Gretel The Wonder Mammoth by Kim Hillyard

The Blurb On The Back:

One Tuesday morning, a loud CRACK sounds, and Gretel, the last mammoth on earth, breaks free from the ice! As she settles into her exciting new life, Gretel starts to feel overwhelmed and a little bit lonely …

This positive picture book from the award-winning Kim Hillyard teaches young readers that perhaps the bravest act a person (or mammoth!) can do is ask for help.

GRETEL THE WONDER MAMMOTH was released in the United Kingdom on 3rd March 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order GRETEL THE WONDER MAMMOTH by Kim Hillyard from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

One Tuesday morning, there is a loud cracking noise and the ice holding Gretel (the last mammoth on Earth) breaks, releasing her into the world.  The birds who live on the mountain are thrilled because Gretel’s great – kind, considerate and understanding – they think she’s a wonder mammoth.

But Gretel finds the world very confusing and worse, as the last of the mammoths she feels very alone and overwhelmed ..

Kim Hillyard’s self-illustrated picture book is both a charming and moving story about feeling anxious and alone and how the best way of coping is to tell someone and ask for help.  I really loved the birds who think Gretel is awesome and Gretel herself is adorable (loved the spectacles).  All in all, I think young readers will enjoy it and it’s also a good way of introducing them to managing their mental health. 

I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book.  Gretel looks great in her fantastic spectacles and bow but Hillyard also adds a great deal of emotion to the scenes where Gretel is feeling increasingly isolated and alone and overwhelmed (the use of snow is especially good).  The birds though were my favourites with Hillyard adding great little details that parents will enjoy pointing out to their younger readers (my favourite is the bird playing a flute).  I have to say that I found the bits where the birds try to cheer Gretel up to be really moving and although the book is mainly about anxiety, I think there’s a really good message about being a good friend in it too.

All in all, I thought that this was great – moving, entertaining and it packs a lot in.  It works as a story about a lonely mammoth but it’s also a good way of introducing children to a basic tenet of mental health about talking to people when you feel overwhelmed and being supportive as a friend.  

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