Tag Archives: Frances Lincoln

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. 

Diverse Voices with Seven Stories

13 Oct

Attention please… Something very exciting has just been announced in the world of children’s books.

This morning, Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, announced it’s new Diverse Voices season – 50 of the Best Children’s Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK.

This is a list of 50 books chosen by an independent panel of experts for all children, from birth to teens. Books published since 1950 to the present day were considered. The list looks fantastic and includes a beautiful mix of picture books, poetry, novels, and biographies. These are books that will help children explore the world around them, giving them the opportunity to see themselves and the selves they could become and helping them understand all those around them.

Kate Edwards, CEO Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books said:
“Children’s books shape our earliest perceptions of the world and its cultures, building understanding, empathy and tolerance. Despite this there is still a lack of representation of children from different cultural backgrounds – especially as main characters. By drawing attention to some best loved and well crafted children’s books, our Diverse Voices season will curate an exciting and diverse list of books that will help to inform the choices of librarians, teachers, booksellers and readers when they pick books to recommend, stock, read and enjoy. Britain’s rich and diverse cultural heritage is something to be celebrated and championed.”
Kate Edwards, I would very much like to shake your hand.

It’s a beautiful list. But it’s more than just a list. Seven Stories will be using these books as the basis for a whole world of exploration, discussion, creativity and play. They say:
“The aim is to raise the profile of these books, for the books to be read and celebrated, for children to see themselves, step into another’s shoes and find their place and belonging among the characters and settings of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.”
Yes yes YES!!!

Seven Stories will be hosting a celebratory weekend on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 October with storytelling, music and activities inspired by Diverse Voices. And for the teachers and librarians out there, Seven Stories have also created learning resources for use in schools, which will be available from Thursday 16 October to encourage the use of books that reflect the diverse world we live in. See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/learning for details.

The Guardian children’s booksite is celebrating diversity in children’s books all this week with features, discussions, author interviews and galleries. I can’t wait! Join in the fun here

Now for the list. Let’s celebrate, discuss, wave flags and break open the biscuits for these books. Which are your favourites? Which have spoken to you or the children you’ve shared them with? Which will you add to your ever-growing wish list? Have a look here.

I think Sarah Crossan’s Weight of Water is my favourite. But I have only read eleven of the fifty! This excites me! Look at all these lovely new books for me to discover. *orders them all*
What are your favourites??

Diverse Voices Book List and season is supported by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and has
evolved out of the Diverse Voices Book Award, which was founded in memory of Frances Lincoln
(1945-­‐ 2001) to encourage and promote diversity in children’s literature.

Zeraffa Giraffa

27 Mar

In Longleat safari park there is a tall wooden platform where you can stand eye to eye with giraffes and feed them lettuce leaves. It is an experience I will never forget. They are such graceful creatures with wise mournful eyes and incredible eyelashes. They look kind and curious and wise, and are full of character and mischief. When you feed them they twirl their long black tongue around the lettuce leaf and gently pull it from your hands. It is an extraordinary sight. They practically have to do the splits to nibble grass from the ground. I will always remember my daughter asking the keeper how the giraffes go to sleep. (They fold their legs underneath them and bend their neck round to use their own bum as a pillow.)

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The recent controversial killing of Marius the giraffe in Copenhagen zoo reminded me of that incredible morning watching the giraffes at Longleat; of being amazed at their grace and beauty, being at their level and seeing the world as they do – as much of an experience as feeding them! I felt so awed and humbled by the giraffes and was amazed that a zoo felt it had the right to destroy such an incredible creature. These feelings were brought into relief by Zeraffa Giraffa by Dianne Hofmeyr and Jane Ray.

