Mabel and the Mountain shows a tiny fly overcoming huge adversity to achieve her chosen goal; it will engage children and inspire them to voice their own dreams.
Debut author-illustrator Kim Hillyard has ensured that text and illustrations work together with a wonderful mixture of wit and unpredictability. Mabel’s ‘big plans’ include climbing a mountain; when the first two mountains turn out to be a nose and a wobbly jelly, the reader expects that Mabel’s ambitions will be realised on a smaller scale. But no – turn the page, and Mabel is indeed tackling a genuine mountain. Mabel faces opposition not just from the mockers but also from anxious and well-meaning fellow flies. However, she resists all pressure to give up and persists with stubborn determination and resilience. Her approach inspires the other flies, anxiety now transformed to excitement, to embark on a host of ambitious projects. Mabel herself, at the close of the book, is embarking on the next new challenge.
This would be a lovely book to read aloud. It could encourage discussion around what holds us back from pursuing our dreams, and discouragements we face along the way. The simple text and entertaining illustrations would prompt such conversation very naturally; darker pictures contrasting with bright, vibrant illustrations show mood changes in a way accessible even to young children. The ending invites discussion about how Mabel will tackle her next plan ‘Make friends with a shark’, and the final illustration offers just enough of a tantalising clue to make children want to imagine the next episode of her story. Some of Mabel’s mantras could even be adopted so that this feisty fly’s lessons of bravery and determination help embed an ethos of self-belief. Look out for the next title Ned and the Great Garden Hamster Race: a story about kindness.
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