Two mums from Ceredigion have created two new and original Welsh language books for young readers, and I must say that Elsi, who’s ‘nearly’ 7 years old now, and I love these new books.
The title of Medi Jones-Jackson’s first book is ‘Genod Gwych a Merched Medrus’ and having launched it at the Urdd Eisteddfod, this colourful and contemporary book introduces some of Wales’ inspirational women in an informal style, similar to a comic, and will therefore excite young readers from the very beginning.
From historic and well-known figures such as Betsi Cadwaladr and Laura Ashley to young adventurers such as Tori James and the astrophysicist Hayley Gomez, the book celebrates the success of prominent women in Wales over the years, and proves to young readers such as my daughter Elsi, that women can do anything and can leave their mark on Wales and the world.
Medi is to be praised for introducing the women in a subtle way; introducing such incredible women in a few sentences is a skill in itself. She must also be praised for introducing all the interesting facts about the women and about the subjects they specialise in, in a style which is relevant to young readers e.g. ‘How much matter (stuff from space) falls to Earth every day? The same weight as eight large elephants. OUCH!’ Yes, as a 38-year-old mum, I’ve learned a lot!
I often feel that Welsh-language books for children use text and descriptions which are too difficult and complex for young readers, possibly because the authors or editors don’t work with or live with children from day to day. Medi’s book is a perfect example of how text and facts should be presented to children in this day and age, so high five to you, Medi, for this!
At the end of the book, there is a glossary of terms, ideas for activities, quizzes, arts and literature tasks and more! Plenty of opportunity for the readers to develop a number of excellent skills and ignite their imagination further as they plan how they will be excellent in the future! I must admit that the ‘Bydd Wych’ (‘Be Great’) page has inspired me to think about my ambitions for the future as well – a bucket list of things which means that I will leave some sort of positive mark on this world!
To top it all off, Medi has included the name of hundreds of excellent little girls from all parts of Wales on the inside of the cover, and Elsi loved seeing her name amongst them! This is another example of the talent and ingenuity of Medi Jones-Jackson as an author, by inviting parents to send their girls’ names to be included within the covers before the book is published, she was already thinking about the sale and marketing of the book. Once again, Medi sets an example for other authors because you have to think about the sale and marketing when developing a book, especially if you’re a brand new author like Medi. As someone who has and who continues to promote books and reading, I know that more authors need to think about the marketing from the very beginning, so, excellent and enterprising Medi!
I would certainly recommend this book to everyone who wants to ignite the imagination and inspire their children to be ambitious. The book is suitable for girls and boys and in my opinion, it is suitable for readers aged 6 and above. At £5.99 this is a bargain.
Na Nel! has become quite the icon amongst young readers by now and, in Elsi’s opinion, this is because she is a funny and mischievous character and someone she would like to know herself!
In the most recent book in the Na Nel series – Na, Nel! Help!, Meleri introduces three short stories about the ‘girl who doesn’t listen at all!’ The short stories contain short chapters, and this is a great advantage when it’s quite a challenge to get your own mischievous Na Nel to sit still and read!
There is no doubt that an experienced Mum is behind the Na Nel books, because the language is very suitable for young readers and she understands the humour of children, and knows how to capture their attention. The scenes are so visual and realistic and I can imagine that life with her own daughters has inspired several of these scenes!
Elsi loved the book as she could identify with the character and the visual scenes. There were references to her favourite programme; ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and references to real situations which occur in our busy homes today e.g. parents ‘busily’ liking posts on Facebook, which meant that the book captured her attention from the very beginning.
Secretly, I think I enjoy the Na Nel stories as much as Elsi does! I can see my own child and all her friends in the character, and Nel’s imagination is as lively and interesting as our own children’s! John Lund’s drawings add to the humour and mischief and makes it another excellent masterpiece in the popular Na Nel series. At £4.99 it is very reasonable as well.
The back-cover notes that this book is suitable for readers aged 7+, and I think that’s true. It is suitable for accomplished readers younger that 6 and it is also an excellent book to read with the younger children. Y Lolfa should be praised for noting the age on the back of the book, although some publishers are afraid of putting an age guide on children’s books, the guide is of great help to parents and children when choosing suitable books for our children.
Thank you to Y Lolfa for publishing two excellent books about strong women from Wales and for supporting two mums with plenty of #MumPower. There’s no two ways about it, these two deserve their place on your bookshelf at home and at school. Elsi and I look forward to reading more books by Medi Jones-Jackson and we look forward to seeing what on earth Na Nel will be getting up to next!
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru
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