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  • Cymry o Fri! - Jon Gower

    ♥Welsh Children's Book of the Month March 2022♥ (suggested) reading age: 9+ , (suggested) interest age: 11+ Illustrations: Efa Lois Genre: #factual #nonfiction #Wales Gwlad Beirdd a Chantorion… It's important to inspire the next generation, and what better way than a volume like this, which looks back and celebrates some of the remarkable Welsh men and women who have made their mark on the world? In Cymry o Fri we get the story of 50 amazing Welsh individuals who have made a difference in a variety of ways and have certainly put Cymru on the map. With so much to choose from, I don't know where you’d begin with choosing such a list, but what strikes me straight away is how much variety there is here, from Colin Jackson's accomplishments on the race track through to Betty Campbell's influence in the classroom. And you can bet your bottom dollar we’ve got enough remarkable people to fill a couple more volumes too! The cover is appealing with it’s bright colours and the book is sensibly and neatly laid out, although I felt it was rather plain compared to some of the similar stuff we’ve seen of late, like Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus. Though to be fair, that series, as well as the excellent ‘Enwogion o Fri’ series from Broga books are aimed at younger children, whereas I think this book suits an older audience better (top primary/early secondary). I prefer the pages where a real photograph accompanies Efa Lois' pictures. I just like seeing the real person too. Did you know...? Did you know that it was his Doctor that encouraged Kyffin Williams to start painting? Or how about the fact that our very own Barti Ddu had a strong connection with the famous skull and crossbones flag we’ve come to associate with pirates? You'll be surprised what you might learn by flicking through the pages. I find learning about other people's lives so interesting (most likely because I’m a nosey parker!) but remember, you don't have to read the book from cover to cover in one sitting; it’s perfect for dipping in and out as you please. Why not pick an amazing Welsh man or woman every day like an advent calendar? From reading about all these notable people, and considering that we’re only a small country, we’ve certainly made a big impression on the world haven’t we? If we’ve done all that so far, the future looks very bright! Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2022 Price: £6.99 HERE'S WHAT AUTHOR BETHAN GWANAS HAD TO SAY...

  • Mi wnes i weld mamoth / I did see a mammoth! - Alex Willmore [adapt. Casia Wiliam]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of web page* (suggested) reading age: 5+ (suggested) interest age: 3-6 Genre: #ficition #funny #bilingual Gift ideas Usually, at this time of year I’m on a mad dash looking for books to give as gifts to the little ones in the family. This year is no different. The girl is no trouble, but the boys are harder to please where books are concerned. I’m looking for a book to make us laugh. Last year, Disco Dolig Dwl won, but this year I’m thinking Mi wnes i weld mamoth/I did see a mammoth. Great choice for a stocking filler. I’m not normally as keen on Christmas books, but this isn’t a Christmas one per se, but it does have snow in it, so ticks that box as well. Don't think you’re going to get anything deep and meaningful here; just lots of zany fun and lots and lots of unimpressed penguins. Welcome to the Antarctic! On an expedition to the Antarctic, a brave crew is battling the cold in order to study penguins. Many, many penguins. But for one young adventurer, our feathered friends just don’t cut it. He’s not at all interested in birds, oh no, because he's got his sights set on something far bigger! Oh no he isn’t... oh yes he is! And there you have it with the plot pretty much. (see, told you there wasn’t anything deep and meaningful!) It's a funny story, and one that's sure to appeal to kids, especially when the creature pops up from time to time in ever-whackier situations. Although the boy desperately maintains that he saw something, the adults simply refuse to believe him, either thinking he’s crying wolf, or just being down right patronizing! (children will surely identify with the whole adults not listening thing) It’s an old, tried and tested idea (like they do in panto) that adults don’t take children seriously. It’s very effective. Of course, everything changes when they all finally see a M..m.. m MAMMOTH!!! Told you so! The book is bright, modern and energetic, and feels almost like reading a comic. It's not a long story and it’ll make for a quick story before bed. You’ll have plenty of fun looking at the penguins (they’re my fav) and all their un-amused facial expressions – obviously not impressed at being upstaged by a giant ball of fluff! There's plenty of scope to do silly voices and add a bit of dramatics whilst reading, which will make it even more fun. The big ‘twist’ at the end was absolutely expected, but there was just something missing in the ending for me. A little confusing for younger readers perhaps? Could just be me. There will be some who will think that this story is a bit stupid, and that the repetition of the word 'mammoth' quickly becomes annoying, but I think very young readers will find the repetition helpful when reading together. The fact is, children do like repetition. I like the last page which gives a few extra facts about the real creatures – I didn’t know that they never lived in the Antarctic. Well, there's no evidence anyway. I recently read that a group of scientists are trying to bring back woolly mammoths with cloning/DNA technology. So you never know, if the boffins get it right, we might actually see mammoths again one day! Publisher: Atebol Released: 2022 Price: £6.99

