A few weeks ago a lovely lady called Helen dropped me a message to recommend us a book which her son had picked out at the library – The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight. It wasn’t one that i’d heard of so I want to give a big shout out to her to say thank you as we LOVE it! (It should be noted here that this is definitely a different Helen to the one who wrote the book!)
The story is about a little mouse called Leo who likes nothing more than to curl up with a good book. However Leo is a knight so, despite his protestations, his parents insist that he has to go out in to the world and fight dragons.
Leo packs a bag with some sandwiches (and lots of books of course!) and heads off on his horse to fight a dragon who has been terrorising a town a few hours ride away. En route he faces a fearsome griffin and an angry troll, but defeats them quickly and easily using not his sword but his collection of books. It turns out that nasty creatures can be quite vain and love to hear stories about themselves!
There are so many reasons to love this magical and unique story, not least because it’s the first children’s book I have encountered which features a non-binary character using they/them/their pronouns.
From the moment they are born, little Miu-Lan is different to other children. Neither boy or girl, they are are a magical being able to shape shift at their will from one fantastical creature to another. Miu-Lan changes their appearance at will to reflect how they are feeling – one day they may soar through the skies with wings and feathers and the next have scales and a tail to swim through the ocean. Supported by their amazing mother who encourages them to be whoever they want whenever they want, Miu-Lan is happy.
We were lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this lovely new story which is out today in the UK and we’ve been looking forward to sharing it with you. We’re big fans of Rachel Bright and Jim Field’s previous collaborations (‘The Lion Inside’ is in our all-time top five!) and fortunately this new title is just as good!
The heartwarming tale is about a little wolf cub called Wilf who is extremely strong-willed and independent. He wants to do everything by himself and he wants to do it right now – which will sound very familiar to any parent with a toddler!
When his wolf pack is forced to leave their cave, Wilf wants to lead the expedition to find a new home. But the little wolf soon discovers that life in the wilderness is much tougher than it looks and he finds himself lost in a storm. Too proud to call for help he sits alone on the ice, which at that very moment begins to crack. It looks as though all hope is lost but then a friendly face appears from the depths.
This uplifting story is about a little girl called Grace who loves stories and has a big imagination. She likes nothing more than to act out the stories she hears. One day she’s Joan of Arc and the next she’s Mowgli!
At school she discovers they are going to be putting on a play and she is desperate to get the lead role of Peter Pan. However her classmates laugh at her and tell her she can’t possibly play Peter because of her gender and the colour of her skin. Deflated, Grace goes home and tells her family – who rally together to show her that she can be anything that she wants if she puts her mind to it.
When Monday arrives it’s audition time and Grace wows her friends with her acting ability. But will she get the part?
This is such a lovely book about finding the strength to follow your dreams. The life-like illustrations are fantastic and Ivy finds them fascinating. She likes to copy all of Grace’s different acting poses!
If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that we are big fans of picture books which take on big emotions and break them down in a way which makes it easy for children to digest. Me And My Fear by Francesca Sanna is one of the best we’ve seen.
The book is about a little girl who has moved to a new country and is starting a new school. She has always lived with fear, who is depicted as a little ghost-like creature who goes everywhere with her – but the prospect of this new school causes her fear to grow so large that it takes up more space than she does. It fills her whole house and stops her from leaving her home. This super-sized fear doesn’t want her to go to school and doesn’t want her to make new friends. As a result the girl is lonely and her experience at her new school is a miserable one.
We love this series of books by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. Ada Twist is the best of the bunch in our opinion but this one comes a close second!
Shy little Rosie Revere dreams of becoming a great engineer. Like a magpie she collects gizmos and gadgets that other people have thrown away and in her bedroom at night she turns them in to amazing inventions – including a hot dog dispenser and some helium pants!
Her favourite uncle is a zookeeper so she makes him a special hat (made of parts of a fan and some squirty cheese) to keep the snakes off his head. She proudly hands it over but her uncle laughs! He says he likes it but poor Rosie is mortified and vows never to invent anything again.
But then one day she discovers that her very clever aunt (who used to build aeroplanes) dreams of being able to fly and she begins to wonder if she could make this happen. Can she use all of her ingenuity and help her aunt take to the skies?
Down in the valley life is happy and peaceful – bears, foxes and birds roam the beautiful countryside. The different species live harmoniously alongside each other.
Then one day a big dog appears. The dog has a terrible hunger and eats everything in his sight. To try and calm him, a fox steps forward and plays a tune on his fiddle, but the dog just gobbles him up. The fox continues to play his tune from within the dog’s tummy and it’s heard by some brave bunnies who try to rescue him – but they also find themselves in the belly of the beast.
The dog refuses to listen to reason and continues to feed his hunger by consuming everything in his path – but deep in his tummy a community of animals is coming together. They light a fire and sit down to talk of the future. Together, they work together to rebuild their world on the inside.
The Snail And The Whale is one of our favourite collaborations between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. There’s a real sense of adventure but the rhyme is also very calming so it’s perfect for bedtime.
The story is about a little snail who longs to travel – but her family thinks she’s a little crazy and don’t understand at all! She’s determined to see the world so she hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale. On their magnificent journey the snail sees icebergs and volcanoes, beautiful beaches and strange animals. She is amazed at how big the world is and this makes her feel small and insignificant.
If 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.
Until a few years ago I wasn’t aware that Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe had been friends and that without each other they may never have reached their true potential or become the icons they are today. It’s a fantastic story and i’m so glad this book exists so that I can share it with Ivy.
The empowering tale starts with Ella Fitzgerald, a woman of colour with a truly amazing voice. She tours the country playing in small jazz clubs with her band but unfortunately there are many places where she isn’t welcome. Because of the colour of her skin, many venues refuse to let her play, including the largest and most well-known club of all.
But unbeknown to Ella, she has a fan who is soon to become a friend. An actress called Marilyn Monroe loves Ella’s music so she calls the club and says that if the owner books Ella to play for a week she will personally visit each night and sit in the front row, ensuring the paparazzi and press will be there. The owner agrees, Marilyn sticks to her word and Ella gets the opportunity to play to large audiences every night. She is a hit and becomes a huge star.