Brilliantly bonkers and packed full of laugh-out-loud moments but yet heartfelt and sincere, Bauble, Me and the Family Tree celebrates the intricacies and diversity of family life. Fans of Jenny Pearson’s ‘The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates’ will absolutely love this.
Every so often a book comes along that you are absolutely unable to put down – this is one of them. I was so enthralled by the story, I didn’t want it to end!
This is not a Christmas book per-se, as most of the story takes place in August, however there are lots of little Christmas-related references throughout. Jenny Moore’s witty chapter titles are so clever and skilfully knit together the Christmas theme and the main plot-line with belters like ‘I’ll be Holmes for Christmas,’ ‘Santa Baby’ and ‘I’m dreaming of a fight Christmas.’ The story finally reaches it’s heart-warming climax on Christmas Day.
The innocence of childhood Is portrayed so wonderfully in the story – how Noel and particularly Bauble are constantly putting two and two together and coming up with 5, in order to rationalise and explain what they think is going on with their mum (and dad). As an adult reader, I was of course eventually able to see what the children couldn’t but it would be interesting reading this with a class and seeing at what point they would cotton on or if the story would need some gentle un-picking for them.
I am absolutely convinced that Year 6 pupils would absolutely love this book and would be able to identify with Noel. He’s great at snot jokes, biscuit jokes and sometimes even combines the two – Snotolate Digestive anyone? And if it’s meat product clothing you’re after, say a pork-chop tie, chicken nugget cuff links or burger ear-muffs he’s your man. But Noel also challenges the ‘traditional’ nuclear family make-up and gives importance to all the diverse and unique families out there.
I actually winced at the ‘fun’ family tree activity that Mrs Whichey Noel’s class teacher doles out in such an insensitive way. It affirmed to me how the topic of family must be approached with such care in the classroom and without preconceived, stereotypical ideas. Knowing the families we teach is so important to avoid the feelings of discomfort that Noel felt in that lesson.
Many children will themselves experience a parent starting a new relationship, the loss of a parent, or perhaps not having a relationship with biological parent and these are explored in a sensitive and accessible way. The two uncle Mikes (mum’s brother and his partner – also called Mike!) play such a pivotal role in Noel’s life and give a nod to all the wonderful families with same-sex couples at their hearts .
I could go on and on about this story as I enjoyed it so much but if I say too much more I am in danger of spoiling it for you. So put quite simply (as Noel would say…)
‘Blistering banana skins times one hundred!’
I cannot recommend this book enough.