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Imagine seeing a giraffe for the very first time. I wish I could remember that feeling, or could experience it now that I know enough to appreciate it. That is what happened in France in 1827 when a baby giraffe called Zeraffa was sent to Paris as a gift for the King of France. It took two and a half years for her to travel from Egypt to Paris – a 2000 mile trip down the Nile, a three week sail across the sea and a 550 mile walk across France. Zeraffa Giraffa describes her journey and her reception in France and explores her relationship with her keeper, Atir, who was her companion along the journey and throughout her new life in Paris.

Jane Ray’s illustrations are, as always, magical. They beautifully portray the changing landscapes and cultures that Zeraffa and Atir experience along their journey and the developing bond between them. The curves and grace of the paintings; the details, colours and characters in the scenes all build to create a sense of beauty and care and wonder.

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The lush language transports the reader to the banks of the Nile and through the valleys and streets of France. Zeraffa Giraffa is bursting with wonderful descriptions and vocabulary to introduce to children – mistral winds; orchards of almonds and olives; felucca; amulet; elegant sails that see-sawed and pivoted; the place where the sea sipped up the Nile; stars that turned the sky into curdled milk. Beautiful! This is the kind of language that we should be whispering into the ears of our young children and encouraging our older children to form with their own mouths. It is beautiful and evocative and mysterious. It is the kind of language that can take you on an adventure.

I love the way the whole book mirrors the character of Zeraffa – graceful and wise, playful and mischievous, but always with an air of magic and wonder.

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

Where’s Lenny? The perfect book for a nursery.

13 Feb

Where’s Lenny? by Ken Wilson-Max is a nursery or play group’s dream book! It is just brilliant on so many levels!

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The version I have is a lovely chunky hardcover, just the right size for toddlers to handle themselves and with gently rounded edges. Even the pages themselves are perfect for the age-group. Rounded card pages that are shiny enough to be splatter resistant and thick enough to be tear-proof, yet still flexible enough for little ones to manage and learn how to turn carefully. This is a wonderful step up from a board book before a paperback picture book – resilient is the word I would use! Toddler-proof!

Lenny is playing hide and seek with Daddy. The reader conspires with Lenny as he swaps his hiding place and stays one step ahead of Daddy. I love the way this brings the reader in and involves them in the game. Children will be squealing and pointing as Lenny runs up the stairs or sneaks behind the sofa. A lovely touch.

The language is immediate and exciting and helps to engage the child in the game. It even includes counting to ten, with numerals for the children to follow. The illustrations work beautifully to keep the child’s interest, bright and bold with not too much going on so that the focus can be drawn to cheeky Lenny as he disappears off again.

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For me, the true beauty of this book is the way it reflects our diverse society. The illustrations show a mixed race family. Dad is playing with Lenny while Mum is fixing a lightbulb. Little things, but so, so important. Hurrah!

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This book really is perfect for a nursery, where it can teach children about our world and fill them with fun and giggles. So my copy is off to The Rainbow Library where it can sit happily in a Brighton nursery and do its job daily.

Thank you to Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for sending me this review copy.

Troll Wood by Kathryn Cave and Paul Hess

17 Nov

‘This is Troll Wood.
No one goes there.
Will you?
We will.
And they did.

A family in need of a new home find themselves in the mysterious Troll Wood and forced to take shelter there. But within the wood they find a world of unpicked flowers, uneaten fruits and unexplored paths, just waiting to be discovered. Can you see the trolls in Troll Wood? And will you join them there?’

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This is a book that I love for lots of different reasons. I love what it shows and what it doesn’t tell. It is written with such spare prose and is full of implied meanings and messages, hidden and missing characters and the sense of mystery. We are never given a complete story or a full answer, leaving the book open to interpretation and discussion. For this reason it works beautifully across different ages and abilities. Children can read it as a book about a family being brave in a wood, with all the associated links to fairy stories that the children may know. Other children may wonder who the family are, how they came to be in the woods, why the trolls are watching them and who they might be or represent.

The illustrations are wonderful watercolours that are full of detail and character. This is my favourite page. Look at the eyes – open or closed they all tell their character’s story. What is the girl thinking? How is the Grandfather feeling? How is the wild animal in his arms feeling? How do we as readers feel about the troll on this page?