  • Hedyn - Caryl Lewis [adapt. Meinir Wyn Edwards]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* (suggested) reading age: 9+ (suggested) interest age: 9+ Genre: #fiction #adventure #magicalrealism Illustrations: George Ermos Themes discussed: · Bullying · Family/relationships · Deafness/disability/diveristy · mental health - OCPD/hoarding · Poverty I’m glad I remembered to pack Hedyn in my hand luggage because it came in really handy to pass the time on my fifteen-hour flight back from Japan! Seed (of change) Marty’s grandfather is a rather eccentric old man, who’s forever inventing things and spending time in his allotment. It’s rather fitting, then, that he should gift his grandson a single seed on his birthday, much to the boy’s dismay! You know that classic ‘oh geez, thanks’ feeling when you get a rubbish present (like a pair of old socks) – well that was Marty’s feeling after receiving a somewhat underwhelming gift. Although it initially seemed like any normal seedling, it was in fact, far from normal. The two soon come to realize that this was indeed a very special plant, and Grandpa has some big plans for it. But first, the plant must be grown to full size – something that initially goes quite well with his awful mixture of God-knows-what! Soon after, some strange things start to happen… Family is family For me, the main strength of the novel is the character work by the author. Yes, they go on an exciting adventure, but more importantly, the author manages to create characters you really care about, and you’re always wanting things to be ok for them. Marty's Father has long gone, and he lives with his Mother as they struggle to get by. The subject of mental health is given careful attention in the novel, (albeit as a bit of a side story) as we realize early on that Marty's mother tends to hoard things, until the house is overwhelmed with stuff – something that puts their relationship under strain. No wonder Marty’s so keen to get to the allotment! A quiet boy, he tries to keep himself to himself, but the bullies sense this from the get go and make his life even more miserable. Watching him grow in confidence over the course of the novel is great to see. Much of that is thanks to his new friend Gracie, a strong and determined person, who refuses to let the fact she's deaf and needs to wear a cochlear implant stop her from doing anything. In fact, she sees it as her otherworldly power, rather than something that hold her back. She’s certainly not looking for pity and she gives as good as she gets! Sure, she can look after herself, but whilst she seems tough on the outside, there's also another, softer, side to her. She has big ambitions to become a dancer, not that her father has bothered to notice. Yes, the characters all have their personal struggles, but it's wonderful to see them overcome these, develop as individuals and come together at the end. Front cover gets 10/10 The cover gets a high rating from me, and it’s probably one of the best covers this year. It’s got a high production value feel to it and it sets the bar high for Welsh books. As I keep saying, we have to invest in attractive covers if we want that book picked up off the shelf. Love, hope and dreams This is a heartwarming and memorable novel that encourages us to be brave and follow our dreams, no matter what! If I have to make a comparison, I’d say it was a magical mix between James and the giant peach, Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk and the Disney Pixar fim, Up! If you’re looking for a bit of magical realism adventure, but you want characters you care about, then give Hedyn (or the English version, Seed) a try! Publisher Y Lolfa Released: Mai 2022 Price: £7.99 DON'T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT, READ JON GOWER'S EXCELLENT REVIEW ON NATION.CYMRU:

