When her dad tells her that every family has its all mix of yummy stuff that makes it special, Sunny McCloud decides that her own family is very much like a sandwich. So she decides to make one in which each ingredient represents a member of her family. But this turns out into a rather boring snack, so Sunny wonders whether she could make her sandwich, and her family, a bit more exciting by adding a few exotic ingredients: a monkey or maybe two? A penguin? But is jazzing it up such a good idea? Should Sunny be happy with the really lovely sandwich, and family, she has already got?
Scrummy! is the second book, after Smile, starring Sunny McCloud, and “sunny” this little girl certainly is. Leigh Hodgkinson’s illustrations are so happy and full of glee, that you undoubtedly feel uplifted after reading one of the books she has illustrated. The vivid palette of colours, the mix of funky patterns and her unique drawing style come together to create hugely attractive spreads. She plays with typography beautifully too and to great effect, without ever making it look messy or confusing for young audiences. In fact, I can imagine this is the exact replica of how a preschooler’s brain sees things!
I love the metaphor of the family seen as a sandwich and particularly of the parents as the pieces of bread holding it all together. What a simple, and yet effective and poetic way of explaining family dynamics to little people. It is also inclusive of all of sorts of families, whether they are two-parent families, single parent families, or one gender families, without being obviously: Sunny simply says “Every family has a person or two who kind of does the same thing” (see illustration above) . It really is inspired.
I think the resolution of the story, with Sunny realising that actually her family is perfect as it is, is also done in a subtle way which young children will be able to understand. Being happy and grateful for what you have, not always believing that the grass is greener elsewhere, those are quite grown-up concepts really. But working out that your family is actually doing pretty well without the help of a menagerie of unusual pets who will only bring chaos, that is something that children will understand, with a few hearty laughs along the way.
All illustrations © Leigh Hodgkinson