Illustrated by Davide Ortu
For ages 4+
The publishing of author, Ian Eagleton's debut kids picture book 'Nen and the Lonely Fisherman' was a BIG DEAL last year!! It was the beginning of PRIDE month in June 2021 and we had in our hands the first quality LGBTQ+ fairytale picture book for kids aged 4+ that was a twist on the traditional 'The Little Mermaid' story , beautifully written with themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and looking after our oceans; exceptionally illustrated by the legendary James Mayhew. The books flew off the bookshelves, we couldn't restock the bookshop fast enough! I'm so very pleased that Owlet Press this month have published Eagleton's second kids picture book, just in time for Christmas. It's gorgeous, this time a twist on 'The Snow Queen' story with a tale of: loneliness, friendship, kindness, hope and love. It's a keeper!
We are definitely into Christmas season at school. The children are very excited with all the preparations and planning for seasonal end of term fun. As a result, I'm focussing on new Winter festive stories for the remaining few KS1 book clubs this year.
I have a really wonderful KS1 book club group of children that I am always mindful about representing through the books that I choose and the activities that I create for them to enjoy afterwards. Many of the picture books that I share with them feature LGBTQ+ characters, however I feel very strongly about ensuring that I include LGBTQ+ main character-led stories. It's important to be proactive when planning my KS1 book clubs for the term ahead to ensure that own voices are truly represented through quality publications.
Fairytales are always a big hit for children of this age and I knew this would be a big hit! The end pages are stunningly illustrated by Davide Ortu. The first double spread map features some quite sorry sounding places to live and visit, which reflect the mood of the beginning of the story when we are introduced to sad and lonely woodcutter, Kai.
It's Christmas Eve and Kai is all alone at home. He remembers the legend of a Snow Prince his grandmother used to tell him as a child - on Christmas Eve the Snow Prince would turn forest people and creatures into ice! What if it were true? Immediately one or two children spoke out loud to tell me they'd heard of story of "The Snow Queen". Even better.
It turns out that perhaps the Snow Prince isn't as scary as Kai had always been led to believe. Once they meet, they realise they are kindred spirits, both lonely for someone special. After having a wonderful Christmas Eve night exploring the winter skies on the Prince's icy carriage pulled by friendly polar bears and visiting the ice palace, the sun comes up. With a swirl of magic Kai's alone once more. Was it all a dream?
It can't have been. Kai isn't going to give up. He's going to fight for his new friendship and battles all kinds of magical creatures throughout the following seasons until once again it's Christmas Eve and the ice palace reappears, and inside it a frozen Snow Prince. Can Kai break the curse, and will he and the Snow Prince be together again this Christmas?
It was a collective book club sigh of relief and happiness once Kai and the Prince were able to be together again and handing out hot chocolates to all their new friends they have made in the forest and village. The gorgeous end papers reflect the broken curse across the land and now there are new names filled with hope, possibility and acceptance. I'm so happy that one of the children asked me to explain what the word 'acceptance' means too. Joy!
As I explained to the well-being lead at school after book club, this is such a wonderful book for young children. It is a celebration and representation of LGBTQ+ penmanship, relationships and main characters and if any of the children found themselves in this story today then that's amazing. What this story also demonstrates to children at this age is that it is acceptable for friendship between boys to be openly emotional, caring and tender. I actually saw a light bulb moment with my own son when he was 6 years old after reading 'Nen and the Lonely Fisherman'. He was captivated by the story, and talked to me afterwards about his friends and their relationships, and how much they mean to him. Just so sweet. Thank you for these books Ian, I say this both as a mother of a much cherished son, and as The Kids Books Curator! Keep them coming.
Whether the children identified more as a Snow Prince or a Snow Princess or other, I asked them to draw a self-portrait. Some chose to draw themselves as before and after the curse was broken, and others once the curse had broken. The children created beautiful artwork. I was so proud!
Download my FREE activity sheet for your own book club
About the creator
Ian Eagleton (author)
Ian is 35 years old and was born in Essex. Having 13 years as primary school teacher, which has included being an English Coordinator, Phase Leader and member of Senior Management he is now a resource writer for The Literacy Shed and Authorfy as well as Director of The Reading Realm and creator of The Reading Realm app!
"Everybody deserves a happy ending, but too often those of us in the LGBT+ community have been excluded from seeing ourselves in children’s stories. It is vital that children see lots of different types of relationships, so that they can learn about acceptance, diversity and all the wonderful ways people can live and love!”
Davide Ortu (illustrator)
Davide is an Italian artist. He lives in Spain and is represented by Beehive Illustration. Soon after earning his diploma at 'Foiso Fois' Arts High School in Cagliari, Sardinia, he takes up a career as an advertising graphic designer. When he moved to Madrid, in 2008, he discovered children's book illustrations.
Gloomy open spaces, dreamy in-between atmospheres, a strong chromatic impression mixed with imaginary elements are the main features of his work. He is on a quest to conjure colourful and fantastic places, where time stops to offer biggest emotions in smallest people.
fractured fairy tale
Grab a copy
Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...
Publication date: 3 November 2022
Also for kids aged 4+ by Ian Eagleton:
Available for pre-order for ages 9+ by Ian Eagleton (out 2 February 2023):
Please like this post and leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts too!