  • Y Poenisawrws / The Worrysaurus - Rachel Bright [adapt. Endaf Griffiths]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* Illustrations: Chris Chatterton (suggested) reading age: 6+ (suggested) interest age: 2+ Genre: #worry #anxiety #fiction #healthandwellbeing #bilingual Storm Clouds Rachel Bright, the author of the hugely successful The Lion Inside, is back with another equally charming picturebook. Do you have a little worrier in your house? If so, this is an ideal book to read an enjoy, and one that will serve as a good prompt to hold a conversation about those feelings of doubt and worry that can rise to the surface from time to time. This is a lovely, simple little story about a small dinosaur (or dragon?) who’s looking forward to an exciting adventure and a delicious picnic. But before he even gets started, the black clouds soon come to darken his day. Does he have enough food? Will he come to harm in the huge forest? All sorts of worrisome thoughts swirl around in his head. These anxious feelings are expressed as 'butterflies' in his belly – a simple enough concept that children will be able to understand. I like that the book uses this as a metaphor to help explain and discuss emotions that can be difficult to describe. That said, you may have to be explain to the youngest children that a real butterfly isn’t about to rip itself through their bellies! (I remember reading a poem years ago about a lad called Bili Bolyn who ate too many apples – I was convinced that a tree would burst through my belly if I ate so much as a single pip!) It’s the little dinosaur’s mother who comes to the rescue with some sound advice. I’ve lost count of the times Mam and Dad have given me words of advice and comfort when things aren’t going so well. Sometimes just being able to express your concerns and having someone there listening makes a world of difference. Butterlies We've all had them haven’t we? Strange or uncomfortable feelings in our tummies when we’re nervous. Whether it's the first day of school or moving home – any new, unexpected situations or the great unknown can give us those ‘butterflies in out stomachs.’ And you know what? Being nervous or worried about things sometimes is perfectly natural, but of course some individuals end up worrying a bit more than others. According to some figures, anxiety is increasing in children and young people, and that was before the pandemic! This book will is an essential read for anyone with a young child who worries a lot about different things, but to be honest, we all get those feelings from time to time, so the book is suitable to read with any child. It provides the catalyst for a conversation about these feelings; how to identify them and how to try to deal with them. As for the pictures, they are cute enough. I’ll be honest I don’t really know much about art, and I tend to either love the pictures or I don't. The use of colour is effective here, with dark colours describing the initial worries, while colours fill the pages as those feelings fade away. For me, some of the pages feel quite 'busy' because of the inclusion of both languages, but I think that's a small price to pay for having a bilingual book. The demand for books like this is increasing, especially from non-Welsh speaking parents or those with limited Welsh skills who are keen to help their children. By offering the story in both languages, side by side, this can actually open the door for more people to further Welsh-language books. Stressful situations are inevitable in life, and everyone will end up fretting about something at one time or another. Kids have to know that it's ok to feel this way sometimes, but that they mustn’t let those feelings control them. To use Rachel Bright’s idea- sometimes, we’ve just gotta stop holding on to our worry-butterflies and let them free! Head on the block, I probably preferred The Lion Inside, but Y Poenisawrws is an affectionate, useful book with an important message for this day and age with nice illustrations to boot. Publisher: Atebol Released: 2022 Price:£6.99

