Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

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It’s Her Story: Irena Sendler

This is a fascinating graphic novel about Irena Sendler, a humanitarian and social worker in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

Her job allowed her to pass through the armed gates of the Warsaw ghetto, bringing limited aid to the 450,000 Jewish people who were forcibly moved there. In secret, Irena built a network of people to smuggle 2,500 children out of the ghetto, saving their lives. And in a hidden jar, she kept their family names.

This is her story. Part of the It’s Her Story series from Sunbird Books.

Margaret Littman, the author  lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is a writer  and editor. She writes stories about people who have done amazing things and explored country music  and huge amounts of different and exciting projects. In her book Irena Sendla, Margaret retraces some of her ancestry from Poland.

Sara Luna is an illustrator from Los Angeles with a wonderful portfolio of illustrations for children’s books.

Sunbird Books are the publishers with a portfolio of innovative and original books for children. From board books to picture books to graphic novels, their  titles represent strong, lively, and diverse voices that reflect children’s realities and feed their imaginations.

Sue Martin – Children’s Literacy Specialist

Books Go Walkabout

Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture      Cressida Cowell 2023

How To Train Your Reader and Life-Changing Libraries.

Cressida Cowell is the multi-award-winning author and illustrator of the bestselling The Wizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon series, and the author of the Emily Brown picture books, illustrated by Neal Layton. She was the Waterstones Children’s Laureate from 2019 – 2022.

An absolute joy to spend an hour listening to Cressida Cowell at the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture 2023, talking about young readers, the enormous need for a library in every primary school in the country and most important of all, the huge benefit and impact on ‘Reading for Pleasure’ for children and young people.

Many facts and quotes show the absolute importance of enabling all children to be able to read, to find themselves in another world, to seek adventures, to solve problems and to be immersed in words and illustrations.

This very short blog is just a tiny ‘eye squirt’ of a huge consideration of the problem we seem to have drifted into, whereby, our children are not engaged with reading for pleasure. Instead as Cressida pointed out, we are bombarding them with codes, structures, and methods to decode words. What we are not doing is engaging with them to impact on their creativity, their emotional intelligence, their understanding of worlds not of their own making and so much more.

Cressida quoted Einstein many times and the one that stood out for me,

 If you want a child to be intelligent read them fairy tales’.

Apparently reading for joy is a key indicator for future success. That was no surprise to me, but it seems that government circles are not so sure about the ‘fairy tale’ image of a good education and prefer other more stringent measures, even if they don’t work!

Cressida’s many books are full of her own illustrations which are part of the reading process and give as much to the book as the words. Engaging, dynamic, stimulating and so expressive. She has created characters and situations for anyone to follow the story and turn the pages.

The book is the ultimate survivor’, said Cressida where  books and words have been with us for so long and will continue. The book covers she saw as enticing ‘sweets’ to appeal to her readers and indicate just a sparkle of what was inside!

Whilst being Children’s Laureate from 2019-2022, Cressida created the Life Changing Libraries programme and the designs and books of the libraries which were created in primary schools were stunning, ‘Reading is Magic!’

‘Writing for children is the best thing to do’ said Cressida with so much enthusiasm and joy. We are so lucky to have an author who is sparked by this love and enjoyment and desire to reach out to children everywhere. And her final quote was from Garrison Keiller,

Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.’

With many thanks to the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture for this stunning talk to a packed audience in Homerton College Cambridge.

Sue Martin – Children’s Literacy Specialist

Books Go Walkabout

Letters to Anyone and Everyone by Toon Tellegen , illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg

A collection of special letters…

Winner of the Marsh Award 2011 for Children’s Literature in Translation. Translated by Martin Cleaver. In this newly formatted edition of Letters to Anyone and Everyone, Toon Tellegen conjures up a world where the creatures of the earth can send a letter to the sun (and get an answer); where you can actually write a letter to a letter; and where just writing something down can make it true. Perfectly complemented by Jessica Ahlberg’s delicate illustrations.

