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.

You can purchase Blob via the following

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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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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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What Happened to You? by James Catchpole

Published: 6 April 2021Goodreads badge
Faber & Faber
Illustrator: Karen George
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

This is the experience of one-legged Joe, a child who just wants to have fun in the playground. Constantly seen first for his disability, Joe is fed up of only ever being asked about his leg. All he wants to do is play Pirates.

But as usual, one after the other, all the children ask him the same question they always ask, “What happened to you?”

Understandably Joe gets increasingly angry until finally the penny drops and the children realise that it’s a question Joe just doesn’t want to answer…and that Joe is playing a rather good game…one that they can join in with if they can stop fixating on his missing leg.

Because children are children, after all.

I really liked this book, more than I thought I would. I picked it up based solely on the front cover and my curiosity of the story, but by the end I was surprised of the story direction. I thought it might have been a simple plotless book about understanding people were different but instead it’s a great story that demonstrates people are different but also have no obligation to tell you about it.

Immediately we’re told of Joe’s discomfort at having to meet other kids. Even as a young kid Joe is tired of people asking about his leg, interrupting his playtime. I loved that we start by seeing Joe playing, using his imagination and enjoying himself then show the trepidation as someone joins him. Catchpole doesn’t let us off easy though as page after page drives home Joe’s discomfort at the intrusive questions by the kids.

The illustrations and the text work well together as you can’t escape the visual of the kids ganging up on Joe, badgering him with questions and demanding an answer to their own curiosity. George keeps them simple but relevant and they are a great expression of Joe’s imagination.

I also liked how Joe turns the kids questions back on them, to ask their opinions. It’s great to show a young kid already have agency to make people understand how rude their questions can be, even if they are only curious. Catchpole also makes a great point of asking the question why people need to know. No one owes you an explanation. Of course everyone learns their lesson at the end, but what was great was that Joe isn’t the one to initiate it. Catchpole has told a great story about being yourself, using your words to push back against conversations you don’t want to have and it’s a great example that could be used in a myriad of other situations and circumstances.

You can purchase What Happened to You? via the following

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I’m Sticking with You Too by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Published: 7th September 2022Goodreads badge
Simon Schuster Children’s UK
Illustrator: Sam Small
Pages: 40
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Much-loved characters Bear and Squirrel are back! And they’ve found the perfect rhythm for their friendship. Until, that is, Chicken turns up… She wants in! But how will Bear and Squirrel feel about accepting a new friend? Will they come to see that some things work out when we do them together. That two can be good…but three can be BETTER?

This beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated follow-up to the bestselling I’m Sticking with You is the perfect book for examining how, even if new friends might disrupt the rhythm at first, the sense of belonging that friendship can bring has the potential to make your heart sing!

It’s a sweet story, one that is enjoyable but I felt may have been a smidge too drawn out. I can see what Prasadam-Halls was doing though, and in terms of the musical nature of the text and the story being told, there is justification to the length.

Chicken wants to join the rhythmic duo of Bear and Squirrel but they are a tight-knit duo who don’t want to ruin their good thing. Prasadam-Halls acknowledges that they aren’t being mean, but to them it wouldn’t work out and it’d throw off their groove.

The story is told in rhyme which makes it a quick read as you get caught up in the rhythm. Something that is a plus because there’s a few pages, though few words on each page. The illustration layout and the position of the text helps you get the beat right as well as enhances the story being told.

Small’s illustrations are great accompaniment and I liked the expressions and activities each character was doing. Minimal facial manipulation doesn’t stop there being great expressions and feelings of the characters.

There is very much a troubadour or minstrel group singing through the forest vibe from the story. Bear and Squirrel playing their instruments and sing along, then the three of them at the end is like a pictorial musical number. I liked how at the end it turns out they still don’t have a rhythm together, Bear and Squirrel were right, but they learn it doesn’t matter.

You can purchase I’m Sticking with You Too via the following

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