When reviewing children’s books here on Being Mrs C I’ve written so many times about the important role I believe books have in helping to explain situations and behaviours to our children. Conversations about difficult subjects can be opened up by reading a related book and with Little Miss C starting school properly this year I’ve found so many different books helpful in encouraging our chat and play. Being in a class with some of her old pre-school year friends (but not all of them) along with some children who are new to the school means there’s actually a fair bit of change in her friendships too. On Sudden Hill actually really helped me to talk to her about one specific friendship dynamic that I hadn’t really thought about before.
Birt and Etho are best friends and do everything together, especially climbing up Sudden Hill and taking their cardboard boxes with them. These boxes are pirate ships, castles and spaceships depending on what game they are playing at the time, but the one thing that doesn’t change is the boys’ friendship. Then, one Monday morning, a little boy called Shu comes up Sudden Hill with his own cardboard box. Etho welcomes him to their group and the three of them start to play together. But Birt feels strange. It’s not the same as when it was just him and Etho playing together. He feels angry and one evening destroys his cardboard box. He doesn’t go up Sudden Hill any more. Shu and Etho keep calling round for Birt but he hides from them. He misses Etho though. And his misses playing in a cardboard box on Sudden Hill.
Shu and Etho don’t give up on Birt though and one day there is a knock on his door followed by Shu telling him that they’ve made something for him and he should come outside. When his inquisitive nature gets the better of him and he does step outside Birt finds the most amazing cardboard box creation that his friends have made for him. Quickly the three boys race up Sudden Hill together with their boxes and their imaginative games begin again. Etho realises that he does like Shu. He does like the three of them playing together on Sudden Hill with their cardboard boxes. Their rhythm may now be different, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as good in any way.
Helping children to realise that just because they are friends with one child doesn’t mean they can’t be friends with anyone else, or can’t welcome anyone else into their games is actually a really valuable lesson to learn. Showing them Shu’s kindness will hopefully help them to demonstrate this themselves and trying to understand Birt’s emotions following Shu’s arrival may also help them to understand their own emotions too. Friendship can be a tricky business, even when you’re an adult. When you’re a young child and it’s your first time making friends away from your parents it can be mind-bogglingly tricky to negotiate. Hopefully On Sudden Hill will help somewhat.
It really is a beautiful book – illustrated by Benji Davies who also wrote The Storm Whale which we reviewed last year – and I love the way that what could be such a complicated element of friendship has been covered so wonderfully in story form. I am now under strict instructions though that we need to find some more big cardboard boxes so Little Miss C can have more adventures with her friends in them though!
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of On Sudden Hill for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links.