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  • Hanes yn y Tir - Elin Jones

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* ♥Welsh Children's Book of the Month: Oct 2021♥ ♥Shortlist TNNO 2022♥ Age: 9-16 (KS2/3/4) Genre: #factual #nonfic #history #Wales #textbook This is what Elin Williams (13) had to say... This is a book about Welsh history by Elin Jones, which takes us on a journey from the very beginning (some 5000 years ago when the first people began to evolve, living in caves) to the establishment of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay in 1997. There are many other interesting events in Welsh history between the covers, such as the history of the Celts and Romans, the establishment of Christianity in Wales and the resulting churches that were built, grand castles, the Welsh and their role in the slave trade, the raising of tollbooths and their destruction in the Rebecca riots, the terrible history of the Welsh Not in our schools, the two world wars, women's rights, and so much more. I liked the way the volume was divided, with four timelines denoting the different main periods. There are also plenty of interesting pictures and diagrams; I believe that this softens the content and keeps our interest. Many of the statistics are presented in the form of charts and pictures, such as the map of Wales showing the growth in the number of railways over a period of time – so much more effective than just lists of numbers. I liked the cover because it is colourful, contains characters from different periods, and the inclusion of the dragon is eye catching. This is a valuable addition to any bookshelf. Review from, by kind permission of Book Council for Wales. Morgan Dafydd, Sôn am Lyfra's opinion: I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have much to say about those old dusty history textbooks from my time in school. Although it was only the early 2000s, we were still using some pretty old, scruffy black and white books from the 80s in our lessons. These did little to ignite the curiosity of any learner. We spent more time studying the conquests of the English royal family at the expense of our own rich history. Of course, I acknowledge it’s important to learn about events elsewhere in the world but I still feel there are major gaps in my knowledge of Welsh history and how Wales shaped the world. Now, thanks to this book, I’ve got a second chance to catch-up, and to finally to learn about periods of our history that are unfamiliar to me, such as the Age of the Princes. As a teacher, I welcome this comprehensive resource, which lands just in time for the New Curriculum for Wales. According to the Welsh Government, all schools in the country have received a copy of the book, which is also available in English, under the title History Grounded. Although its usefulness in the classroom is clear, this is a book with much wider appeal. Adults and history enthusiasts will find this book to be quite handy. The scope of the resource is huge – it takes the reader on a visual journey through over 5,000 years. As well as giving a broad overview, the book also zooms in on some remarkable periods, individuals and events, including the Cymdeithas yr Iaith campaigns and the establishment of the Welsh Senedd. Overall, this is a volume that offers a highly visual journey through the rich and varied history of our country, full of relevant and engaging photographs that add to the text. We get some sage advice from the author at the beginning of the book; a constant reminder that we’re all just guessing really when we study history. Despite the evidence that remains, we weren’t there when it happened so we can only try and piece the jigsaw pieces together as best we can. We also get a warning that history isn’t all gumdrops and rainbows. Indeed, it’s littered with cruelty, warmongering and death. It must also be remembered that bias and one-sided views are rife in history, as it was usually documented by the well-off, and men in particular. Although there are a few pages that pertain to slavery, I would have liked to see more discussing the part that Wales played during colonial times. Although it’s an uncomfortable subject, it’s important to discuss the role that some individuals such as Thomas Picton, Pembrokeshire or Henry Morton Stanley, Denbigh played in the slave trade. Statues that celebrate their accomplishments still stand in our communities today, but we must recognize that a dark side to their lives exists. Rather than avoiding, ignoring or erasing this, we must have an open and frank conversation about it. Perhaps we missed an opportunity to do this here. Of course, it’s impossible to fit everything into one volume, but it is fair to say that the author has done very diligent and thorough work here. Unfortunately, we don't have time machines, but this book is the next best thing! So open the covers and take yourself on a journey back through Welsh history, the history ingrained in our lands; which belongs to us all. Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: Sept. 2021 Price: £16.50 Format: Hardback ISBN: 9781845278311 Also available in English: History Grounded ABOUT THE AUTHOR ELIN JONES Elin Jones used to teach at Preseli, Rhydfelen and Cwm Rhymni secondary schools before being appointed education officer at the National Museum of Wales. In her work she had to be familiar with every period of Welsh history, and had to prepare resources for every age and ability. In 1966 she started work in an advisory role with the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, with responsibility for regulating history qualifications and developing the curriculum for history as well as its assessment methods, and commissioning history teaching resources. In 2013 she chaired the taskforce that was responsible for preparing a report to the Education Minister on the Welsh Curriculum, history and the story of Wales. Elin Jones is a popular guest on Radio Cymru where she discusses stories and characters from Welsh history.

