Thursday 22 February 2024

Lottie the Little Wonder, written by Katherine Woodbine, illustrated by Ella Okstad, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart

A fun simple read rich in colour illustrations, bringing to life little Lottie Dod from more than a hundred years ago. The youngest child in a very wealthy one parent family whose passion was sports of all kinds, this ‘little girl’ wanted to prove herself against older siblings, boys, adults, and then the world, and, my goodness, she did. At fifteen, Lottie become Wimbledon tennis champion. She went on to win at the 1908 Olympics, making the story topical in this current Olympics year. 

Adding a further layer of interest to this real story, there is a final chapter About The Real Lottie Dod. It tells how she went on to triumph in archery and golf and tobogganing down the Cresta run, and more. And it also tells where the vast wealth that allowed a mother and four children to live in a large house with its own tennis court, looked after by servants, and never in their whole lives have to work for money, enabling them to focus on their sporting passions, came from. Lottie’s father, who died when she was very young, had made a fortune importing cotton from America to Liverpool, supplying Manchester’s cotton mills. That cotton was grown and harvested by enslaved people. Food for thought for child readers at a core age for feeling a natural instinct for something being ‘not fair’. 

Altogether, a small book that offers a lot, very attractively and accessibly served in pictures and short chapters of lively action.  


Penny Dolan said...

Like the sound of Lottie and her wonderfully ambitious life.

Does that last informative chapter work for the likely age of the reader, do you think?
Personally, I'm a bit wary about loading such complex facts on to seven year old readers.
Does the text speak about conditions inside the mills too?

Pippa Goodhart said...

It doesn't talk about conditions in the mills because Lottie's father was an importer of cotton rather than a manufacturer. I think its brief honest acknowledgment of the family wealth being based on such an important part of human history is done well for the reader age - 'The cotton was grown on big farms called plantations and picked by enslaved people - black men, women and children who were forced to work for free.' Most of that last chapter is telling about the sporting triumphs Lottie went on to achieve.

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for including the quote, Pippa, and for understanding my query - and I am glad you mentioned this extra information within Lottie.

I'd just spent time in the library looking for a picture book to read aloud to much younger children and felt that, in many, the book's 'message' was much greater than the delight within the story, no matter how lovely or clever the illustrations & design. Of course, the most enjoyable books might well have been out on loan.