Love Your Body – Jessica Sanders

Illustrations – Carol Rossetti

Every so often I stumble across a book I wish I’d had the opportunity to read when I was a kid. This is one of those books.

While acknowledging that all bodies are different (and this is okay!), the focus of this book is appreciating what your body can do rather than what it looks like. Examples include using your hands to create, your eyes to watch television or read and your nose to smell the sea or flowers.

Self care ideas for showing your body kindness are included and seeking help from others is normalised. What you can do for your body and what it does for you are addressed but you are also reminded that you are more than your body. You are kind, curious, passionate and so many other wonderful things.

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I absolutely adored the message of this book but it was Carol Rossetti’s illustrations that sealed the deal for me. So many different bodies are represented. Bodies of various colours, shapes, sizes and abilities are included. There’s even cellulite, body hair and stretch marks, and I love that!

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I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read this book so far. Although the target audience are children, adults who didn’t receive this message as kids will also be able to use this book to challenge the stereotypes they’ve internalised about their own body.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

What if every young girl loved her body? Love Your Body encourages you to admire and celebrate your body for all the amazing things it can do (like laugh, cry, hug, and feel) and to help you see that you are so much more than your body.

Bodies come in all different forms and abilities. All these bodies are different and all these bodies are good bodies. There is no size, ability, or colour that is perfect. What makes you different makes you, you – and you are amazing!

Love Your Body introduces the language of self-love and self-care to help build resilience, while representing and celebrating diverse bodies, encouraging you to appreciate your uniqueness. This book was written for every girl, regardless of how you view your body. All girls deserve to be equipped with the tools to navigate an image-obsessed world.

Featuring a special surprise poster on the jacket, this book will show you that freedom is loving your body with all its “imperfections” and being the perfectly imperfect you!

Hot Dog 8: Art Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

Hotdog and his friends are enjoying painting but they all like to paint different things. Hotdog paints his friends, Kev paints food (of course!) and Lizzie paints monsters. Lizzie loves the monsters but Hotdog and Kev find them really scary. The friends are going to enter a contest hosted by the local art museum.

You may (almost) recognise some of the other entrants, which include Pablo Pigasso and Andy Warthog.

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Our three friends are still at the museum when a terrible crime takes place: the Llama Lisa is stolen!

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Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie take it upon themselves to follow the clues and track the art thieves down.

I don’t remember a single time in this series where the friends have won a competition and love that, because that’s not what they’re about. These books are all about friendship and teamwork. This time the friends also need to be brave.

‘But, remember, we can do anything when we’re together.’

Each book in this series features a different colour. This book is PINK! Fluro pink. So pink that it wouldn’t have surprised me if I’d discovered it was glow in the dark. It’s not, but it should could have been. Adults may be reaching for sunglasses when they read some words and phrases. Kids will love it! Each of the illustrations also feature a few different shades of pink. My photos do not do these pictures justice or show the vibrancy of the pinks.

After reading this book I realise I need my very own dino bike and want to explore the Castle Creepy Fun Park. I particularly loved the toothy robot crocodiles and Haunted Library. As usual, Dan McGuiness’ illustrations complement Anh Do’s story perfectly.

I can’t wait to see what these friends get up to next!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie enter an art contest at the local museum. But what happens when someone steals the most famous painting in the world the Llama Lisa!?

Can Hotdog and his friends chase down the robbers?

The Gift – Edith Eger

Hope. It’s what lit the fire within my soul when I read The Choice and it’s what made its flame shine even brighter as I made my way through The Gift. Hope that I can do the work that I know I need to do in order to address the pain and trauma I’ve experienced. Hope, because if Edith Eger can do it then so can I. Hope, which Dr Eger defines as “the awareness that suffering, however terrible, is temporary; and the curiosity to discover what happens next.”

One of my takeaways from The Choice was a desire to have the opportunity to be counselled by Dr Eger, a survivor whose experiences, compassion and insight combine to allow her to get to the root of a problem before she lovingly guides you towards the you that you’ve been stifling under layers of pain, anger, [insert relevant adjective/s here], and paralysing what if’s. You may never have the honour of sitting across from Dr Eger in her office but this book is the next best thing.

