Catherine Anholt

3 years +, Vintage Books, Orchard Books

Good Days, Bad Days

Words by Laurence Anholt

Illustrated by Catherine Anholt

Published by Orchard Books

The bedtime book ritual isn't just about getting your kids off to sleep as fast as possible. For many parents, it is the one guaranteed moment of calm connection they have with their child each day. Whether the day's been like an ad for Perfect Parenting (take that haters!), or more closely resembled a disaster movie, it's your last opportunity to make sense of it - for you and your little one.

Starting with the words "In our house, we have ...", each page of Good Days, Bad Days describes a range of experiences that all of us have: quick days, slow days, away days, happy days, sick days and so on. (It doesn't stop there of course: grumpy, tedious and covered in small Lego blocks are alternative suggestions of mine.) 

More than any other book I know, Good Days, Bad Days prompts conversation about the emotions of the day. If you, or your darling, had a serious meltdown and had to be coaxed into the car (hey, it happens), then you can acknowledge it and process it. Why did it happen? How did it feel? These are really useful conversations to have. Who did we see, where did we go? It's really interesting to see what they remember, hardly ever is it what you do from your adult perspective.

Good Days, Bad Days first came out in 1991 when the authors, husband-and-wife team Catherine and Laurence Anholt, were wrangling their own tribe of three young children. That real everyday experience shows in its beautifully simple concept and deliciously detailed pencil drawings. While the townscape is a little bit English, the issues and circumstances are easily familiar.

"Sad days", for example, shows a funeral for a guinea pig. That's a perfect example of a situation when your child may be struggling with complex emotions, which you may not have been able to pay much attention to during the day. If you've ever stood there with your arms full of groceries while your toddler takes their time examining a daisy or drawing in the dirt, then you will recognise a "slow day".

You don't have to have a book like this to hash over the day with your offspring. In fact, you could just lie in bed with them and talk. But Good Days, Bad Days is a really sweet idea, one that suggests a better way of relating to children: with honest and thoughtful reflection on the trials and tribulations of your shared family life.

Reviewed by Stephen Clark