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Picture Book Review: What Happened to You? by James Catchpole illustrated by Karen George

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and Karen George

‘What happened to you?’ , ‘Was it a shark?’, ‘ A burglar? A lion?’, ‘Did it fall off?’ Every time Joe goes out, the questions are the same….what happened to his leg? But is this even a question Joe has to answer?

This wonderful pioneering story brings an equally wonderful little boy to life, who wants to be just that – a little boy who plays, has fun, pretends to be a pirate and makes friends. He does not, however, want to be asked constantly why he has only got one leg by all the children playing in the park too. Brilliantly capturing Joe’s frustration with the responses of others to his disability, the story shows how a little boy like Joe might prefer to be treated. Instead of ‘different’ – he wants to be just like any other kid. Because Joe is just like any other kid and he can climb and play and imagine, just like they can. Eventually, the children realise Joe is actually playing a fun game and they forget his leg, and join in.

Gorgeous illustrations bring the heart of the story to life perfectly, showing the active and fun-loving boy Joe is, and how the curiosity of others can be thoughtless. What Happened to You? challenges the sometimes perceived wisdom of it being ‘ok’ to ask questions about someone else’s personal situation. We would probably be quickly irritated if someone kept asking us the same personal question, so being in Joe’s position should not be any different. Why Joe has one leg is no one’s business but his own – until such time as he chooses to share it! At the back of the book, the author offers some sensible, straightforward advice for parents and carers about how best to talk to their children about disability, drawing on his own experiences which are reflected in the story.

Young readers will love Joe and his imaginary play, and I expect, won’t be too bothered by his leg – they’ll be more interested to know whether they can climb ropes and play pirates like he can! Which is the biggest strength of this story – it’s imparting some really important wisdom and empathy without seeming to do so. And the adults reading it will pick up the important message it contains and use it to start a conversation with their child, or the children they teach, at the right moment.

With thanks to Faber for sending me this book to review.

Picture Book Review: Alone by Barry Falls

Alone by Barry Falls

“This is my hill,” said Billy McGill. “I live here alone! Always have, always will.” But life doesn’t always turn out how you plan it…Soon Billy is joined by a mouse, cat, dog, bear, tiger and many more. Will he still crave splendid alone-ness or finally see the value of friends?

This absolutely delightful tale will not fail to bring a smile to your face! Told with a charming lyrical narrative, Billy lives all alone but one day a mouse comes to visit, and in order to get rid of the mouse, Billy gets a cat. But the cat and mouse like to play, so Billy decides to get a dog which will surely get rid of them both? Pretty soon – you guessed it – there’s a whole menagerie of animals – plus a vet, a sheep-shearer and even a baby causing havoc as shown by the warm and colourful illustrations. In a huff, Billy storms out, but once alone again, realises he misses them all and that peace and quiet is all very well, but friends are important too.

A message we can all appreciate, especially at the moment, Alone is a lovely story to read aloud and share, told with heart and humour.

With thanks to Pavilion for sending me this book to review. Read my review of Barry Fall’s It’s Your World Now here. Find out more at

New Review: The Boy Who Met A Whale by Nizrana Farook

This book has been burning a hole in my TBR pile for several months now and I am so glad to have read it and be sharing my review today. Author Nizrana Farook, whose debut novel, The Girl Who Stole An Elephant, captivated readers, has returned to fictional Sri Lanka for another tale full of thrills and adventure in The Boy Who Met A Whale for children aged 9+.

Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side… Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an exhilarating adventure in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all…

This is a fantastic adventure story and from the first page, the sights and sounds of the tropical island of Serendib are wonderfully described. You can almost see the coconut trees, touch the sea turtles and hear the waves on the beach! As Razi and Shifa embark on a perilous journey to help their new found friend, Zheng, Razi has his own fears to face having not been in the sea since the death of his father, for which he blames himself. His sister Shifa, is not quite so trusting of Zheng, especially when it’s clear the real danger they face from the villainous treasure hunters. Is there really hidden treasure? And who does it really belong to? The plot thickens with every page, and the wonder of the ocean and creatures who live in it is brilliantly brought to life. With action-packed moments throughout and a great friendship building between Raz, Shifa and Zheng – and not forgetting the blue whale – this is an adventure story everyone should escape into!

With thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me this book to review.

