Within the community I work and socialise in books are seen as an essential in daily schooling, routine, and respite from all of the chaos we are currently wading through. Books are invaluable for children when they hold the right story to grab their attention, allow them to relate to the content, and immerse themselves within an incredible adventure too. As children move from picture books to chapter books the shorter story books are an essential bridge from one to the other, and have to contain the content children want in order to ensure they make the move willingly and continue to progress with reading. I love the short story books I have had access to recently and am excited to share them with you all.
The Magical Bookshop
- Published by Rock The Boat
- Available in all good bookshops from 2nd July 2020
- Originally published in German by Katja Frixe, Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
- Illustrated by Florentine Prechtel
- 176 pages
This is a heart warmingly brilliant story that readers will adore, following the antics of main character Clara, who is determined to try everything within her power to keep her best friend Lottie with her, instead of her moving away to a new home. Lottie is due to move away with her mum after her parents have split up, something that many children will be able to relate to. Lottie’s dad has begun a relationship with someone new and it turns out that she is Clara’s new teacher – something Clara does not appreciate as she resents the consequences that her teachers actions have had.
Seeking refuge in her local bookshop, Clara can frequently be found spending her free time amongst the bookcases, finding comfort in the warm and welcoming atmosphere that bookseller Mrs Owl has created. There is something even more incredible about this particular bookshop though, it contains magic! The books can be found selecting themselves off the shelves for customers, and often create relevant atmospherics that make the experience within the shop utterly brilliant and memorable.
Add to that Clara being able to hear what both the bookshop’s resident cat Gustaf says as well as a mirror that adorns the wall facing the entrance to the shop too. Amazing! It is important to Clara to surround herself with those she trusts and knows care about her, and she finds that in abundance within the bookshop. Following her story of surviving without her friend, trying to remain in contact with Lottie, accepting a new teacher, and a new student that sits beside Clara in class makes this an truly immersive, intriguing tale.
With the new student Leo seeing Clara struggle with everything going on, and trying to support her as much as he can – such as covering for her when she is late to school, the pair soon become friends. It is heartwarming to see the support network grow for Clara and her journey of accepting and coping with her best friend moving away. Whilst there is reference to other students that could be perceived as bullies which reflect most experiences of school, the focus is definitely on this being a feel good story for those new to chapter books, who will definitely see their local bookshop in a new light next time they are able to make a visit.
This book encapsulates just how amazing bookshops are, the magic within them (albeit fictional) as you discover the right book for you amongst the bookcases, the excitement and delight you experience as you browse the titles available prior to making your own selection. I really adored this story from the offset when we are introduced to the bookshop and its contents, Mrs Owl – who loves cake and books equally, and the children that are positive role models to readers as they are determined to be there for one another, offer each other support, and essentially do the right thing.
Though this story has been translated from German for us to enjoy, the pleasure the story offers the reader does not get lost in translation. The drama involved sees the bookshop potentially being forced to close because of the interference of another shop owner, but the characters unite to face the issues together, and the importance of friendship and family is hugely apparent in this book, and ensures readers will be hooked until the end.
Fierce, Fearless and Free
- Published by Bloomsbury
- Released on 5th March 2020 – available to buy now!
- Written by Lari Don
- Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon
- Girls in Myths and Legends from around the world
- 141 Pages
This fantastic collection of short stories has a powerful theme that links each of the stories – powerful female characters that take the lead role, not looking to be rescued and protected by a male character, being independent, confident and strong women. The stories are relevant to a variety of locations across the globe, from Scotland to Italy to Nigeria, and so much more. The mixture of ethnicities, origins, and appearances of the many characters within this book makes the content relatable to all readers, empowering them along the way.
Young children look for heroes, role models, and inspiration in everything they do, and this book provides them in abundance. The characters feature within folktales and myths from different communities that influence the characteristics they display, and this variety on offer to readers will leave them feeling positive, motivated, and inspired – and these stories will stay with them just like the likes of Cinderella and other traditional childhood tales.
Whether it is using magic, showing kindness, plotting and planning, or sneaking around there is something unique to be found within each story that essentially concludes in favour of the female character and ensuring their fates are positive.
Given the current uncertainties faced by all of society, including children, it is brilliant to promote such positive content for readers, and inspire them at a time when it really matters,