April 3, 2017
Hardback, Penguin Random House, £17.99, out now
This excellent crowdfunded children’s book is flying out of the shop just now – when we were out of stock we were being asked about it every day.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls features single-page stories about extraordinary women, and each is accompanied by an illustration from one of a range of talented international artists. This means that the book is a pleasure to dip into, and feels fresh and enjoyable to pick up.
The women included are from very diverse backgrounds, and are drawn from history as well as the present day. I was fascinated to read about Ashley Fiolek, a Deaf motocross racer born in the USA in 1990 who says: “I don’t think about vibrations; I don’t think about anything at all. I’m part of the bike now”. I also loved the story of the Cholita climbers of Bolivia, who decided that it need not be only men who got to see they view from the nearby mountain. And so they just set off, wearing their skirts (cholitas). Born around 1968, the group may be climbing something right now. I was also pleased to find the stories of women I was more familiar with, including Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, and Malala Yousafzai.
The stories are told in language suitable for primary age children and up. The book is from the US, and UK readers may not agree with every authorial interpretation of history given, but it’s still full of exciting stuff.
Review by Bethan
November 15, 2015
Hardback £25, HarperCollins, out now
Wendy Trusler and Carol Devine have created a beautiful visual and written record of a 1995-96 volunteer expedition to clean up rubbish on the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica. The book is illustrated with photographs both from the trip and from previous historic outings by Scott and Shackleton, among others. It also features delicious and achievable international recipes used by Wendy to feed large groups of volunteers and friends during the tour – tasty looking White Bean and Roast Garlic Pate, Honey Oatmeal Bread, Frozen Chocolate Cream…
Contemporary journal entries from both authors candidly show the delights and strains of being ‘alone and together’ in Antarctica. Relationships within the camp and with those back home, as well as colleagues from other national research camps, become of prime importance.
For anyone whose imagination and interest strays towards Antarctica, or who likes unusual cookbooks or tales from women travellers, this is a must. One of the most unusual and beautiful books we have in the shop.
Review by Bethan
September 15, 2015
Out now, £11.99 each
A woman in her sixties, at home in Naples, receives a call from the middle-aged son of her best friend. His mother is missing. She has disappeared, cutting her image out of photos and removing all her belongings. Her lifelong friend is not surprised, noting it has been thirty years since her friend – referred to as being an electronics wizard during the 1960s – first told her of her wish to disappear. This beginning of the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friend, grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go.
I decided to read the quartet because we couldn’t keep them in the shop. We’d order, they’d sell out. People had heard about them from friends, or been lent the first book and then been unable to wait to borrow the second, and then the third (The Story of a New Name, followed by Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay).
Now I’m about to read the fourth and final book, The Story of the Lost Child. After the opening disappearance, we see the post-war childhood beginning of the difficult and complex friendship between the two women, Elena and Lila, in a poor area of Naples. What difference does an education make to a woman’s life? Marriage? Children? Violence? Money? Family? Wartime shadows? The novels give us a lifetime up close, but so convincingly that I am desperate to find out how all the stories end. And not much else will get done till I’m finished.
Review by Bethan