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Boosting Confidence and Self Esteem

Milton's Secret
by Eckhart Tolle and Robert S Friedman
(Hampton Roads)
Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now is a best-selling book for adults that has helped many people stop worrying about the past and the future and really enjoy the present. Now he and his co-author have produced this book to introduce the same concepts to children.
    Milton is a happy, cheerful boy until Carter starts to bully him. Suddenly Milton is worried all the time, thinking about what happened in the past and what might happen in the future. But Grandad helps him see that 'then' and 'when' are in his head and, once Milton learns how to be in the Now, he finds he's not scared any more. The story works well without being preachy and the illustrations bring the characters alive, helping the reader identify with Milton and his fears.
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I’m Number One
by Michael Rosen and Bob Graham
(Walker Books)
Wind-up toy soldier A-One gets what he wants by bossing and bullying the other toys and, after a bout of name calling, he is fully wound and sporting Maddy’s hat, Sally’s rucksack and Sid’s scarf. He’s feeling very superior, but a wind-up toy cannot afford to be too complacent - as he discovers when the trio confront his bullying tactics with some whispering, fun-poking and firmness of their own. How can his self-esteem be restored?
   Starting and finishing with the end papers, Bob Graham’s deliciously detailed illustrations show how the drama unfolds during the course of the toys' owner’s day at school.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Martha in the Middle
by Jan Fearnley
(Walker Books)
Like many middle children, Martha lacked self esteem. No one thought she was a big, sensible grown-up girl like her sister and no one thought she was cutesy-wootsey like her baby brother. So she runs away to the bottom of the garden, sure that no one will notice her because being the middle doesn't matter. But a clever frog makes her realise she's wrong by using flowers, fruit and ripples to show her that often the middle is the very best place of all. An enjoyable picture book for middle children and others.
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A Hug for Humphrey
by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Tim Warnes
(Little Tiger Press)
Humphrey feels like a failure. He doesn't know what kind of toy he is and he can't do anything the other toys can do. Then Milly the Mouse has an accident, and Humphrey discovers that his talent is for hugging. A funny, reassuring picture book with the added bonus of being able to feel Humphrey's soft, stripey jumper on every page.
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by Jez Alborough
(Walker Books)
Bobo is a small, small chimp in a jungle where, despite his efforts and those of his friends, everyone else seems taller than him. But then thanks to those same friends, Bobo comes to see that he is just the perfect size - Bobo size.
Once again Jez Alborough lets his pictures do the talking. Using the pages as a stage he sets Bobo and his juvenile companions free from their lines and through their gestures and expressions they perform a mime to give a virtuoso exposition of the picture book storyteller’s art
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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An Otter’s First Swim
by Adrienne Kennaway
While living in Malaysia, the author rescued a baby otter from a market stall and cared for it as it grew and flourished. Her experiences inspired this information story of an otter cub’s apprehension at the prospect of making his first plunge into the cold water that his brother and sister seem to be enjoying so much. The final resolution is a happy, albeit forced one. The feelings the young otter has about something his siblings seemingly find so easy and enjoyable once they’ve taken the plunge will be familiar to all who have held themselves back from something they are expected to take to or do with ease.
Kennaway’s paintings are beautiful and realistic and there is a final factual, double page spread to help answer any questions that might crop up. A lovely story to share with under sevens.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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by Anik McGrory
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Kidigo, whose name means little in Kiswahili, is a very small elephant living in a vast world. The other elephants help him eat, travel and bath but help is not what Kidigo wants. He wants to find an animal as small as himself, so off he goes to look. Having tried the woodlands, river and plains in vain, he decides to abandon search and depend only on himself. It’s then that he comes upon some creatures smaller than he’d imagined and he is able to help them. What’s more, thanks to them he returns home and comes to an important realisation about himself.
The lovely water colour illustrations convey something of the vastness of the African landscapes and as well as the world in miniature seen from Kidogo’s viewpoint in this delightful tale about discovering one’s place in the world.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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One Clever Creature
by Joseph Ellis, illustrated by Christyan Fox
‘All around the world, animals do AMAZING things; things like swimming, flying, digging deep or jumping high. But what about painting pictures, giving hugs, holding hands, waving, jumping rope, playing hide and seek, singing a song, counting to three or brushing teeth before bed? There’s one clever creature that can do all of these and more. Just who might that be?
With jolly, bright illustrations to make you laugh, this is a fun way to celebrate the unique abilities of every child.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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I’m Special, I’m Me!
by Ann Meek, illustrated by Sarah Massini
Little Tiger Press
Thanks to his mum and a mirror, Milo, who is too weak to be king of the jungle, too short to be a pirate captain, too plain to be a prince and too short-sighted to be an astronaut, is helped to realise that with imagination, he can be anything he wants to be.
An inspirational story for any child whose self- esteem needs a boost. Sarah Massini’s illustrations have an animated, play figure-like appeal and keep the mood upbeat despite Milo’s initial rejections.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Cold Paws, Warm Heart
by Madeleine Floyd
(Walker Books)
Cold Paws the polar bear feels cold on the inside; his only company is a silver flute, which he plays to distance himself from his loneliness. Then one day a little girl, Hannah hears his music and its beauty calls to her. She travels across snowy landscapes, drawn by the magical music, towards an enormous iceberg and there she comes face to face with the huge flute-playing bear. From then on, thanks to the warmth Hannah generates, Cold Paws’ cold feeling starts to get smaller and smaller leaving in its place a warm glow.
Softness of line and focus draw the reader into the harsh terrain and despite its chilly setting, this is a truly heart-warming tale of the power of love and friendship.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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