BAME female characters in picture books

Yesterday The Guardian shared their research showing that the top 100 illustrated children’s books last year showed growing marginalisation of female and minority ethnic characters.

We take pride in stocking a diverse range of books and work hard to ensure every child can find themselves represented on our shelves. These beautifully diverse and gender-stereotype-squashing books are out there and this article highlights the importance of independent bookshops and booksellers who can get them into children’s hands.

We’ve put together a gallery of fantastic picture books that fit the criteria, available now or being published in the next few months. Look at them all! Aren’t they stunning. We would be very happy to share these books with you and will be adding them to our online shop over the next week. If you would like to order any now, contact us at the shop and we will work our bookseller magic.

Are there any brilliant books you would like to see added to our gallery? Comment on this post or get in touch via social media and share your favourites.

The Dragon in the Library – sneak peek and Q&A with Louie Stowell

Kit can’t STAND reading! She’d MUCH rather be outside, playing games and getting muddy, than stuck inside with a book. But when she’s dragged along to the library one day by her two best friends, she makes an incredible discovery – and soon it’s up to Kit and her friends to save the library … and the world.

The Dragon in the Library is a fun, fast-paced adventure packed with mild peril and magic. It’s also a brilliant celebration of the power of reading and the special role that libraries play in the world. With tons of lively illustrations by David Ortu and a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, this book will appeal to newly confident readers. Perfect for Key Stage 1, here’s a sneak peek inside…

Louie Stowell has kindly answered some of our burning questions…

Q:  What are your top tips for budding authors learning to write funny books?

A:  Think about what makes YOU laugh. The more fun you have while you’re writing something, the more other people will find it funny. Also, here are a few simple tips for writing humour:

1) Characters who don’t realise they’re doing something (this is called lack of self-knowledge), especially very pompous characters. Make them do really silly things while insisting that they are serious people who should be taken VERY seriously. This works especially well with adult characters.

2) Read a lot of funny books. The funny will seep into your blood without you noticing. Funny is infectious. You can also, if you’re hardcore, study funny books. When you laugh, think… what did the writer do that made me laugh?

3) Poo. See also farts, burps, wee, vomit.

Q: What is your best tip for kids who are struggling with reading (if a dragon isn’t available)

A: Comics! I have always loved comics, and I think they’re for everyone, from the biggest bookworms to people who’d rather be doing almost anything else except read. It’s a different type of storytelling, and it hooks into a different bit of your brain somehow. Whether you like stories about everyday life or ones about superheroes, there are so many amazing comics out there to discover. Always happy to give recommendations! I’m a big fan of The Phoenix, a weekly comic, but also book series like Amulet – a magical adventure involving giant robots.

Q: What is your fave dragon fact?

A: I love that dragons turn up in mythology all over the world and that, in some countries, such as China, they’re seen as the good guys. I’m Team Dragon, so I appreciate that.

Q: And now.. the killer question… Wow us with something we didn’t already know…

A: Tardigrades – also known as water bears or moss piglets – are microscopic (aka very tiny) creatures that can survive almost anything. They’re so tough they could survive in outer space, or in a volcano. They’re also adorable. Look!

Tardigrades. Adorable? Space monster? Evil clawed dust-burrower? What do you think?

Huge thanks to Louie for sharing her answers and freaking us all out with tardigrades! You can follow Louie on twitter here.

You can grab your copy of The Dragon in the Library from our online shop here!

Our Books of the Month for May

A Mouse Called Julian by Joe Todd-Stanton – Julian likes living on his own but will that change after his dinner is rudely interrupted one night? 

Dave Pigeon (Royal COO!) by Swapna Haddow, ill. Sheena Dempsey  The fourth hilarious offering from our favourite pigeons, Dave and his best mate Skipper. 6+

Swimming Against the Storm by Jess Butterworth  – An exciting adventure with an environmental message set in the swampland of the Southern states of America. 9+

You Can’t Hide by Sarah Mussi A page-turning YA thriller complete with an unreliable narrator, secret identities and lost memories. Absolutely gripping!

Book review- Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet

Written by Zanib Mian and illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

Welcome, readers, to the imaginative brain of Omar! You might not know me yet, but once you open the pages of this book you’ll laugh so hard that snot will come out of your nose (plus you might meet a dragon and a zombie – what more could you want?).

My parents decided it would be a good idea to move house AND move me to a new school at the same time.

As if I didn’t have a hard enough time staying out of trouble at home, now I’ve also got to try and make new friends. What’s worse, the class bully seems to think I’m the perfect target. At least Eid’s around the corner which means a feast (YAY) and presents (DOUBLE YAY). Well, as long as I can stay in Mum and Dad’s good books long enough…

Previously published as ‘THE MUSLIMS’, this was the winner of the Little Rebels Award in June 2018. The text has been revised, expanded with new scenes and re-illustrated.

We LOVE this Tom Gates- style book for younger readers. Perfect for 7+ and full of fun, it’s also beautifully diverse and gives a great insight into Muslim culture, promoting empathy and understanding. Brilliant for school book corners and fab for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.