  • Cranogwen - Anni Llŷn

    *For Welsh review, please use language toggle switch on top of web page* (suggested) reading age: 6+ (suggested) interest age: 3-6 Illustrations: Rhiannon Parnis REVIEW BY LLIO MAI This is the first book in the new series ‘Enwogion o Fri’ [Welsh Wonders] by the relatively new Broga Press. This is a series that showcases the inspiring lives of some Welsh individuals that may not be so familiar to us. I really welcome this series, and I’m pleased to see an effort to draw the attention of the younger generation to some of Wales' incredible people from the past, and the influence their work has had, and continues to do so, both in this country and beyond. And who better to focus on in the first volume than Cranogwen, or Sarah Jane Rees to use her real name. Sarah was from Llanrannog, and it was there that her interest in the sea and ships began. While many didn't believe that a ship was a place for a young girl, Sarah didn't want to let that stop her from achieving her dream. She worked hard and went on to learn a great deal more about ships and navigation and then shared her interest and knowledge with others through her work as a teacher. Sarah also loved poetry, and is the very first woman to win an award for the best poem at the National Eisteddfod! This is quite an achievement and inspirational to a number of women who have come after her. It’s through her poetry that we now know her better as Cranogwen, as this is the name she used as her pseudonym. She’s one who broke the stereotypes of the day and constantly railed against the prejudices she faced. As stated in the book, Cranogwen did ‘what she wanted to do, not what everyone else thought she should do'. She spent much of her time supporting other women, and that message is very clear at the end of this book. Cranogwen's inspiring life and work is very well summarised in this picture book by Anni Llŷn, and Rhiannon Parnis's beautiful illustrations help to take us back to her time and imagine her at work. Cranogwen is someone every child and young person should be aware of. She’s a special example of someone who overcame obstacles to pursue her dreams, and who used her success to help others. Grab yourself a copy - you'll surely be inspired after reading this one, then you’ll be ready to tackle your own dreams! Anything is possible. Publisher: Broga Released: 2021 Price: £5.99

  • 'Dolig Diflas y Dyn Dweud Drefn - Lleucu Lynch

    *For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 6/7+ (suggested) interest age: 4-7 Illustrations: Gwen Millward REVIEW BY LLIO MAI If there's anyone who hates Christmas, it’s the ‘Dyn Dweud Drefn.’ (the angry man) Having read the previous books, I'm sure we could all have guessed that he wouldn’t be a fan of all the festive cheer! On the other hand, someone who absolutely loves Christmas is his little puppy. This year, somehow, the puppy has managed to persuade the Dyn Dweud Drefn to give Christmas a go, without telling anyone off or being cranky! Now, this is going to be interesting… Will he be able to resist being angry or miserable for one WHOLE Day? He’s certainly challenged a few times during the day. He wakes up early, which isn't a very good start… You'll have to buy a copy of the book to know how he gets on. I love this series by Lleucu Fflur Lynch. The character of the Dyn Dweud Drefn is brilliant, and his unconventional relationship with the puppy provides enough material for many stories to keep us entertained. Both are brilliantly illustrated once again through Gwen Millward's likable and charming pictures. This is a great book to read over the Christmas period (and at any other time really)! It's a story about friendship, companionship and about what can happen when someone dares to do something differently and steps out of their comfort zone. Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: 2022 Price: £4.95 ALSO IN THE SERIES:

  • Yr Anweledig/The Invisible - Tom Percival [adapt. Elin Meek]

    For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 5+ (suggested) interest age: 3-7 Genre: #fiction #empathy #bilingual ♥Children's Book of the Month, September 2022♥ This is a heart-warming story about a young girl who manages to do one of the hardest things possible: a difference. Erin finds the winter snow very beautiful, but she also feels the cold. That's because her parents don't have enough money to heat the house. Even though they don't have much, one thing they do have plenty of is love. (Which according to the Beatles, is all you need!) Unfortunately, though, as the family soon find out, love doesn't pay the bills, and they are forced leave their home and familiar surroundings and move to the other end of the city to what appears to be a tower block. The change comes as a bit of a shock to Erin, and she feels lonely and lost. She feels so hopeless and unimportant that she begins disappearing before our eyes. It’s only when she becomes ‘invisible’ that she notices all the other invisible people out and about around new home. The unseen and the unwanted But who are these people? Well, they are the people who have been pushed to the fringes of our society – the poor, the elderly, immigrants, the homeless. Anyone who doesn't fit in or 'belong' to what society as a whole considers normal. They are often ignored and forgotten. This is why Tom Percival's idea of turning invisible works so well as a metaphor to convey how we fail to see certain things, choose not to notice, or turn our backs completely. Just think- how many times have you walked past a sleeping person in front of a shop door? Did you stop to say hello or did you walk on by? Beauty is all around Although her new home seems bleak on the surface, Erin manages to discover beauty hiding everywhere around her. It’s only then, that she decides she's going to do something to help, so she goes about planting flowers and doing odd-jobs around the place. Speaking of beauty, the illustrations are very special. It starts off cold and grey, and gradually the colour returns and grows as the community comes to life. Indeed, the last spread pf pages is bursting with colour and warmth. Erin's efforts to improve her local area catches on, and the community soon comes together to improve their locality. Making a difference The message of the book is powerful— you don’t need grand gestures to make a difference, but small acts of kindness can make a big impact. I hope the book will show children that money and wealth are not a measure of their value, and that showing kindness and compassion is far more important. Author's experiences The story's origins come from the author's first-hand experience of living in a caravan at a young age. He shares his experiences of poverty in a thought-provoking note at the back of the book. He is keen to draw attention to those who are less fortunate than us in society, but no less important. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, almost 15 million adults live in poverty in the UK, including 4.3 million children. With costs and bills rising every day, this is not something that is about to disappear. Inequality will continue, no doubt. Poverty can often be a taboo subject and we seem reluctant to discuss it openly, perhaps due to lack of understanding, embarrassment or shame. This book is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation, in an empathetic way, with young children. No matter who or where we are in life, we should show some love and respect to each other, offering support to those who have fallen on hard times– you never know when you’ll need a helping hand yourself... Publisher: Dref Wen Released: 2022 Price: £6.99

