Review Blog

Mar 08 2016

Hattie helps out by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell

cover image

Ill. by Freya Blackwood. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781743435434
(Ages: 3-7) Highly recommended. The first things that jump out of Hattie Helps Out are the distinctive and wonderful illustrations of Freya Blackwood. However, there is much more to commend this book for than just aesthetics. Children and parents alike will be able to relate to its warm, gentle and humourous tale. The house is a mess, there is washing piled up everywhere, the baby is asleep in the washing basket, mum is exhausted and there are lots of jobs to get done before Dad's birthday party tonight. Lucky mum has Hattie to help out. She manages to make place cards and help mum bake the cake before it is time for her afternoon rest. Mama still has lots to do but Hattie convinces her to lie down with her for a little while ('Get right in, so we can snuggle up', 'I told you it would be nice. Just you and me'). Hattie closes her eyes, but sleep doesn't come . . . Mama however is sound asleep so Hattie decides to get up and finish all the jobs that need to be done for the party. Needless to say, Hattie's heart is in the right place but sticky-taping the biscuits together and decorating the toilet bowl with flowers wasn't quite what Mama had in mind! When everyone arrives Daddy is most surprised and when Mama wakes she is so grateful for Hattie's help ('What would I have done without my little girl?')
While this portrays a busy day in Hattie's house there is a very calm and gentle feel to the story and everything is perfect because they are all together, despite the messy house. Hattie's character and dialogue is funny ('I don't have time for a crying baby today . . . You'll have to sit quietly and wear your party hat') but believable of children her age who often say the most extraordinary things!
Nicole Nelson

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