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The perfect book to use to introduce topics such as homelessness, refugees, travellers, dealing with change and overcoming obstacles, or to link in with fairy tales, or learning about asking questions from a text. Troll Wood works on so many levels and is relevant to such a wide range of ages and abilities that it really deserves to be in every school library so that lots of children can experience it, enjoy it and learn from it. And that’s exactly where this copy is headed.

Source: Kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln’s Children’s Books.

When car boot sales go wrong

2 Nov

A few weeks ago Team Haselup headed out to a car boot sale to hunt for books (me), cuddly toys (Molls) and ‘stuff that might be useful for a storysack’ (Mrs H). We arrived at about the same time as the huge, un-forecast downpour of rain. We ran back to the car and hid from the elements. It only lasted about ten minutes. But let me tell you… it was a long ten minutes! It was ten minutes of worry and peering through the car windows. Because I was worried about the books! I was daydreaming about running into the middle of the boot sale and speed-buying all the books to rescue them from the rain. Of strategic umbrella placement even though I didn’t actually have an umbrella.
Yes, I am that person.

But the rain stopped before I got my super cape on, and we picked our way through the puddles back to the sale. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, it was messy out there. Puddles on book covers. Seeping. Staining. A whole box of comics ruined. (It’s a car boot sale! Put the books IN YOUR CAR! Idiots!) We saw some serious book carnage and it was made even worse when some of them were books I would have bought. But, not all of the sellers were complete idiots and some had hidden their books in cars and under tables. And we found these gems. All Lost Books, books that I have never come across before and now love very dearly.

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The Brown Paper Bear by Neil Reed (Macmillan) is printed entirely on brown paper and the illustrations are just stunning. It tells the story of Jess who discovers a teddy wrapped in brown paper at her grandfather’s house one night. The bear comes to life and flies her back in time for a magical adventure with all her grandad’s old toys. With nods to The Nutcracker, and the illustrations of Chris van Allsberg, it has the feel of a traditional Christmas story, it’s got that kind of snuggle up by the fire quality. I love the way the illustrations capture a child’s emotions and concentration so perfectly.

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The copy I have is an oversized hardback printed entirely on brown paper. It feels special. It looks special. It really *is* special. I give thanks to the Book-Gods* that this book was saved under a table.

The Very Small by Joyce Dunbar and Debi Gliori (Corgi)

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Well what can I say? I just can’t comprehend how I missed this book. It’s by a winning team and it’s delicious. It has all the elements of a stunner – great concept, beautifully written, and illustrated with warmth and gentle humour. Why have I not stroked this book before?

From the back – ‘“You’re very small,” said Giant Baby Bear. “I’m lost,” said The Very Small. Giant Baby Bear rescues his tiny new friend, and together they learn about the fun of sharing, and the importance of having a special place to belong.’ What more can I say? I would quite like a Very Small. It makes me wonder about the creative process. Did Joyce Dunbar have an idea of what a Very Small would look like? Did Debi Gliori create it? What would my Very Small look like? What would a Very Small from a very small person’s imagination look like? I love a book that makes me wonder like that. And I love this book for its gentle approach towards appreciating diversity, for the magical illustrations of The Very Small sitting on the edge of the bear’s dinner plate, and for that warm glow of a beautiful bedtime story.

A quick bit of research has pulled up Moonbird, Joyce Dunbar’s collaboration with Jane Ray about a deaf prince and the frustrations that arise from the inability to communicate. It looks like a beautiful folk-tale and I can’t wait to read it. Straight on the wish list! That’s one of the things I love about Lost Books – they open up a world of possibilities that more often than not lead to other Lost Books.