Ever since I received this book it has stayed by my sofa. It is so delightfully calm and intuitive. The idea of writing a letter and receiving a wonderful reply is so stunning. Wouldn’t that go some way to solving some of the worlds’ problems!! ( Don’t quote me on that one!)

The tortoise for instance, who had a problem as he woke up to discover he was in a hurry! So he wrote to snail, who replied…

Dearest Tortoise,

That is a tragedy for you. It’s so cruel when you’re in a hurry. Fight your way out of it and defeat it. Fold it into an insignificant ball, then bury it in the ground. Above all, keep your cool, If you and I lose cool, what then?

The snail.

What a joy! Heartfelt and emotive, great for learning about empathy.

The new hardback edition with bookmarking ribbon is a wonderful book to have and that is why I and others in the family keep reading it again and again.

Written by Toon Tellegen is a Dutch writer, poet, and physician, known for children’s books, especially those featuring anthropomorphised animals. The illustrator, Jessica Ahlberg studied at Winchester School of Art and illustrated many books for children. She lives in Brighton and is the daughter of Janet and Allen Ahlberg.

Published by Boxer Books, this edition is an excellent part of their increasing and beautiful portfolio.

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Specialist

Frida Kahlo at V&A Museum in London

Frida Kahlo - cover image and web link

Start your art journey here…

The V&A Museum in London is holding an exhibition of the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

In our Dolphin Book Blog we wrote about the Little People, Big Dreams series of books from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books featuring Frida, and are delighted that this exhibition is taking place. This book can  be purchased by clicking on the book cover.

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist born in 1907, she painted many portraits, including self-portraits with a strong style and combination of colour, realism and surrealism. Frida was interested in politics and in 1927 joined the communist party, where she met Diego Riviera. Later that year they married and through a tumultuous time they travelled across Mexico and the United States in the 1930’s.

Buy this book - image and web link

…with free delivery!


In 1938 Frida had a solo exhibition in The Julien Levy Gallery in New York, which led to other exhibitions, some solo and some with Diego. After an exhibition in Paris, the Louvre purchased one of Frida’s paintings, which was the first Mexican artist to be featured in their collections.

Self-portrait on the Border between Mexico and the United States of America, Frida Kahlo, 1932. © Modern Art International Foundation, Courtesy María and Manuel Reyero.

In 1953, Frida had her first solo exhibition in Mexico, but sadly her health had deteriorated and she died in 1954 at the age of 47. By the 1970’s Frida became a recognised figure in art history and also as an icon for Chicanos, the feminist movement and LGBTQ movement.

The exhibition at the V&A Museum presents an extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to Frida, which has been locked away for over 50 years. There are also some of her paintings and the chance to see this remarkable style should not be missed.

Sue Martin

Books Go Walkabout

The Seal Children by Jackie Morris

The Seal Children - cover image

Review or purchase this book from Amazon.co.uk here…

The Seal Children by Jackie Morris has been republished in this captivating edition by Otter-Barry Books.

The water colours on every page are a joy in themselves and you can spend so much time just looking as they portray the story in picture.

The story is about a fisherman who falls in love with a Selkie – half woman, half seal – she gives him her seal skin as a sign of her love, and bears him two children, Ffion and Morlo, before returning to her own people. When a stranger comes to the village, telling of a land far away, the children remember their mother’s stories of the cities of gold and pearls beneath the waves….

This is a wonderful book from Jackie Morris. Presented in a beautiful new gift edition, this is a haunting story of love and freedom, for all ages.

‘A lyrical story with beautifully painted watercolours’  – Books for Keeps

A book for everyone to have, in the home to share, and to read alone, in schools for all sorts of projects in education and in the libraries. It is a book that definitely will not be staying long on the shelves but will be on the table, by the rug or in the fireside chair ready to be read time and time again.

Recommended for all ages and especially for me!!

Sue Martin Dolphin Booksellers and Books Go Walkabout

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Little People, Big Dreams

Coco Chanel cover image...

Buy this from Amazon.co.uk here…

This is a new series of books from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, which tell people’s stories, and how they became famous. Starting off as children, finding a dream and following it through to a successful career.

