Tag Archives: feminism

Little People, Big Dreams

25 Jan

Now more than ever we need to empower our girls and young women. We need to show them examples of women who have made a difference, who have stormed their way through glass ceilings. Because these women are so often erased from history, we need to work twice as hard to highlight their achievements. And that is why books like the Little People, Big Dreams series (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) are so important. 


These books feature trailblazing women as children, showing that no matter who you are or where you start in life, you can fulfil your dreams and achieve great things. 


They are brilliantly accessible and inspiring and the perfect way to start armouring the future generation of Nasty Women. I love the way they celebrate difference and show children that your uniqueness is your strength.


Each book includes a fact section and a list of further reading. I particularly like the inclusion of photographs of the women as children, to really show readers where these women came from and how they grew up to be such fantastic, inspirational women. 


These beautiful books really do deserve a place in every school library and classroom. They would work brilliantly with Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

You can get your copies here. And keep your eyes open for two new titles coming soon. 

Source – kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

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I’m going to let you in on a secret… This is the first Jacqueline Wilson book I have ever read. Gasp! My year 6 book group were horrified when they found out, and spent a year howling at me and plying me with recommendations. Somehow I still remained a JW virgin until this book came along. But what a way to start! Tying in beautifully with the centenary of the Great War, this is Jacqueline Wilson’s 100th book. And it had me hooked from the very first page!

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Opal Plumstead is the Matilda for this generation. A book I wish had been available to me when I was growing up. I longed for a book like this where I could see characters who thought like me, and learn about a world I could be a part of. Books are such magical tools in this way – they show us who we are and who we could become. They inspire, comfort, open the mind and create hopes and dreams. Opal Plumstead offers the reader all of this, and more.

Opal Plumstead is a scholarship girl. She is always top of the class but wants more from life than the prescribed future of marriage or a career in teaching. She is intelligent, self aware and proud of her individuality and dreams of university. When her family’s circumstances change she is forced to leave her school and her dreams behind to work in a sweet factory. Opal has to take on new responsibilities and find her way in a world of older, more street-wise girls. But through this new working life Opal meets Mrs Roberts, the factory’s owner, and is whisked into the women’s rights movement, meeting Mrs Pankhurst and her fellow Suffragettes. Perhaps Opal will have a bright future ahead of her after all?

On one level Opal Plumstead does what the Enid Blyton books did for me as a child – introducing children to a whole new era of language and culture and history. But Opal Plumstead does so much more than describe a character in a historical setting. It introduces the reader to inequalities of the past in a highly accessible way, enabling them to compare their own lives and make connections with social and political situations in the world they live in now. Opal Plumstead‘s themes introduce the reader to feminism, the realities of poverty, injustice, corporate greed, the economic class system and social politics, as well as more domestic ideas such as the reversal of the parent/child relationship, the need for positive role models, unhappy adult relationships and a new generation’s hope to do things differently.

Opal Plumstead, along with her sister, Cassie, are fantastic characters for children to relate to and emulate. Readers will be able to find shared characteristics; see themselves and confirm who they are and who they could become. Opal feels misunderstood by her teachers and her family and longs to find a soulmate who she can share her dreams and ideas with. Opal and Cassie have strong self awareness and know who they respect (and who they don’t). Despite set backs and circumstances that are thrown at them, they stay true to their beliefs and follow their dreams with passion and integrity. As Cassie says, “I’m the heroine in my own life and I’ve got to live it the way I want”. Isn’t that what we hope for in any role model?

Opal Plumstead is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a storyline that had me in turns hiding behind my hands waiting for the inevitable disaster and sitting up into the small hours racing through to the end. But more than that, it’s an important book that will show a new generation of children that they can look at the world they live in and make it better.

I am officially converted. *orders 99 books*.

Published on 9/10/14 pre-order your copy here.

Source: kindly sent for review by Random House

Rosie Revere, Engineer

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Hurrah!!!! A book that shows a female engineer! In fact, Rosie Revere, Engineer (Abrams) provides two stonkingly good role models for children and celebrates the history of women engineers and aviation pioneers. Shortlisted for the Little Rebels award 2014, it is a book that has the potential to empower children and change their future.

