Gold Star Awards
Little Parachutes have awarded Squishy Sand a Gold Star for the highest quality
and most helpful picture- book in their library.
"This engaging picture book features Leigh, a disabled child who uses a wheelchair. It highlights some of the everyday obstacles that wheelchair users have to cope with. A great choice for any child, reinforcing the importance of empathy, resilience, teamwork, kindness and creative thinking.
Author Charlene McIver has created a story that retains its light-heartedness and sense of fun while at the same time delivering helpful and comforting messages. Leigh’s reliance on his friends is never understated, but he’s portrayed as being extremely capable (the story opens with a lovely double page spread showing Tara and Cosmo trailing behind him as he speeds along the road). Illustrator Caroline Keys
has ably and naturally captured the moods and actions of the children, using beautiful delicate pencil drawings washed with water colour."
Review by: Claire Ward-Dutton (November, 2020)
Founder, Little Parachutes
Literary Titan Review "The Mysterious Pool", July, 2021 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Mysterious Pool by Charlene McIver is a beautifully illustrated and charismatic children’s book that is sure to be beloved by any child who reads it. The characters are all lively and maintain the silliness and wonder that children often relate to. Furthermore, the inclusion of a disabled character inspired by the author’s son teaches kids to accept everyone and adults will appreciate the memory of such a brave individual. The story begins when Leigh, Tara, and Cosmo find that a previously undisturbed area is being developed which could bring harm to the organisms living there, but one of their ancestors from long ago fashioned an elixir that could save the day if they can decode a mysterious set of symbols and find it.
This is a great book for kids because it is both entertaining and educational. While kids can experience the adventure of the three children as though they are in the middle of the actions, they also learn an important lesson about environmentalism and the importance of a balanced ecosystem. The whole theme of the book relates to human effects on the environment and how kids can learn to respect Mother Earth and their surroundings. The adventure is fast moving and has lots of quirky elements but is not too mature or grotesque for children. It also has a lot of humorous moments to bring a smile or laugh to a kid such as when Cosmo starts barking.
The Mysterious Pool is a wonderful children’s book that captures the literal way children may communicate and the boundlessness of their imagination in the way they see their world. The book is full of both whimsy and pieces of wisdom that children can carry into their further education, and possibly it might spark an interest in them just as it did in the characters of the book. The story is super cute with talking animals and neat illustrations and details such as the pictures of the symbols.
This is such an adorable and inspiring book that any child will surely love and I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: Thomas Anderson, Editor In Chief Literary Titan
The Children's Book Review "Squishy Sand": December 2020.
Children’s literature and diversity experts are unequivocal about the need for more children’s books to portray disability in a positive light. It is important for children with disabilities to see themselves reflected in the literature they read, and for children without disabilities to internalize positive, affirmative images. However, many existing portrayals fall into the trap of providing simplified stereotypes of disability or of offering negative portrayals that emphasize differences, elicit pity, and disempower disabled characters. That is why it is so refreshing to come across a book like Squishy Sand, which offers an honest, accurate, positive depiction of disability in a story that focuses on empowerment and friendship. Without denying or ignoring the unique fears and challenges that Leigh faces, Squishy Sand manages to be a book that is more about the shared experiences of friendship and determination than about disability. It is a simple, heartwarming, and positive story.
Bianca Schulze, founder of The Children’s Book Review