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.