Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Sam’s Mommy

1 child aged 3.
Joined January 2016

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Entered a Giveaway 23rd March '19

Book pages Placeholder Book
Lightning Mary
For Ages
9, 10, 11, 12 & 13
No. of Copies
End Date
16th Apr '19
Open to residents of Republic of Ireland & United Kingdom

Won a Giveaway 19th March '19

Entered a Giveaway 17th March '19

Book pages Placeholder Book
Poppy And Sam's Bedtime
For Ages
3, 4, 5 & 6
No. of Copies
End Date
19th Mar '19
Open to residents of Republic of Ireland & United Kingdom

Wrote a Review 17th March '19

Book pages The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle
I read it (an adult)
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is a hugely relevant, gripping and enjoyable book. It’s moving and full of warmth. We follow the lives of Caylin and Reema, two girls (aged 11 and 12 respectively) who live on a pretty bleak housing estate in Glasgow. Drumhill has been home to Caylin all her life; Reema is a Syrian refugee and she and her family have only moved there recently. In alternating chapters, we hear the story from each girl’s perspective.

To the outside world Caylin seems unlikeable: she’s surly, a bully, and a shoplifter. However, these behaviours stem from a troubled home life which she keeps secret. Her mom is unemployed and an alcoholic. Caylin has been forced to assume the role of young carer and is pretty much left to fend for herself. She shoplifts food to survive. Reema too is misunderstood by others: she speaks a different language and wears a hijab. The similarities between the two girls continue; both girls have experienced trauma. Caylin has seen her mother beaten by a former partner. Reema has lived through the atrocities of war: bombings and gas attacks. Now she faces Islamophobic racism. Reading about these struggles and hardships fosters empathy, and one of the strengths of this book is its ability to let us see the world through these young girls’ eyes.

There is a third female voice too – that of Hurriyah the injured fox who is struggling to care for her young. Her story runs parallel to the girls’ stories and is beautifully told in a series of poems.

This is the story of an unlikely friendship forged amidst pain and hardship. The relationship has a shaky start. Both girls are brittle and cautious, each wary of the other. However, they are brought together by the injured fox and her cubs whom they both try to protect. They share another interest too: running. Reema, nicknamed the White Gazelle by her brother, is proud of her speed and stamina. Whereas Caylin’s ability as a runner is mixed up with painful memories of her grandparents and it’s a talent she tries to hide. As the story develops, the girls learn to support each other with their running.

Another of the book’s strongest themes is the importance of family. With her brother missing in Syria and her father’s health deteriorating, Reema’s family unit seems broken. Yet their strong family bond sustains them all. Reema comes to realise that although their physical home in Syria may be lost, home is wherever the family is together. Similarly, Caylin is eventually sustained and bolstered by her memories of her grandparents. There is also hope for Caylin with the arrival of Brian, her mom’s new boyfriend. He is a caring and loving man, and a calming and unifying family presence.

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is moving and life-affirming and full of hope and friendship. I loved it. Reema and Caylin are nuanced, believable lead characters who you root for from the start.

Wrote a Review 17th March '19

Book pages Daddy Hairdo
Daddy Hairdo
I read it to Samuel aged 3
Daddy Hairdo is a brilliantly funny new picture book about a little girl, called Amy, and her dad. As Amy’s hair grows and grows, Dad’s drops out and soon he’s pretty much bald apart from the tufts above his ears. There are some great scenes as Amy and her dad consider what might have happened to Dad’s hair (a hair-raising round-the-world adventure perhaps?). Amy’s hair, by contrast, is the stuff of fairy tales. Eventually, it gets so long that she can’t stand on the floor anymore and has to be carried around.

Dad needs to come up with a solution. Fast. Amy’s hair is taking a lot of looking after and it’s ruining her games of hide and seek. After careful research and hours of pet- and topiary-based practice, Dad perfects the Daddy Hairdo. His creations are fabulously outrageous and extravagant. For example, there’s the ‘Ice Cream Cone’ (complete with sprinkles and a cherry), and the rocket-topped ‘Rings of Saturn’. Children and parents alike will delight in these eye-catching and imaginative hairstyles and may even dream up some of their own.

Amy’s dazzling new hairstyles soon become the talk of the town and she and her dad become minor celebrities. People are queuing up at Dad’s hair salon to get their own flamboyant hairstyles.

However, while Amy’s striking up-dos certainly keep her hair tidy, they are not without their problems. She is too tall for the bouncy castle, even more spottable in games of hide and seek, and, worst of all, too wide to fit through the sweet shop door. Dad and Amy will have to think again.

Daddy Hairdo is such a fun story. I particularly love the pictures, and all the hair themed puns which Claire Powell also carries through into her glorious illustrations.