  • Y Bwystfil a'r Betsan - Jack Meggitt-Phillips (adapt. Elidir Jones)

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* Illustrations: Isabelle Follath Interest age: 7+ Reading age: 9+ Genre: #mystery #horror #thriller #humour #fantasy #scifi The 511-year-old! Just look at the global market for beauty products, from creams to serums, from adverts to injections, and you’ll notice that we often go to a lot of effort to look our best and to keep ourselves looking nice and young. But the big question is, as you grow older, how far would you be willing to go in order to keep hold of your youthful looks? This is one headache that Heddwyn Ploryn knows well, a bachelor who is almost about to celebrate his 512th birthday! (yes, you heard me!) This handsome, dapper chap has somehow managed the impossible - to stay looking exactly the same his whole life. But how on earth does someone so ancient stop themselves from looking like something out of The Mummy? Well, let me tell you... A mutually-beneficial relationship By pure chance, Heddwyn come has become acquainted with a rather unusual creature. This thing, with it’s round, bloated appearance, three black eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth has developed quite a convenient relationship with our lonely bachelor. As part of their mutually-beneficial arrangement, Heddwyn is given a magical bottle for every delicious meal he serves up for the beast. But you see, there’s a catch. (there always is!) and this may very well have something to do with the fact that this 511-year-old has skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom! The terrible favour! Like us, the beast soon tires of always on eating the same thing, and longs to try something new each time. Indeed, he seems to be getting greedier and more ambitious with every meal! For every time Heddwyn brings him a new, unusual meal of interesting items, he is rewarded with wonderful gifts that allow him to live a grand and lavish lifestyle. After eating its way through any number of items, including one super rare and exotic bird, it’s no surprise that the beast wants to try something a bit more decadent for it’s next meal. This time, he wants to sample a nice plump juicy child! Yes, Mr. Ploryn’s done terrible things during his long lifetime, but feeding a live child to the beast – that takes the biscuit! Just as he’s starting to run out of special potion, luckily for him he’s got just the thing to whet the beast’s appetite- the snottiest, grubbiest, rudest orphan you’ve come across. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem - the more time he spends with her, the more he questions his decision. Has he got what it takes to see out his fiendish plan to save his own skin? Dorian Gray meets Little Shop of Horrors It is easy to see where the inspiration for this book comes from. A little bit from everywhere or so it seems. There are comparisons with Audrey II, the man-eating plant from the musical Little Shop of Horrors. It also has hints of Dorian Gray, the narcissist who sold his soul so he could stay beautiful. There’s enough dark source material and inspiration here, but it’s been skilfully packaged as a children’s book full of macabre and sarcastically-dry humour, which emulates the style of the legendary Roald Dahl! Jack Meggitt-Philips, a talented new writer and scriptwriter, has created a modern classic here, I'm sure of that. Some adaptations are better than others, and a poorly-done or rushed one can feel a bit awkward and stiff. This is not the case here. Elidir Jones has done a cracking job to be fair. The adaptation is remarkably true to the original but stands firmly on its own two feet. I have to say, this has been one of the books I’ve enjoyed the most of late, and not only will I be telling loads of people about it, but I can’t wait to give it a trial-run with a class of children next time I’m doing some supply work. I don’t usually score books, but I’m giving this one 9.5 out of 10! This is a highly original, imaginative book, with a good balance of mystery, gallows humour and general creepiness– an excellent addition to the ever-expanding collection of middle grade books in Welsh for the 9-11 age group. And guess what? Without giving too much away, the ending makes me think a sequel is on the cards – I hope so, anyway! Publisher: Atebol Released: 2021 Price: £7.99 ISBN: 978-1-80106-084-4 Welsh adaptation of 'The Beast and the Bethany' A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR... Jack Meggitt Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels. Isabelle Follath is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children's books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabelle lives in Zurich, Switzerland.

  • Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell - Anni Llŷn

    *For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch* Age: 6+ Genre: #quickstory #adventure #magic World Book Day 2022 We all know how important reading is, right? It’s such a good way to ‘feed’ the brain with amazing vocabulary and ideas, and it can pretty much take you to anywhere in the world (and beyond!) without leaving your living room! Unfortunately, we all live such busy lives, with so many distractions, that sometimes it can be difficult to make time to settle down to read. But it's important that we do try. Unfortunately, though, not everyone is so lucky enough access to a supply of interesting and appealing books. That's why I love World Book Day and the idea behind it. On this day, we celebrate everything that’s AMAZING about our paper companions -from authors to illustrators, from bookshops to the libraries. Tell me, will you be dressing up as your favourite character this year? Who will you go for? I reckon I’d go as the ‘Pry Bach Tew’ or Mr Twit these days! For 2022, one of our multi-talented writers, Anni Llŷn, has churned out a ‘stori sydyn’ (short story), aptly called Lledrith yn y Llyfrell (magic in the library). And d’ya know what? You can get your paws on this little beauty for less than the cost of a loaf of bread! Quickly now- get them before they’re gone! Llanswyn-ym-Mochrith This ain’t no normal village, that’s for sure. It's packed with really strange and interesting characters. And what makes these residents so different from you and me you ask? Well, each one of them has some ability to make magic. Everyone except Chwim, the librarian, that is. She may not be able to do charms and spells, but there is something she can do – and that’s read, and at speed! Now that’s magical in itself don’t you think? When a class of chaotic children and their hopeless teacher descend on the library for a special visit, some strange things start to happen as Chwim opens the covers and starts reading... I wonder if you’ve ever experienced this kind of magic when you’ve been reading? Now then, if you want to know how the brave librarian gets the best of a nasty old inspector, or your keen to know if Sali Mali can indeed escape the claws of a jaguar, then crack on and read this book! (I never thought I’d be using 'Sali Mali' and 'jaguar’ in the same sentence!) On the day we celebrate our love of books, and #WorldBookDay celebrates it’s 25th birthday, you lucky readers have the opportunity to own a brand new book for just £1! And of course, once you've read Lledrith yn y Llyfrgell in one sitting, remember that there's a handful of other great books waiting for you on the bookshop shelves. And even if you don't have a penny to your name, you can still enjoy some amazing books, absolutely FREE of charge, thanks to our wonderful libraries. Get down there people! Enjoy World Book Day, and remember to dress up as your favourite character and post some pics to spread the word. Then go and tell someone else about your favourite book, be it a friend or a family member, and make a promise, that you'll never ever stop reading. There really is nothing better than seeing words come to life inside your own head, and it’s only books that can do that kind of magic really! Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: World Book Day, March 2022 Pris: £1 (yup, just £1!!!!) ISBN: 9781800992030