All therapy is grief work. A process of confronting a life where you expect one thing and get another, a life that brings you the unexpected and unanticipated.

If you’ve already read The Choice then you’ll be familiar with some of the stories of Dr Eger’s life and those of her patients that are included in this book. You’ll also find stories that will be new to you, which help illustrate the points Dr Eger makes as she hands you the keys that will help you unlock the prison of your mind.

To heal doesn’t mean to get over it, but it does mean that we are able to be wounded and whole, to find happiness and fulfillment in our lives despite our loss.

Twelve keys are presented in this book. Dr Eger addresses the prisons of victimhood, avoidance, self-neglect, secrets, guilt and shame, unresolved grief, rigidity, resentment, paralysing fear, judgement, hopelessness, and not forgiving.

At the end of each chapter you’ll find ‘Keys to Free Yourself’. These consolidate what you’ve learned in the chapter and can be used to facilitate your own healing. Some require you to use your imagination. Others provide prompts that you can use in journalling. Then there are some that would be ideal to work through with a therapist.

I like to remind my patients: the opposite of depression is expression.

What comes out of you doesn’t make you sick; what stays in there does.

This is one of those books where it would have been much easier to have highlighted the passages that didn’t speak directly to me. While I discovered the gems in this book in the order Dr Eger has presented them, you don’t need to do this. Each chapter is its own lesson, so you can take what you need when you need it. I know I will be rereading this book from cover to cover in the not too distant future but I also anticipate I’ll be spending more time on specific chapters over time.

Although healing from pain and trauma is serious work, that doesn’t mean there aren’t smiles to be had as you make your way through this book. Currently, my favourite smile-inducing quote is about taking charge:

Don’t be Cinderella, sitting in the kitchen waiting for a guy with a foot fetish.

You could dive into this book without having experienced The Choice but I would recommend reading them in the order of publication. While you can apply the lessons to your life without knowing Dr Eger’s own story, they’re enriched by this knowledge.

Because I know what Dr Eger chose to share in The Choice, I trust her when she outlines what she found helpful. I also can’t give myself an out, claiming something is too difficult, when I have witnessed someone I now have such admiration for working through unimaginable pain and trauma to find freedom.

I now recognize that the most damaging prison is in our mind, and the key is in our pocket. No matter how great our suffering or how strong the bars, it’s possible to break free from whatever’s holding us back.

It is not easy. But it is so worth it.

Content warnings include addiction, death by suicide, domestic violence, eating disorders, grief, gun violence, murder, racism, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and torture.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Rider, an imprint of Ebury Press, Penguin Random House UK, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This practical and inspirational guide to healing from the bestselling author of The Choice shows us how to release your self-limiting beliefs and embrace your potential.

The prison is in your mind. The key is in your pocket.

In the end, it’s not what happens to us that matters most – it’s what we choose to do with it. We all face suffering – sadness, loss, despair, fear, anxiety, failure. But we also have a choice; to give in and give up in the face of trauma or difficulties, or to live every moment as a gift.

Celebrated therapist and Holocaust survivor, Dr Edith Eger, provides a hands-on guide that gently encourages us to change the imprisoning thoughts and destructive behaviours that may be holding us back. Accompanied by stories from Eger’s own life and the lives of her patients her empowering lessons help you to see your darkest moments as your greatest teachers and find freedom through the strength that lies within.

The Choice – Edith Eger

“Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.”

Sometimes a book will find you at the very moment you need it. This is one of those books. I’ve previously marvelled at the resilience of some other remarkable human beings who survived the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel. Viktor Frankl.

Joining them is Edith Eger. A survivor whose courage both astounds me and gives me hope. A woman who will be occupying the space in my heart that she has made bigger with her compassion. A touchstone for the times I feel like I don’t have the strength to survive my own pain.

What follows is the story of the choices, big and small, that can lead us from trauma to triumph, from darkness to light, from imprisonment to freedom.

It would be so easy to hear even part of Edith’s story and say to yourself that your pain is insignificant compared to what she has experienced but after reading this book I realise that would be a disservice to her. Edith doesn’t rank pain and would prefer your response to be one of, “If she can do it, then so can I!” For someone whose power was taken away in such a brutal way at such a young age, Edith’s message is that much more empowering and impactful.

