Before Marianna was even born I announced my intention to build her a library that would help her understand the world around her. Already it includes child atlases, dictionaries, I-Spys, and compendiums of quite interesting trivia. More importantly, it has tomes which teach that most fundamental of lessons: we are all different, and that is not a bad thing.
So when Truth and Tails contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their stories, I knew they would fit right in!
What is Truth & Tails?
There are three people behind Truth & Tails: authors Alice and Ben, and illustrator Phoebe. They wanted to create stories which could explain complex concepts in a straightforward and accessible manner; that were educational without being boring. In their own words:
Truth ...because we believe in being honest with children from the moment that they’re old enough to understand and be inquisitive about the issues that we’re tackling.
Tails ...because each one of our stories is told using loveable, beautifully illustrated animal characters.
Put another way: "Our mission is to use children’s fiction to eliminate prejudice, encourage acceptance and aid understanding by addressing life’s hard-to-deal-with concepts – from social issues to scientific theories – through simple, sensitive and beautiful stories featuring loveable characters."
There are currently three Truth & Tails stories in the series:
This is an absolutely beautiful story about what happens when Molly starts comparing herself to her friends. She isn't clever like Owen the Owl, or pretty like Belinda the Butterfly.
Owen, Belinda, and Daisy the Deer help Molly to see that she has special qualities of her own. Molly realises that this is what makes them all such good friends - their kindness, helpfulness and patience - not what they can do or what they look like.
Molly the Mole is available in paperback for £6.99 or as an ebook for £3.99.
Vincent loves playing with his brothers and sisters, especially when it involves make believe and the dressing up box. But when he's asked why he always wants to dress up as a girl, Vincent realises that even when the others have finished playing pretend - he can't. After talking to his friends and parents, Vincent makes a big decision, and finds a way to live happily ever after.
I love how simply yet sensitively this book introduces big concepts like gender identity. I have been particularly looking for books dealing with trans issues recently, and I really couldn't ask for a better way to spark discussion with Marianna once she gets a little older. (Right now her idea of a discussion is repeating 'Zippy' in an ever more urgent tone 47 times.)
Vincent the Vixen is available in paperback (£6.99) and ebook (£3.99) formats.
Carlos is a lovely vibrant green, but when he plays with the other animals he changes the way he looks so he can fit in. He worries that his friends wouldn't like him otherwise. But by the story's end Carlos has realised that the best way to make friends and be happy is to be himself.
Carlos the Chameleon is available on Amazon, priced at £6.99 for paperback and £3.99 for ebook.
I figured I was going to be, but reading the books just cemented my status as a loud and proud Truth & Tails fan. I love the sweet illustrations; I love the simple, child friendly writing; and I really love that the team aren't afraid to tackle concepts and issues which are usually pushed aside into the 'when you're older' box.
Introducing a topic early normalises it, turns it from an 'issue' into a fact of life, and generally helps children to make better sense of the world around them. I'm looking forward to seeing the future titles in the Truth & Tails series, whatever they may be!
You can check out Truth & Tails for yourself at truthandtails.com, or you can connect with them on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
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