Delightfully different, totally terrific

Dilly the penguin has one leg, so she hops rather than waddles. Some penguins are fine with this, others not so. Approaching the topic of “difference” often feels like a potential parental minefield, but I promise you can’t go wrong with Delightfully Different Dilly. There’s a learning here, obviously, but many stories which cover this scenario feel uncomfortably forced or contrived. Not so here. This is a classic adventure set-up, with courage, teamwork, and friendship shining through, and it’s flawlessly done.

Stunning illustrations (see the pic), tons of drama, great characterisation, and an important message that is not rammed down your throat – this is an absolute must for every home bookshelf and classroom book box.

Not only are there great talking points leaping from every page, but I was so impressed with the linked sensory activities done by @rascals_and_rainbows that I have to highlight them here. Check it out!


When Dilly is born, her parents think she is perfect – from the top of her head to the bottom of her foot. The other babies notice that she is different but soon accept her, and love her different way of doing things. They even try  to copy her – in the funniest ways! Their mummies and daddies aren’t sure, though – someone different makes them anxious, they like everyone to be the same. Can their babies convince their parents to accept Dilly – and to understand that it’s actually brilliant to be different?

Author bio

I began writing magazine fiction and have sold thousands of stories all over the world, but when my daughters were born and I started reading to them, I was reminded just how wonderful children’s books are, and decided to try writing them myself. They are the most fun of all and I have had over eighty books published from picture books up to novels for up to age 12. 

Some of them deal with issues I have faced with my own children such as a pet dying – Scrumpy (Andersen) or an over-adventurous hamster – Hammy (Orchard), others cover issues common to many children, such as being scared of monsters – Nothing Can Frighten a Bear (Nosy Crow), being different – Delightfully Different Dilly (Quarto 2021) and being small – Billy and the Balloons (Salariya) and Off to Market! (Frances Lincoln -a runner-up in the Dundee Picture Book Award and based on my journey on an over-crowded minibus in Uganda filled with villagers, furniture and animals! 

Not a bus book!

On the day that Meghan Markle’s “The bench” is all over the media for being a pure vanity project, entirely devoid of plot, and barely in English (seriously, Puffin should be embarrassed to have published it), I’m thrilled to have a beautifully written picture book for you.

I’ve reviewed several of Sue Wickstead’s bus-themed books over the past few years. They’re all beautiful gentle stories, with a simple, appropriate message, and with lovely traditional illustrations. So when I saw she’s branched out and published a non-bus themed book, I was intrigued.

Firstly, I was pleased to see that Barty Barton, the bear who was loved too much has the same illustrator (I wish they were credited on the cover). The picture of Barty reminds me so much of my own tatty teddy, who is definitely “loved too much” but still sits on my shelf (with his best friends).

It’s a heartwarming plot line that brought a lump to my throat. Perfect for reassuring any youngster before their favourite toy goes for its annual bath!

And in case you were missing the buses, I spotted one sneak into the illustrations.


Giveaway to Win a  Lego bear and some teddy bear colouring sheets (UK) plus a few more goodies.

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Author bio

Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.

Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.

Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books (ten to date) which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.

Gloria is the most recent bus book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operated during the school holidays providing a safe place to play and to meet other children. (published 2020)

‘Barty Barton; the bear that was loved too much’ was also published in 2020. Barty was written for both her son and grandson.

Some of Sue’s books have been entered and shortlisted in ‘The Wishing Shelf Book Awards’, her book ‘A Spooky Tale’ was a silver medal winner in 2019. It is a story written with her class in school and is aimed at the younger reader.

Book box birthday party!

It’s flown past but the book subscription box business I run, The Book Dragon Club, is one. If you haven’t already seen the boxes then clearly my social media presence needs some attention, so here is a little teaser.

At the start of the pandemic I turned my after-school book clubs into a range of carefully curated book boxes and themed activity packs. The monthly boxes save parents’ time and effort in ensuring their child has access to a high quality, diverse library, and are specifically designed to encourage cross-curricular learning. Plus our regular book club meetings (online) are a great way to encourage a love of reading.

The book boxes are designed to inspire a lifelong love of reading with an emphasis on diversity by both genre and author. Each box includes an exclusive themed activity pack designed by experts to encourage cross-curricular, immersive, learning. Our boxes are suitable for all abilities, from reluctant readers to bookworms, although of course we call them book dragons. 

If you aren’t a member already, I’d love to see you there.

You can find out more about the book boxes at

PS – prices will be going up in the summer for new members, so join now to lock in the current bargain!

Ten books about Ramadan every child should read.

Most of you know that I run a book box club ( The club is committed to diversity and I wanted to share this article on books about Ramadan that every child should read.

We’re very keen to expand to this list, so if you have any other recommendations, particularly for older readers, please let us know!

A taste of Scotland?

Book tour banner

My own book tours are run by the fabulous Rachel Gilby from Rachel’s Random Resources and, although I try to stick to reviewing kids books on this blog, every now and then she tempts me with something different. So, as a Scot, and a Highlands girl myself, I couldn’t resist taking a peek at High Heels in the Highlands. There’s nothing much about the Scottish setting, in fact it’s ancillary to the story (fair enough given this is more RomCom than Literary Fiction), so I filled in the blanks with a place I know myself which worked rather well to flesh out the location.

Having created my setting, back to the plot. If you take Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons you’ll get the general idea; meddling Londoner decides to fix rural community. Compared to Flora in Cold Comfort Farm who managed to meddle in a charming way, I actively disliked Clem at the start, although I did warm to her over the book. Then replace the swarthy, brooding, silent Seth with Rory. Throw in a surprise inheritance, a mysterious housekeeper, some stereotypically brash American tourists, a sheep, a ceilidh, a wedding, high drama in the fashion and art worlds, etc, there’s certainly a lot going on but once I settled into the story, I loved the combination of community, mystery, dreams, and love.

Oh, and this is book 2 in a series, but I didn’t realise, and it can certainly be read as a stand-alone.


High heels in the Highlands book cover

Clementine’s swapped a London flat for a Scottish castle – but will she get her fairytale ending?

After discovering they were heirs to an enormous fortune, the lives of the five Hiverton sisters have never been the same. 

While oldest sister Ariana settles in Norfolk, Clementine heads up to the remote Scottish Highlands to move into the castle that forms part of their estate. Not bad for a girl brought up scrabbling for money in a tiny house in East London…

However, Clem quickly finds out that Ruacoddy Castle is falling apart, the neighbours – especially grumpy young farmer, Rory – are suspicious of her and the eccentric housekeeper, Ottoline, is still in residence.

But as Clem finds herself growing closer to the village community, even growing closer to Rory and forming an alliance with Ottoline, she realises that life in the Highlands might just be the change she needed. 

She just needs to find out if Manolo Blahnik make wellies…Take a trip to the gorgeous Scottish countryside with this utterly feelgood, romantic and hilarious read – fans of Jen


Finalist for the 2021 Romantic Novelists Association Debut Romantic Novel Award for A New Life for Ariana Byrne

Liz Hurley (not THE Liz Hurley) writes exciting and heart warming stories that will make you cheer and laugh. Her heroines are overflowing with grit, gumption and good old-fashioned gorgeousness!

Author of 
– Dear Diary, a prequel to the Hiverton Sister series.
– A New Life for Ariana Byrne. Book 1 / Hiverton Sisters series
– High Heels in the Highlands. Book 2 / Hiverton Sisters series
– Cornish Dreams at Cockleshell Cottage. Book 3 / Hiverton Sisters series.