I love discovering new books, particularly when they’re about adoption. I came across this month’s book as a result of being on the author’s mailing list for his blog. The book is “Olly & Lilly. The search for a new race team.” It’s written by Matt Flukes and beautifully illustrated by Lucie Cooke.
Matt is father of two adopted sons who came home forever in early 2017. During his adoption leave, he was diagnosed with incurable Myeloma Cancer. He’s having ongoing treatment which has included a stem cell transplant. He drafted the first version of this book back in 2017 as both a legacy for his sons, but also to help all families going through change. He’s hoping to create a series of books exploring different issues with Olly & Lilly.
Matt explains his motivation for writing the book :
“Whilst preparing to adopt, my husband and I read many books to help inform and educate us on the challenges ahead, both emotional and practical. The subject of adoption lacked books and stories that resonated with our sons. Most were pitched at too young an age and over-simplified.”
“I wanted to encapsulate the fear, loss and concerns that adopted children face but also harness their sheer positivity and hope for the future for all children. The book is aimed at children aged 4-7, to help them understand their situation. It is valid for all children not just adopted children, as it discusses families, love, goals, challenges, hopes and wishes that all children have, whilst also acting as a key PHSE resource for schools. The parent bikes are non-gender specific, making the story applicable to all types of families.”
Matt blogs about their journey “From Software to Softplay” and you can follow him on social media @ollyandlilly. If you’d like to find out about donating stem cells to help people like Matt, visit the Myeloma website. We were kindly gifted a copy of the book so that we could do the review.
Our eldest daughter is six and was really excited when we opened the parcel. She loved the front cover straight away. She asked what the book was about so I said it was a book about what happen if parents aren’t able to look after their children. That then started a conversation about her tummy mummy and why she came to live with us.
Olly & Lilly is a beautiful picture story book. It follows the journey two young bikes take to find a new forever race-team when their mummy stops working properly and can’t look after them. The story looks at some big issues such as neglect, in a gentle, sensitive way. When we got to that part of the book, eldest asked quite a few questions about why parents sometimes can’t look after their children.
The book explores why it isn’t always the case that the first new race-team will be the right one. Olly & Lilly didn’t feel that they really fitted in to the first garage they were moved to. Everyone was lovely, but it didn’t feel quite right. I think this is a brilliant way of explaining why sometimes children have to move to different foster carers until they find the right care to suit their needs. The story then explores how two grown up bikes wanted to create their own race-team family. The yellow helper bike checks out where they live and what they’re like, to make sure they’re the perfect fit for Olly & Lilly.
We really enjoyed reading the book. It’s engaging and fun, but deals with big issues sensitively to gently explain why sometimes parents can’t look after their children. It deals with some of the emotions children experience when they’re moved into foster care and then adoption such separation and loss. Children love bikes so using them as the characters is a great way of engaging them. The illustrations are beautiful.
If you’re looking for a book to explain the issues around adoption to young children, we would definitely recommend it. It captured eldest’s attention straight away and she said to tell everyone that she loved it!
“Olly & Lilly. The search for a new race team” is available to buy here.