Cyril Squirrel asks lots of questions, but there's one thing that really puzzles Cyril...
"What is love? Can I find it? Keep it? Do I need it?"
With a notebook and a map, Cyril embarks on a quest to find out about love.
"Gone away to find out what love is. Back soon."
Helping children to learn about the ways that love can look, sound or feel, this heart-warming picture book shows some of the many different forms love, friendship and kindness take. Suitable for all children aged 2-6, especially those who may have confused ideas about love, Cyril's adventure includes guidance for adults on how the book can be read with children.
I reviewed this with a colleague and we agreed that Jane Evans manages to convey and explain a complex issue 'Love' in an understandable and accessible way. We particularly like that there were other messages contained within the text which are useful concepts for children to recognise. For example, the issue of consent is raised in a gentle, thoughtful, way. When one character offers Cyril the Squirrel a cuddle when he is feeling lonely he reminds him that"It's fine to say 'no thank you'". This is a very important lesson for children to learn. When Cyril encounters some negative feelings, through the naughty fox for example, he is encouraged to explore them, think about them and take appropriate action. He is not seen to just accept them or dismiss them. At the end of each page there are useful prompts for teacher to help them extend children's thinking and challenge their preconceptions. These useful discussion points, in the context of the story, make for a very safe way of talking about some potentially difficult issues.
The different characters in the story and the different experiences they encounter encourage the main character (and by association the children hearing the story) to be empathetic and think about of the feelings of others. This is a book to read alongside a trusted adult. It would work well as a conversation starter in a small group or with individuals. We also like that the pictures (drawn by Izzy Bean) 'hold up' as a story in their own right. A child with insufficient reading skills to tackle the text of the story would be able to read the pictures and benefit from a complete story (albeit one at a different level to which the text story brings). Simple eye spy prompts throughout the story encourage engagement and involvement in the story for all children.
Edited by Rebecca