“Bo the brave shows strength, care, and connection throughout her entertaining and playful tale. ”
Bo’s older brothers are monster hunters who won’t let Bo tag along—she’s “far too little” to help, they say. But Bo knows her worth and knows she’s strong and brave enough to catch monsters on her own. However, each time she approaches a monster and says, “Get ready to be got!” the creature convinces her of its harmlessness and becomes Bo’s friend and helper. The Griffin offers to help Bo find her way, the Kraken saves Bo when she topples into the water, and the dragon just misses her baby (whom Bo’s older brothers captured). Bo and her new friends confront the real monsters, her brothers, and save the baby dragon. From then on, Bo the Brave explores in search of creatures, with her brothers in tow to carry her supplies, of course. Woollvin’s limited color palette adds a feeling of playfulness and imagination to the story. Clever additions like like the creatures hiding on the last page, the objects in Bo’s room, and the endpapers amplify the story. The maps in the endpapers are similar, yet the back map is improved with updated labels, changing from previously abstract fears (such as the Horrid Forest Monsters and Slimy Sea Monsters) to known and named individuals (such as The Griffin and The Kraken), demonstrating how others become less scary when one gets to know them. Bo’s story of bravery is an entertaining addition to the genre of strong female role models while also displaying the value of connecting with others rather than judging based on stereotypes.
Bo thought the creatures were monsters until she talked with them and interacted with them, learning more about their character. What does Bo's example teach you about judging others?
Bo's brothers told her she was to little to go out and catch monsters, but Bo braved her quest on her own and made a bunch of new friends. Are there things that seem hard to accomplish because you're little? What are they, and how could you work towards those goals?
"The illustrations, done in gray, pink, teal, and dull orange, have a flattened perspective that gives this “land of mountains and forests” a compressed, two-dimensional sameness to each spread. Limited palettes are sometimes gems, but this one—lacking saturation changes or compositional zest—only continues the sameness as pages turn."
Bethan Woollvin is a recent graduate of the Cambridge School of Art, where she won the prestigious Macmillan Children’s Book Competition with her version of Little Red Riding Hood. It was her first picture book.
For my two littlest sisters, Lilac and Freya, the smartest, bravest, and strongest girls I know.
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April 1, 2020
The illustrations were rendered in gouache on cartridge paper.