I can’t begin to imagine how I would have fared if I had been in Edith’s place. What I do know is, like everyone, I have experienced pain and trauma. Through Edith’s story and those of the people she’s counselled, I gained insights into my own life. Light made its way into dark corners that are painful to look at and while there’s still plenty of work to be done, it no longer feels impossible. Now I just need to make a counselling appointment with Edith. 😊

I expected to ugly cry my way through this book and surprised myself when I didn’t. The tears came unexpectedly, when I started rambling about how extraordinary Edith’s story is to someone. I was doing fine, right up until I began to explain that Edith would not have survived had it not been for a loaf of bread. Then I lost it.

Any story that even lightly touches on the Holocaust is bound to include the depravity that humans inflict on other humans. What touched me so much about that part of Edith’s story was it showed me the beauty that can still live within people, despite the ugliness that surrounds them.

I loved the way this book was written. I often felt like I was in conversation with Edith, that I was sitting across from her in a comfy chair in a room with a fireplace warming us as she was telling me a specific part of her story. I ran the gamut of emotions as I was reading but the style itself felt very down to earth.

No one heals in a straight line.

One of my favourite takeaways is the way Edith explains trauma. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the long term impacts she has lived with and that alone endeared her to me. So often the message seems to be that once you have survived the experience it’s all sunshine and roses from that day forward. No, pain hurts and surviving the aftermath of pain hurts too.

Edith’s authenticity when she talked about experiencing flashbacks and nightmares decades after her initial survival spoke to parts of me I can’t even verbalise yet, but I know some of what I felt as I read those parts was a bubbling hope rising up within me. When I read her take on PTSD I actually stopped reading to cheer; what I have long believed was actually being said by someone else.

This is why I now object to pathologizing post-traumatic stress by calling it a disorder. It’s not a disordered reaction to trauma – it’s a common and natural one.

I can already see a time in the near future where I’m going to need to reread this book. Different things are going to speak to me at different parts of my life; I can feel it in my bones.

What happened can never be forgotten and can never be changed. But over time I learned that I can choose how to respond to the past.

It’s not unusual for me to finish a book and be overcome by the need to book evangelise. Oftentimes it’s a wanting to shout from the rooftops, ‘Hey, you! Read this book! Then let’s talk about how much we both loved it.’ I also want to book evangelise The Choice but it’s coming more from a quiet knowing that this book can change lives. It’s a desire for people to get an infusion of compassion and empathy, to see in black and white what can happen when we don’t treat other humans like humans, and to make sure this never happens again.

We can choose what the horror teaches us. To become bitter in our grief and fear. Hostile. Paralyzed. Or to hold on to the childlike part of us, the lively and curious part, the part that is innocent.

I’m in awe of Edith surviving Auschwitz at all. To see what she has done since, both in working towards her own healing and facilitating the healing of countless others? I don’t know enough words to be able to adequately convey the way that makes me feel. This is truly a remarkable woman and if you haven’t already, you really need to read this book.

Content warnings include addiction, death by suicide, eating disorders, grief, mental health, murder, racism, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and torture.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Rider, an imprint of Ebury Press, Penguin Random House UK, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In 1944, sixteen-year-old Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. There she endured unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. Over the coming months, Edith’s bravery helped her sister to survive, and led to her bunkmates rescuing her during a death march. When their camp was finally liberated, Edith was pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

In The Choice, Dr Edith Eger shares her experience of the Holocaust and the remarkable stories of those she has helped ever since. Today, she is an internationally acclaimed psychologist whose patients include survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from PTSD. She explains how many of us live within a mind that has become a prison, and shows how freedom becomes possible once we confront our suffering.

Like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, but exceptional in its own right, The Choice is life changing. Warm, compassionate and infinitely wise, it is a profound examination of the human spirit, and our capacity to heal.

Gustavo, the Shy Ghost – Flavia Z. Drago

I have to be brave.

I have to let the others see me!

Gustavo is such a sweetheart!

This lonely ghost desperately wants to make a friend but he’s too shy to talk to them. Even when he’s near the other monsters, no one sees him.

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Finally, Gustavo comes up with a plan. Even though he’s filled with self doubt in the lead up to the Day of the Dead, Gustavo is determined to be brave.

I love that Gustavo’s plan involves an activity that he enjoys, that he doesn’t try to become someone else in order to get the other monsters to notice him. His courage is rewarded and this little spectral introvert finds not just one friend but many.

The illustrations are so cute, clearly showing the way Gustavo is feeling throughout the story. There are a variety of monsters and plenty of background details to enjoy.

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I’ve already read this book so many times that I’ve lost count. I only wish I had a little monster to read it to.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for introducing me to such an adorable kindred introvert.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This winning debut picture book from Mexican artist Flavia Z. Drago about finding the courage to make friends is perfect for the spooky season – or anytime.

Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters. Whenever he tries getting close to them, he realises they just can’t see him. Now that the Day of the Dead is fast approaching, what can he do to make them notice him and to share with them something he loves? With fancifully detailed artwork and visual humor, debut picture-book creator Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and gently offbeat story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

Boo Loves Books – Kaye Baillie

Illustrations – Tracie Grimwood

‘Every place is a place to read books,’ said Miss Spinelli.

Phoebe is a reluctant reader and is anxious about making mistakes when she reads aloud. When her teacher tells the class they will not be reading at school tomorrow, Phoebe is relieved – until she finds out they will be reading somewhere else instead.

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Magic happens when this young girl who is scared of reading meets Big Boo, a dog who is so used to people leaving him that he doesn’t expect anyone to stay.

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It’s such a lovely story but, because I could easily imagine Big Boo not trusting that any human will stay with him, I’ve found myself tearing up each time I’ve read this book. I loved that by accepting each other as they are, Phoebe and Big Boo are able to face and ultimately overcome their fears.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Phoebe is nervous about reading. She is embarrassed that she will say things wrong, so she just doesn’t read at all. When Miss Spinelli’s class goes on a field trip to the animal shelter to practice reading there, Phoebe is paired with Big Boo, who is scared of her like she’s scared of reading. When she starts reading, Big Boo and Phoebe warm up to each other and the two turn their fears into a positive experience.

Darkwood #2: Such Big Teeth – Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

If you are courageous enough to venture into the Darkwood today, you’ll find witches and beasties. The people of Myrsina have been terrified of its inhabitants for a very long time. The huntsmen have encouraged this fear, as well as ensuring the list of abominations that keep the non-magical folk of Myrsina on a short leash continues to grow. Gretel used to fear the Darkwood as well, until she was banished there for being a witch.

Having now lived amongst Darkwood’s witches and beasties, she realises they’re not all as scary as she was led to believe. Although, to be fair, Bin Night is actually pretty scary. Gretel has been welcomed into a sort of functional/dysfunctional found family and they’re about to brave the north to try to recruit help for their upcoming battle against the masked huntsmen.

Witches live in this house. With a spider. Oh, and it’s haunted.

Travelling from their partially edible home in the woods are:

  • Gretel, who I’ve already mentioned. She’s the Mudd witch (not actually a witch).
  • Buttercup, who cakeifies inanimate objects when she touches them, usually accidentally.
  • Jack: botanist extraordinaire.
  • Snow, an axe-wielding, armour wearing princess.
  • Dwarves. “Yummy!”. No, they’re not edible. You need to read the book to understand why they’re so yummy.
  • Patience, who once upon a time was a huntsman, but is now a ghost.
  • Trevor: talking spider, spy and all round master of disguises. We love Trevor!

‘And then there’ll be a masked ball and I’ll go in disguise and all the ladies will be like “who is that dashing man?” And I’ll be all “ha ha! It’s me! Trevor the spider and not a man at all!”’

Meanwhile, Hansel, Gretel’s twin brother, and Daisy, Gretel’s friend, are on their own journey. Hansel didn’t have a great deal of page time in the first book and it was really fun getting to know him.

Holding up a mirror to the world both inside and outside of Myrsina (oh, there’s also a character called Mirror, who is … a mirror), this sequel uses humour to address divisiveness and discrimination in society, highlighting ways that social and legal frameworks attempt to demonise anyone that’s considered ‘other’. It also gives voice to those who aren’t in positions of power, while encouraging magical and non-magical folk alike to fight back against injustice and change the system.

