Barrington Stoke – some mini reviews! #1

The amazing squirrels of Barrington Stoke sent me some amazing books recently and during half term I sat and devoured all of them! I thought now was a perfect time to share my mini reviews of these books because I had a lovely time reading them!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Barrington Stoke is a small, independent and award-winning children’s publisher. For over 20 years they’ve been pioneering super-readable, dyslexia-friendly fiction to help every child become a reader. Their books are printed with a specially designed font and are printed on accessible coloured paper. I love their mission statement and I love that there are books for the children who could otherwise find reading a little overwhelming. If you’d like to find out more or check out their amazing collection of books, please check out their website:

The Dog Who Saved The World (Cup) – Phil Earle

The only thing that Pickles loves more than football is his best friend, and owner, Elsie. She’s smart, kind, funny and AMAZING at football. But even though Dad works hard to provide for them, life off the pitch is tough. It’s their team of three against the world and right now it feels like their side is losing. With the announcement that the World Cup is coming home to England and that Elsie’s team might have the chance to play in a halftime match at Wembley Stadium, it’s the happiest they’ve ever been. But when disaster strikes their dreams are shattered and it looks like its up to Pickles to save the world (cup)…

I don’t know what it is with me, but I REALLY love books told from animals’ perspectives. I think I love hearing about how weird the world of humans is from the perspective of something else. This is such an incredibly gorgeous story. Telling the story of a dog (Pickles) and his family (Elsie and Dad). They’re not a well-off family and when football is the only joy in Elsie’s life, Pickles has to do everything he can to save her smile. There is so much to love about this book and so much I personally loved about it: representation of poor families (because as heartbreaking as it can be to read, it is the reality for so so many people), girls in football, England actually being good at football (ha!). Something that still sticks with me now is the portrayal of dad’s struggles with bills – reading it really made me sad… but I think it’s so important to have these stories! This isn’t all sadness – there’s so much love and joy about this story! I think everyone needs to read this! This is definitely the one that’s stuck with me the most (Phil Earle writes so so brilliantly).

The Girl With Her Head in the Clouds – Karen McCombie

The Girl with her Head in the Clouds

1904, Alexandra Palace, London. When a couple of showmen need a stand-in for a trick that involves shooting an apple off a human target’s head, sixteen-year-old Dolly Shepherd volunteers on the spot. Little does she know that this will be the first of many stunts and the start of a sensational career. But the life of a parachutist is as dangerous as it is daring, and there will be many close shaves along the way …

When I got this, I didn’t actually know the story of Dolly Shepherd. In fact, I don’t even know that I’d even heard of her (I know, that’s shameful!), but having read and thoroughly enjoyed this story, I now know about her and have continued to learn about her. This is such a brilliant and interesting story – a tale of a young woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer and followed her dreams! A story of a young woman who proved that women can do ANYTHING. In a time where women were finding their voices and their strength, Dolly was jumping out of hot air balloons. I loved this story! It was just refreshing and it really made me smile! It’s always brilliant to learn about inspirational women – give me more of these stories please!

The Animals of Madame Malone’s Music Hall – Laura Wood

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“Summer by the seaside with Gran isn’t exactly what Callie expected. Instead of sunshine and ice cream, she’s stuck helping Gran’s drama group save their local theatre. Worst of all, they’ve asked her to star in their play. But when she goes exploring backstage, Callie stumbles into an altogether different world – another theatre, run by a wise fox and her troupe of talking animals. And the strangest part of all? Callie’s set to play the lead in their show too. Forced to face her fears will Callie be up to the challenge of saving Madame Malone’s Music Hall?”

I am totally supportive of the arts and I can’t wait to get back to the theatre (all I’ve been listening to recently is musical soundtracks… much to the dismay of anyone who comes across me, ha!) In this book, we are in a world where theatre isn’t just important to humans, but it’s important to animals too. Callie is spending the summer with Gran and she is NOT particularly enjoying it. When she is roped in to joining in the local theatre show, Callie doesn’t want any of it. She goes exploring in the back of the theatre her gran is trying to save and ends up helping not only the animals to save their theatre, but her Gran too! I loved that Callie realised the importance of the theatre and telling stories through this (even though she had a bit of stage fright)! This has some lush storytelling from Laura Wood and illustrations from Ellie Snowdon!

Nappy The Pirate Baby – Andy MacDonald

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“Stinky McFlea, Irish Stew, Long Johns, Nitty Nora and Captain Spratt are pirates aboard the Salty Herring. They love nothing more than lazing about on deck and sailing the high seas – until one day, a strange wailing noise changes everything. There’s a stowaway baby on board the ship, and the crew have decided to raise him like a proper pirate. But are they really up to the task of looking after a baby? And where exactly did Nappy come from?”

This is cute! This tells the tale of what happens when a crew of pirates find a baby on board their ship and have no idea who he belongs to! They discover they have to work together to get him back to his Mam, of course! The characters are a load of fun and they’re a pirate ship I wouldn’t mind joining – they’re a very friendly crew of pirates who play cards and eat biscuits!! (sounds perfect to me!). This would be a great read to a group of younger children – I am going to pass this down to KS1 and let them fight about who gets to read it!

And that was my whistle stop tour of 4 of my recent reads from the squirrels at the Stoke!

Have you read any of these?
Have you heard of Barrington Stoke books?
Who would you love to see write a Barrington Stoke book?

A massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for these books (and others… reviews coming soon!). They’re fitting in perfectly in my library!

S x

2 thoughts on “Barrington Stoke – some mini reviews! #1

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