  • Gwil Garw a'r Carchar Crisial - Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh version, use language toggle switch on top of page* Interest age: 5+ Reading age: 6+ Publisher suggested age: 7-12 Synopsis: Gwil Garw is a warrior from Wales' distant mythical past, whose job is to keep the peace at the Zoo of Legendary Creatures. Unfortunately, he's a wild hothead with zero respect for any man (or monster), and no interest whatsoever in keeping the peace. Celtic warriors, myths, and monsters combine in an epic and hilarious bronze age adventure. Kick first. Ask questions later. See, that's the trouble with Gwil Garw! But despite his hot-headedness that often lands him in a whole heap of trouble, you can't help but root for him! Gwil Garw a’r Carchar Crisial You might remember seeing him first in the popular Mellten magazine, but now, Gwil Garw’s got his own 'book' that brings all the adventures together! This is a graphic novel (a kind of cross between a fiction book and a comic). What do you get when you put these two together? An explosion of colour, excitement and adventure full of “FSSHHWMS,” “SBLWSHYS,” “CROMPS” and “DWMFFS!” Gwil is a brave, if not slightly bonkers, monster hunter from the Celtic times who is sent on frequent adventures by his boss, Hemi ap Heilyn, owner of the Bwystfilariwm! (a zoo for monsters, in case you were wondering!) Gwil has several run-ins and near-misses with dangerous creatures, but he takes it all in his stride! On one of his adventures in the dwarf kingdom he comes across a very special and dangerous crystal indeed. Someone has put a very powerful spell on this, to make sure that whatever’s inside, stays inside! I just hope Gwil gets the message before it's too late! The book itself, including it’s cover and pages, is clearly of very good quality. An odd thing to say maybe, but it feels very satisfying to hold it, let alone read it! This will be getting pride of place on the ‘keepers’ bookshelf at Sôn am Lyfra HQ! Yeey! We have a graphic novel in Welsh! I’ll just say one thing- comics are awesome! Did you know that even adults like to read them too? After fiction novels and non-fiction books, magazines are the most popular choice for reading. So, let there be no doubt that reading comics DOES count as 'real' reading. End of. Graphic novels are like a hybrid of a book and comic, and there’s quite a lot of reading actually. The good thing is though, that it’s cut up into bitesize chunks. In fact, it's a very different - but interesting - reading experience. If you don't usually read in Welsh, or aren’t that keen on full-on novels, why not try a graphic novel instead? I’ll also just quickly mention that the other two books in the series are also worth reading! #moreplease I’ll be completely honest, I just couldn’t stand reading novels when I was younger, but I’d have absolutely GOBBLED this up!!! (oh how things have changed – I can’t get enough of reading now!) More children reading since lockdown It was interesting to read a report recently by the National Literacy Trust, Children and young people's reading engagement in 2021. [here] According to this, more children enjoy reading now than before lockdown (an increase of 17%). This might be because they’ve had more spare time at home to read 'for pleasure.' Whilst this is good news, it could just be a short-term effect and we mustn’t rest on our laurels in our efforts to get more children reading (especially boys!) That's why I'm very happy to see more choice becoming available for readers aged 7-12... Publisher: Llyfrau Broga Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781914303036 MORE IN THE SERIES..

