Since I started blogging over four years ago I’ve seen an emergence of books featuring fantastically feisty females. From intrepid inventors, plucky princesses and fearless fairy tale characters there are a plethora of books to inspire and excite a generation of young readers. Their bravery and determination even in the most difficult of circumstances makes for intriguing and enticing storytelling. Today I am sharing some of my favourite new releases, featuring bold and empowered characters who will hopefully inspire children today.
Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention by Pip Jones, illustrated Sara Ogilvie
I was thrilled to discover that Izzy and Fixer are back for a brand new adventure. When Izzy is invited to take part in the Invention Convention, she questions whether she is good. Although her inventions are marvellous, magnificent they sadly often malfunction. With time ticking away, nothing seems to be going Izzy’s way. Everyone else is using all the cogs, wires, belts and wheels, leaving her with a pile of old broken tools. Inspired by Fixer, Izzy decides that success lies in repairing not creating. All she needs to do is just conquer her nerves and embrace her fears. Filled with Pip’s trademark lively rhymes that capture Izzy’s frenetic inventing style, this is a joy to read aloud. Sara’s energetic and humorous spreads capture Izzy’s personality perfectly. Another sublime collaboration from Pip and Sara, this is a triumph of a book.
The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock
‘The Snow Dragon,’ was one of my favourite stories in ‘Winter Magic,’ so I was delighted to discover that Abi was adapting this stunning tale into a picture book, which would be illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators Fiona Woodcock. Phoebe is the only child left at Griselda’s Home for Strays and is hoping that one day might be her miracle day, when she would have a real life family of her own. Locked away in the kennels as punishment by the cruel Griselda, Phoebe is all out of hope when a Snow Dragon appears whisking her away on a extraordinary adventure. This dragon encourages Phoebe to be brave and to never give up hope, even in the darkest of times. Her courage and belief in a happy future despite all the odds helps change her destiny in the most remarkable way. Abi and Fiona have created something truly magical. Every sumptuous spread is a joy to behold. A perfect partnership of words and illustrations.
Superkitty by Hannah Whitty, illustrated by Paula Bowles
Kitty is fed up of answering phones at the Sensational Superhero Agency and is desperate to become a real life superhero and is determined to help track down the most fearsome of criminals. When a call comes in about a stolen dinosaur bone Kitty feels this her chance to prove she is just as good as the others. Ignoring their demands to stay at home and iron their capes, she shadows them and watches as they get distracted on their way by bakeries, hairdressers and running races. By the time they catch up with Nefarious Norman there’s only Kitty left to confront him but does she have the courage to stand up to this dastardly dog burglar? Brilliantly told with lots of humour this was a huge hit when I shared it at school during storytime. Kitty is a hero that everyone can get behind and Paula manages to capture her drive and determination wonderfully in her bold and vibrant spreads. Filled with fun and feistiness, this is a real treat of a book.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri, retold by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Briony May Smith
I remember with fondness reading the story of Heidi as a small girl and Nosy Crow have produced an exquisite new version that is bound to captivate young readers today, bringing this story to live for a whole new generation. Heidi is an orphan sent to live with her grumpy Grandpa in the Swiss Alps, instead of feeling sorry for herself she embraces her new life even managing to see through her Grandpa’s gruffness and find the kindness hidden in him. Loving her new life, she is devastated to be sent to Frankfurt to be a companion to a sick girl. But Heidi always sees the good in everything and is doggedly determined to make a difference to Clara’s life when everyone around her has given up. Jeanne captures the true essence of this classic in this beautiful new version, while Briony May’s glorious illustrations wonderfully enhance this story. Every page is filled with the most sublime and intricate illustration, she has a real gift for bringing characters to life. Lovingly produced, this gift edition would make a perfect gift for any young reader in your life who is fond of beautiful storytelling.
The Lost Fairy Tales retold by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Ana Sender
We are all too familiar with fairy tales where females are waiting in towers, glass coffins and in cellars waiting to be rescued by their princes. Luckily for us Isabel Otter has discovered a whole host of overlooked and forgotten fairy tales that she has curated into a wonderful anthology featuring twenty female heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing. Comprising tales from all over the world our heroines refuse to be defined as helpless and while they don’t always make the right decisions, they stay true to themselves. We have wives rescuing husbands, giants being outwitted and impossible tasks being conquered. What these heroines have in common is their approach to life, they seize the day and are brave and cunning and nobody expects them to be able to succeed. Sublimely illustrated, this is a gorgeous collection of tales that are bound to inspire and empower.
Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror -by Natasha Farrant, illus. by Lydia Corry
Natasha Farrant has created a collection of original stories featuring princesses who are bold, full of curiosity and looking for adventure. Discovered by an enchantress who throws her magic mirror into our universe, she sees reflected in it, princesses who are very different. They are determined to be true to themselves in worlds that try to define who they are by the fact they are princesses and expect them to behave in a certain way. Using contrasting modern and traditional styles of storytelling we meet a forest princess who takes on a very unladylike crocodile for a pet and an urban princess who fights to protect her community garden from the hands of greedy developers. I really enjoyed how different the tales are and by including modern tales it makes this story feel really relevant for readers today who want to help protect the world around them. Lydia’s illustrations are truly beautiful, wonderfully capturing the spirit of adventure in these tales. A fairy tale collection for modern children who are looking to inspired to take action in a world that doesn’t expect them to.
All of these wonderful books are available to buy online (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop. With thanks to Paula Bowles, Little Tiger Press, Nosy Crow, Simon and Schuster and Zephyr for sending me gifted copies of the books.