April 27, 2020

A hopeful review of The Book of Hopes

By browzly

The Book of Hopes is pioneered and edited by author Katherine Rundell with contributions from over a hundred acclaimed authors and illustrators and is dedicated to the real heroes of this unprecedented time – the doctors, nursers, carers, cleaners, porters and everyone working in the hospitals. The book is available for a limited time free of cost on the Literacy Trust website. You can access the link here.

The Foreword by Katherine Rundell

Katherine begins her foreword- A very short note about hope, to let us in on how this book came to be and we get to know that this book is created to make readers become like ‘possibilityists’ – someone who’s not a pessimist but not an optimist either. It’s someone who can appreciate the infinite possibilities in the world, to bring a laugh, a snort or a smile, even wonder about the wonderful history of our human species with endless possibilities of change. Over a hundred writers and illustrators came together, at the behest of Ms. Rundell, to seek these moments of hope out for us and catch them in between the pages of this book- aptly called The Book of Hopes. Click on the link to read now or read on and check out our review.

The artwork

The book is studded with some gorgeous illustrations. It starts off with The Hope Tree by Alex Scheffler and the world through a window by Lauren Child- portraying the life in times of lock-down- a sad looking girl stands behind the window and watches myriad color birds chirp on the a tree outside. Plumdog Delight by Emma Chichester Clark- a glorious picture of black dog with starbursts shooting out above his head and many more. Do take a moment for them.

The works

The book features a series of short stories, texts, poems and artworks of a variety of different genres, and generally 500-words a piece. It’s perfect for all animal lovers – dogs and cats, birds and insects, there are whole sections devoted to them. Generally, the text is suitable for 8 years and above with interest level of 12+ (except the animal section that I felt the younger readers will also quite enjoy) I read through the first 108 pages of the 377 in this book, and typed out my reviews as I went. For the rest of the book, I cherry picked texts at random, some because of a favourite author, the others due to the title or an illustration or because i couldn’t contain my excitement to rush to the ‘Magic’ section and read the story of ‘The Hummingbird’s smile’ by Sophie Anderson. I do look forward to reading all the rest in time, and will add to this blog. This is a book to be enjoyed in snack bites, as Rundell recommends – after breakfast, then lunch and then maybe some more after dinner. There is something in every story for someone so do read them all.

The Monk & the Armadillo by Onjali Q Rauf– an anecdote about finding purpose in one’s life. The story of an accomplished monk in the mountains, who thought he’d found everything there was to know in the world. Whilst waiting for a sign, he finds his purpose- his true find. Purpose can bring joy to every life even if it takes time. The story flows instantly and catches your attention, and before you know it, its over. The monk may be symbolic of Ms Rauf herself and the Armadillo from the deserts probably the refugee families she worked with and supported or maybe her glorious writing. What did you think?

Hope by Anthony Horowitz

A lovely rhyming account of a hopeless town, ironically called the town of Hope. Hope cannot exist outside in a town but it’s what lives inside your heart. The poem ends with meaningful message – “It’s so much easier to cope, when you decide to live in hope.

A way to the stars by David Almond

A free verse poem that urges you to dream on, shoot for the stars and truly hope to reach them one day. But remember, it reminds you, not overtly but through its account, to make the journey count, who knows when and where you might land?

Bag for Life by Joseph Elliott

A father and a child walk for days across a forest, clutching onto a bag of hope, saving it for when they’re truly desperate. The account foretold the end somehow, but i enjoyed it, it is an interesting read. A story of how this dad, uses a tiny glimmer of hope to help his little girl make it through a jungle of despair.

Searching for treasure by Annabel Pitcher

An endearing story of two brothers and their quest to find treasure at the end of the rainbow, there is surely one out there says the younger one, or is there? What stands out in this story is not an adventure of a treasure hunt but the two brothers, who’re usually annoying to each other, but then help each other find a rainbow.

The Lamagaia Nest by Jaspinder Bilan

Is a beautiful story of bonding and adventure. Asha and her Nanijee walk up the mountains looking for a Lamagaia’s nest. What I loved about this story was how beautifully, Bilan paints a picture with words, you can almost feel, hear and taste the place.

The Hungriest Caterpillar by Isabel Thomas

I totally loved this story of ‘serendipity’- a chance finding of the superpowers hidden inside the anatomy of wax moth caterpillars, using which they were found to digest plastics, notorious for being undegraded for hundreds of years. The nature continues to amaze, if you pause and care to look.

Moses and the Watering Can by William Sutcliffe

Such a delightful tale of a cat named Moses (how lovely) and a mouse (called mouse in the story) A true story from (I reckon) Sutcliffe household that, after a gushing narrative, leaves a priceless nugget behind- “Bravery often isn’t about noisy heroics, it’s about patience and quiet resourcefulness”, a reminder Mr Mouse left at some point for all of us to enjoy today.

The Hummingbird’s Smile by Sophie Anderson

I love Sophie’s ability to instantly create a magical adventure that builds from a legend and reads like a classic. This story will definitely bring a smile to your face, as joyful as a smile, you can get only when you spot a glowing hummingbird in a maze.

The Young Bird Catcher by Katherine Rundell

What begins with Rundell’s ‘Short Note about Hope’, also ends with a glorious story by her of hope, birds, love and freedom and of wishes coming true. It somehow reminds me of Rooftoppers, even though the plots are nowhere alike. There are two kindred spirits- Robert and Elizabeth and a zany rich man who collects ‘luxury birds’ but cannot stand them cheep or flit. Robert wishes for three things – to not have to peddle live birds for dead money, to get the attention of Elizabeth and to never see a cage ever again, and then three things happen in one magical instant. Don’t miss it.

This blog is written by Bhavna Mishra, founder of Browzly, a reading for pleasure focussed teaching and learning edtech. Browzly securely connects school communities-teachers, parents and students, to share what they read- create text and video reviews. Students get age and Lexile levelled reading recommendations. Members can take book and topic quizzes created by teachers or curated from Browzly. Readers can also list and swap books in their personal home collections with members in their school and gain points for the quizzes they take. Teachers can create or curate self-marking multimedia quizzes for their students, parents and peers on Browzly. Download the free app from Apple App store or Google Play or login on the website https://browzly.com