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Bob and Flo: The Missing Bucket, by Rebecca Ashdown was given to me by Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I have to be brutally honest and say that at first I really didn’t think much to this picture book. It is, on the surface, a simple story about two small penguins who are learning to share. The illustrations are delightful, but the story was a little bit blah.

Then I read it again to my son, and we chatted about it, and I started to fall slightly in love with it.

It tells the story of Flo’s first day at nursery. She arrives with her lunch (fish) in a splendid red bucket, which Bob, who is already at nursery, really takes a shine to. When Flo goes to get her lunch, she finds her fish scattered all over the floor, and shortly afterwards, Bob appears wearing an interesting hat in the shape of a bucket.

All day long, Bob pops up with the bucket in various play scenarios, and Flo calmly goes about her day without once shouting at Bob for pinching her bucket and scattering her lunch on the floor.

I love this very straight faced humour that runs through the whole, simple story. There is no in your face moral, there is no didactic finger wagging. It has a knowing wisdom beyond its years, which the simple text and the beautifully funny illustrations really bring to the fore.

The space that the simple narrative frees up, actually allows you to explore more than the idea of sharing with children. You can talk about jokes with them. You can talk about how one object can be a springboard to lots of different play scenarios. You can talk about ethics if you really want to, as in, was Bob right to just pinch Flo’s bucket, and wouldn’t it be better to ask in those situations etc.

Or you can just enjoy the story as it is. As such it works well for very, very young children, and will stand being read as they grow, and even used in nursery and Early Years classes for a whole variety of topics.

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