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"suzanne hemming"

How Frank Helped Hank
by Suzanne Hemming & Jacquie Hughes

If you’ve read ‘She’s Not Good For A Girl, She’s Just Good‘ then you’ll probably recognise the central character in this story. Back then, Frank had some pretty outdated views about how girls should behave, shaming his friend Florence at school because she wanted to be good at sports. Now Frank is back and we get a sneaky peek at his home life, which offers some interesting insight into how these thoughts were formed.

Hank, Frank’s Dad, was raised to believe that boys should behave in a certain way. They should play sports, have ‘boy’s toys’ and they definitely, definitely aren’t allowed to cry. These beliefs are so firmly ingrained that he parents Frank in the same way. When Frank bangs his head he is told to ‘Man up’ and his request for a shimmering butterfly wand is met with derision. As a result, Frank has learned to hold his feelings inside, no matter how much it hurts.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Suzanne Hemming, Children’s Author, Thea Chops Books

Thea Chops BooksTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Suzanne Hemming and I live in South East London with my husband Rich and our daughter Thea who is 5.  Before having Thea I worked in the TV and film industry, but now I’m a children’s author.

What is your daughter’s favourite book?

Well I do hope that one of my books would feature highly in Thea’s top ten of favourites! Over the years she’s made requests for many of Julia Donaldson’s; we went through a stage where we read Rosie Revere, Engineer every night; and lately she really loves reading The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak.

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The Queen Engineer By Suzanne Hemming & Jacquie Hughes

The Queen EngineerIf you’re a fan of books with strong female characters then this new one from Suzanne Hemming (author of ‘She’s Not Good For A Girl, She’s Just Good‘) is definitely for you.

The story is about a young princess called Florence who has her heart set on becoming a great engineer. She has the brain and the ambition but she has one problem – her father, the King, says that instead of pursuing her dream career she has to marry a Prince and have babies.

Young Flo is devastated. She has no problem with Princes and babies but she also wants to be a great engineer and the King says she can’t do both. She flees the palace and bumps in to her old babysitter, who sits and listens to her woes. The lady tells her that you always have to be who you are, not who other people think you should be. She shows Flo a picture of her wedding day (where she married a Princess) and says that when you follow your heart, some people will accept who you are and some won’t but what matters most is that you are always true to yourself.

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She’s Not Good For A Girl, She’s Just Good! By Suzanne Hemming & Jacquie Hughes

She's Not Good For A Girl, She's Just Good!The star of this story is a little girl called Florence who shows promise at all things sporty from a very young age. Spotting her potential, her father nurtures her abilities and together they have lots of fun practising running and throwing.

However when Florence starts school she is immediately faced with prejudice. A little boy called Frank tells her that girls are rubbish at sport and that boys are better and stronger. He tells everyone that it must be true because this is what his dad says.

Enraged, Florence challenges Frank to a race after school. Can Florence prove that boys and girls are equal or will Frank’s outdated opinions win the day?

This is an empowering book about gender equality with something for both girls and boys to enjoy. The intelligent rhyme is coupled with gorgeous illustrations (by Jacquie Hughes)and the message is one that I wish we saw more of in children’s literature today. Girls are strong enough and smart enough to look after themselves!

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Kat Brown, Founder, Mama Brown & Co

Hi Kat! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Thanks for having me! I’m Kat Brown, mama to two lively but loving boys Louis (6) & Max (3) and wife to Papa Brown. Having enjoyed working in publishing for the last 12 years, I left after having my youngest son and in September I launched Mama Brown & Co. We are the online magazine and marketplace dedicated to making parenting more playful and helping you get more fun out of family life (however tired you might be!) My husband and I originally hail from Yorkshire but moved down to London to work after university and somehow never ended up leaving. We now live just outside London in Kent but often find ourselves back up in Harrogate visiting family and friends and staying in touch with our Northern roots!

What are your sons’ favourite books?