New review: The World Made a Rainbow by Michelle Robinson illustrated by Emily Hamilton

First published in September 2020 by Bloomsbury, with a proportion of proceeds for every sale going to Save the Children, The World Made a Rainbow is a delightful and moving story sharing a message of hope for young children and families – that is relevant for any day you might be feeling blue. Bestselling author Michelle Robinson was desperate to find a way to help small children navigate their way through the complex emotions caused by the lockdown. With charming illustrations from new talent Emily Hamilton, The World Made a Rainbow is the ideal picture book to share with all the family, giving them just the lift and spark of hope needed at this time.

I will happily admit, that as we live through another lockdown, and as life feels a bit like a never-ending hamster wheel, this story was just the encouragement I needed when I read it. Empathy and understanding pours from every page, as a little girl and her mum decide to make a rainbow to help everyone feel better about being stuck at home. Soon her Dad and her brother are helping too, bringing the family together as they create a symbol of hope for all and recall the happy times they have shared. Told with a rhyming narrative and bright and colourful illustrations, the story cleverly highlights all the things we might miss most whilst having to stay at home- family, friends, school days, going outside on adventures. And it reminds us that all those things are still there and will be there when this time comes to an end, and we will be able to make new memories, together.

Gemma Sherrington, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Save the
Children said: “The money raised from the sale of this heartwarming book will go towards supporting Save the Children’s programmes to help every child reach their full potential and to make sure they stay safe, healthy and learning.”

To explore the themes in the book with young children, you can use the activity pack to help with opportunities to think about the things that make you happy and colour your own rainbow.

As we approach #BookGivingDay 2021, I can’t think of a better book to gift a child (and their family) at this time – or any day when life isn’t quite where you want it to be.

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sharing this title with me. Find out more at


Today is my stop on the blog tour for the amazing BRITANNICA ALL NEW CHILDREN’S ENCYCLOPEDIA: What We Know and What We Don’t. The great joy of an encyclopedia for children is that the information has already been sifted and sorted by the experts, and is ready simply for them to enjoy and make use of as needed. As a school librarian, I could often be found encouraging children and young people to start with an encyclopedia for a foundation on which to build their knowledge. And you cannot get a stronger foundation than Encyclopedia Britannica, which has been inspiring learning since 1768!

BRITANNICA ALL NEW CHILDREN’S ENCYCLOPEDIA: What We Know and What We Don’t, edited by author and lecturer Christopher Lloyd, is the first book published under a new reference imprint, Britannica Books, a collaboration between Encyclopedia Britannica and What on Earth Publishing. With 416 pages of mind-boggling facts, data and visuals endorsed by more than 100 expert consultants, there is much to discover. Special features highlight some of the most intriguing facts and unsolved puzzles in science, archaeology, history and engineering and there are fascinating segments called FACTastic, Listified, Known Unknowns and Game Changers.

Today, I am sharing my thoughts on the section entitled ‘Humans’, almost fifty pages of dazzling insight into everything from how our bodies work to the clothes we wear, the food we eat, our emotions, human art and culture, money, crime and law, education and religion. Immediately you are struck by the high-quality production of the book and can see straightaway much thought has gone into making the information exciting and accessible. Layouts are colourful, easy to read and full of fantastic illustrations bringing the information to life.

This is the kind of book an avid reader will lap up and a reluctant reader will be very happy to dip in and out of – they won’t even realise they’re reading as they absorb the many fabulous facts on display in words and pictures! Facts like – a human being can make more than 10,000 different faces, and, scientists found 5,700 year old DNA in a piece of chewing gum! Alongside these engaging insights, children will learn so much more about human history, science and culture – this is a book readers will come back to again and again. It will also be very useful as an introduction to a whole range of topics – definitely one for the classtoom and school library.

My particular favourite spreads were (unsurprisingly) ‘Reading and Writing’ – did you know the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was written over 1,000 years ago by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting in the Japanese court? I didn’t! And the ‘Creating Art’ and ‘Performing Arts’ spreads showing just how important the Arts are to humans; creating art has been a part of our lives for over 40, 000 years. If you haven’t picked up an encyclopedia for a long time, then this is one I’d highly recommend- great to share in school and at home, inspiring curiosity and encouraging reading.

Find out more at

With thanks to Britannica Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Check out the rest of the tour: