10 Things I love about How to be Brave by Daisy May Johnson, Published by Pushkin Children’s

I started writing a review for How to be Brave and found I was so enamored with this book that I was writing pages and pages, though at times I found I was repeating myself and at others I was stuck for words. So, taking a different approach, I am sharing 10 reasons I loved this book and why you might also love it!

  • Biscuits– it would be truly neglectful to not mention the copious amounts of biscuits consumed throughout this story- not just by me but by the characters. There are hidden stashes found and devoured at just the right moments in time to bring a bit of hope to the story.
  • Ducks- who knew we would learn so much about ducks. I must admit I haven’t come across a book with a heroine intent on learning as much as she can about ducks. It was a delightful difference.
  • A blessing of helicopter flying nuns– from the early chapters of this story the nuns are truly wonderful teachers. Lessons are as unconventional as you can imagine- “We bake buns and go for walks and it’s like a little family”. Camouflage skills, baking, and life lessons form the curriculum and the girls couldn’t be happier.
  • Footnotes– the use of footnotes throughout the entire story is ingenious. Filling in thoughts, pieces of the story and humourous anecdotes- this is an excellent new way to read a book! Although without my glasses on- I missed one or two and had to go back- so read carefully!
  • Edmee Agathe Aurore Berger– The general, a bold young girl, leading the revolt within the school to topple the new headmistress and her strict new regime. A truly fantastic character- brave, bold and rather fearless.
  • School Stories and Reading– promotion of school stories by such wonderful authors as Robin Stevens, Kate Saunders, Angela Brazil as well as some classic stories like Ballet Shoes, The Little White Horse, The Silver Brumby and Lord of the Rings. Books are being shared secretly by Sister Chrissie and Hanna and I love it!
  • Elizabeth and Calla North– Mother and Daughter heroines of the story. No strangers to bullying, poverty and hardship. Their love and determination to survive and be together shines throughout their story.
  • Cover Illustration- A stunning cover illustration bringing to light the boarding school feel as well as the elements that make this story unique.
  • A proper villain– admit it, we all love a good villain and we know the backstory with this one as she appears in both Elizabeth’s and Calla’s story. Magda DeWitt was bright “but Magda was never simple nor straightforward, and the people who thought she was were fools”. She is intense, smart and intent on revenge on the North family.
  • Everything not already mentioned– this is an incredible story and I love the setting of a boarding school with friends who stick by you, baking nuns and daring adventures to be had by the entire school.

I had so much fun reading the book and have passed it along to my daughter who is finally coming into the “school stories” age and learning to appreciate a good mystery and good friendships.

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