My eldest Louis’ current favourites are The Christmasaurus & The Winter Witch by Tom Fletcher (yes we are reading it in March!) and Bear Grylls Adventures. He is 6 and in the past year has found a love of chapter books, ever since we read The Famous Five together by Enid Blyton. I read a chapter a night to him at bedtime but he can’t wait until his reading is strong enough for him to read them himself!

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International Women’s Day: Books Which Feature Strong Female Characters

March 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day so I have collated a list of our favourite books which feature strong female characters. Take a look and let us know in the comments if there are any others which you think should be included!

Fiction Books

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts – Little Ada’s endless need to question everything means that she is the perfect mini scientist. She devises experiments and builds hypotheses, trying to work out how the world around her works. Read the review.

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman & Caroline Binch – An uplifting story is about a little girl called Grace who loves stories and has a big imagination. Can she find the confidence to follow her dreams? Read the review.

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Cat Bateman, Owner, Little Folk Nursery Rhymes

Little Folk Nursery RhymesHi Cat! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

I’m Cat Bateman, a mum of two very energetic & football-mad boys, 11 & 8. I met my husband 26 years ago (I know! I am that old!) and I have a business called Little Folk Nursery Rhymes. I hold weekly sessions singing nursery-rhymes to lovely little customers accompanied by my guitar. I completely love singing and sharing music and am passionate about spreading the word about Type 1 Diabetes as my eldest boy was diagnosed when he was 5 years old.

What were your sons’ favourite books when they were small?

I will answer all the questions from my memories of what they loved when they were your demographic of 0-5 years – I have totally enjoyed digging these books out and taking another look at them – haven’t been able to get rid of any of them in the constant battle to reclaim the house from the children’s stuff as they hold such gorgeous memories.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Ceci De Benedictis, Director, Toy Box Tots

Toy Box TotsTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Ceci, short for Cecilia and I am half of Toy Box Tots, renting out boxes of super fun toys to preschoolers across the UK. I have boy girl twins who will turn 3 in the summer and a wild and crazy kitten called Harry. We live in East Dulwich with my husband Marco, having relocated from the UAE 18 months ago.

What are your children’s favourite books?

This changes on a monthly basis! At the moment it’s ‘Lottie Potter wants an Otter’ by Jeanne Willis and Leonie Lord . Every couple of weeks we go up to the local library and chose about 10 books to take home and there is always 1 that gets singled out and has to be read at least 10 times a day until we all know it from memory!  They always love books where someone or something is naughty or there is some drama or scandal that we can talk about.  It’s brilliant for me as I’m always looking for new books to base our toy boxes around so constantly having new books on the scene is great research.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Shannon Reed, Owner, Mockingbird Makes

Mocking Bird Makes

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Shannon Reed and I’m a mum to two boys (7 and 11) and wife to one husband. We have lived in East Dulwich in South London for around 15 years but I’m originally from New Zealand. I used to be an innovation consultant, helping organisations generate breakthrough ideas and turn them into reality. Now I run Mockingbird Makes for bespoke knitted, crocheted and embroidered handcrafts – and here I am still facilitating peoples creativity!

What are your sons’ favourite books?

One of my children’s favourite books was the Usborne Little Children’s Music book by Fiona Watt. It’s a sound book and despite the fact it’s been broken for 3 years from so much use, I can still hear the music in my head. It would be played over and over again for hours – best babysitter ever!

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Jo Love, Owner, Lobella Loves

Lobella LovesTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

I’m Jo, founder of Lobella Loves and mental health advocate. I live in East London with the hubby and my little girl who is three. I drink too much tea and wine, and not enough green things! I used to be a lawyer but decided I needed and wanted more to do more in my life. Suffering with postnatal depression (PND) after my little girl arrived, I knew I needed to help other women finding themselves alone and shamed.

What is your daughter’s favourite book?

She’s a real bookworm, so pinning it down to one is tricky. Right now, she’s loving, ‘You Can’t Take An Elephant On the Bus’ by Patricia Cleveland-Peck. It’s a fabulously silly tale about why various animals aren’t suited to different forms of transportation and without giving too much away, where they all end up is far more fun. It’s a delightfully energetic, beautifully illustrated, funny book and I love that it rhymes, making it a joy to read aloud.

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