  • Darganfod! Newid Hinsawdd - DK [adapt. Sioned Lleinau]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch* (suggested) reading age: 7+ (suggested) interest age: 6+ Genre: #factual #nonfiction #environment #climate The climate emergency "It is unequivocal." Climate change is happening. That's what the latest IPCC report (2022) says. There really is no doubt that our planet is already being affected. Now is indeed the time to act, and that's before it's too late! With so many things happening in the news, like the war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis etc, it’s all too easy to forget the environmental crisis and watch it slide down the agenda. Only this week, the UK's new prime minister said he will not be travelling to this year's COP27 climate conference – what kind of example does that set? (don’t get me started!) Renowned presenter Sir David Attenborough recently urged us all to stop climate change in order to save the planet. The video is hard-hitting and is in effect a ‘final,’ urgent plea from the 96-year-old. It was filmed as part of the BBC's Frozen Planet II series. DK non-fiction books When I was a kid there was nothing I enjoyed reading more than the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness books. In fact, I binged my way through them. Ships. Trains. Mega buildings. Reptiles. Dinosaurs. Birds. You name it, I had it! These ARE undoubtedly the best non-fiction reference/fact books on the market - both in terms of appearance and content. They are so bright and visual with eye-catching pictures to hold the attention of a generation of children who have grown up in front of screens. These certainly aren’t the dusty, boring textbooks of old! The design and layout is excellent - with pages brimming with interesting facts but separated into small, manageable chunks. I’ll admit, I’ve been like a broken record of late, moaning about the serious lack of high-quality Welsh non-fiction books out there. Not everyone wants to read stories about fairies or high school dramas. I can't stress how important it is to have engaging fact books, which feed young children's enormous curiosity and desire to learn and know things. Looking at what's currently on the shelves in Welsh - we're a bit behind. Where have the non-fiction books I remember fondly from the 90's gone? A little sad perhaps, but I was super excited when I saw that Rily had adapted one of DK's books from the brilliant Find Out! / Discover series! What will you find out? The book starts from scratch – explaining exactly what 'climate' means. The book takes us on a journey through the history and changes of the climate and how we arrived at the precarious situation we are in today. It clearly explains how humans have affected the delicate systems that keep the planet healthy and balanced. As well as discussing the causes, we see the consequences if we don't change our ways. Nothing sums up the climate crisis more than the image of a polar bear. There's a fine line between telling the truth and fear-mongering, and I think this book strikes the right tone on that one. If we are to see true, meaningful change, mankind must change its attitude and behaviors. Climate change – and how to solve the issue– is an incredibly complex problem, and one that requires global collaboration. It's not too late yet – by working together, we can turn the tide on climate change and keep out planet from warming past the point of no return. The scale of the global problem is so great that it’s sometimes difficult for us to process. That's why I like the fact that the book offers practical ideas about what we can do, on a personal level. Like St David's said "Do the little things." And when the environment is concerned- he’s spot on. We all have to play our part, even if that just means turning the thermostat down a few degrees, or drying the clothes on the line instead of chucking them into the tumble dryer. More More More! I'm really thrilled to see this book - please Rily will you translate more of the series? I've already ordered several of the English books (Engineering, Reptiles and Space Travel!) and it’d great to have more of them in Welsh. This is a book that will be extremely useful in the classroom, for geography work on global warming or sustainability, for example. As a teacher, I can definitely see how this book offers many opportunities for independent research and engaging discussions. The next generation will inherit the planet, (or what’s left of it!) so it's incredibly important for our children to have a solid understanding of the situation and how they can be agents of change – just like Greta and the millions of children who went on school strikes for the environment in 2019. Together, we can stop climate change. We have to! Publisher: Rily Released: July 2022 Price: £6.99 IPCC REPORT IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, 3056 pp., doi:10.1017/9781009325844

