The Suitcase

Author / Illustrator: Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

This is a simple yet very powerful story that is beautifully told and emotive. Published by Nosy Crow, May 2019, it was an invaluable addition to the collection of books we used in school for Refugee week and will be frequently revisited for assemblies, PSHCE lessons and bedtime reads at home.

An unusual creature arrives in a new place and is met with suspicion and mistrust by those he first encounters – each of whom has a different perspective and suggestion for what they should do. Thankfully, they eventually realise kindness is the way and their thoughtful gesture brings the group together.

I really like the way this story addresses so many complex emotions and current social issues in such a straight-forward and heart-warming way. Young children will engage with the dilemma of right vs wrong, fear of difference and what they would do in the same situation. (My three-year-old was instantly hooked and very vocal with his opinions about each creature and what they were suggesting.) There are also openings for discussion about peer pressure, belonging, the concept of home and why sometimes people don’t respond with kindness.

Striking use of colour and a distinctive style make the illustrations impactful yet simple – which mirrors the text well. There are a couple of really emotive double-page spreads (one wordless that leads into a delightful and ‘tug-at-your-heart-strings’ twist) that contrast well with the blank background of most pages. This is effective in enabling the reader to locate the story wherever they need.

As with many great picture books, this will leave you with more questions than answers… Where has the stranger come from? Why did he leave? Who has he left behind? How is he feeling? And so will make a great addition to shelves for assemblies, whole class story time, PSHCE lessons and bedtime reading at home.

You can also hear the story read aloud, for free, by scanning the QR code on the inside, front cover with your phone.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for a copy of this lovely book in return for an honest review.


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