Top Texts for November 2023

Bethan Jones has chosen a wonderful selection of captivating texts

The Torch

by Jon Roberts and Illustrated by Hannah Rounding

Accompanied by Myles, her assistance dog, Lilly sets off from Granny’s house to explore. First, she walks through the garden, then she visits the seashore. But when she comes to the big cave at the end of the beach her acute hearing means she fears the loud noise when she drops her torch. Terrified that there is a monster lurking in the darkness, what could it be?

The plot allowed me to delve deep into my childhood as I recalled a vivid memory of visiting my Nain’s house and discovering different objects stuffed in the back of cupboards. After rummaging through drawers at Granny’s house, Lilly discovers a torch and embarks on an adventure. Sprinkled throughout there are sensitive references to Lily’s neuro diversity, and her wonderful relationship with Myles, her trusted companion. The most beautiful illustrations dance off the page, capturing the magnificent, exploring, and inquisitive mind of Lilly.


by Caryl Lewis and Illustrated by George Ermos

This captured my heart from the very first page – Marty doesn’t have much. Unlike his mum, who has billions of things: newspapers, holey shoes, rusty lawnmowers, broken picture frames – she keeps EVERYTHING! Marty finds himself drowning, yet there is a glint of something magical on the horizon. On Marty’s birthday, Grandad, gifts Marty a rather plump, stripy seed. The seed grows bigger and bigger, and launches Grandad, Marty and his best friend Gracie on an impossible, wondrous plan fuelled by love, hopes and dreams.

A story brimming with hope, packed with witty, warm and well-rounded characters. The striking cover is just captivating, enticing you to read on. Although the book deals with some difficult themes, such as poverty, mental health and bullying, it also inspires readers through the powerful message, that anything is possible. I especially loved Gracie’s character, her passion for life and dance is breath-taking.

Shani Chickens

by Valériane Leblond

Hidden in Cardigan Bay between New Quay and Aberaeron lies the charming beach of Cei Bach. In the 19th century, in a tiny tumbledown cottage right on the sand lived a little old lady and her chickens. She was known as Siani Pob Man or Shani Chickens and was a famous and unique real-life Ceredigion character known for wandering the area selling eggs door-to-door, singing hymns, telling stories, and reading tourists’ fortunes.

The exquisite and compelling illustrations lure you in to discover more about this unique character, Shani Chickens. It’s a wonderful celebration of the rare and distinct characters that we are fortunate to have had within the community.  I found my-self thinking what a wonderful and powerful message to others, to appreciate and treasure these individuals within our community. A mesmerising example of word and illustration capturing history effectively and complementing each other perfectly on the page. Just delightful!

Llun BJ

About this month's reviewer

In October last year I had the privilege of starting my post as Head of Children’s Books and Reading Promotion with the Books Council of Wales. Without a doubt, the ability to initiate and develop projects to promote love of reading and reading for pleasure is a true passion of mine. These reading projects ensure a worthwhile opportunity to ignite a love for literature, and an outstanding potential to have a significant impact on the lives of children and young people today.

One of the elements that gives me the most pleasure is the opportunity to create partnerships and to collaborate with others whether they are writers, illustrators, teachers, various organizations, and the wider community. These partnerships provide us with remarkable opportunities to celebrate what reading can offer, from entering new worlds, to the thrill of discovery and a sense of belonging. These are critical ingredients, which inspire and drive a positive impact on the well-being of children and young people, as well as shaping them as individuals. These powerful partnerships can enable us to bestow exciting and appealing literature for children and young people, there is a book out there for everyone!