Monday, 7 October 2019

Review: Little Gems by Katherine Woodfine

I feel like I've been lucky so far when it comes to teaching my children about books and reading. I've written before about Girl Child's freakishly precocious literacy skills - it seems so weird now to think that when she was the age Preschooler is now she was already climbing up the Oxford Reading Tree. He shows no signs of following her example but loves books and is starting to 'read' by looking at pictures and guessing what the text might say. He's always wrong, but I know it's the first step towards literacy.

So I've no idea how hard it is for parents whose children are reluctant readers, or struggle to learn to read. But what I do know is that the range of books available to these children is fantastic these days, with many publishers realising the importance of providing books which are easier to read but still have compelling storylines suitable for older children. I've heard lots of good things about the Little Gems series by Barrington Stoke and was lucky enough to win two of their books in a Twitter giveaway recently.



Both books are written by Katherine Woodfine and are based on the lives of pioneering women in history, which is right up my street. 'Rose's Dress Of Dreams' tells the story of Rose Bertin, a French seamstress and fashion designer whose work was very influential in the French court of the 18th century.



It's a story of determination and grit as Rose sets out to follow her dreams of creating flamboyant fashion pieces despite many people, including her first employer, deriding her ideas. With hard work, patience and creativity, she manages to introduce her designs into court and becomes a sought after designer. The illustrations are by Kate Pankhurst who I've long been a fan of, and her quirky style is perfect for illustrating Rose's journey and creations.

'Sophie Takes To The Sky' is a reimagining of the childhood of Sophie Blanchard, one of the first female aeronauts. (At first I read it as astronaut and was very confused by the historical setting!!)



Sophie is a young girl who is afraid of almost everything, but longs to see a hot air balloon at the local fair. Step by step, she musters up the courage to travel to the fair and even explore the balloon up close - only to end up as an unwitting passenger on a flight! It's a lovely tale of courage and reinvention, and the illustrations by Briony May Smith are just gorgeous to look at, with stunning colours and so much detail.

I loved reading both books and think they would be great for struggling readers who like historical stories and tales of brave and determined girls. The stories are fairly short with clear, well spaced text that is very easy to read. I actually think that if they'd been out three years ago they'd have been perfect for Girl Child, there's nothing scary or inappropriate for younger readers so they would work well as early chapter books for any reader. Girl Child did enjoy them but prefers longer stories now, so I'll be keeping hold of them for when Preschooler starts to move on from picture books.

It's really encouraging to see a broadening range of books available to reluctant or emerging readers, and these two stories are a fantastic addition to that range.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

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3 comments:

  1. How lovely to get books from a giveaway. Even better that they include tales to inspire our girls to great things and to develop or build on a love of history. My daughter is an aspiring writer. #ReadWithMe

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  2. These do look lovely inspirational books for children to enjoy #readwithme

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  3. These sound really good. Books like this are so important for reluctant or struggling readers. They don't want to be stuck with Biff and Chip forever and need to be able to enjoy stories, even if they find it harder than some children to read.

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