Collecting sunshine by Rachel Flynn

cover image

Ill. by Tamsin Ainslie. Puffin Books, 2018. ISBN 9780143785187
(age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Seasons, Autumn, Leaves Friends. Mabel and Robert love collecting. They leave home with Mum and their much younger sibling, and a paper bag in which to put all the marvellous things they spy on this wonderful autumn day. The children are dressed for the cold day, boots and jackets keeping them warm. They collect seeds and leaves, berries and flowers, and some sticks, and when it begins to rain, Robert opens up his paper bag to collect some raindrops. They soon learn that this is not a good idea as the water softens the bag so much that their collection falls out of through the sodden bottom of the bag. With no bag, they collect things with their eyes, spying a train and a birdsong, while walking home, they collect a dog's smell and jump in lots of puddles. Once home, they draw what they have collected, jackets and boots put away for another day. A lovely book to remind us all of the great outdoors, of the wonderful things to look at and see, if only in the streets around out homes. The children see lots of other people, other children and animals being walked by their owners: they count out some of the things they see, but after the bag has disintegrated, use their eyes and imaginations to collect things around them.
Perfect illustrations add another dimension to the story as the children's journey is set in a suburban street, the small single fronted cottages with their range of fences and gates, front gardens and occupants offering a contrast to the park and the high rise flats behind the houses. The setting is familiar and small scale, a place where the imagination can roam freely. This is a wonderful promotion of children playing in the great outdoors, of families being together outside, of using their imagination to fill their days, and on each page readers will eagerly search for a budgie and a mouse hidden within the colours of the park.
Fran Knight