  • Rhedeg yn gynt na'r cleddyfau - Myrddin ap Dafydd

    *For Welsh review, please change language toggle switch on top of page* Interest age: 15+ / adult Reading age: 12+ (confident readers) *indirect references to sexual assault and violence “Doedd yr Uwch-gapten William Parlby ddim mewn tymer rhy dda. A dweud y gwir, roedd croen ei din ar ei dalcen ers ben bore.” In the last few years Gwasg Carreg Gwalch has been busy producing a lot of books relating to Welsh history over the different periods. This is good news given the emphasis that’ll be placed on learning about our own history in the New Curriculum for Wales. In this novel, we go back to Victorian times, to the time of the Rebecca riots, a tumultuous time in mid west Wales. This isn’t the first time that we’ve visited these turbulent times in our children’s literature – the king himself, T. Llew Jones, published a novel about the riots in 1974 under the title Cri'r Dylluan. That was a cracking novel, so there’s some stiff competition! Quick Historical Background Without going into too much detail and in case you are not familiar, this was a time when farmers and peasants in rural Wales rebelled and protested against unreasonable tolls along Welsh roads. In the late 1830s and early 1840s, the people of Wales were very poor. A series of poor harvests had led to a huge increase in the cost of living and life was very hard. On top of all this, they were expected to pay high tolls in order to use the roads to move goods etc. The farmers felt that they were being treated unfairly and oppressed, so they started to take action. They went out late at night disguised in women's clothes so they could burn or destroy the tollhouses. What happens in the book? (no spoilers!) The dragoons (soldiers) have arrived in the Carmarthenshire area because of the dispute over the protests. As the farmers reach the end of their tether, more tollhouses are torn down and Colonel Love is determined to catch the perpetrators. The soldiers want to catch them red handed and put an end to Becca’s protests once and for all, but Becca and her 'girls', with their network of hidden messages, are always one step ahead. We get toknow a number of local characters such as the blacksmith’s family, the gypsy family and the landlord families of the local pubs. It’s clear that everyone knows something’s going on, but nobody wants to mention Beca. The novel focuses on Elin, a fifteen-year-old girl, who lives in the pub in Llangadog. She gets drawn into all the trouble with the tollhouses, and her very life is in danger. She’ll literally have to run for her life! Whilst all this is going on, dark secrets from her past emerge, relating to the mother and father she never knew. What she learns could turn her whole family life upside down. What we also realise is, even the most respectable people in society have got something to hide… Not everyone is as they seem. The verdict Perhaps my definition of a 'children's book' differs to that of the publisher. I personally wouldn't recommend this story for primary children, mainly because the text is too challenging for the majority, in my experience. I’ve seen it suggested as suitable for ages '8-12+’ and I tend to agree. An audience of 15+ would be more likely to appreciate this novel and fully understand the context. As a lover of history, I have been lapping up the historical fiction novels by Myrddin ap Dafydd of late, and I particularly like the author's attention to detail and his research work is very thorough. I love the bits at the back of the book that talk about the process of creating the story. Despite this, I must admit, I didn't enjoy this one as much as Drws Du yn Nhonypandy and Y Goron yn y Chwarel. The story just didn’t have me hooked for some reason. Having said that, many of the messages in the book are very relevant to us today, especially in these uncertain political times. I’m sure some valuable classroom would result from reading this novel, for example by comparing and contrasting some of the inequalities of the period with the situation in Wales today. Given the recent increase in the cost of living, the contemptuous treatment of Wales coming from Westminster and the endless rhetoric about 'the strength of the union', I hope that the people of Wales will find the 'spirit of Becca' once again, so that we can make our voices heard (but maybe in a different way to wearing petticoats and burning buildings down!) Cân dda gan Tecwyn Ifan! Publisher: Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £8 ISBN: 978-1-84527-820-5

  • Mae pob uncorn yn hoffi enfys...Tybed? [Emma Adams & Mike Byrne, adapt. Gwynne Williams]

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of page* Reading age: 5+ Interest age: 3+ Illustrations: Mike Byrne Format: Hardback What comes to mind when you think of unicorns? They’re usually associated with pink, magical, colourful, fluffy, sparkly things and of course, who can forget their multi-coloured droppings?! Unicorns have mystified us through the ages, and come about every so often as a bit of a pop culture craze, especially amongst young girls. You might think you know how unicorns are supposed to look and behave, but you haven’t met this one! You’re in for a shock. This one’s a bit more bad**s than your average unicorn. The book is an explosion of colours, and the rhymes are very funny as the sassy unicorn lists all the "nice" things it doesn't like. Indeed, this unicorn has a very different way of doing things and is happy and confident enough to do things their own way. I like how the author makes fun of the stereotypical image of an unicorn and turns the idea of how an unicorn is ‘supposed to be’ on it’s head. Instead of pink and fluffy things, this one prefers to wear dark emo clothes and instead of singing nice karaoke songs, he/she prefers to rock out to some proper music! Perhaps a little bit of AC/DC or Led Zep. Despite the sarcastic humour and it’s overall light-heartedness, there’s an important message at the heart of this book – we’re all different and unique individuals, and there’s nowt wrong with that. There’s a place for us all in the world, and we should be more tolerant of each other. Be happy and confident in your own skin is what I took from this book. Having finished it, I'm still not sold on the Welsh title. Does it even make proper sense? The original English title was ‘Unicorns don’t love rainbows,’ however the Welsh title translates to ‘All unicorns like rainbows…maybe?’ It’s a little bit awkward-sounding in my opinion. Even with the Southern dialect, (which is a contentious issue in Welsh language books) I could still understand everything. Overall, I’m giving it a 7.5 out of 10. Publisher: Dref Wen Released: 2021 Price: £6.99 ISBN: 9781784231774

