Three EK Books for Children

It’s a couple of years since I reviewed three children’s book from EK in a post you’ll find here. Today I’m taking a look at three more – Anchored by Debra Tidball and illustrated by Arielle Li, Mama’s Chickens by Michelle Worthington and illustrated by Nicky Johnston and Easy Peasy by Ky Garvey and illustrated by Amy Calautti.

My enormous thanks to Kirsten Knight for sending them from the EK Children’s Books range. I’m delighted to review them all and with Easter coming up, these books would make smashing gifts as an alternative to chocolate.

All the books are available for purchase directly from EK Books.

General Views

What I find so attractive about EK Children’s books is that they are the perfect size for sharing with individual or groups of children and the hard back versions are always presented with strong, robust and durable covers that will withstand much use. The end papers are always as beautiful, vibrant or relevant as the rest of the illustrations.

Heading to the EK website will give teachers and group leaders teaching notes and the opportunity to find readalongs and other related material, making the books very good value for money.

An aspect that I find remarkably touching as well as giving me confidence in the books is that many of the themes explored are those directly experienced by the authors themselves.


In this sensitive tale, Tug and Ship are connected by bonds of love despite being oceans apart. In a world where so many parents are separated from their children for periods of time due to work and/or living arrangements, sometimes the sense of attachment can feel a little vulnerable. Anchored is a reassuring book, reminding children that their attachment with their parents/caregivers can sustain time apart: they are firmly anchored in each other’s hearts.

Anchored will be published on 27th April and is available here.

My Review of Anchored

Tug misses Ship.

Oh for goodness sake! I really should be reduced to tears by a book aimed at 4-8 year olds but Anchored brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye because it is a beautiful and sensitive exploration of what it is like to be lonely and to miss someone.

The story is simple as Ship sails off leaving Tug working, but the message is universal and strong. As long as we take a piece of someone in our hearts they are always with us. I think Anchored would be perfect for children new to school and feeling a little out of place or lost. Teachers could share the story and give those children huge comfort as well as making them realise they are not alone in their feelings. It also shows that even though someone is much bigger, like Ship, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are braver or stronger.

The language in the story is pitched to perfection. There are so many learning opportunities here. The narrative models the structure of direct speech for example, and the efficacy of ellipsis in writing, with similes and adjectives used with a lightness of touch. There are opportunities for project work too as children might research and discover the kinds of places ship visits.

It’s also vital to acknowledge the way the illustrations enhance the narrative as they really do add depth and emotion.

I thought Anchored was totally brilliant and cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Debra Tidball

Debra Tidball is an award-winning author of picture books, short stories, poems and plays for children. With social work and children’s literature qualification, Debra is a children’s book enthusiast with a particular passion for picture books and the profound way they can touch children’s lives.

For further information, visit Debra’s website and find her on Instagram and Facebook or follow Debra on Twitter @debratidball.

About Arielle Li

Arielle Li is a Taiwanese-Australian illustrator based in Australia with a compelling new style. She has been passionate about creating art from a young age, and has been pursuing illustration as a career since 2019.

For further information, follow Arielle on Twitter @arielle_art, visit her website or find Arielle on Instagram.

Mama’s Chickens

Award-winning author Michelle Worthington uses backyard chickens to give us a child’s-eye view of early-onset dementia. As Mama loves and cares for her chickens, her kids learn lessons about disability and acceptance. Children will relate to the endearing chickens, while the author uses her own experience to depict early-onset dementia in a realistic but age-appropriate way. Dementia doesn’t only affect the elderly; this story shines a supportive, much-needed light on a reality many families face.

Mama’s Chickens will be published on 11th April and is available here.

My Review of Mama’s Chickens

Mama has chickens to care for.

What a lovely story. Mama’s Chickens can be enjoyed as a simple narrative but equally it can be used to exemplify what happens when someone we love, and who loves us, begins to lose their memory or suffer dementia. Indeed, both the writing and the illustrations have a literal and metaphorical meaning so that book is a sensitive exploration of a difficult theme. It would be a wonderful aid in school or, perhaps even more, in the home where such a topic can be difficult to broach with and be understand by young children. There’s a real poignancy here as the illustrations show that Mama is still young so that adults and children alike come to realise that dementia and memory loss are not confined to the elderly.

Aside from this very important theme, Mama’s Chickens can be used to explore other aspects of family life. There’s the acquisition of pets and looking after them, doing things together like crafts that might form the catalyst for young readers to try out new hobbies and a lovely message that despite how anyone might sometimes behave, it doesn’t mean that love isn’t still present.

I think Mama’s Chickens is a vital addition to books for children in a world where there are increasing young carers and emotional intelligence is needed all the more. It’s a super book.

