Mam Reviews – New Halibalŵ Series for Children aged 7-11

Mam Reviews – New Halbalŵ Series for Children aged 7-11

CAA Cymru got in touch with us here at #MamCymruHQ to invite us to take a look at their new and original series of Welsh books for children aged 7 – 11, and I must say that we’re impressed!

Cyfres Halibalŵ is a brand new series of books which contains 6 individual novels full of humour, for young readers. I must congratulate CAA Cymru for choosing some cracking authors too, each having lived with or had a lot of experience of working with this target audience, and therefore a great understanding of their ever-growing needs and demands and their sometimes ‘strange’ sense of humour; Gwenno Mair Davies, Gwennan Evans, Mari Lovgreen, Dafydd Llewelyn, Anni Llŷn and Eurig Salisbury.

As a parent to an increasingly fussy 6 year old daughter, I’m aware that books need to be full of humour and also full of colorful artwork, in order to keep her interested and develop a love of reading and books. When I showed these books to Elsi for the first time her reaction was really positive, she loved the covers and was flicking through the pages instantly before pleading with me “Please can we read these books now Mami”. I was convinced that this was another one of her clever little tactics to try and tempt me to let her stay up late, but I was wrong, Elsi really did want me to read the books. She chose Syniadau Slei’ (Sly Ideas) by Mari Lovgreen first of all “because the characters on the cover look really funny”.

This is a story about cousins Wil and Dot, they both live in nearby farms but they are two very different people, like most 10 year old boys and girls! They do have one common interest, they love playing tricks on adults! Like David Walliams, Mari Lovgreen has a great understanding of children’s sense of humour, the idea of tricking any grandmother with a sheep poo sausage is sure to make any child (and adult) laugh isn’t it?! Elsi couldn’t stop herself from acting out the scenes with all the awful tricks this terrible twosome get up to. The only worry I have is that she’s picked up some tricks and tips! If she comes anywhere near me with a wriggly worm I’ll be blaming Mari Lovgreen!

As a parent, it was obvious from the outset that another parent had written this book, Mari has succeeded 100% to portray the reality of raising children in rural Wales; snotty, fun loving, mischievous and inquisitive children who love being outdoors amongst the bugs and spiders and constantly covered in mud from head to toe! Although I am a fan of Welsh adaptations, when they’ve been done right, I do believe that children in Wales will be able to relate better to the characters and scenes in original Welsh books like these, Elsi was so excited when the books mentioned places she’d visited like Llanrug and the Eisteddfod!

We’ve also read Teulu Tŷ Bach (The Small House Family) by Eurig Salisbury, this is very different to Mari’s book and conveys the fact that the series is extremely varied in terms of style and content. Unusually, the characters in this book are a husband and wife, Blodwen and Cleif and their dog Sam. During the story we get a glimpse of their life in the small house where they live as well as a taste of their own strange and wild adventures.

I must congratulate Eurig for thinking outside the box, and choosing adults rather than children as the focus for his story. This book is a clever combination of humour, adventure and more mature tales than we usually see in books for this target audience, and I welcome this. Elsi loved the story between the dog and his main enemy, the cat next door! She was also intrigued about Cleif’s finger which was pickled in a jar in the kitchen cupboard! The unusual ending to the pickled finger story also developed into a nonstop chain of questions for the next few days! Thanks Eurig!

There’s no doubt that this series will appeal to girls and boys. The large print and short chapters make them appealing for the target age too, I believe that 7+ is the perfect audience. I think that confident readers aged 10 – 11 would find these books too easy, but they would also enjoy them as they are very funny and include strong characters.

CAA Cymru has also developed some brilliant and useful resources to support the books and promote literacy skills. These are perfect for schools and for parents, especially as the days get shorter and as we face more wet weather – oh the joys! These resources are available for free on the HWB website.

To summarize, did I like them? Yes! This is a great new series full of fun and imagination which will both challenge and excite young readers from all corners of Wales.

Having launched the Halibalŵ Series with school pupils in Carno, Llanbrynmair and Glantwymyn on the 7th of November, the books are now available on the CAA Cymru website and also at your local bookshop for only £4.99 each! They will make perfect Christmas stocking fillers too, and what’s more, they don’t need batteries and there’s no building involved! What’s not to like?!

A huge congratulations to all the authors, illustrators and CAA Cymru.

By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.

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