So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury – Book Review

So Much is one of those books that just makes me happy. And while it is a relatively simple story, about a very young child, Trish Cooke’s gentle humour and Helen Oxenbury’s charming illustrations make it a book that still appeals to my children even now that they are the grand old ages of five and nine.

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So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury

The book follows mum and baby through a day at home ‘not doing anything much’. But the doorbell keeps on ringing and more and more relatives arrive, each of whom wants to kiss or wrestle or tickle or cuddle the baby ‘so much!’

There is Uncle Didi, who swings the baby around his shoulders. There are Nanna and Gran-Gran, who smother the baby in kisses.

With aunts and cousins turning up as well, the sofa by the window is soon full to overflowing!

Eventually, when the house is full of people, the doorbell rings for the last time. This time it’s daddy. Everyone yells ‘surprise!’ And the party can finally begin.

Told from the baby’s point of view, the day ends with baby reluctantly going to bed and drifting off to sleep as he remembers how everyone loved him ‘so much’. The sweetness in this is never cloying because the characters are so well observed; the idiosyncrasies of each family member bringing them beautifully to life.

By the same author or illustrator

Trish Cooke

Not only did Trish Cooke present Playdays back in the ’90s (remember that?!), she has also written any number of wonderfully children’s books celebrating her West Indian heritage. These are two of our favourites!

Full, Full, Full of Love

by Trish Cooke and Paul Howard

I was shocked when I saw this one was also out of print. Illustrated by Paul Howard, this makes a fabulous companion book to So Much. If you see a copy, buy it!

Mr Pam Pam and the Hullabazoo

by Trish Cooke and Patrice Aggs

Yet another that is sadly out of print. Grab the copies on Amazon while you can, as this is an absolutely amazing book. Walker Books, bring back Mr Pam Pam!!

Helen Oxenbury

The beautiful illustrations in So Much are the work of the legendary illustrator, Helen Oxenbury. Her other books include We’re Going on A Bear Hunt (with Michael Rosen) of course, but another absolute classic is Ten Little Fingers, which is a beautifully written and illustrated book absolutely teeming with diverse faces (and fingers, and toes). I defy any baby’s parent to read that one without getting a lump in their throat by the end.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

Picture Books with Diverse Characters

Have you seen my full list of the best 23 picture books with diverse characters? Just like So Much, all of these picture books feature black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) boys as main characters. Something that’s as rare as proverbial hen’s teeth in children’s books, and a problem I’ve written about here.

Check out the list to find out more about our favourites, and take a peek inside. If you like the look of this book, I’m sure you’ll find some others to love there too!

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