About Michelle Worthington

Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author, screenwriter and businesswoman. Shortlisted twice for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s picture book of the year, two-time winner of the International Book Award and finalist in the USA Best Book Awards, Michelle also received a Gellett Burgess Award and a Silver Moonbeam Award for her contribution to celebrating diversity in literature. Michelle is dedicated to encouraging a strong love of reading and writing in young children and enjoys working with charities that support the vision of empowering youth through education.

In 2021, Michelle was diagnosed with Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia (PNFA) which is a form of dementia. It is a clinical syndrome associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration and affects her short-term memory and her ability to speak, read and write. Michelle’s personal experience has given her a passion for educating the public that dementia doesn’t just affect older people.

For further information, visit Micelle’s website or find her on Facebook and Instagram and follow her on Twitter @michelle_author.

About Nicky Johnston

Nicky Johnston is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. She has several bestselling titles published in Australia and overseas, including At the End of Holyrood Lane, The Fix-It Man, Grandma Forgets, The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp, Saying Goodbye to Barkley, This is My Dad, Upside-Down Friday and Jørn’s Magnificent Imagination, all published by EK Books.

Nicky’s illustration style is often described as whimsical, playful, narrative, emotive and colourful. She loves to work in watercolour, ink, pencils and pastel.

As a primary teacher and acclaimed presenter, Nicky’s love of books sees her thoroughly enjoy taking illustrator workshops and visiting schools regularly. She is passionate about inspiring young children with a love for reading, writing and drawing, encouraging them to use their imagination and develop their own ideas. Nicky lives by the beach with her husband and four sons.

For further information, visit Nicky’s website, follow her on Twitter @_nickyjohnston, or find Nicky on Facebook and Instagram.

Easy Peasy

Easy Peasy follows Ruby, who has just received sparkly roller skates as a present from her dad. Ruby is convinced it will be easy to learn how to roller skate and dismisses her dad when he offers to help her. But after a few tumbles, Ruby realizes it isn’t as easy as she thinks and that she might need his help after all! Embracing themes of independence, perseverance, and family relationships, Easy Peasy is a fun, engaging story for children learning how to do something for the first time.

Easy Peasy was published on 14th March and is available here.

My Review of Easy Peasy

Ruby has new roller skates.

Easy Peasy is a fun, vibrant story of resilience and perseverance that children will love, enhanced by the cartoon style illustrations that are colourful and humorous, matching the narrative perfectly.

I loved the relationship between Ruby and her dad and appreciated the fact there is no mum in this story as not all households have two conventional parents meaning that the book represents a wide range of society.

The themes are smashing for children to learn. Firstly, Ruby finds that making assumptions – in this case that roller skating is ‘easy peasy’ – isn’t always the best course of action. She also discovers that initial failure, being prepared to listen and be guided and having another go can lead to dramatic success. This is a valuable motif for many aspects of life. Easy Peasy could also be a brilliant way to prompt children to share a skill they have in school oracy work.

The repetition with subtle changes throughout is great for supporting reluctant or emerging independent readers because they will have a sense of achievement in being able to read the story. The balance of text to image also helps this independence, although the story could equally well be shared with larger groups so that they can predict some of the vocabulary and increase their own store of words. Similarly, the illustrations are slightly more mature so that children who struggle with independent reading will not feel belittled. Ruby isn’t an infant, making her highly relatable.

I’d also say that whilst Easy Peasy is a children’s book, there is an important message for adults too. Here we see an adult supporting his daughter as well as allowing her some independence, but above all, he’s doing something with his child rather than simply scrolling through his social media on a phone! What could be better than that?

I think Easy Peasy is a fun, and accessible read that children will really enjoy.

About Ky Garvey

Ky Garvey is a mother to two boys who are both diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. Through her experiences with her boys, she has been inspired to write fun and engaging stories that turn challenges into triumphs. Ky aims to share supportive, inclusive and empowering stories for children.

Ky also writes and hosts the podcast Totally Lit! a monthly podcast celebrating reading, writing and creating literature. The podcast features amazing writers, illustrators and all types of creators of books and stories.

For further information follow Ky on Twitter @ky_garvey, and find her on Facebook and Instagram.

About Amy Calautti

Amy Calautti loved to draw from a young age and often made up games based around drawing to entertain her younger brother and cousins. She now lives with her small tribe of humans who inspire her every day.

Amy’s other books include Turning Cartwheels, Hector and his Highland Dancers, and Mr Ming & the Mooncake Dragon.

For further information visit Amy’s website, follow her on Twitter @amy_calautti, and find Amy on Instagram and Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Three EK Books for Children

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