Book Review - Elephants in the Custard
As you may recall, we like to do a little book review every now and again. This time it’s the turn of Elephants in the Custard by Samuel Langley-Swain and Jemma Banks. This story uses a play on the ‘elephant in the room’ metaphor and explains how important it is to share your worries with your family. Although this book doesn’t deal directly with grief, worrying comes hand in hand with bereavement. We know for certain that there will be a number of worries that our niece and nephew will have over the years.
The book starts with a little boy called Sol who wants to share a story about a family dinner time he experienced. When dessert arrives, he starts to feel flustered because he notices elephants in his custard. He wants to tell someone about this and looks around the table for someone to tell. He feels like he can’t tell some of his family members because they’re too busy, too sad, too grumpy, too angry, too mad, and even having too much fun, to help him.
As we were reading these pages, it really hit a chord. How much of what we display as adults do the kids take in? And how does that affect them? We really want our niece and nephew to always feel like they can talk to us about absolutely anything. But when we are getting in a tizz about the washing up, are we putting up a barrier?
Sol then spots his Granny, he takes a deep breath, counts to five and tells her all about the elephants in his custard. As expected, Granny helps Sol to turn his worries into happiness, which results in Sol realising that telling someone else about elephants stopped him feeling flustered. The family then place an emphasis on talking about how they feel every dinner time. Again this resonated with us. We very, very rarely get to just sit down and spend time together as a family. We both work full time and our evenings are full of football, trampolining, swimming, gymnastics and endless mounds of homework. We now want to make a conscious effort to make time for each other without any other distractions more regularly.
As soon as the book arrived, we snuggled on the sofa and read it all together. Our niece and nephew found it hilarious that there were elephants in the custard and really enjoyed the whole story. Once we had finished reading, a natural conversation occurred around talking about our worries. We spoke about what we would do if we were worried and who we would tell this to. Nephew responded to this by saying that he wouldn’t tell anyone if he was worried. When we asked him why, he said because he just wouldn’t want to. This book gave us the perfect opportunity to explain to him that he can always talk to us and, just like Sol, doing this might make him feel a lot better. He then agreed that if he was worried he would talk to Uncle. We are so thankful for this book for allowing that conversation to happen.
This book is brilliant, not only for children who have been bereaved, but for any child who may be worrying about anything at all. If you like the sound of this book, head over to www.owletpress.com to order your copy in time for Christmas.