Billy and the Beast

Publisher: Puffin

Billy (whose big curly hair contains a multitude of useful things like doughnuts and crayons) and her monobrowed friend Fatcat are enjoying a delightful walk in the woods when they notice that the bunnies and mice have gone missing.

When Billy and Fatcat are also kidnapped, it transpires that a hungry Beast is collecting ingredients for a terrible soup, and Fatcat will be on the menu unless Billy can persuade the Beast that his choice of forest creatures aren’t as delicious as he thinks. Using the tools hidden in her hair, Billy manages to save her friends from the Beast’s cruel culinary agenda – and, it turns out, perhaps the bunnies aren’t as gentle as they seem…

Nadia Shireen’s empowering story of Billy’s quick thinking and resourcefulness is a gentle reminder for children that we all have the power to change our environment and stand up for our loved ones. Billy’s power resides, at least partly, in her curly black hair, and it’s delightful to see a picture book feature a brown-skinned girl protagonist outwitting the rather stupid Beast. As ever, the expressions on Shireen’s animals are full of humour and humanity, and the permanently frowning Fatcat will fast become a new favourite with little ones. 

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