Written & Illustrated by: Sophie Gilmore
For ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Friendship, Independent Thought, Courage, Freedom, Discovery, Wonder, Intuition, Bravery.
This book is SO amazing. Freda is a free spirit that values discovery and adventure, much to the dismay of the other villagers who are often warning her about what could happen. One day she befriends a beetle with a broken wing, names him Ernest, and they become inseparable. The villagers are skeptical, but eventually begin to take advantage of Ernest’s good nature and strength and give him many tasks around the village. The villagers are happy to exploit his strength but get upset when he needs to eat a lot.
What I love about this book is the complexity, both in the plot and Freda herself. The world she lives in is fantastical, she shares plums with trees and reads books on a roof with a massive beetle. The underlying message of this story is about standing up for yourself, especially while scared, when it goes against the status quo. The bravery that it takes to listen to yourself and what you know is true is a skill that is sometimes honed by making a mistake or two along the way.
This book was generously sent to us by Owlkids Books, but all opinions are our own! Freda and the Blue Beetle is a lovely story, and will be released on April 15th!
About the Author & Illustrator:
Sophie Gilmore is an illustrator and writer of picture books, currently living in Italy for a little while.
She lived in various places in New Zealand until she was 8, usually standing on rusty nails in her bare feet or having to be de-wormed after spending too much time grubbing around with chickens or guineafowl or something. Then she moved to Scotland, where there were duffel coats and cold Christmases, and stayed there (except for a handful of rogue years after high school spent back in NZ) until she graduated in illustration at the art school in Edinburgh.
She has pretty much stuck with watercolour and pen since day one, and uses an upturned pot as a footrest (see above). Most of her work stems from the curiousness of human nature, the magic in a friendship between children and animals, and usually includes a handful of other creatures just being a bit suspicious.
Occasionally she chats to people in the outside world, you can read a couple of recent conversations about work in general here, and her debut book Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast, here. And here is a link to a review in the New York Times, just because that’s a little thrilling to say.