  • Dyddiau Cŵn - Gwen Redvers Jones

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* ♥ Tir na n-Og Award Winner 1998♥ Audience: #youngadult #teen Genre: #fiction #WelshOriginal REVIEW BY REBECCA ROBERTS I came across a copy of 'Dyddiau Cŵn' in Siop Clwyd and it felt as if I was greeting an old friend I hadn't seen since high school. That wasn't far from the truth – I first read ‘Dyddiau Cŵn’ in high school, and remember it as one of the few Welsh novels I really enjoyed. At that time many novel covers were cartoonish, and looked rather 'young' for a teenager. But there was something about the cover of ‘Dyddiau Cŵn’ that compelled me to pick up the book. There was a naked man on the first page! Not a picture, obviously, but a description. A promising start, to a hormone-filled teenager! I enjoyed ‘Dyddiau Cŵn’ enough to pick it up again some twenty(ish) years later for a nostalgic trip into the past. This is the story of Sera, an eighteen-year-old living at home with her parents. She meets Dan, a young and handsome traveller, and immediately falls in love with him. This leads to a conflict between parents and daughter, and Sera leaves the nest to travel Wales with Dan and his friends, who are also travellers determined to live a 'free' life. The tension of the novel comes from the conflict between Sera's traditional upbringing and Dad's desire to be free from society's expectations – free from the responsibility of paying rent and tax, and to love freely, without commitment or responsibility. The strength of the story is that Gwen Redvers Jones does not preach or present a single character as a 'good' or 'bad' character. Dan is portrayed as seductive and charismatic on one hand, but incredibly selfish at other times. At the end of the novel Sera faces a difficult, fateful decision about how best to live her life. I won't reveal the ending, except to say that the message is a positive one about self-determination and independence that remains relevant to this day. How has the novel aged? In one way, it was nice to be reminded of a pre-internet era, before mobile phones took over (the novel was published in 1996). On the other hand, aspects of the novel, particularly the pearl clutching and Sera's mother’s priggish approach to 'hipis' seem ridiculously old-fashioned. I guess she would have been seen as overprotective and snobbish even when the novel was published - at times it felt as if the family's rules and attitudes dated from the fifties! Neither did the conflict between Sera and her parents ring completely true – Sera was far too immature and childish for a young eighteen year old ready to head off to college or university. The best thing about the story was the portrayal of Dan's friends, the travellers, and their lifestyle. Fleshed-out and vivid characters, all of them - and the dialect! At times it felt as if I was listening to a radio play, so alive were the voices. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Sera's time with the band of travellers, and it was great to watch her mature and become more independent after being taken under the wing of some of the older female characters. Although this novel is about a young woman's first sexual relationship and contains a few references to drug use, there is an innocence to it that makes it suitable for young teens. Because of that naivety it might not appeal as much to today's youth, but there is a nostalgic pleasure to be had from re-visiting the nineties within the covers of a book. Publisher: Gomer Released: 1997 Price: Out of print - library or 2nd hand only

