Blog Tour: How to Make a Story by Naomi Jones, illustrated by Ana Gomez

Cover illustration by Ana Gomez, published by Oxford Children’s Books

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for How to Make a Story, a book which has enraptured me since my review copy arrived. I have been looking forward to reading this picture book since hearing about it at an online launch event for another of the author’s books in 2022, and the finished copy is even better than I had imagined.

Naomi Jones has a genuine understanding of young children’s imaginations and their anxieties and has used this knowledge to craft a story which both sees their experience, and engages them in finding a practical solution. The joyous artwork by Ana Gomez works perfectly with the text to bring the story to life in beautiful colourful spreads that are totally relatable. This is a picture book that cries out to be shared in homes, nurseries and early years classrooms.

On the pages, we meet Milo, who wants to make up his own story but is not sure where to start. His mum offers guidance, explaining the basic three-part structure and reassurance that he can’t get it wrong. She helps him with the opening phrase and then he’s off; drawing inspiration from his multigenerational family, his home and garden and mixing these familiar elements with the unfettered imagination of a young child. Dad is on hand to give advice on the middle section, Nana supplies motivation and Milo’s younger twin siblings appear to influence the inclusion of slimy, dribbling monsters into the storyline.

Every element of this picture book works to make it as precious as the golden treasure of Milo’s imagination. The vibrant artwork beautifully depicts Milo’s creativity as he turns objects and situations that are familiar to most children into a story. There is so much detail to study on every page that I am sure youngsters will want to return to the book often and I can imagine them comparing many of the pictures with their own families and homes. I loved the way that Milo’s supportive family helped him break the story-making process into small, manageable chunks and the way that Lego bricks became a visual metaphor for constructing the story from its individual pieces. This is such a valuable model for children, many of whom can struggle when faced with the prospect of writing a story when little or no scaffolding is provided. I know from personal experience how challenging a blank page can be for a child who has dyslexia for example, and I am sure that this celebration of the creative process will act as a gentle guide to help so many youngsters translate the brilliant machinations of their brains into stories that they will be proud to share in the same way as Milo.

I wholeheartedly recommend How to Make a Story to anyone who is lucky enough to know a child of 3-6; I will certainly be buying copies for young relatives. My thanks to Liz Scott and Oxford Children’s Books for inviting me to participate in the blog tour and I urge you to read reviews written by my fellow book review bloggers outlined in the graphics below.


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