Shy Rosie Revere dreams of becoming an engineer. She collects treasures for her engineer’s stash and alone in her room she creates gadgets and machines from all her broken bits and pieces. Worried about being laughed at and failing, Rosie keeps her inventions to herself. Until great-great-aunt Rose comes to stay.

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Great-great-aunt Rose built planes during the war and inspires Rosie to invent something bigger and more daring than ever before.

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By handing down her notebook of role models throughout history, and sharing that all-important life lesson of persistence, Great-great-aunt Rose teaches Rosie (and the reader) to always follow dreams and never give up.

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Andrea Beaty’s inspirational story full of diverse characters, positive role models and stereotype-squashing, is matched perfectly with David Roberts’ absolutely gorgeous illustrations. This book deserves to become a feminist modern classic.

Imagine a young girl who is fascinated by science and loves to design and invent and create. Imagine this book in her hands. Empowering, much?? In a world where gender stereotyping is still sadly rife, young children need all the positive role models and gender-stereotype-free messages that they can get. Bravo to all behind Rosie Revere, Engineer!

As an added bonus, the hardback copy reveals this under the dust jacket. Beautiful!

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Source – bought from Letterbox Library to inspire and empower my own little engineer. You can get your copy here

So what are you doing now?

19 Oct

Ah that question! I know I’m not the only one who has been faced with it so much lately. But, seriously, enough now.

My daughter started school in September and it opened some kind of floodgate on people’s opinion of me and my working life. ‘Oh she’s started school? And what are you doing now? When are you going back to work?’ Well I’m not actually. I’m one of those crazy, unfashionable, non-feminist people who has chosen to stay at home so I can take my daughter to school and pick her up and read with her after school and go to her harvest festival.

Because of the way our media works you will probably have two stay at home mum stereotypes in your head now. The yummy mummy and the daytime tv mum. But stop there. That is what our society today wants you to think. That everyone should speed back to work as soon as possible and Contribute To Society. That stay at home mums (oh how I hate that term) and dads are either benefit scroungers who sit around watching daytime tv and playing on Facebook, or fashionistas who have a school run outfit, drive big cars and hold coffee mornings.

Here’s the news- we’re not all like that! And perhaps being a working parent isn’t the only way to positively contribute to society, or always the best thing for us or our children? For some people it absolutely is. But not for everyone. Because we’re all different.

I am not employed but I do not claim any benefits-no tax credits, no child benefit. Not a penny. I am lucky enough to have a wife who works very hard and believes in what I do with my time enough to support me. I don’t pay tax because I’m not earning but I do give back to the community in other ways. I set up The Rainbow Library to get books into the hands of children that wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. I read at my local nursery and at my daughter’s school to support children’s literacy and reading for pleasure. I am a new parent governor.

I don’t spend the rest of my time watching tv or having coffee mornings. I write for children and I read a lot of varied material to support and inform my writing. I review children’s books and write this blog. I don’t play on Facebook but I do spend time on Twitter, not watching YouTube clips of cats but chatting about books and education and equality, sharing ideas and information, reading articles and staying up to date with the latest information, and supporting brilliant groups, organisations and charities like Stonewall, Let Toys be Toys, Inclusive Minds, LetterBox Library and TeacherROAR.

And do you know what? I AM A FEMINIST! I don’t know when it became fashionable to think any woman who chose to stay at home and parent couldn’t be a feminist or was anti-feminist in some way, but let’s stop it now, it’s crap. I am not dragging women back to the dark ages of being tied to the kitchen by their apron strings. Anyone who has seen my approach to housework and cooking knows that! I am not teaching my daughter that her future only involves settling down and making a home. I am teaching her to follow her dreams and do what she believes in. That I am there for her because I believe that she is wonderful enough to deserve my time. That ‘work’ doesn’t have to be paid. That parenting is important. That it is important to be involved in your community and to actively support what you believe in. That helping people that aren’t as lucky as you is the right thing to do.

When I was young did I think I’d be a ‘stay at home mum’? No. Not in a million years. But actually, that’s not all I am. I’m proud to put my daughter first and acknowledge and support the fact that at just 4, she’s not ready for wrap-around childcare. But I am also proud to be working in the community, to be following my dream and writing, to be learning and teaching every day.

So next time you hear the term ‘stay at home mum’, think twice before you judge. Maybe they are more than a mum and maybe they do more than stay at home.