  • Y Cwilt - Valériane Leblond

    *For Welsh Review, see language toggle switch on top of page* A treasure trove of pictures and a lovely story. Welsh Original Often, it is the words that are important in a book, but it’s the pictures that grab our attention in this story. A beautiful book, featuring a wonderful artwork by Valériane Leblond. She normally draws for others, but this is the first book that she has been responsible for the story and the pictures herself. This is a story about a poor family who leave Wales to seek out a better life in the distant lands of America. As ‘hiraeth’ takes hold, a longing for home, the quilt sewn by his mother brings the child great comfort. As well as enjoying the story, which was subtle and elegant, I took ages to read the short book as I was so busy looking and studying the beautiful pictures in detail. On her website, the writer/artist talks about her work: " My artworks often deal with the idea of belonging, how people inhabit the land, what makes the place they call home. Most of my works have details and sub-stories that you may notice if you look longer.” I tend to agree with her – her use of patterns is very clever, if you look closely enough. Through the ages, people from Wales have migrated by sea in search of a new life. They are facing a long and grueling journey, and countless challenges as they struggle to establish a new life in foreign lands. The book shows us this in a lovely way, which is perfectly suited to young children. (Note - the words are not as straightforward as the book initially suggests – it may be that an adult's help is needed to read it for very young children.) It's a hard cover which is perfect for this book. A bargain for £5.99! Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: 2019 ISBN: 9781784617974 Price £5.99

  • Nye: Bywyd Angerddol Aneurin Bevan - Manon Steffan Ros and Valériane Leblond

    *For WELSH Review see language toggle switch on top of page* (suggested) interest age: 3-7+ (suggested) reading age: 6+ Genre: #nonfiction #welshhistory #inspirational #WelshOriginal National Treasure I doubt there’s many of us reading this who haven't had some contact or other with the National Health Service (NHS) at some point in our lives. I count myself very lucky to be here in all honesty, thanks to the excellent care I had in hospital when I was seven years old for a nasty dose of bronchitis. If it wasn't for that treatment, who knows what would have happened. I firmly believe the NHS saved my life, and has done so on more than one occasion! The NHS gets a lot of stick in the media, and there's endless complaining about it from some, especially when you can't get a dentist or you’ve been waiting for knee surgery for years... No, it ain’t perfect. I doubt anyone is kidding themselves that it is. And whilst there are certainly areas for improvement, I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are to have free medical treatment for all. ‘Enwogion o Fri’ series Just going to say a few words about this series, which is a good example of how to produce an incredibly interesting and diverse series, and one that is of a high standard come to that. The various author and artist combinations not only promote variety, but careful thought has gone into picking the historical figures, which are often ones who have been largely overlooked, or ones we may be less familiar with. The pairing up of authors and artists has been done thoughtfully – each book bringing something new to the table with its own unique vibes. This time it’s Valériane Leblond (author of The Quilt) illustrating and Manon Steffan Ros wordsmithing, so you just know straight away we're in safe hands! I think it was a good idea to publish two versions of each book; making it accessible to a wider audience. See details of the English version here. What a Welshman It's amazing to think that the story of the NHS – a beloved service that has saved millions of people over the decades – had it’s roots here in Wales, with a young lad from Tredegar- Aneurin Bevan, or 'Nye' as he was known. 'Nye' left school at 14, and worked as a miner for years – learning the art of public speaking and addressing crowds through his work with the union. He demanded better rights for his co-workers. After becoming a seasoned public speaker, he was elected as Member of Parliament for the area, and things grew from there. He made quite an impression while he was in Westminster. I won’t say too much, because Manon Steffan tells his life story far better than I ever could. But it’s safe to say that 'Nye' had a vision: to make big changes and to create something truly special. An amazing story I'm still amazed that a Welshman was the driving force behind a first-of-its-kind national service – free medical care at the point of need. The community was very important to Nye, and this is evident from his hard work throughout his life- always working to support others. The book conveys beautifully how he was influenced by the close-knit community in Tredegar, and the way everybody looked out for one another there. When I read Nye's story, I'm not only impressed, but I feel proud. It really does inspire you. It makes one feel that anything is possible. If the son of a South Wales coal miner with a stammer can achieve what he did, we too can do anything – there really is no limit to our potential. NHS today Yes, the NHS is under enormous pressure, and its future hangs in the balance because of those who oppose it, abuse it or take it for granted, but we really should hold on to it and cherish it. We don't know how good we've got it! It’s impossible to put a price on our gratitude as a nation to Nye Bevan, and to all NHS staff who work tirelessly to look after us when we need it most. I’m glad Llyfrau Broga has cast a fresh light on Nye's story; introducing him to a younger generation. I think it’s important that they learn about the Welsh origins of the NHS and to realize it’s true value, because it is they who will be entrusted with it’s future. It will be their duty to ensure it continues for years to come. The NHS is more than just a medical ‘service’ – it’s a glimmer of hope in a world that can be fraught with selfishness, prejudice and inequality. A glimmer of hope that we can be better- a fine example of how caring for each other, rather than just looking after ourselves pays off in the long run. And it all starts in a town in Blaenau Gwent. Publisher: Broga Released: 2022 Price: £5.99 ENGLISH VERSION ALSO AVAILABLE... See details here.

  • Diwrnod y Sioe / Show Day - Llenwedd Lawlor a Jessica Wise

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* (suggested) reading age: 6+ (suggested) interest age: 3-7 Genre: #gwreiddiol #ffuglen #llyfrallun #anifeiliaid #amaeth #iechydalles Messages: taking part that counts, bravery, perseverance, self-belief, ♥Children's Book of the Month July 2022♥ Our opinion It's good to see a variety of books coming to market, and this one will surely appeal to the readers who love animals, farming, the countryside and of course horses. We are fortunate in our area to have plenty of agricultural shows to enjoy - Llanrwst Show, Eglwysbach Show, Cerrigydrudion Show to name but a few! Reading this book made me think back to those lovely summer days watching the animals and their owners performing. Shetland pony Ladi is desperately worried about her first show. Let’s face it, we all know that anxious feeling of butterflies in our tummies before we do something new, and it turns out horses are no exception! To make matters worse, after an unfortunate experience with one of the fellow contestants, Ladi is ready to give up and run for home. However, despite the nerves and her initial worries, Ladi (and Cit, her rider) persevere and find some determination. In fact, they have a great time in the end. If you want to know how they got on... you’ll have to read to find out! This is an original story, published bilingually. I'm happy to see a steady supply of books such as this, because they’re very popular with parents who are keen to support their children's Welsh reading. Technically, you get double the book for the same price! A lovely story that shows how important it is to be brave and to persevere. And yes, whilst it is a somewhat cliché message, it’s a good one – it’s taking part that counts, not winning! Don't just take our word for it, have a look at what Gwales has to say: GWALES REVIEW This is a lovely original picturebook by author Llanwedd Lawlor and artist Jessica Wise that gives you a little bit of everything – an engaging story, colourful pictures and bilingual text to boot. Something for everyone, then! As with all story-and-picture books, having an attractive cover is essential, and the playful cover of this book is sure to attract the eye, with Ladi the show horse's eyes fixed on you from the start. The story presents Ladi's point of view going into the show – her excitement, but also her anxiety and insecurities upon arriving at the showground and seeing so many people and creatures there. And if you thought things were bad in the singing world, the same can also be said for the horse world, and the appearance of the majestic ‘celebrity’ horse, Concyr, frightens poor Ladi. Luckily, the judge has the final say, and without revealing too much, Ladi and Cit make a very good show of it. There's a small moral message woven into the story, of course, but it’s subtle enough. The layout of the text in the book is creative, with some experimentation with fonts in terms of colour, type and size. By now, readers in Wales are quite familiar with bilingual books, with the English text appearing in a smaller font on the same page as the Welsh version. You don't have to notice the English version at all if you don't want to, but it can work as an extremely useful tool for non-Welsh parents and learners, as needed. I probably would have preferred to see the English font in italics, to show an even greater difference between it and the Welsh text. Naturally, attracting the eye’s attention is what the pictures in a storybook are all about, and the use of striking and contrasting colours on different pages certainly promotes interest. Jessica Wise's photos are neat and clean and add the expected amount of interest. A good little original book to read, although the sale price might be a bit much for some little piggy banks! A review from, with the permission of the Books Council of Wales. Publisher: Atebol Released: 2022 Price: £7.99

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