Wished I’d read this as a kid: Ish

Getting the balance right between reading and writing is always a bit of a challenge. There’s always so much waiting to be read, and every now and then I find that I need to put down my pen and just read like crazy.

The last couple of weeks have been like that, and although I’ve been enjoying lots of great books, I’ve not paused to share them with you – yet. But this week I’ll put that right. Each day this week, I’ll post a new book review. I hope it’ll give you a bit of an idea of what my last couple of weeks have contained, it’s been a lovely mix of kids books and novels. A real mixed bag, just the way I like it.

To start with, I wanted to share with you a fabulous picture book that I’ve recently discovered, a book that I very much wish I had read as a kid. It’s Peter H. Reynolds’ Ish.

Peter’s book has been around for a few years now (it was published in 2005), but I’d not heard of it until my friend Yolande mentioned it in passing on Facebook, when I described my house as clean-ish. I was quietly admonishing myself for not being quite tidy enough, as I’m sure we’re all want to do in one way or another from time to time.

And there in lies the main message of Ish:

Ramon loves to draw, especially when he learns that he doesn’t have to worry about getting it “just right”

Ramon, after being teased by his big brother, almost hangs up his brushes for good. That is, until his little sister shows him much she appreciates his pictures – even if they aren’t quite perfect.

I love this idea. I wonder how many of us can remember feeling discouraged as we tried to get that picture perfect… I know I certainly struggled with that as a child, and I’ve seen my kids in turn get frustrated when their person, or house, or car didn’t come out on the page quite the way that they’d hoped. Encouraging them to let go of expectation and be freely creative can be pretty tricky but is so important to ensure that they learn to express themselves as they get older.

Peter’s book expresses beautifully the wonder in being ish-ish:

“Ramon felt light and energised. Thinking ish-ly allowed his ideas to flow freely. He began to draw what he felt – loose lines. quickly springing out. Without worry.”

And it makes me think about the amount of times that I’ve known myself and others to be paralysed by the need to produce something perfectly. It really is only once we let go of that tension and anxiety that we can move forward, be it with art or work or the everyday. That’s something that I hope to teach my kids, and I’m thankful that books like Ish will help me to do that.

To make the book all the more enticing, Reynolds is an incredible illustrator. His scenes are simple and colourful, carefree and inviting, and Ramon is the cutest little character around.

I’m looking forward to checking out some other titles by Peter, and if you’re interested in seeing what else he’s done, maybe pop over to his website and take a look.

I’d highly recommend this lovely little book, for kids and grown-ups alike.


Tomorrow, I’ll review Jennifer Paynter’s Mary Bennet (Penguin). If you love Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love Jennifer’s revisit.


Buy your own copy of Ish at the TBYL Store for only $16.95

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