Reviews /

Malola’s Museum Adventures

Authored by Joelle Avelino
Illustrated by Joelle Avelino
Published by Tate Publishing

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Malola’s Museum Adventures is a truly inspirational read exploring female pioneers who have made a difference through their choice of career. This is brought to life through the eyes of an enthusiastic and inquisitive young girl.

Malola’s love of visiting the museum comes in handy when her teacher sets the class a project about what they want to be when they grow up. Whilst visiting the picture gallery, one of the paintings comes to life. Malola is taken on a magical journey learning about inspirational women from history. She is introduced to the first female president of Ethiopia, the tech wiz Rebecca Enonchong, disability rights educator Neema Namadamu and the artist Dina Ekanga amongst others. Each person she hears abouts inspires Malola to want to be the best she can be. As a consequence, she is eager to pursue all of her interests so that she can make a difference. It is not until the end that we learn the identity of Malola’s museum guide – Safiya Jamac Gayre, who was 60 years old when she graduated as a lawyer – epitomising the central theme of this book. The next day, Malola delivers her presentation to the rest of the class where she shares that as long as you have courage and self-belief, you ‘can be anything and everything’.

The simplicity of this book only serves to enhance the importance of the message contained within the pages: you can be whatever you want to be and this can change as you grow.  There is no right or wrong choice because ‘you can always rechoose again and again’. This should resonate with every child in school who dreams of being part of a bigger world where their voice is heard and also with teachers who wish to inspire their pupils to live those dreams.

This is a celebration of skills, qualities and determination and, as a reader, I felt a sense of empowerment. I was spurred on to find out more about the amazing women portrayed in the book and through the power of Google learnt about their amazing stories! Malola’s Museum Adventures is the perfect start to a discussion around careers and aspirations. Questions that encourage children to reflect on their skills, interests and beliefs could inform a class discussion as part of the PSHE curriculum, exploring themes such as resilience, determination, diversity and the challenging of assumptions. Read aloud to children in Early Years and have a copy in every KS1 classroom!

Author and illustrator Joelle Avelino, celebrates some phenomenal women and I, for one, look forward to finding out more about them.