  • Y Dyn Dweud Drefn [yn chwarae pêl-droed] - Lleucu Fflyr Lynch

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage* Interest age: 3-8 oed Reading age: 5+ Illustrations: Gwen Millward The Dyn Dweud Drefn is back, and this time he fancies his chances as a footballer! Like many of us, he probably thinks he’s a bit better than he actually is! Obviously, things haven’t changed much since the last book, because he’s still as cranky as ever! This is the third book in this likeable series by Lleucu Fflur Lynch, with Gwen Millward responsible for the illustrations. Her pictures are light and cheerful, and convey the characters' gestures well. Also, have you ever seen such a cute little dog? I like this series. Even though the Dyn Dweud Drefn can be a very cantankerous and prickly individual, I can’t help but like him. It's as if it's he reminds me of someone, but I can't think exactly who. A combination of different people perhaps – a little bit of Mr.Wilson, the curmudgeonly next door neighbor in Dennis the Menace, mixed with a bit of Victor Meldrew from the sitcom One Foot in the Grave, plus a little bit of Gru from Despicable Me mixed in there as well. One thing is sure, he’s extremely lucky and fortunate to have such a loyal friend as his poor little puppy. Even when he’s in the foulest of moods, and is taking it out on others, his faithful four-legged friend is always there to lend a hand (or rather, a paw!) Judging by his skills with a ball, I’d say the dyn Dweud Drefn makes a better gardener than he does a footballer. All he wants to do is score the goal of a lifetime, but he won’t do it alone! You never know, we might even see him crack a smile by the end! Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £4.95 ISBN: 9781845278243 ALSO IN THE SERIES... THE AUTHOR, LLEUCU FFLUR LYNCH

  • Y Disgo Dolig Dwl - Gruffudd Owen

    *For Welsh review, select language toggle switch on top of webpage* Illustration: Huw Aaron Interest age: 3+ Reading age: 7/8 Well, the buzz and excitement of Christmas has been and gone for another year, leaving nothing but the January Blues behind. But don't worry, if you're feeling a bit ‘meh,’ well fear not, you can still re-live the good times with a copy of Y Disco Dolig Dwl, by Gruffudd Owen and Huw Aaron (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch). As you know, no one works harder all year round than Santa Clause, Mrs Clause, the reindeer and the elves. After building millions of presents then delivering them all in one night, I think it’s safe to say they deserve a little office party afterwards to celebrate! There’s no covid-19 in Iceland you see, so having a big party isn't such a taboo! I remember having silly discos in the lounge with my sister when we were kids - dancing to dad’s old vinyls and cassettes on the hi-fi. In fact, I’ll often do that even now – sticking on some cheesy music like Steps or Abba and just having a dance for no reason – try it, it’s quite therapeutic actually! The book rhymes and is suitable (according to the publishers) for children up to the age of 8 "and anyone who’d like a little Christmas fun!" Indeed, it is full of silliness – who’d have thought that even Santa and his wife have to pay taxes just like everyone else! Huw Aaron, our very own Welsh Quentin Blake has lent his talents to sprinkle a bit of Christmas cheers over the book and I can't think of a better person to do the illustrations. They’re just perfect for the tone of this book. My young cousins came over for Christmas, and they enjoyed the book. We had our own crazy kitchen disco afterwards! If you're longing for a bit of Christmas fun, or you’re just a highly organized person looking for Christmas stuff for next year – grab yourself a copy! Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Released: 2021 Price: £6.95 ISBN: 978-1-84527-842-7

  • Shirley - Bethan Gwanas

    *for Welsh review, please see language toggle switch on website* ♥Children's Book of the Month: December 2021♥ Illustrations: Hanna Harris Reading age: 6/7+ Interest age: 3-7+ Hey Big Spender! Unlike Shirley’s famous song, you won’t have to spend a fortune in order to enjoy this book, which is part of a brand-new series, ‘Enwogion o Fri’ by the fairly new publisher, Llyfrau Broga. (the series will launch in English too in the New Year.) This is a series that, as the title suggests, address various famous people and other remarkable individuals who have contributed to or influenced in one way or another our history as a nation. This is not just a series about girls, but it was decided to launch it with three remarkable women to emphasize the valuable contribution they have done and continue to do so to our world. Some individuals will be better known than others, but one thing is certain, they are all incredible and diverse and I have a feeling that this series will be a very successful one. This is the second book in the series and the one getting my attention in today's blog. Skilled author Bethan Gwanas has written Shirley, with modern and fresh illustrations by Hanna Harris – a very beautiful book, I must say. Now, those of a certain age will probably have heard of Shirley Bassey, but perhaps don’t know about her upbringing here in Wales. Yes – I kid you not – Shirley Bassey was born and raised right here in Wales – Cardiff to be precise. As the series is targeted to a young audience (age 3-7), it is quite likely that the young readers will not have heard of her, so this is a great opportunity to show how far some Welsh people have gone, and what they have been able to achieve over their remarkable lives. BG has done a good job of making sense of Shirley Bassey’s long and interesting life and career and presents it in a simple yet effective way, from the early days in Tiger Bay, all the way through to her later years living in Monaco. Learning about her journey through life was fascinating – who’d have thought that a singer with so much presence was painfully shy as a child? And did you know that she struggled as a young singer in school because her voice was TOO powerful? It’s an amazing voice -watch her once-in-a-life performance at Glastonbury in 2007. You’ll be blown away. This book shows how the young Shirley overcame all the challenges she faced, and became one of the most famous singers in the world! Hopefully this story will serve as an inspiration and give hope to others who read this book- you can do anything if you believe in yourself. Publisher: Broga Released: 2021 Series: Enwogion o Fri Price: £5.99 ISBN: 9781914303081

  • Pam? - Luned Aaron a Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh review, please use language toggle switch on website* Suggested interest: dan 7 Reading age: 5+ Are you looking for a book for bedtime that’ll have you in stitches? Look no further. Luned and Huw Aaron strike again! It looks like this couple are having a great year. Between publishing loads of books and seeing their brand-new publishing company, Broga, go from strength to strength, I'm sure these two are very busy. But that’s a great thing for you and me ‘cause whilst they’re busy doing the graft, we, the readers, can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour. This time, they’ve released a picturebook for young children with Y Lolfa. The lad on the cover looks like how I feel today (yup, that Monday feeling) and the subject matter is every child’s favourite word- "why?" Those of you who come across children will be very familiar with this question, and I'm sure that many parents have been driven to despair hearing this word repeated over and over! The book is in the form of funny little rhymes, from the point of view of the main character as he questions and vents his frustrations about not being able to do as he pleases, such as drinking coca cola or tormenting his little sister with creepy crawlies! But despite all his moaning and whinging and “why can’t I’s?” the answer is always the same– NO CHANCE! Poor lad, so unfair – those boring adults spoiling all his fun! Honestly, you’ll never find anyone more brutally honest than children, and I had to laugh at the thought of the young boy who desperately wanted to say all sorts of things about his aunty’s big backside (before being quickly stopped by his parent!) I'm sure lots of you parents can recall a couple of embarrassing moments, where the children have said something inappropriate in public! I did something similar once when I was little by ‘outing’ my Gran for making Knorr packet soup and trying to pass it off as her own, and in front of the Minister too! Oops! There are a lots of funny picture books available, but many of them are adaptations, while original Welsh ones are far less common. Yes, I sound like a broken record by now, but we still need more original light-hearted, less serious and just plain funnier books. These are the ones that children will be asking to read and re-read time and again. This one is a cracker, and effortlessly funny, and I’m sure you’ll be smiling as you read it. It’ll be a favourite in many a house, and I also think it could be a good Eisteddfod ‘adrodd’ piece. Publisher: Y Lolfa Released: August 2021 Price: £4.99 ISBN: 9781800990562

