*For Welsh review see language toggle switch*
(suggested) reading age: 5+
(suggested) interest age: 2-5
Know a child going through the terrible two’s? If so, read on!
I don’t remember how, but I came across this book recently and thought it was a very good one – especially if you're the parents of a toddler who is prone to temper tantrums from time to time. (so pretty much all toddlers then!)
Sara the cat is having a very bad day. It starts with a problem putting on her socks and gradually things go from bad to worse and the storm clouds soon take over. Before long, Sara has reached the end of her tether and proceeds to unleash the biggest STRANC ever!
Many parents of young children will be very familiar with this situation. Apparently, when I was little, I had an almighty tantrum on the floor in Marks & Spencer. I bet Mam wished the earth had swallowed her on the spot! *how embarrassing! *
I'm sure it's fair to say that every toddler goes through this at one point or another. It's part of growing up whilst they learn to manage and make sense of their emotions. To be honest, it's not just kids either – I think we’re all guilty of waking up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes. Some days, we’re just in a funk – there doesn’t have to be a reason!
For parents, this is a book that will surely be an useful tool when discussing emotions and feelings with young children. I think the metaphor of the stranc as some kind of monster is an effective one. I like the idea of control and ownership over the 'stranc' - if you created it then you can control it too and make it disappear.
On the last page, we see a number of situations that could potentially cause a meltdown. There’s an opportunity for discussion here, as children look for the triggers that can turn a good day sour.
Hopefully, whilst reading through the book, children will be able to recognise the feelings, and to try to calm themselves down before everything kicks off. Learning to manage emotions does take time, though, and not even adults manage it 100% of the time.
As I’m currently doing research on bilingual books and mixing languages, I always keep an eye out for new books like this. This one came to my attention because of the format.
Bilingual books are extremely popular, especially with non-Welsh speaking parents or learners keen to support their children's Welsh reading. But they can also be controversial. Not everyone is so keen on them, saying that they detract from the Welsh or confuse readers with two languages on every page. Total rubbish in my opinion.
The format of this book makes that argument invalid, because you get the best of both worlds here. At first glance, it looks like a Welsh book, but the text is also available in English for those who want it.
Instead of putting the Welsh and English text opposite each other, like you normally see, the English adaptation is available as a fold out which can be used alongside the main text. No more flicking back and forth to the back every minute, and no complaining that there's too much text on the pages. There's even a set of discussion questions to help hold a conversation about the content of the book too —handy! To me, it feels like the perfect compromise – it looks like a Welsh book, but it offers bilingual support for those who need it.
I wonder if publishing more books like this (with the English adaptation available as an appendix) would help broaden the appeal of original Welsh-language books? I think publishing books like this makes Welsh language books more accessible to a wider audience, and that has to be a good thing, don't you think?
I think this is a simple but extremely effective approach, and I'd like to see more publishers follow Atebol by publishing more linguistically ‘flexible’ books.