The first book follows Coco Chanel, from her early life in an orphanage, where she is a genius with needle and thread, to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and international fashion designer.The book is written by Ms Isabel Sanchez Vegara and with beautifully stylised illustrations by Ana Albero.

The second book is about Frida Kahlo, she wanted to study medicine but had a bad childhood accident. But despite a terrible time her career culminated in a solo exhibition in America.

These are inspirational biographies perfect for encouraging children to follow their dreams. They are excellently published books in hardback and encourage you to open them from the start. I was in The British Library recently and noticed that many people just had to peep inside.

Frida Kahlo cover image...

Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk…

In each book there is a fact section and a timeline.

Future books will include Maya Angelou and Amelia Earhart, can’t wait for that one!

We love these books and recommend for children from 6 years to 9 years.

Sue Martin

Dolphin Booksellers and Books Go Walkabout

The Arabel & Mortimer Series by Joan Aiken, illustrated by Quentin Blake

A wonderful series and now republished with Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Image 2Mortimer and Sword Excalibur is the fifth book and Mrs Jones packs Arabel and Mortimer off for a quiet afternoon in Rainwater Crescent Gardens. But as Mortimer investigates the new underground car park he discovers that it is just possible that the long lost sword, Excalibur is waiting to be found.

The Spiral Stair, is based in the zoo. Arabel comes to the rescue as Mortimer becomes entangled in snakes and giraffes.

The books are an excellent new edition and the compact size is just right for an emerging reader, or even for a fluent reader in the midst of a busy holiday time.

Illustrations are, undoubtedly the best of Quentin Blake and portray the characters brilliantly. The text is pure Joan Aiken, with the sharpness of the story intrigue and mix of humdrum life and exciting adventure.

Image 1

Sue Martin

Dolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books always on line

A Day I Remember
by Prodeepta Das

Image 1My Uncle’s Amazing Indian Wedding is certainly a day to remember and this book is full of colour and images with text that shows just how the whole community is involved in the wedding.

The girls had mehndi ( henna) on their hands.The groom had holy water sprinkled over him from the temple and Swayam, the boy in the story was going to be the markundhi, a very important person at the wedding.

This a story that many children will relate to about going into a culture of their own backgrounds and making a special journey to visit family in India.

Published by Frances Lincoln and written by Prodeepta Das, this is a great book for families and for schools.

Dolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books always on line

Eddie’s Tent and
How to go Camping

Image 4When Mum, Tom, Tilly, Lily and Eddie decide to go on a holiday, a camping trip sounds like the ideal break.

After setting up camp, there are lots of adventures ahead for Eddie and his family.

The first adventure was how to get the tent in place and eventually beds are ready and Mum has a flask of hot chocolate, even though she looks very ready for sleep herself!

A wonderful new book about a family holiday, with adventures for Eddie along the way, including a hunt for Bouncer the dog, in the big dark wood. This will have appeal for parents, boys and girls. The illustrations are great and show the characters of the children really well. At the end there is a section on Tips for Campers and a note on knots, and a charming picture of how to tie the dog’s lead to a tree!

It is written and illustrated by Sarah Garland and published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

A book which will certainly find a place in my bookshelf.

Sue Martin Dolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books, always on line.

Azzi in Between

Image 2Azzi and her parents are in danger. They have to leave their home and escape to another country on a frightening journey by car and boat.

This is a telling story, set in graphic novel format and now available in paperback from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

It is written and illustrated by Sarah Garland, who has worked directly with refugee families and the text shows that Sarah has been able to hear and understand the thoughts from children as they leave friends and family.

But for all the hardships, this book explores the resilience of children and the times when Azzi, starts to make friends and to learn at school are so valuable for her and her family.

A quote from Julia Eccleshare, ‘ Sarah Garland tenderly creates a story of home from the troubled experience of immigration in this warm-hearted picture book.’

This is a great story to share and to have in any school or home. We recommend to all our schools and Children’s Centres

Sue Martin – Dolphin Booksellers – the best in children’s books, always on line

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