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My Must-Have Mum

Maudie Smith, illus. Jen Khatun
Age 5-7

Jake’s mum is different to other mums – and this is not because she is depicted in a wheelchair but rather because she is a collector of things other people would think of as rubbish. She takes them home, mends and transforms them. Mum seems to change everything. But what if she wants to change him too? Jake is worried.

This is not only a story about recycling or upcycling  and seeing opportunities and treasure where others see junk but also a story about family love.

Watch the author read the story


Share the story

When you read the story again, encourage your child to join in with some parts such as mum’s words ‘We must have this’ or the parts describing mum getting to work ‘She tinkers and tailors, mixes and mends.’

Talk about the story
▪︎ Share your favourite parts of the story or favourite illustrations
▪︎ Talk about how Jake feels at different points in the story.
▪︎ Talk about some of the things mum mends or changes in the story

Things to make and do

Make something useful out of junk
Collect old broken toys, packaging materials and unwanted bits and pieces from around the house. Look at them together and see if you can think of anything to change them into. An empty yoghurt pot could be decorated to make a useful container to hold pencils, an old jam jar could be made into a flower vase, an old sock into a glove puppet, plastic bottles filled with sand, decorated and numbered to make skittles etc. Try these ideas or perhaps you could come up with your own.

Make a photo album
Look together at photos of your child when they were younger and talk about how they have changed. Do the same with photos of other siblings or yourself as a small child. How have you all changed? How do you know who it is?

Talk about all the things that make your child special and how you love them as they are.

Find out More

Find out more about recycling and waste
▪︎ Talk about recycling and waste, how some things are biodegradable and other things stay in landfill sites for hundreds of years.

▪︎ Think about ways to reduce waste in your home. Sort out things to go into the recycling bin by the material they are made from- plastic, paper, glass, metal etc.

▪︎ For other ideas about recycling visit see here

▪︎ Bury a small plastic bottle, a piece of paper, a banana or small fruit, a small glass jar and a metal coin in a large container and cover with soil. Keep damp. After a week dig into the soil to see what has happened. Leave for another week and do the same again. Which objects are still there, and which have broken down or disappeared? Try leaving them even longer and see what happens. Talk about what you find out.

Find out more about author Maudie Smith Maudie Smith

Other books include:
The Dressing Up Dad

Milly and the Mermaids

Download a colouring sheet Copy of Boundless Sky & My Must-Have Mum/Mom Activities (

Find out more about illustrator Jen Khatun Jen Khatun Illustrator