Can you See a Little Bear by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris (Frances Lincoln)

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Another cracker that I missed from two huge talents. I love James Mayhew’s work and have coveted Jackie Morris’ art for a while now, since I started following her on twitter. This book has given me the push to order some of her books that have been languishing on my wishlist – so now I have East of the Sun, West of the Moon and Song of the Golden Hare on order.

Can you See a Little Bear is a spotting book for the very young but it is a spotting book unlike any other. The text’s vivid imagery combined with the high artistic values will encourage children to really look at the pictures, introducing them to the worlds of art and colour, imagination, theatre and fantasy.

This is a spotting book that is so beautifully written and illustrated that it works across a wide range of ages. It is written simply enough to appeal to the very young but with enough design and detail to catch the imagination of older readers. It has certainly caught and held my attention!

Hurrah for Lost Books and the wonderful places they take me.

* In my mind, the Book-Gods would wear outfits entirely made from books, like Zoe’s wonderful hat.

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Source: All three books rescued from car boot sale carnage.

Fitting in – help with new places and faces.

20 Sep

Sometimes a book comes along at just the right moment. September is the month for starting school, moving into a new class or to a new school, getting used to new places and faces, finding out about yourself and making new friends. It can be a challenging and emotional time. What better way to help children through than by sharing and discussing experiences through books? A few books have arrived here recently that have been a great help in the tricky first weeks.

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One World Together by Catherine and Laurence Anholt is a brilliant book to make finding new friends seem fun and exciting. Being worried about meeting new people is a huge part of the September transitions. This book takes away some of the fear of the unknown and shows children that we are all different but we are all basically the same.

‘I want a friend. Who will I choose?’ We take a trip around the world, meeting new children and exploring their different cultures. A lovely mix of story and a few facts about each culture, this is great for children who love ‘finding-out books’. Importantly, the book also focuses on the similarities between cultures through universal themes of childhood like play and friendship.

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At the end of the book there’s a gorgeous pull out picture of all the characters from the book holding hands around the globe. It would make such a lovely classroom poster.

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One World Together is a great book that would be at home in classrooms everywhere. It could be used to support so much of the curriculum and has wonderful diversity and inclusion- a special mention for showing a child who uses a wheelchair out of her wheelchair and playing. A lovely touch to aid children’s understanding.

Source: Kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

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Enormouse by Angie Morgan tells the tale of Enormouse the very big mouse. He doesn’t know why he is different to the other mice, he just is.

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Then one day Enormouse and his little mouse friend see a picture of a rat in a finding out book. Oh! Perhaps Enormouse isn’t a mouse after all? He decides to travel to where the rats live to see if he fits in with them. But Enormouse soon learns that looks aren’t everything and he is not like the other rats at all.

This is a fun tale about friendship and finding where you fit, not judging others by appearances, using your strengths and believing in yourself. It is wonderful to read to children who are in the process of forming new friendships and are a bit nervous about finding their own place in a group. It has a very warm and reassuring style and enough humour to detract from the scary prospect of leaving home to live with smelly rats or being lost in a dark and scary wood.

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Source: Kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

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Oh how I love The BIG-Hearted Book by Nicholas Allan! It is so delicious! The concept is so simple and so beautiful, it supports a wonderful foundation saving the lives of children, and, it’s beautiful to read and share with children. What’s not to love?

‘Babette and Bill were joined by a ribbon of hearts. They were always together through thick and thin. And when they were parted they were broken-hearted!’ The idea of an invisible ribbon of hearts joining people who love each other together is simple perfection. It has certainly struck a chord in this household. It has become one of those wonderful sayings that you come across in a book that finds its way into the centre of family language and behaviour. It’s a keeper!

The BIG-Hearted Book follows the friendship between Babette and Bill during a tricky time in their lives. Babette’s heart is ill and she can’t do the fun things the friends usually get up to. Then one day she goes away. Bill is broken-hearted without Babette, until her heart is fixed and gets strong enough to pull him back to her.

