The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie, published by Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger Press)

Now that our youngest daughter is 3 1/2 and our eldest is 6 going-on 16, the name of this blog should perhaps be changed to “Books my young girls love”! Raising strong, independent girls with ambitions to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be, is very important to us and luckily, there are some great books, such as this to help us out.

The Girls is a heart-warming and uplifting tale of the life-long friendship between four young girls, that begins when they meet whilst playing under an apple tree, “their Secret Meeting Place”. The Girls each bring their own strengths and unique personalities to the group, “they were as different as they were the same”. There’s Lottie “the adventurer”, Leela with her good ideas, practical and kind Sasha and Alice whose important talent is “for making everyone laugh”.

The follows the girls as they grow older, sharing “secrets, dreams, worries and schemes” beneath their tree. It demonstrates how good friends both “celebrate successes” and are there to build you back up after failures. The girls become women, who go on to climb their own mountains, find love, dazzle crowds of people with their knowledge and in Sasha’s case, use her inherent practicality and kindness to become a doctor “looking after bruised apples”. There are highs and lows along the way, of course, but the women are rooted together in a support network that gets them through.

The characters’ diversity is welcome, and should be seen in far more picturebooks. The message of this book – of the strength and support that can be found in female friendships and of what can happen when that is harnessed to help girls achieve their dreams – is such an important one and is beautifully told and illustrated.

The Girls won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Illustrated Book of the Year 2019