‘We have to stop listening to the stories telling us to fear what’s in the Darkwood. We are the Darkwood.’

As soon as I opened this book my brain delighted in shouting, “Bin Night!” Yes, I know we’ve established that Bin Night isn’t exactly something to be delighted about, but it was one of my takeaway phrases from Darkwood. Like so many elements in that story, including fairytale characters that I thought I knew well enough that they couldn’t possibly have the capacity to surprise me, Bin Night was not what I imagined when I first learned of its existence. It had humour, some danger and what I thought I knew before I began reading was turned on its head.

Although I hadn’t heard that it was on its way, as soon as I spotted David Wardle’s cover image I knew it could only be heralding the Darkwood sequel I had been waiting for. While I met plenty of new characters in both the north and the Citadel, they strode into my imagination almost fully formed. I didn’t have to work to get to know them or to visualise the new locations I travelled to.

Although the north was not what I’d been expecting, that wasn’t a bad thing and it was certainly worth the wait. I’m already anticipating learning more about the Glass Witch, who I’ll need to cross the river and travel to the eastern woods to meet. Trousers! This wait is going to be a “pain in the gooseberries.”

I definitely recommend reading this series in order, lest you unknowingly wander into spoiler territory. You really need the foundations that Darkwood provides for a lot of the humour in this book to work best and for the ways the characters interact with one another to make sense.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Farrago, an imprint of Duckworth Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

If you go down to the woods today, be sure of a big surprise.

The Battle of Nearby Village is over, and deep in the Darkwood, Gretel and her friends journey into the hostile mountains of the north, seeking new allies in their fight against the huntsmen. There they find Gilde the Bear Witch, along with a Werewolf named Scarlett and a winged man named Hex. Meanwhile, Hansel and Daisy set off on a dangerous trip of their own to the Citadel, where they end up in the middle of a political battle for the future of the whole country.

Can Gretel and her friends persuade Gilde to join forces, or at least stop fighting them at every step? Can Hansel find a way to heal the land’s divisions and make the huntsmen change their ways before disaster strikes them all? And how did Trevor the spider get hold of a wig? Discover the answers to all these questions and more in Such Big Teeth. Venture into the Darkwood in this modern fairy tale that will bewitch adults and younger readers alike.

Mercy Watson #0.5: A Piglet Named Mercy – Kate DiCamillo

Illustrations – Chris Van Dusen

Mr and Mrs Watson lived perfectly ordinary lives until Mercy arrived. Now life on Deckawoo Lane will never be unpredictable again.

This prequel is my introduction to Mercy Watson and I’ve already fallen in love with her. I don’t think that I’ve been introduced to a pig this adorable since I met Wilbur and Babe.

As a picture book, Mercy’s origin story isn’t especially detailed but it was enough for me to want to continue her story. Because I’m me, one of my takeaways from this book is concern for all of the pigs that didn’t fall off the back of the truck.

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Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations gave off such a wholesome 1950’s vibe, with the possible exception of cantankerous Eugenia Lincoln, that it felt like I was reading a classic rather than a recent release.

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I’m expecting sisters Eugenia and Baby Lincoln will compete to become my favourite human character as I continue this series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Every porcine wonder was once a piglet! Celebrate the joy of a new arrival with this endearing picture-book prequel to the New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson series.

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the Mercy Watson series, a tiny piglet brings love (and chaos) to Deckawoo Drive – and the Watsons’ lives will never be the same. 

What Unbreakable Looks Like – Kate McLaughlin

He names them after flowers. Daisy. Ivy. Iris.

This is Poppy’s story. She’s one of the lucky ones, if you can call her that, considering all of the trauma she has experienced. He called her Poppy. Her real name is Alexa.

Am I ever going to feel like a whole person again?

If you are on the fence, for whatever reason, about how crucial having supportive people around you after trauma is, this is the book for you. I don’t know how extraordinary Lex’s experiences of trafficking are, although I suspect they’re fairly typical. What is extraordinary about Lex’s story is the support she is given from so many people once she’s finally rescued from the life.

