Amelie and Nanette: Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties by Sophie Tilley
Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408836637
Amelie and Nanette are very excited. Nanette has a brand new pair of shoes, red and shiny with the prettiest bows. She was just about to give up looking for new shoes when she spotted them on the highest shelf. And Amelie had something new too - a party dress with roses and ribbons. So they decide to have a New Shoes and New Dress Picnic Party. So they packed up a yummy picnic and a blanket, umbrella, sunhats, sunglasses and towels (in case they went paddling) got dressed in their new clothes with extra petticoats, bangles and necklaces. Then they carried everything over the fence into the meadow to their favourite tree by the stream. It was their own secret hideaway.
Their new clothes make them feel like dancing and singing and spinning until they fell down giddy and giggling. It is time for the picnic - but what's a picnic without flowers? So Amelie goes off to pick some while Nanette goes to the stream to get water and disaster strikes.
This is one of those traditional, feel-good stories about carefree kids who are best friends, sharing everything. Both the text and the illustrations have an olde-worlde feel about them that takes the reader back to a slower, simpler, safer world where two young girls can pack a picnic, go over the fence and have fun without a care in the world. And you just know that there will be a happy ending. This is an ideal series for introducing young children to the concept of a continuing collection of stories with the same characters, an important element of developing early literacy skills. Not only does it allow them to 'dive right into the story' because they already know who these characters are and what they're like but that in itself makes them think back and bring that information to the present situation. "What do I already know about Amelie and Nanette that will help me enjoy this story?" is part of that ability to transfer known knowledge to new situations. It helps them predict what might happen based on what they already know and well-developed characters like Amelie and Nanette become favourite friends, reinforcing the understanding that books and reading are friendly, fun, perhaps even a solace.