Recently I was struck by the tweet by Nicola Sturgeon (politics aside) that encouraged all little girls to believe that "nothing sho...

Little People, Big Dreams

Wednesday, August 03, 2016 BookBairn 4 Comments

Recently I was struck by the tweet by Nicola Sturgeon (politics aside) that encouraged all little girls to believe that "nothing should be off limits for them". I want BookBairn to grow up believing this wholeheartedly. I want her to have positive role models that girls can grow up and be whatever the want to be. I want her to have equal pay. I want her to have choices. I want her to be confident. I want her to be courageous. I want her to be a mighty girl.

I have started collecting books for her that will encourage her to be a mighty girl. Books filled with role models, both real world and fictional, that show her that nothing is off limits. I hope to write several posts about books with smart, confident and courageous little girls and you will be able to find them here using our mighty girls label. (At the current time of writing this is the first post in the series so there will only be one linked but I will add to it as I write more posts; there are lots of good ideas on the A Mighty Girl website if you are looking for suggestions for more books, films and toys.)

I am starting this series of posts with a fabulous selection of books from Frances Lincoln Children's Books (an imprint of Quarto Books) called 'Little People, Big Dreams'. Several in the series are by Isabel Sanchez Vergara with various illustrators and one of the soon-to-be released titles is by Lisbeth Salaberria. These books tell the biographies of outstanding people (so far all the titles are about women), from designers to artists to scientists, in a format that is easy for little readers to understand. I recently wrote about the trend for narrative non-fiction that makes learning accessible in the guise of a story.

We were kindly sent two from this series: 'Frida Kahlo' by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and illustrated by Gee Fan Eng and 'Amelia Earhart' by the same author with illustrations from Mariadiamantes. (The series also includes: 'Coco Chanel'; 'Maya Angelou' which is to be released on 9th August; and 'Agatha Christie' and 'Marie Curie' to be released on 2nd March next year - BookBairn's birthday!!) All the books in the series aim to show that these icons began life as a child with a dream and tells the story of how they went on to achieve incredible things.

I didn't know much about Frida Kahlo beyond the iconic mono-browed self-portraits featured often in popular culture and this book was a delight for me, as well as BookBairn. The book tells the story of her life: from her contracting polio at a young age, to the bus crash which changed her life forever, to how she became a painter and how she came to be recognised as an artist. The story is concise with only a few sentences on each page but retells much of the main elements of Kahlo's life with passion and true to her insuppressible strength and instinct for survival. I'd never have known the inspiration behind her art or her courage to overcome polio and then being again bedridden following an accident with a bus, no wonder her artwork is strong and powerful: they are self-portraits after all. Written in short sentences, this book would also make a great early-reader for children are they begin to tackle reading some challenging vocabulary. There is also an opportunity to discuss the idea of timelines at the back of the book with a more detailed biography, which I can only assume is aimed at the adult reading the book to a child. The final page even includes suggestions for further reading - what a great way to encourage little readers to learn more!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely wonderful: using bold and bright colours, a similar palette to Kahlo's paintings, the scenes are vibrant and packed full of details. (I should point out that there is one scene of Frida's bus accident that some parents might find too graphic for younger readers, for me, it was true to her life so I am happy for BookBairn to see it.) The characters are cute and cartoon-like, though perhaps sometimes lacking in expression, and are sweetly endearing.

Most importantly, this is a wonderful story about being unique, conquering challenges, and the importance of practice. I love that it introduces children to the idea that art can be a means to express emotions. It is certainly perfect for mighty girls to learn that you don't have to colour within the lines! Frida didn't!

I am more familiar with the story of the women at the centre of the second biography, 'Amelia
Earhart'. Written in a similar format, with concise sentences, this book tells the incredible story of a little girl who dreamed she could fly! It shares her experiences as she breaks world records: becoming the first woman to fly above 14,000 feet, and later the first woman to fly over the Atlantic (with a pilot and mechanic), and later by herself. It shows how she supported other young women in their dreams to fly, becoming the first president and founding member of the Ninety-Nines, an organisation supporting female pilots. It delicately addresses her mysterious disappearance during her attempt to fly all the way around the world. What a brave woman! An inspiration to all little girls!

'Amelia Earhart' is illustrated by Mariadiamantes and in many ways is quite different from the illustrations in the 'Frida Kahlo' book. With similar bold colours, this book seems softer without the strong lines used by Gee Fan Eng in the Kahlo biography. These illustrations are also simpler, and less detailed. But absolutely, no less beautiful. I adore the repeating images of aeroplanes zooming across the sky, and on another page the repeating, though individual images of houses below Earhart's plane, and the page featuring members of the Ninety-Nine organisation in matching, and repeating, aviator goggles and hats. But amongst one of the most beautiful illustrations I have seen is the scene where Amelia's little red plane flies over the Atlantic Ocean with the shadow of a blue whale travelling far beneath her. I love this!

Again, this book is perfect for mighty girls who imagine that they can stretch their wings and fly!

I cannot wait to see more from this series, and I hope that it will also feature mighty boys alongside those mighty girls as inspiration to little readers everywhere. BookBairn is certainly little and I hope we can help her to have big dreams. And I hope, using inspiration from these incredible women, she will achieve her dreams.

Mummy and Mighty Girl BookBairn xx

*DISCLAIMER* We  requested a books from the Little People, Big Dreams series for review and were sent 'Frida Kahlo' and 'Amelia Earhart' by the publisher . All words and opinions are, as always, my own.

Apparently these books also make great
stepping stones.


  1. I've often wondered what BookBairn does dream about. Anyway, these books look great and a Mighty Girl she shall be.

    1. I wonder what she does dream about - books perhaps? x

  2. I love a local Saltcoats girl called Betsy Miller who became the first female sea captain. We had great fun finding out about her and made her story the focus of our International Women's Day celebrations using #betsybelieved because confidence is the other side of opportunity

    1. Wow! You can teach BookBairn all about her!. x