Blob by Anne Appert

Published: 14th September 2021Goodreads badge
Illustrator: Anne Appert
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Blob is a creature of indeterminate kind. Blob can be a giraffe, cotton candy, and even an octopus. It’s not until a negligent (albeit well-meaning) narrator continuously calls them “Bob” that Blob starts to question who they really are.

After a series of funny yet enlightening discoveries about all the possible things they can be, Blob realizes that the best thing to be is…


(With the L.)

The story is written as a dialogue between Blob and the narrator alongside cute illustrations. The story follows our introduction to Blob as they demonstrate all the wonderful things they can turn into as well as work out who they want to be.

It’s funny be also endearing to watch Blob’s journey of self-discovery and Appert’s illustrations are creative and charming which show off a lot of Blob’s personality. I love Blob’s design and the way the illustrations are laid out on the page adds to the story.

I liked that Blob stands up to the narrator as they keep getting things wrong and presuming things about them. Appert shows that there’s still time to find out what you want to be and to have the courage to go after it. It’s a deceptively simple story but one that shows taking chances and standing up for who you are despite what other people say you are is always worth the risk.

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My Own Way by Joana Estrela Translated by Jay Hulme

Published: 1st March 2022Goodreads badge
: Wide Eyed Editions
: Joana Estrela
: Jay Hulme
: 40
: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Small children are often asked to choose between a gendered binary–”boy” or “girl”, “pink” or “blue”. This colorful picture book smashes these stereotypes and encourages the reader to follow their own way!

“Girl or Boy?”
What brings you joy?
“Pink or blue?”
It’s up to you.

With vibrant illustrations and concise, poetic text, this powerful book teaches young children that there are no limits in what you can do and who you can be.  You are unique!

Translated from the original Portuguese by award-winning transgender poet Jay Hulme, My Own Way is an important, timely, and beautiful celebration of identity, difference, and respect.

I picked this book up with reasonable expectations but I wasn’t expecting it to be as profound and lovely as I did. There are sometimes only three words on a page but they are impactful words. The story reminds the reader that it’s up to them to decide who they want to be. It starts off familiarly with the choice of blue or pink, girl or boy, emphasising what brings you joy is most important.

There’s wonderful messages that whether man or woman you should be as kind as you can, also that boy and girl doesn’t cover everyone and you might be both or none. I love that a book with such simple text can actually be more impactful than a story where a child is exploring their identity through a plot. Those are amazing as well, but I loved the simplicity of this.

There are fantastic lines like “your truth isn’t hidden underneath your clothes” and “your truth is something only you can know”. Kids should be told they can be and feel however they want and it’s ok, that there’s more to them than whether they are a boy or a girl and Estrela and Hulme do that beautifully. There is also a great message that it’s up to each person to say who they are and no one else.

The pictures are simple and minimal on character detail but they accompany the words well. Full page and brightly coloured they stand out with unusual colour combinations as well as great symbolic use that colours don’t always match the people society expects them to match.

With only a few words there is a lot of important lessons being learnt and I’m amazed that so much can be said with so few words and I applaud Estrela and Hulme for presenting it so well.

You can purchase My Own Way via the following

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It Fell From the Sky by The Fan Brothers

Published: 28 September 2021 by Goodreads badge
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Illustrator: Fan Brothers
Pages: 48
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.

Spider builds a wondrous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?

But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?

Immediately the illustrations grab you eye, before any hint of a story. The Fan brothers use colour well and the way it’s used to bring life to the garden is done well. The contrast of the black and white against the colour of the marble is impactful from the moment you open the book and the colour choice, or lack of colour, sets up a wonderful mood for the story. It’s not only the colours, the illustrations themselves are gorgeous. Double spreads of the garden and the insects in it. It was amazing that a place usually full of colour could still look so stunning in black and white.

From a delightful mystery I loved how it then turned into a story of greed and extortion and while there isn’t a lesson spelled out, it’s clear that the selfish among them understand their mistakes and try to make it right, all keeping within the quiet, calm nature of the story.

It is a lovely story that shows a little word beneath our feet where bugs and other insects live and the wonders of our everyday may seem to them. I loved how each insect approached the object and used their experience and interpretations to understand it. It’s amazing how a relatively simple story could be so touching.

You can purchase It Fell From the Sky via the following

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Pom Pom Gets the Grumps by Sophy Henn

Published: 6 October 2015Goodreads badge
Philomel Books
Illustrator: Sophy Henn
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

When Pom Pom Panda wakes up in a BAD mood one morning, nothing is right. And then things go from bad to worse.

This is a simple story of a panda who gets on the wrong side of the bed and realises if he yells at everyone he’ll have no one to play with. It is a cute story, enjoyable and a quick read. The illustrations are adorable and I loved Pom Pom’s cranky face and the various trials and tribulations he endures through his bad day.

I also loved the animal friends and their designs. Henn uses the layout well to tell the story just as effectively through images and variety of colours throughout add an extra element too.

Overall a basic story but it’s cute and enjoyable which is all you can ask from a book to be fair.

You can purchase Pom Pom Gets the Grumps via the following

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Rodney Was A Tortoise by Nan Forler

Published: 15th February 2022
Tundra Books
Illustrator: Yong Ling Kang
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Bernadette and Rodney are the best of friends. Rodney’s not so good at playing cards, but he’s great at staring contests. His favorite food is lettuce, though he eats it VERRRRRRY SLOOOOOWLY. And he’s such a joker! When Bernadette goes to sleep at night, Rodney is always there, watching over her from his tank.

As the seasons pass, Rodney moves slower and slower, until one day he stops moving at all. Without Rodney, Bernadette feels all alone. She can’t stop thinking about him, but none of her friends seem to notice. Except for Amar.

With a title like this you know going in it’s going to make you sad, and yet I persevered. I’m glad I did because it is a beautiful story Forler has created about acknowledging that even though Rodney isn’t a conventional pet, or one you could play with in the traditional sense, he still was a pet and Bernadette had all of the same feelings that go with that.

Kang’s illustrations are absolutely adorable. The expressions on Rodney’s face is delightful and the pictures of him and Bernadette having fun together are beautiful and simple watercolours. The watercolours vary from small pictures beside relevant text to full page or double page spreads. I liked how the pictures changed size for their purpose and Rodney was kept as realistic as possible even in all of Bernadette’s activities.

Forler describes grief in a way children can understand, the feeling of hurt in your stomach that won’t go away, and feeling sad that the normal things you would do are different. The symbolism of Bernadette going into her shell is clever and it’s great how Forler uses Amar as an outside force to get Bernadette to come back to the world.

The ending is simple and sweet and Forler doesn’t feel the need to explain anything to the reader. It’s a bitter sweet tale of old friends and new friends and finding a new path after losing someone you loved.

You can purchase Rodney Was A Tortoise via the following

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