I frequently review children’s books on Linda’s Book Bag and was delighted to be invited by Anne Cater to take part in the tour for The Yellow Bills by Michelle McKenna.
The Yellow Bills is published by Matador and is available for purchase here.
The Yellow Bills
Mya loves planes and wants to be a pilot when she grows up. As luck would have it she comes across a flying school run by lieutenant Drake who awards his pupils splendid pilot hats when they graduate. Mya wants to join the class but there’s just one problem. She’s not a duck! Could Goose the little duckling with big flying ambitions be the key to Mya getting her pilot’s hat? Or will Mr Sour the teacher who never quite made the grade have other ideas…
Inspired by authors such as Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl and Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, Michelle weaves a story with the humour and invention of Nick Ward’s ‘Charlie Small’ series meets Dick King Smith’s wonder of the animal world.
My Review of The Yellow Bills
Mya loves planes and wants to fly, but it’s not easy when you’re only 8.
The Yellow Bills is a smashing book for children because it manages to blend fantasy with talking ducks and control towers hidden in trees, for example, with real themes and issues of importance to children today.
Mya is a mixed race child which gives much needed status to similar children. The fact that she is a girl making model aircraft, wanting to fly and having exciting adventures challenges gender stereotyping without the young reader actually realising. I loved that approach because it feels natural and uncontrived. Similarly, Officer Peacock’s status despite her physical disability sends exactly the right messages that we are all worthy of success and respect regardless of our physical abilities.
There’s a highly satisfying plot for young children and I thought the language of the writing was perfectly pitched. There’s sufficient challenge in some of the vocabulary so that children can learn as they read or are read to, but the whole story is completely accessible too.
However, Michelle McKenna prevents The Yellow Bills from being too idealistic and sachharine through her excellent portrayal of character. Mya is by no means perfect. She sulks and gets cross, often doing things she knows her Mum wouldn’t like. Mr Sour is vindictive and a bully. These characteristics afford the opportunity to discuss similar aspects in a child’s life as a result of the reading so that I think The Yellow Bills offers more than just a great story to share.
The Yellow Bills is a really good children’s book with smashing themes and a great storyline and I really recommend it.
About Michelle McKenna
During the day Michelle works part time in an office in London and then gets home to her full time job looking after two little fab ones. Michelle has been writing stories on and off for years but The Yellow Bills is the first time she’s had the confidence to put her children’s story into print. She finds her inspiration for writing is on the train journey to and from work. When she was younger one of her favourite stories to read was (still is) Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In fact she loved it so much she used to try and think of ways to see how she could change her name to Alice. She was about seven so had to listen to her Mum, who said she couldn’t change her name until she left home. By the time that day came she decided she didn’t mind being called Michelle after all. Michelle’s other favourite’s are Roald Dahl’s, The BFG and The Little Vampire by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.