#MGTakesOnThursday: The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson

Image created by @MarySimms72 and used with permission.

This is a weekly meme started by @marysimms72 on her brilliant Book Craic blog.

To take part, the steps to follow are:

  • Post a picture of a front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book
  • Either share why you would recomment this book, or link to your review.

Author: Victoria Williamson

Illustrator: I’m sorry, but my Kindle does not have this information

Publisher: Kelpies, an imprint of Floris Books

Favourite sentence from Page 11: Yet again, I am probably bending the rules in this section! I lent my physical copy to someone before lockdown, so I only have my Kindle version to refer to, therefore I will use a quote from 11% as my Kindle will not allow me to search for page numbers! This quote encapsulates the plight of Reema, devastated by the separation from her beloved brother on the journey to the UK, and now bearing a huge weight of responsibility on her young shoulders as her family adapt to life as refugees on a Glasgow housing estate.

“Now that Jamal, with his expensive education and fluent English, is no longer with us, I am the only one who can speak for my family in halting foreign words.”

This book in three words: Alienation – Empathy – Friendship

In the week that we have marked #EmpathyDay I am giving a backlist shoutout to a beautifully written, powerful and moving story which charts the development of a friendship between two very different girls on a housing estate in Glasgow. I have lost count of the number of times that I have recommended this book! You can read my original review here.

Review: A Home for Luna by Stef Gemmill and Mel Armstrong



New Frontier Publishing are releasing some outstanding picture books into the market this autumn, and this one is sure to melt hearts, as bedraggled Luna searches for a new home.

The author, Stef Gemmill’s words are accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations in a muted, natural, colour palette created by Mel Armstrong. I believe that this is the first picture book that she has illustrated – it’s a stunningly impressive debut. In an inspired nod to her target audience there is a small hermit crab to find on every page, an activity that little children will love and that again emphasises the theme of searching for a home.

It is not clear why the little cat Luna has washed up on a strange shore, only that “sounds of danger had made her leave her home.”  She is tired, friendless and hungry, but gradually she finds a trusting friendship with a huddle of penguins and an unlikely partnership develops. The simple, elegant text and characterful pictures convey this poignant story perfectly for a young audience.  The tale can be enjoyed at a surface level as one of developing friendship and finding a new home, and on another level this book could be used as the start of a discussion about displacement and refugees with young children.


I am most grateful to New Frontier Publishing for sending me a review copy which will be added to our school library, and is a lovely addition to our “Read for Empathy” collection.

Review: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

hitler stole pink rabbit

I first read this book as a child many years ago, then read it aloud to children and have just re-read for probably the 5th time as part of the #PinkRabbitReadalong organised by Lorraine Gregory and Annaliese Avery to honour the legacy of Judith Kerr.

It is such a wonderful story, narrated in the third person but based on the author’s own experience of fleeing Berlin immediately before Hitler was elected. Through the characters of nine-year-old Anna and her older brother Max, children can travel in the footsteps of two refugees from Nazi Germany as they journey through Europe looking for a home to replace the comfortable existence that they had enjoyed in Berlin. The tone is perfect for children due to the eloquent description laced with good humour and Anna’s matter-of-fact observations.

I am always amazed at Anna’s ability to see the family’s plight as a great adventure and to take the positive from every experience. The author’s skill in recounting the tale as experienced by a child but imbuing it with the hindsight of an adult who so narrowly escaped a terrible fate is astonishing. Each time I have read the chapter describing the train journey experienced by Anna, Max and their mother, out of Germany to join their father in Zurich, and their approach to the Swiss border I feel the tension so palpably that I grip the book as tightly as Anna’s mother clings to her handbag.

Re-reading this masterpiece during refugee week and with the knowledge of the priceless legacy that Judith Kerr has left to the world of children’s literature makes the experience even more poignant. I treasure this story where we can all step into the shoes of a nine year old girl who experienced displacement, and admire the courage of a family who overcame hardship to find a new place in the world. I hope that it reminds us all to offer kindness to those who are struggling and to look for positives in all situations. I highly recommend this story to everyone, young and old alike.


As well as #PinkRabbitReadalong this is #Book3 in my #20BooksofSummer created by Cathy at 746books.com