This collection of short stories features stories and pictures by children’s authors and illustrators which were collected during the first Lockdown of 2020. Author Katherine Rundell starts the book with a prologue about the fact she usually turns to books when she’s in need of hope. And that is how the book came about. She describes stories as transformation – wild glories and everyday glories, magic both real and imaginary. I love the way she talks about hope. I also love the way she describes the book as being a book to dip in and out of when you need hope. Making it perfect to have lying around for those down days.
I read The Book of Hopes one story after the other, with the illustrations in between. Although its not designed to be read this way, I needed too, because every time I picked it up there was yet another story that made me want more. There are so many different types of stories, poems and illustrations in this book that every page offers something different and I loved it.
I definitely had my favourites, in fact I actually think I have an all round top story from the book. But all of them were so good that I feel bad not talking about them all! I also think that there are so many different stories that 100 people could probably read this book and all have a different favourite story, so definitely read it for yourself to find out which one is yours!
My favourite was definitely A Way To The Stars by David Almond. It’s only short, really short. I read it aloud to T when I read it and was done in a minute or so. But its beautiful and begging to be illustrated. It’s about a boy who dreams of seeing the stars and who’s friends keep telling him it wont happen. But his dad knows how much he wants it, and does everything to help it happen. It’s stunning and I want to be that parent so bad. I hope I am for Spike.
I had others too, Hello by Polly Ho-Yen was brilliant.- the idea of aliens having a privacy agreement with squirrels made me laugh so much. A New Sun-Up by Ben Bailey Smith put into words how so many dogs were probably feeling throughout lockdown and Hunters of Hope by Lissa Evens intrigued me so much. There was so much in each tiny quick paragraph. How to Start a Story by James Campbell amused me and the extract from Everdark by Abi Elpinstone made me realise there are too many of her books I haven’t got my hands on yet!
Each illustration was beautiful too, but again I had my favourites. I think my absolute favourite was Chalk Drawing by Rebecca Cobb – Who I’d not heard of before I read this book and I will be seeking out soon. I also loved Joy by Laura Hughes (who is a firm favourite in this house.) and We Can Fly by Rikin Parekh. Of course I couldn’t help but love Wherever a Flower Blooms by Rob Biddulph, an author and illustrator I always highly recommend, and the brilliant Spaced Out by Kate Pankhurst too.
There was so much to love about this book, but if its contents aren’t enough, each book purchased helps raise money for the NHS. Also, if you can’t afford to pay for it for any reason, it’s available online to read for free…. the best gift that these authors and illustrators could give to so many people who are struggling in what has to be the most rubbish year yet. There are slight differences in the online version to the printed version as the Rebecca Cobb illustration isn’t in the online version I don’t believe. But lots of the other stories and illustrations I loved are.
I definitely will be keeping this stunning book around for years to come. It serves as an amazing reminder to always have hope and a token of what this year has been about. It has been rubbish, but a lot of the stories in this book reminded me of the good things that came out of Lockdown.
The Book of Hopes was published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books on October 2nd 2020. My copy was purchased from my local bookstore.
To buy your own copy of the book, read it online or find out more please visit: