If the virulent events of 2020 have propelled you into a spiralling gloom, The Book of Hopes edited by Katherine Rundell, could be exactly what you need. This wonderfully uplifting collection of stories, poems and illustration is part of a Hope project, initiated by Rundell and intended to ‘kickstart the engine of delight inside the human heart.’ Her rallying cry to fellow creatives has led to an astonishing role call of talent, Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Wilson and Axel Scheffler, to name but a few of the hundred plus contributors.
No piece in this anthology is longer than 500 words, making it the perfect bite-sized dipper, an eclectic mix that takes us from the natural world to outer space, segueing into fairytales and some intriguing factual writing (be amazed by the unsung life of the dung beetle!)
A handful of pieces are so lovely, they demand instant re-reading, one of these being Hope; Or Learning the Language of Birds by Jackie Morris, an exhortation to tune into our avian friends during these Covid restricted days.
‘In years to come you would think of this time as the time of the great quiet. It would seem to you, then, that the Earth was holding her breath.’
Take comfort from the birdsong as it moves with the sun, and know that others are also listening to this ‘turning of the world’.
Poignant pieces are offset by quirkiness, the unlikely phrase ‘superb lockdown hair’ being explored in the daft Lockdown Cat Haircut by Sharon Davey. And continuing the feline vibe, the wonderful Kiran Millwood Hargrave gives us a motto to live by. You may think a cat’s life is all about the naps, but you’re wrong. It is in fact fraught with responsibility. Find out how in her extremely charming Be More Cat.
A washing machine launching itself to the moon, a demon goalkeeper, satsuma peeling, this is a chocolate box of literary delights.
Proceeds from the book go to NHS charities.
The Book of Hopes edited by Katherine Rundell is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 400 pages.