It's still school holidays here in Canberra and the weather has been cold, wet and windy. Perfect weather for staying indoors and reading. One of the books on our HUGE reading pile is Don't Think About Purple Elephants by Susan Whelan and illustrated by Gwynneth Jones.
I have been following Susan for quite a while via her bookish blog, social media and of course Kids Book Review, which she is the managing editor. I was super excited to find out that she was having her first picture book published. So you can imagine how much I have been looking forward to reading it and I was certainly not disappointed. It is utterly fabulous!
Sophie's family try to give her suggestions for getting to sleep but nothing seems to help. That is until her mum tells her not to think about purple elephants. Of course, when you're told not to think about something, that seems to be all you could think about and it's not long before Sophie is thinking about purple elephants getting up to all sorts of mischief.
Don't Think About Purple Elephants is a beautiful and sensitive picture book about finding a way to ease a little girl's worries. It provides a wonderful opportunity for children and parents to explore the concept of worry together. Both my children are very familiar with the challenges of anxiety. While their worries do not appear at bedtime like Sophie's do, they are present throughout the day and those worries can have a big impact on our day. We use a variety of techniques to support them through their worries and we all agreed that not thinking about purple elephants was another fun strategy to add to our repertoire.
The illustrations by Gwynneth Jones are vibrant and help to bring this beautiful story to life. I love the subtle change to black and white when portraying Sophie's worries. The little details make the illustrations so special and if you look closely you will discover Sophie's cat (or perhaps just a paw or tail) throughout the story. Oh and the endpapers are lovely too!
After reading the book, we had some fun matching animals with crazy colours. James, as predictable as always, come up with a Green Moose (his favourite colour and favourite animal). Emily couldn't decided between her two favourite colours, pink and purple, so she combined them to come up with a pink with purple spotted puppy dog.
Title: Don't Think About Purple Elephants
Author: Susan Whelan
Illustrator: Gwynneth Jones
Publisher: EK Books
Publication Date: April 2014
Of course we had to make our own purple elephants, so that we had something not to think about.
I managed to find some great cardboard elephant shapes from a local craft store and I was surprised to find that I actually had some purple fabric in my scrap bag, so I laid them out as a simple invitation to create for the kids on a cold and blustery day.
Emily preferred to paint her elephants!
We used their fabulous purple elephants and a photocopy of the book cover to put up on the wall as part of a new display feature we are creating in our study (which has now been renamed the library).