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This sums up the beauty of the book for me. The ribbon of hearts is so strong that it holds them together, no matter how far apart they are. What a beautiful concept to share with a child when they need some reassurance, whether it be because of illness, bereavement, separation from a friend or loved one, or starting school nerves. Explaining to a child that they will always have that connection and support is an incredibly strong message for them to hold on to. It has really worked in this house, with magnetic hearts being pulled back together at the school gates at pick up time. The BIG-Hearted Book really could be used in so many scenarios to support and reassure a child, it should be compulsory for every library, school, children’s hospital and children’s centre to have a copy. It should be handed out for World Book Day. Let’s all go and buy a copy and spread the ribbon of hearts far and wide.

Source: Kindly sent for review by Hodder Children’s Books.

The Great Big Book of Families

23 Jul

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was finally passed last week, meaning that my wife and I can now legally get married and enjoy full equality. Hurrah!! The Equal Marriage campaign has been a long fight and is a huge success for equality. It is a campaign that I am very proud to have been a small part of.

In celebration, I have been drinking a few cocktails and reading The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith. The nature and definition of family came up again and again during the Equal Marriage readings in the House of Commons and same sex relationships and families were compared with bigamy and incest. As a gay mum, it was increasingly hard for me to watch people talk about my family in such negative terms. The Great Big Book of Families has been the perfect antidote to all that hateful, ignorant language. It is a brilliantly inclusive book that shows real families in an honest light. Each double page spread explores diverse family set ups and looks at different family experiences of subjects like jobs, school, holidays, pets, food and clothes.

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Perhaps if Stonewall had given out copies of this book with their speaking notes the MPs would have found it easier to understand the nature of families today and the bill would have passed through quickly and easily. Imagine if books like this had been available when the people passing these laws were children. What a lot of time and pain could have been saved.

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The Great Big Book of Families is included in the early years This Is Me! book pack produced by the genius team of Letterbox Library and Inclusive Minds. And for very good reason. I will never forget the joy on our daughter’s face when she first saw the page above and recognised her family. “I have two Mummies!” Delicious! Every child should be able to have that pride of recognition and every child can with this book. It covers such a wide range of families and family experiences, there truly is something here that every child can relate to.

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It goes without saying that every colour and culture is depicted here, and there is a brilliantly positive illustration of a girl using a walking frame having a great time splashing about with buckets of water. Also a big hurrah for the boy in a dress. This has inclusion and equality by the bucket load.

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I love the honesty in this book. It isn’t afraid to show family life as it really is, the ups and downs and the bits without the fairy tale ending. This is how it should be. I believe that children should be able to learn about the world around them and how they fit into it, and that there are ways to make the realities of life accessible to children. Poverty, homelessness, depression, loss are all difficult subjects to explain to children. But if a child has direct experience of one or more of those subjects then books like this can be hugely empowering and supportive for them as they see their situation and learn that they are not alone, that other children and families have similar experiences. How often as adults do we read a book to find ourselves and gain comfort from reading about a similar failed relationship, lost love or discovery of self? Children do the same thing with their books. It is how they learn about themselves and their place in the world. We shouldn’t worry about sheltering children from the bads and sads of life, we should be gently showing them that whatever they are experiencing is ok, is a part of life and that they can get through it or help others to get through it.

The Great Big Book of Families does this in such an accessible way that it becomes appropriate for a wide range of age groups. The short sentences on each spread act as a springboard for discussion, suggesting that some people can’t get a job or won’t go to school or can’t afford a holiday. The illustrations show examples of different kinds of jobs, homes or clothes. Everything here is set up for children to pour over, discuss and question. It is a book that you can read with a three year old, pointing out illustrations that are relevant to their life, and then with a seven year old, identifying links to their family and asking and answering questions.

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This is an important book. I genuinely believe that this book could do much to support the children who need it most. I will be buying a copy for the Rainbow Library for the new school year. After all, the children who read it might be the lawmakers of our future.

Source: Our lovely local library.