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Showing posts from July, 2020

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History by Kate Pankhurst

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History by Kate Pankhurst


This book introduces the young reader to fourteen women who have made their mark on the world: Boudicca, Harriet Tubman, Flora Drummond, Qui Jin, Noor Inayat Khan, Dr Elizabeth Blackwell, Valentina Tereshkova, Josephine Baker,Pocahonta, Hatshepsut, Mary Wollstonecraft,Mart Shelley,Sayyid al Hurra and Ada Lovelace. Each woman has a double spread to herself though mother and daughter Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley share a spread.A final double spread displays a series of book spines, one for each woman featured.The sub-title to each book is a reminder of that woman’s main characteristics.

Each double spread is filled with snippets of factual material.The text is enlightened with quirky two-dimensional drawings and some extra extraordinary facts. Each page is very busy and the reader may not wish to read in a linear fashion.

There are a variety of fonts – mainly serif and with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. Some chunk…

Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz

Secrets of the Fearless by Elizabeth Laird

There is a little romance and there is a marriage near the end of this story but this is very understated. This is mainly an adventure on the high seas and includes espionage, danger and risk-taking. It contains much of the drama that we would expect to see in works by Dickens or Shakespeare. We even have a girl dressed up as a man. There is plenty of pace in this novel. The chapters are relatively short and each contains several exciting plot points. This is a slight departure for Elizabeth Laird. Much of her work is set in different cultures in the modern world. This story however takes place in a past that is just as exotic in another way, and we have details about press gangs, battles with the French and the Empress Josephine. Laird demonstrates here that she is an excellent story-teller.  It is a long read – 351 pages of a point 12 point serif font with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. The text is blocked.The book has a robust spine.

Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (1 & 2) by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

2016, 2017,  These are gorgeous books. They are hardback and have smooth, pleasing to the touch covers. Each one contains 100 double spreads, featuring a page about a woman who has made a difference and a full page portrait of her. A variety of artists have been commissioned to produce the portraits. On almost every portrait there is a quote from the woman featured. The range is wide and includes Margaret Thatcher, J K Rowling and Billie Jean King. In both books the women are listed in alphabetical order by first name. How should one read these books?  I admit to reading both in just a few sittings but perhaps the titles suggest that one story at a time should be digested just before the reader goes to bed. Are these books just for the girls? Maybe. They are indeed aspirational. But maybe the boys should read them too so that they can appreciate what women can do. Ideally as well each woman should be scrutinised carefully and each entry should be discussed in detail – between mother…

Anne of the Island L M Montgomery

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

This is the first story in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. We are introduced to the main characters and the world of the Faraway Tree. Each chapter contains a separate adventure. Joe, Beth and Frannie (formerly Fanny) climb the magical tree several times and each time are taken to a different world. Some of the worlds are less pleasant. The lands move to and from the tree and the children must return before the land moves on. Getting stuck in a land is unpleasant and frightening. The children experience genuine xenophobia which after all is a real fear. Arguably this presents a balanced view of our interaction with other cultures. The tree is full of quirky characters - including Dame Slap, a corporal punishment enthusiast. In recent versions of the story she has been replaced by Dame Snap who has been softened somewhat. Joe throughout takes charge. He is always bossing the girls around. However, he is the oldest child so perhaps he would be in charge anyway. Even in newer versions…

The Bird Within Me