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Picture Book Review: Billy And The Beast by Nadia Shireen


Billy loves going for walks with his Fatcat. They jump and splash in puddles and greet all the adorable little creatures in the woods. It should be the perfect day but something isn’t right. The adorable little creatures have disappeared. Before Billy and Fatcat can investigate further they are tied up in a sack.

img_6596There’s a Terrible Beast with a terrible plan. He’s got a recipe for soup and he plans to stick to the ingredients. Can Billy and Fatcat save the adorable little creatures before they end up in the pot?

A familiar tale of a beast with an appetite retold for our times. There are scooters and donughts and familiar motifs which make this feel less like a fairytale than a modern story. The bright colour palette and bold drawings support this sense that the story is thourghly of our times.

img_6617The humour in this book is reminiscent of The Gruffalo. The world is a dark place, little creatures are in danger of getting eaten – or stuffed into ingredients jars – but plucky and daring heroes can outwit the darkness. I adore books like this because they don’t sugarcoat the world.

There has been conversation online about Billy -the protagonist with an afro. It is a symptom of how poor representation has been that it is even worth noting but having children from all backgrounds in stories is vital. Do you remember being a kid and liking a protagonist more because they had your hair-colour or wore glasses or came from an area just like yours? These things may seem trivial to adults but children need to imagine themselves at the centre of an adventure. Skin colour is exactly the same. Books like Billy And The Beast are precious because they let children see themselves as the hero of the story.

Thanks to Sarah Hastelow and Puffin at Penguin Random House for my copy of Billy And The Beast. Opinions my own.



6 thoughts on “Picture Book Review: Billy And The Beast by Nadia Shireen

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