The matter of fact way that the events at the beginning of the story are told matched Lex’s flat affect, a result of the trauma she’s experienced, the withdrawal she’s currently experiencing and the dissociation that has helped her survive. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the portrayal of the survivors of human trafficking but given how much I could relate to the trauma impacts of sexual assault that were explored through Lex’s thoughts, feelings and actions, I have to assume they were also pretty much spot on.

This might sound silly (they’re characters in a book, after all) but if you have experienced sexual assault, take what you need from Krys. Take what you need from Jamal, Zack, Elsa, Detective Willis and Dr. Lisa. Each of them, over the course of this book, will say something that will resonate with you. Something you wish someone had said to you. Something you wish you were worthy of hearing (trust me; you are). Personally, I’m trying to figure out a way to adopt Krys or vice versa; I know I need to hear what she’s got to say.

“Honey, you’re here. Sometimes that’s all the strength you need.”

If you’ve experienced sexual assault and haven’t been believed or have needed to find a way to heal without the love and support of the people who should be there for you, I’m so sorry. You deserve to be believed. You deserve to feel safe. You deserve to be loved, safely. You didn’t ask for it, whatever ‘it’ may be, to happen to you and it was not your fault.

“You did nothing wrong. I’m going to keep telling you that until you believe it.”

So, this probably reads like a PSA at this point but, even if there is only a slim chance that someone reading this needs to hear that what happened to them wasn’t their fault, I need to say it.

Prepare yourself for some ugly crying as you hear Lex’s story. If you’re like me, some tears will come as a result of what has been done to her but even more will fall because you’re just so damn proud of her resilience. I was so still as I read this book that I thought I could almost hear my heart breaking at the same time I felt it.

Did I have “Zack is too good to be true” on repeat in my head as I read? Absolutely! Do I hope there really are Zack’s in the world? Do I ever!

When books navigate as much potentially triggering content as this one does it can be difficult to figure out where the line should be drawn between enough information to show the gravity of the situation and graphic content whose only purpose seems to be the shock value. This book walked the line perfectly for me. I learned things about trafficking, particularly around how it can begin, that made my blood boil but the details that were provided, while obviously upsetting, felt necessary to the telling of Lex’s story.

I’m leaving this story (for now) with the wannabe activist inside me trying to figure out the way I can best support people like Lex. Although I’m all sorts of sad and mad after having read Lex’s story, my takeaway is hope. Hope for healing. Hope for more people to understand how to support survivors. Hope that enough people will get riled up over human trafficking that, sooner rather than later, more people don’t experience Lex’s story firsthand.

Content warnings include alcoholism, child pornography, death by suicide, domestic violence, drug use, human trafficking, mental health, miscarriage, racism (challenged), self harm, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and violence.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Lex was taken – trafficked – and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again. 

After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things. 

But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realises she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.

Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.

Bunnies on the Bus – Philip Ardagh

Illustrations – Ben Mantle

It’s been six and a half weeks since the first (and only) time I’ve read this book before today and throughout that time my brain has involuntarily and quite randomly been singing/chanting at me:

Bunnies on the bus!
Bunnies on the bus!

No wonder there’s a fuss
about the bunnies on the bus!

So, parents beware: this book comes with its own built in earworm. And I still love it!

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The repetition not only helps the rhymes to flow well, but also gave me the same weirdly soothing feeling as The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.

Besides the chaos caused by the bus roaring past the citizens of Sunny Town, there’s another adventure being told solely through the illustrations. There are plenty of details to enjoy over multiple readings.

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I get the feeling this isn’t the last time I’ll be reading this book.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A romping, riotous read-aloud from best-selling author Philip Ardagh and award-winning illustrator Ben Mantle.

Bunnies on the bus!
Bunnies on the bus!
No wonder there’s a fuss
about the bunnies on the bus!

There are bunnies on the bus, and they’re causing mayhem in Sunny Town! Watch as they whiz past the bus stop, fly by the swings, and zoom over the crosswalk – these bunnies aren’t stopping for anyone. They finally reach the station, but where are they hopping off to now? Uh-oh … Acclaimed author Philip Ardagh’s rhyming, high-energy text and “Bunnies on the bus!” refrain is ideal for library or classroom read-alouds, and Ben Mantle’s colourful illustrations are chock-full of zany details perfect for repeat reads.