Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Billy And The Dragon by Nadia Shireen.

Review: Billy And The Dragon by Nadia Shireen.

Billy And The Dragon

It’s party time! Billy and Fatcat are back, and this time they’re off to a fancy dress party. Fatcat isn’t keen on the dressing up part but is persuaded to put on a dragon suit. Everything is going well until a real dragon swoops down and seizes Fatcat. 

Billy and her friends set out on a rescue mission. They fly up to the top of tall trees, climb mountains and befriend fluffy white rabbits on their quest to see Fatcat safely home. Is it possible he will be OK? Will this all end in a slice of birthday cake?

Another delightful story about Billy And Fatcat from the author of Billy And The Beast. 

Resourceful, adventurous Billy and her grouchy (but adorable) sidekick Fatcat may be my new favourite picture book duo. Certainly, these stories have all the ingredients of memorable picture books. They have strong plots, a fearless main character, and happy endings which don’t feel in any way like a cheat or a letdown. They understand – like The Gruffalo, like Peter Rabbit, that young readers have a higher tolerance for peril than many adults realise. 

Fatcat too is a gem. His disgruntled expression is somewhat reassuring. Small children know well that nursery rhymes and unicorns and jelly and ice-cream can get plain annoying. Tantrums and frustration and rejecting perfectly good things are all part of a stable early childhood and we need more disgruntled characters in their literature. 

Wonderful skies in pink, orange, purple, red and blue add a hint of darkness without being too scary. The quest is broken with moments of light relief too, like Billy’s colourful bunch of balloons and the random chat with a fluffy bunny rabbit. The gang of adorable woodland creatures, too, add humour. Whoever heard of noble knights who looked so cute? 

Billy is a fantastic heroine who represents many young girls. She is bright, resourceful and loyal to her friends. I would recommend her in a second to anyone looking to balance out the princesses with young heroines. It is so important for girls to have strong role models. 

Another hit from Nadia Shireen. I hope Billy and Fatcat will be back for further adventures and I look forward to cheering them on. 

 

Thanks to Penguin Books UK for my copy of Billy And The Dragon. Opinions my own.

Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books · Uncategorized

Picture Book Review: Billy And The Beast by Nadia Shireen

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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.