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Mabel and the Mountain

Mabel and the Mountain a story about believing in yourself

Published: 9 Jul 2020

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 3+ and 5+

By Kim Hillyard

Published by Penguin Random House Children's UK

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Mabel may be a small fly but she has Big Plans... 1. Climb a mountain 2.

Host a dinner party 3. Make friends with a shark Mabel's friends aren't being very helpful, but Mabel knows the truth about Big Plans:*Don't listen to those who say you cannot. Listen to those who say you can!*So, even though a mountain is very, very high and Mabel is very, very small she knows she shouldn't give up.

And even though it might have been easier to fly up a tree, Mabel knows that she needs to keep going and climb! Mabel is the best little fly to show readers big and small that there is nothing more important than the power of confidence, and believing in yourself!

Tagged self-belief

Reviewed by Kate Hitchings

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.

Kate recently trained as a teacher, after many years as a TA, and now works in a large Cambridgeshire primary school. One of her favourite parts of the job is sharing the love of reading, both with children who already have the passion and with those whose enthusiasm needs whetting. As well as children's books she enjoys crime fiction and historical novels, biography and Christian theology... and anything else that looks appealing. When not reading, she will probably be knitting, walking her energetic springer spaniel or chatting over coffee. She has three grown up children, and doesn't notice when clutter accumulates, so it invariably does.