  • Y Ddinas Uchel/The Builders - Huw Aaron

    *For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on webpage* Mae'n iawn i freuddwydio am rywbeth gwell... Its ok to dream for something better... Positive messages: ◉◉◉◉◎ Upsetting, tough themes: ◎◎◎◎◎ Violence, scary: ◎◎◎◎◎ Language: ◎◎◎◎◎ Sex: ◎◎◎◎◎ Suggested reading age: 5+ Suggested interest age: 3-7 This bilingual picture book is from talented artist/cartoonist Huw Aaron. We are very familiar with his drawings and doodles in a number of popular books and the magazine Mellten. On this occasion, Huw himself has taken care of writing the story as well as painting the pictures! Huw said that the story had been simmering in the back of his mind for years- well finally, here it is! This is a story about a little girl called Petra, who lives in a city full of very busy people. The workers spend all day, every day building very high towers that stretch to the sky. In fact, the workers remind me of termites, who spend their lives building large mounds. Poor Petra is bored with the daily grind of constructing towers. In fact, she is absolutely fed up! Petra begins to question the regime as she ponders the big philosophical question: Is there more to life? Even though some very important people order her to 'grow up' and ‘get on with it’, in her heart she never stops dreaming. One day, when a lady comes down from the clouds in a hot air balloon, they go on an adventure all over the world, seeing all the wonders that exist. I wonder if Petra will be able to persuade the rest of the city's inhabitants that there is more to life than building towers? Huw Aaron’s watercolour paintings are beautifully colourful and we get a very affectionate story with a clear message to young children (as well as adults!) that it’s perfectly acceptable to question things. The book conveys children's natural curiosity and wonder about the world around them. Children and adults will understand the message that there are many wonders and opportunities out there to be seen and enjoyed, if you take the chance! There’s a metaphor in the book that shows how modern life has conditioned us to hurry from one place to another, working non-stop, without taking time to fully appreciate our world. Go out to see the world and enjoy new experiences- life is too short! I'm really glad Atebol decided to make this book available bilingually, so that more people can enjoy it. Review from, by permission of Welsh Books Council. Publisher: Atebol Price: £6.99 Released: 2020 ISBN: 9781801060189

  • Luned Bengoch - Elizabeth Watkin-Jones

    *For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch on top of page* Suggested reading age: 10+ Interest age: 10+ REVIEW BY MARED LLYWELYN As one who grew up in Morfa Nefyn, I’ve always been aware of this special author, Elizabeth Watkin-Jones. Before I even read her novels, I remember seeing them on the bookshelf at Nain and Taid’s. Lois... Esyllt... Y Dryslwyn... but the most famous of all is Luned Bengoch. Yes, T. Llew Jones is more well-known, having written at length about the wild coast of Ceredigion, but Elizabeth Watkin-Jones has also succeeded in weaving adventure, romance and danger on the northern coast of the Llŷn. All this is encapsulated on the cover of this new edition by artist Efa Blosse-Mason – it looks like a poster for an epic film. And believe me, this is an epic story that young people and adults will enjoy. We are in the year 1401, and the period is significant because we are in the early years of Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion. It’s pleasing to read a novel that is not afraid to show its nationalist colours. In addition to the characters who are loyal to Glyndŵr and the case for independence for Wales, despite this being a historical novel it feels extremely timely as the case for independence has come to the forefront in recent years. But what about the novel's characters? Luned is a strong, adventurous girl and she doesn't let the fact that she’s a girl limit her at all, as it would surely have done in that time. She’s determined to follow her friend, Rhys on a journey to present a message to Owain Glyndŵr at his camp in Pumlumon, by pretending to be a boy. But on the journey, she comes to the attention of several people, and not even her cap can hide those flaming red curls, or those famous features that were known to belong to the Caradog ab Merfyn Goch family of the Conwy valley. Why is there a danger at Plas Crafnant? And just who is Luned Bengoch? This is the third time that the novel has been printed. First published in 1946, then the author's nephew, Hugh D. Jones updated the text for a new edition in 1983. I really hope that today's young people will continue to immerse themselves in this adventure. Join Luned and Rhys on their journey, from the rocky shores of Nant Gwrtheyrn, to the slopes of the Pumlumon mountains and on to the Conwy Valley. This novel truly belongs in this ‘best of the best’ collection - not many stories are told in this way today. Luned Bengoch is a classic for sure. Publisher: Gomer@Lolfa Released: 2021 (ond yn wreiddiol yn 1946, 1983) Series: Gorau'r Goreuon Price: £6.99 ISBN: 978-1-80099-135-4 ENJOYED LUNED BENGOCH? CHECK OUT THE OTHERS IN THE SERIES...

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