Hattie Helps Out
Jane Godwin & Davina Bell
Allen & Unwin, 2016
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Every mother has been there. A toddler, a baby and it’s Dad’s birthday – there’s a party to be prepared, guests coming and the house looks like a toddler and a baby live there.
“You need to help out,” Mama told Hattie.
Firstly, it’s Hattie job to make the place cards for Granny Annie, Uncle Robbie, Great Aunt Susan and Big Cousin Sam. And Baby Lottie (who sleeps a lot.) Mama suggests that Hattie have a sleep too but she says she’s too old for an afternoon nap so together they make the birthday cake. She agrees to a ‘rest’ while it cools down after it comes out of the oven but only if Mama lies down with her. You can guess the rest.
This is a charming gentle story about how Hattie helps her sleeping mama by sticking the biscuits together, putting the berries on the cake and arranging the flowers around the house. Her efforts might not be quite as Mama envisaged because she takes her mother’s words literally but…
Freya Blackwood’s familiar illustrations in their calm and light palette bring the words alive and together this is a story that will delight over and over again. The love just shines off the page as childhood is celebrated in such a joyous way.
Apart from being just a great story to share, it’s also a great starter for lots of talk about family celebrations, how they are celebrated and the things that need to be done. There are personal recounts to make, lists to make and order to be discussed, relationships to be explored (particularly between Hattie and Great Aunt Susan), recipes to write and make, history to be recalled, practical things like setting the table to be practised – the list goes on. You could even start the children’s skills for developing an argument (if they need them) by debating whether Hattie was helpful and having them justify their position with evidence from the story.
Hattie Helps Out is funny, familiar and it will certainly be a favourite.