No! Never! by Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman
Illus. by Mel Pearce. Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780734418906.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. The face on the front cover says it all: a defiant young child saying, 'no, never' will recall tantrums such as this in most families, as parents, siblings and teachers alike cringe with the remembrance of such unacceptable behaviour. Georgie always has something better to do when Mum calls her to go for a walk, or when dinner is on the table, or she is asked to tidy her room. 'No! Never!' is a constant ring on every page as the child refuses to comply with the wishes of her parents. She refuses to listen to a story before bedtime, ignores the ducks in the bathwater, is even rude to Grandma. She loves this game and thinks it really clever to answer back with the same words. That is, until the tables are turned on Georgie.
When a friend comes around to ask her out to play, Mum replies 'No! Never!', when Dad brings home a new book and Georgie wants to hear it, he replies, 'No! Never!' When her neighbour comes in with a brand new puppy, asking Georgie to come and play with the dog, her parents say, 'No! Never!'
Georgie begins to realise that perhaps saying no is hurting her, keeping her from her friends, keeping her from her family. She watches as her baby sister is cuddled and eats with their parents, has books read to her, plays in the bath with Mum, and is allowed to go next door to see the puppy. The penny finally drops when Georgie realises how sad she is and tells her family that from now on she will say 'Yes!'
A lovely versified cautionary tale full of the interactions that beset families, revealing a simple and effective course to take when one member refuses to go along with the rest of the family.
The illustrations will charm the readers, revealing the two sides to little Georgie, an aggressive rude child and one more compliant and understanding. I love looking closely at how Pearce shows us what the protagonists are feeling: just a slight downturn of the mouth or wider eyes, sloping eyes, and a tilt of the shoulders tells the reader so much about the characters. A fun read for reader and listener with read a loud very much a necessary prospect for the children to yell out Georgie's repeated phrase to her parents. Themes: Tantrums, Behaviour, Family, Verse.