October 2020

Interview: Lucy Rowland & Paula Bowles, Wanda’s Words Got Stuck

Hello Lucy and Paula! Thank you so much for chatting to me about your new book ‘Wanda’s Words Got Stuck’.

Could you give us a quick overview of what the book is about?

Lucy Rowland: Wanda the Witch is so shy she can’t talk and no matter how hard she tries, the words just won’t come out.  But when another nervous little witch called Flo joins her class, Wanda realises that perhaps talking isn’t the only way to make friends.  Then disaster strikes at the school magic contest…will Wanda have the courage to shout out the magic words and save Flo from the fire-breathing dragon?

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My Family Fart Book
by Buddy & Barney Ltd

Hopefully by the time you read this you will have finished your dinner as this review is all abourt farts. And not just any old farts – we’re talking about smelly ones!

My Family Fart Book is a scratch and sniff board book which is guaranteed to make little ones giggle. Someone has emitted a large bottom burp and it’s up to your child to track down the culprit. Was it Grandad, Grandma, Dad, Mum or even the dog? Lift the flap and scratch the patch to find out…

Fortunately all of the smells featured are pleasant so there are no nasty surprises here! The gassy emissions we encounter smell like mint, cherries, coffee, apple, strawberries and chocolate cake, depending on what each family member has been eating.

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Layla’s Happiness
by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie & Ashleigh Corrin

Everything about this beautiful book is joyful – from the sheer poetry of the text through to the bright and bold illustrations. I love stories which focus on specific emotions and this one is really special because it looks at happiness from the point of view of a child.

If you ask an adult what makes them happy then the answers are generally unsurprising – their family, their friends, travel, a good book, a hot drink on a cold day – but kids see the world differently and their answers reflect that.

Seven year old Layla loves life and as we follow her through the pages of this story she shares all of the things which make her happy. She loves the night sky, eating spaghetti with a fork and climbing trees. She loves to listen to her dad tell her stories about his childhood. She loves dancing in the garden, feeding the chickens and picking vegetables to sell at the farmer’s market.

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Wanda’s Words Got Stuck
by Lucy Rowland & Paula Bowles

Wanda’s words have a sneaky habit of getting stuck. Whenever she tries to speak, the words just won’t come out and this makes her feel nervous and small in front of her teacher and the other children. Everyone else just seems so confident so why can’t she be the same?

Wanda struggles along until one day a new girl joins her class. Flo looks nervously at her new classmates before dropping her eyes to the ground and blushing. In the playground Wanda gives her a little wave and a smile and soon the two are playing quietly alongside each other. They slip into an easy and comfortable friendship where few words are needed. The two girls just seem to ‘get’ each other.

Later that week their teacher announces something which terrifies them both – a school magic contest in which they will have perform a spell in front of the class! Flo and Wanda decide to work together but when the big day arrives they are both dizzy with nerves.

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Under The Great Plum Tree by Sufiya Ahmed & Reza Dalvand

I am a tiny bit fascinated by the animal fables which have been passed down through many generations and cultures. I love trying to piece together the moral at the core of the story and the fact they’re often accompanied by traditional illustrations in bright and bold colours.

This particular book is a modern reworking of ‘the monkey and the crocodile’ which comes from the Panchatantra, an ancient indian collection of fables which dates back to 200-300 AD.

Miss Bandari is a monkey with a heart of gold who befriends an old crocodile called Mr Magarmach. He is hungry and tired so she lets him rest beneath her tree and she throws down juicy red plums for him to eat. The pair become best pals and they spend many hours together, sharing tales of adventure and enjoying each others company.

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Oscar Seeks A Friend
by Pawel Pawlak

Oscar has lost a tooth and he’s worried that this will stop him from making friends. It’s tough being a skeleton at the best of times, but surely no one will want to play with him now when he looks so dreadful? Sad and lonely, Oscar resigns himself to the fact that his dog will probably be the only friend he ever has.

But then one day he spots a little girl burying a tooth in the ground. She has heard that doing so will make her dreams come true and what she wants more than anything is to find a friend. She agrees to give the tooth to Oscar if he will help her on her quest, so they join hands and set off together on an adventure.

Oscar and the girl spend the most wonderful day together, discussing what they would do if they each found a friend.  The girl shows him a rainbow and her favourite meadow. They smell the cut grass and talk of family and the seaside. Then Oscar leads her in to his own world which is dark and mysterious. They watch skeletons skate on the ice and listen to a strange creature with pointy teeth play the harp.

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It isn’t RUDE to be NUDE
by Rosie Haine

What’s this? A book about nudity for kids? Surely that’s a bit, well…weird?

In short – NOPE. I think it’s fabulous and it’s perfect for showing children that our bodies are wonderful things which need to be celebrated and looked after.

The text is minimal but the pictures speak volumes. The gorgeous illustrations show us bums and tummies both big and small. We see nipples in a wide range of hues and forms. There are pages on male and female genitalia, body hair (including ladies with underarm and leg hair) and certain skin conditions.

The characters are diverse and inclusive. They show us different races and ages and we also see characters with disabilites including a wheelchair user, a girl with a prosthetic leg, a man with one arm and a man with restricted growth. There are also people with scars and a lady who has had a breast removed.

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Super Sapiens: 3-in-1 Game

We have something slightly different for you this evening – a review of a product which isn’t a book! This isn’t something I usually do but I wanted to share this with you because it fits so nicely with our values and I think that you will like it too.

The lovely folk over at Super Sapiens recently gifted us a copy of their card game which is aimed at players aged 3 to 103. The cards feature 12 inspirational women from around the world who are real-life superheroes. Each card has an illustrated image of the ‘super sapien’, their name, where they were born, when they lived and some information about what they achieved. They’re a diverse mix of ladies and many were previously unknown to me so it’s definitely educational. It has been reviewed by The Conscious Kid and their expertise helped to make the game more inclusive and ensure it promotes positive racial identities.

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This Is Crab
by Harriet Evans & Jacqui Lee

Ivy loves books which require a little bit of audience participation and this is one of her current favourites!

At the start of the story we join Crab as he sets off on an adventure across the ocean floor. He needs some gentle coaxing and some assistance along the way though. Can your child help?

There is arm waving, finger tapping, book shaking, counting, tickling and lots, lots more. At one point crab even gets lost and you need to lift the flaps to find him!

This is such an entertaining book and Ivy returns to it again and again. The brightly coloured illustrations are wonderful and we spot new details every time we read it. It’s a great way of introducing kids to life on the sea bed and Crab encounters lots of different creatures which are fun to identify, including an octopus, sea turtles and clown fish. Ivy was also fascinated to discover that crabs shed their shells in the same way that snakes shed their skin!

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Big Words For Little Geniuses
by Susan and James Patterson & Hsinping Pan

If you are in need of a little pick-me-up then i’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a copy of this wonderful word book. There is officially nothing cuter (or more hilarious) than listening to Ivy attempting to say words like catawampus, dulcifluous, onomatopoeia and rapscallion!

The colourful pages take us on a journey from A-Z as we learn some exciting new words which have lots of syllables. Each word comes with a short explanation and a phonetic breakdown so that grown ups can be sure that they’re passing on the correct information when they read. Some of the words were new to me and really quite tough so I definitely appreciated this. I take my hat off to you if arachibutyrophobia rolls easily off your tongue or if you can tell me what idioglossia means without googling it!

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