Not All Heroes Wear Capes by Ben Brooks

Ben Brooks is a surprising author. I say surprising because I never quite know what he is going to write next. His first book was Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, a book like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, with one-page stories about males who have achieved incredible things. He has also written two children’s fiction titles, The Impossible Boy and The Greatest Inventor, both of which are fantastic stories. Ben’s latest book, Not All Heroes Wear Capes, is an inspiring read that shows you how you can be a hero.

In this book Ben Brooks shows us ten things we can learn from ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Ben opens his book by defining a hero as ‘someone who wants to live in a better world and decides to do something about it.’ This book is full of people just like this and Ben shows readers the difference that they could make by taking small steps. Some of the people mentioned in this book are inspired by what they have read in books, others by what they have learnt at school, or just by the injustice they witness in their own homes. Ben shows us that dreams are important, that no act of kindness is too small, that every talent can be a superpower, and that we should stand up for what we believe in. We should discover everything that we can, but also share what we know with others. We should look for others who need our help, and if there’s something that you wish exists but doesn’t yet, then you should try and make it a reality.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes is a fascinating book that will inspire readers to make the world a better place. It is a positive book that makes you consider what small changes you could make that would make a big difference. Ben Brooks’ writing style is really engaging and he makes you want go out and do something extraordinary. As well as using lots of examples of real-life extraordinary people, Ben also makes the ideas relatable, so you can see how you can use them in your own life. Ben has included some great quotes from people throughout history, but there are plenty of pearls of wisdom in Ben’s writing too.

This is a nonfiction book that you want to read from cover-to-cover, rather than dipping in and out, and I found that I had read half the book before I even realised. It is the sort of book that you could use with Years 5-8 and plan a whole unit of work around it, thinking about the ways that you could make your community a better place.

One of the things I really like about this book is the way that Ben keeps coming back to the way that books can inspire people to do great things. I love his idea of dreams drifting in ‘through eyes and ears, like seeds looking for places to grow.’

Nigel Baines’ illustrations are the perfect match for the book and they break up the text nicely. Nigel has created cool, short comics to illustrate the stories of the extraordinary people who feature in the book. I especially like his illustration of Captain Sir Tom Moore giving the thumbs up.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes is a book that will inspire both kids and adults, and would be the perfect book for older children and their parents to share together.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Some books encourage children to imagine, some books teach children a new skill, and some books inspire children to do amazing things.  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an incredible new book by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo that is bursting with stories of amazing girls and women from all over the world. This is a book that everyone needs to read and I guarantee you will be amazed and inspired every time you pick it up.


There are 100 tales of extraordinary women in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.  Inside you’ll find stories of artists, mountaineers, nurses, activists, sportspeople, writers, scientists, spies and rock stars.  There are women that you will have heard of before and others who you’ll read about for the first time.  There is such a range of women that there is someone for every girl to relate to.  Each double-page spread features a short biography told in the style of a fairy tale alongside a full page portrait that captures the spirit of each heroine.  Each of the portraits has been created by a different female artist from around the world so they are all completely different styles.


I love everything about this book!  The fairy tale style biographies are the perfect introduction to each of these extraordinary women.  The authors have captured exactly what it is that makes these women heroines and they’ve done so in a way that is accessible to children young and old.  Each of the biographies really would make great good night stories as you can imagine girls (and boys for that matter) dreaming about the amazing things that they themselves could achieve.  Unlike the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, these are real women who have overcome adversity to achieve great things.  I love the design of this book, with the double-page spread for each woman.  Their name is at the top of the page, along with what they were known for, and their date of birth (and death if applicable) and the country they came from are at the bottom of the page. A quote from each woman is overlaid on the portrait of them, which is a nice little touch.  There is a contents page at the start of the book but the book is laid out alphabetically by first name so that you can easily flick back to a bio that you want to read again.  The production quality is high too, as it is a beautiful hardback book with ink and paper that you can smell.  A feature that I especially love is the space at the back of the book for girls to write their own story and draw their portrait.

I found this book absolutely fascinating and I learned so much.  There were women that I had never heard of before, such as Jingu, an exceptionally talented and tough Japanese empress, and Claudia Ruggerini, an Italian partisan who helped to bring down Mussolini.  I also learned that as well as being a famous chef Julia Child was a spy in World War Two who cooked cakes to repel sharks.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls needs to be in every home and school library.  It’s not just an important book for girls to read but also boys.  Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo show us how strong, brave, determined and fearless women can be and that girls can achieve amazing things.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.