Lucy Rowland is a brilliant star for empathetic and thoughtful picture books, and coupled with the illustrative genius of Paula Bowles (one of our favourites) this tale of a little witch whose words get stuck is an absolute gift.
Speech and Language issues are a quiet but huge topic within parenting and childhood, with many parents and children associating shame with these issues or being referred to a SPAL Therapist, I have observed the dynamics of mum cliques when these topics are approached and after my own Tinyfae was a late talker (there’s a deeper background there but we were not referred and she won’t be quiet now!!) I have observed and to a point felt the real impact of such topics on the parental end.
To find children’s books that gently embrace and encourage discussion and normalisation of these issues is so empowering to both parent and child.
Little witch Wanda is very clever and tries hard but finds her words get stuck at school, so she tends to keep herself to herself.
When shy new witchling Flo joins Wanda feels a kindred spirit but is still too shy even when preparing for a ‘spelling’ contest, but can Wanda find the right words to save her friend when everything goes wrong?
First of all, it was lovely to see a book about good witches, no pointy noses or green hags or nastiness, just sweet and kind little magical girls and boys. This is highly appreciated!!
Lucy Rowland draws on her background as a Children’s Speech & Language Therapist to bring children who find it difficult to speak in front of others not only to the page but to be the hero rather than the ‘issue’. Whilst Wanda’s quietness is never labelled (other than clearly that she is not non-verbal) children and parents can project their own level of experience and context onto the situation whether simply shyness or the more complex issues of autism, selective mutism or other speech and language issues. This allows the reader to take as much as needed from the situation whether gentle encouragement, modelling of issues or simply building empathy for others.
Most importantly, it doesn’t imply Wanda’s quietness is automatically ‘fixed’ by her act of courage, she is braver to speak at school now but still finds comfort in her silence.
Paula Bowles bring her illustrative style to Wanda with big eyes and long ginger plaits. Her gentle pencil strokes, smudges and scratches have an innocent youthful quality about them that warms the child reader to the story, in a way that feels safe and relatable and she turns a light hand to what could be a scary moment with the dragon in a magicians duel.
Overall, this is a lovely partnership with a gentle empathic meaning without screaming so, it embraces a child being allowed to be themselves, to be shy and quiet but gentle urging help or courage to make sure it doesn’t limit their life.
Wanda’s Words Got Stuck by Lucy Rowland & illustrated by Paula Bowles is published by Nosy Crow
Thank you for my copy 💜