Blog Archives

Fierce, Fearless and Free by Lari Don (Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon) – International Women’s Day Blog Tour Book Review


Happy International Women’s Day everyone.


Today I have a review of Lari Don’s collection of fierce, fearless and free girls from myths and legends around the world.


About the Book


A brilliant, inclusive collection of traditional tales from around the world featuring amazing women and girls. Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who – no, that’s not right! Once upon a time, there were strong, fierce women who plotted, schemed, took action, showed kindness, used magic and trickery, and made their own destiny. From the long-haired Petrosinella who escaped the tower and broke the spell that the ogress had cast over her and Nana Miriam who beat a hippo using politeness and magic, to Kate Crackernuts who tried to save her stepsister from her mother’s curse, these are stories of girls doing it for themselves! With stories drawn from all over the world, including China, Scotland, Armenia, Italy and Nigeria, Lari Don presents heroine stories that don’t leave girls sitting around waiting to be saved by the handsome prince.

About the Author


Lari Don is an award-winning writer for young people of all ages. She loved Scottish traditional tales as a child, and now loves gathering myths, legends and folktales from all over the world to inspire her novels. Since becoming a full-time author, she has written more than 30 children’s books, from picture books and early readers to middle-grade adventure novels and a teen thriller. Lari is passionate about visiting schools and libraries to share the traditional tales she loves, to show how those old stories can be used to inspire new stories, and to encourage young people to create their own adventures. Fierce, Fearless and Free is her fifth collection of traditional tales for Bloomsbury, returning to the theme of her first, the bestselling Girls, Goddesses and Giants. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two fierce, fearless and free daughters.

Website: www.laridon.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LariDonWriter

About the Illustrator


When Eilidh Muldoon isn’t drawing she’s thinking about drawing and she loves nothing in no more than to immerse herself in the world of traditional stories. Her sketch books are packed with detailed drawings and plots and plans. An illustrator and designer, she loves the variety of working one day on one of her popular colouring books or city-scape prints, and the next on one of Lari’s extraordinary heroines. This is her first book for Bloomsbury.

What I Thought


I really enjoyed the fact that there were tales inspired by local and international myths and seeing how fairytales such as Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood have a different spin in different areas.


Each story opens with a beautiful black and white illustration, with title and locality of the stories inspiration. Then comes Lari’s version of the tale. They are perfectly bite sized for a bedtime story or for readers to read independently.
At the back of the book Lari also briefly looks at the tale’s origins and I love how she highlights how and if she has adapted the stories. Each one has always been about the girls taking things into their own hands though – and the only thing Lari has usually changed is removing the trite “and she married a prince and lived happily ever after” endings. They aren’t needed – the resourcefulness and determination shown by the girls is the end goal.


My favourites were Neringa and the Sea Dragon (Lithuania – where you can visit the peninsula inspired by the tale), Bridget and the Witches (don’t leave your feet water out!), The Lace Dragon (even lace dragons breathe fire) and Medea and the Metal Man and now I’m just wondering how to slip that latter tale into my own Medea retelling.


I have one criticism and that is we needed a gorgeous hardback edition with full colour illustrations by Eilidh. After all girls deserve the best.


Fierce, Fearless and Free also has the well deserved title of hive’s Children’s Book of The Month – https://twitter.com/hivestores/status/1235572450647146496?s=21


Thanks to @fayerogerspr and @bloomsburyed for the #gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and to @laridonwriter and @EilidhMuldoon for giving us some fabulous #FierceFearlessAndFree tales for #IWD. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter – #YAShot2018 Blog Tour

Happy International Women’s Day everyone.

Today I’m pleased to be hosting an interview with author of Being Miss Nobody Tamsin Winter as part of the blog tour for #YAShot2018.

YAShot is the brainchild of author Alexia Casale and is a one day book convention taking place this year on April 14th. The theme for the programme this year is Human Rights and Being Miss Nobody is a perfect selection.

Synopsis

I have not been a very nice person

I have lied to a lot of people I know

I have done some bad things

All of these things I have done pretty much deliberately

…I am Miss Nobody.

Rosalind hates her new secondary school. She’s the weird girl who doesn’t talk. The Mute-ant. And it’s easy to pick on someone who can’t fight back. So Rosalind starts a blog – Miss Nobody; a place to speak up, a place where she has a voice. But there’s a problem…

Is Miss Nobody becoming a bully herself?

Interview with Tamsin Winter

What is selective mutism?

Selective mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder which makes it very difficult or impossible for someone to speak in certain situations. In Being Miss Nobody, Rosalind can speak completely normally in front of her immediate family, and her slightly batty next door neighbour, Mrs Quinney. In front of anyone else she can’t say even one word.

What is the worst thing about having it?

Not being able to ask for help, not being able to make friends, not being able to express yourself freely. SM is a condition which makes so many situations incredibly difficult. During my research for Being Miss Nobody I read about a young girl with SM who broke her arm at school but was unable to tell anyone, and nobody noticed she was in pain. For Rosalind, the worst thing is the terrible bullying she experiences at school. She is known as the weird girl who can’t speak and, because she remains silent, the bullying goes (mostly) entirely unnoticed.

What is the most positive aspect of having it?

SM is an anxiety disorder which, believe me, is not very much fun! But, people who have anxiety are usually hyper-sensitive. I can remember being called sensitive like it was a bad thing, and I used to think so too. But now I don’t agree. Being sensitive means you have a high level empathy, that you experience emotionsdeeply, and that you know what it’s like to not find life very easy. An anxiety disorder is not exactly a party, but it isn’t a death sentence either. Living with a mental health condition can make achieving things really, really hard. But it doesn’t make it impossible. Rosalind finds an awesome friend in Ailsa, who accepts her condition, supports her and most importantly of all – shows her kindness.

One of our human rights is the right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest. How do you think Rosalind’s blog Miss Nobody fits into that?

For Rosalind, her Miss Nobody blog is the only way she can speak out about what’s happening to her at school. She names the bullies and exposes them for what they are. She reaches out to other people who are being bullied, and she tells everyone exactly how it feels to be a victim of bullying. But she does all of this anonymously. Social media can be a wonderful way of speaking out but, as Rosalind discovers, it can easily spiral out of control.

Another right is the right to education. What would be your top tips to teachers and fellow students on helping someone with selective mutism to access school life?

The first step when teaching or communicating with a child who has SM is always acceptance of the condition. Accept that your student or classmate may not be able to respond through speech, but provide alternative ways for them to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Do not put them in a situation where they are expected to talk, or put under pressure to talk, as this will only make them feel more anxious. Do not exclude them from discussions or group work, instead find ways for them to join in. You have to be creative and you have to find out what will work for the individual student in your class because obviously, they are all different. Rosalind is given a set of cards she can use to signal different things like she needs help, or she needs the toilet, but she finds it very hard to use them at first because she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. She is given a notepad by her teacher which she uses to have silent conversations with her classmate Ailsa. Many young people with SM get excluded from activities, so it is important to involve them in the lesson and in conversations, but allow them to express themselves without speaking. The absolute most important thing is to show them kindness. Living with a mental health condition is really hard, especially at school. It makes an enormous difference when people are kind.

Obviously speaking up is a big theme of the book. Why was that important to you?

I’ve worked with so many young people who find it very difficult or even impossible to stand up and say what they think. It’s something I found extremely difficult as a teenager. I think we’ve all been in situations where we’ve been unable to speak up for ourselves but, for me, it is a crucial thing to be able to do. It’s important for friendships, for protecting ourselves, for showing people our true selves, for romantic relationships, for achieving what you want in your career, for sticking up for your beliefs and values. Speaking out takes an enormous amount of courage sometimes. But if you can do it, even for a moment, then you have the power to change your life.

Bullying is also a major issue in this book. What advice would you give to someone being bullied?

Tell someone you trust. Then tell someone else, and then tell someone else. Keep telling people until something is done about it. So many victims of bullying stay silent. It’s one of the ways bullies operate so effectively. I’ve read so many heartbreaking stories of bullying that ended in tragedy, and the question is always the same – why didn’t they tell anyone? People stay silent about being bullied for all kinds of reasons. They are scared it will get worse, they feel ashamed, they don’t think it will make any difference. We need to make it a lot easier for young people to speak out if they are being bullied.

And what advice would you give to someone who has realised they might be bullying someone else?

I don’t believe that anyone is born mean. I don’t think that bullies are happy, fulfilled people. I think there are some young people who have had hate poured into them, and it comes out in bullying behaviour towards others. If someone gets kicks out of being mean to someone, then they’re probably in a home environmentwhere they don’t get shown very much kindness. If you’ve realised that you’re bullying someone, then I’d suggest owning up and asking for some help. Your victims may not be ready to hear an apology directly, so the best apology is changing your actions. I hope Being Miss Nobody ultimately has a positive and important message about bullying. We always have a choice in anything we do, so we can always choose to be kind.

What I thought

I really loved this. Ironically Rosalind had a very strong voice throughout and she really went on a journey of development, but one with a realistic ending, where everything isn’t completely perfect.

I adored her brother Seb and once again thought that it was a wise decision not to have Rosalind’s selective mutism arise as a result of his ill health.

The power of social media to give people a voice is explored so well and is balanced alongside the notion that it can also be used to silence or speak over others. It’s a tool that can be used in many ways and I think this book does a great job of addressing how to use it morally.

Huge thanks to Tamsin for taking the time to answer the questions. Join her and a host of other authors at #YAShot2018 – http://www.yashot.co.uk/.

To win a signed copy of Being Miss Nobody (UK only – winner selected after Sun 11th 5pm). Post the following to Twitter with your own response to the …

Being Miss Nobody by @MsWinterTweets is about speaking up. I found my voice when … (#yashot2018, @kirstyes @yashotmediateam)

Happy International Women’s Day

Women can be are strong,
crying does not make us weak;
but human,
the same goes for men.
 
You are a woman
if you are tall or short,
skinny or chubby,
mammaried, small, wonky or removed,
in dresses or trousers,
and simply if you identify as such.
 ….
Woman can be whatever they want,
in charge, on the way to the moon;
or followers, feet firmly on the ground.
At home, in work and both.
Woman can achieve things,
the vote, prizes, records,
and one day,
hopefully soon,
equality.
 ….
If you are a woman or
love a woman
or both.
If you were born from a woman
(yes that’s everyone)
then this day is important.
Celebrate the women in your life.
Celebrate the men too.
Celebrate yourself.
Make your happiness happen.
 …
Happy International Women’s Day to all of the fantastic women I know and all of the men that love them. This year’s theme is Make it Happen, let’s take a step closer to equality, #heforshe and #sheforhe. 

 

%d bloggers like this: