As you know, every few months I get unreasonably happy when a small padded envelope of treats from publisher Barrington Stoke plops onto the doormat. It’s always such a lovely surprise, and their output is so diverse and so interesting, I never know quite what I’ll find in store for me. It’s never dull, though.
This month they sent me two of their lovely Little Gem books to review. Little Gems are made for those children who are beginning their journey into independent reading. They’re a perfect size for children’s hands to hold, and are always produced to such a high quality they’re like gifts.
As with every book they produce, these books are dyslexia friendly in a range of ways you can explore on their website.
A Twist of Tales is by author of The Gruffalo and ex Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson. She has retold three classic folk tales from around the world, which have been delightfully illustrated by Peter Bailey.
It’s lovely to see short stories being offered in a non huge anthology format to children, and as a fan of folk and fairy tales I was delighted to see a fresh take on some classic story tropes. She has chosen The Kings’ Ears, a story from Wales, but which has its roots in classical literature; The Strange Dream, an English story and The Clever Girl, a story from Russia. Each story has strong ties to various classes of folk tales, and although I’ve not read these versions before, I have read many like them. Innovation is not really the point of these stories, and their reworking is a huge part of their charm. They’re well told, funny, entertaining and a wonderful way of linking old and new story telling traditions.
The book is suitable for independent readers aged five to eight, both boys and girls. The stories are also the perfect bedtime read, and would be terrific to share with children either at home or in a classroom setting.
You can read the first tale here.