Giraffe Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Wild Dog Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Seal Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Antelope Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

Bird of Prey Belitha/Windward (1986) Buy from Amazon

I loved writing this book, which took my to Egypt and the wonders of the Cairo museum and the temples of the Nile. One day I will go back.

​Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Frances Lincoln (2003) Buy from Amazon