I’ve always loved picture books with smart, strong heroines, so when I discovered Cornelia Funke’s A Princess, A Pirate and One Wild Brother at our local bookshop, I had to add it to our personal library. My daughter adored Funke’s lively collection of stories as much as I did, and it was a staple for us to read together when she was younger.
There’s no shortage of gorgeous picture books to share with your kids, but this one in particular, brings together the prose and illustrations to perfection. Funke whisks readers immediately into a world of adventure filled with funny, lovable, and spirited characters. Meanwhile, Kerstin Meyer’s exquisite illustrations draw your eyes to the page, and her details are as much fun to savour as the stories.
The collection opens with The Princess Knight. Little Princess Violetta has three older brothers, and the king decides to bring his daughter up the same way as the boys have been raised. She learns to ride, joust, and fight with swords. Unfortunately, being the youngest and the smallest in the family, Princess Vi struggles to keep up with her brothers. You can’t help but cheer on this determined little girl as she tries to master the same skills as the boys. When the time comes for her to get married, and she’s promised to the winner of a jousting competition, she outwits everyone. Go, Princess Vi!
Equally as inspiring is Molly, the main character in Pirate Girl. One day, as she’s sailing alone to visit her grandmother, she’s kidnapped by a band of pirates. Captain Firebeard thinks he can get a handsome ransom for Molly, but she refuses to tell him who her parents are. He sentences her to work on his ship, scrubbing and cleaning and polishing, but not to worry: she has a plan. There’s a surprise twist as to who her mother is—and she’s more fierce than Firebeard and his pirates. This is a family of women to be reckoned with.
In the last story, The Wildest Brother is a young boy named Ben. Thanks to his vivid imagination, he spends his days taking care of slime-burping monsters, green ghosts, and the other dangerous creatures lurking about his house. The lovely part of this story is his relationship with his big sister, Anna. Here’s where the illustrations truly enhance the story: the prose tells us Ben is bravely protecting Anna, but the drawings show that she's barely batting an eyelash and is humouring her little brother. At the end of the story, as darkness settles on the house, it’s Anna that lovingly protects this brave boy. As a mother, I loved the sense of family that shines through.
Funke's stories unfold with humour and warmth. This collection is perfect for reading with your child anytime, but especially at bedtime, when it will ensure your little one goes to bed with a smile. When Kate grew older, and we had to make room on her shelves for other books, A Princess, A Pirate, and One Wild Brother was a treasured book that we couldn't part with.
Princess Knight, Pirate Girl, and The Wildest Brother are also available individually as stand-alone books.
Warm up for the World Cup with some children's books about the beautiful game. We've rounded up our favourites, from poetry to picture books. There's sure to be something here to interest your young soccer fan.
My son, now 12, has read and recommends all of these titles. If you have a favourite that's not on the list, please share in the comments. We'd love to know about it.
Kwame Alexander's Booked is an immensely approachable novel-in-verse about a teen who loves soccer, hates reading, and is coping with his parents’ separation. This coming-of-age story is told through poems of varying styles. Poetry has never been this cool! Read our post about it here. (Age: 10+)
Striker, Starting Eleven and The Beautiful Game tell the story of Cody, a boy who had a tumour removed from his leg. He is determined to recover and pursue his love of soccer. David Skuy's series is powerful and inspiring. (Ages 9+)
Football Academy by Tom Palmer follows a group of boys selected to Manchester United's under-twelve team. It's a fast-paced, six-part series perfect for ages 7 and up. Read our post about it here.
Suarez, Neymar, Rooney and Sanchez—these are just a few of the players in Matt and Tom Oldfield's Ultimate Football Heroes. This series tells the stories of real-life soccer superstars, from the playground to the pitch. (Ages 8+)
Bali Rai's Soccer Squad follows Dal, Jason, Chris and Abs—a group of friends who play for the Rushton Reds. The first book begins with the friends trying out for a youth team, and subsequent books follow their football journey together. This is a fantastic, action-packed series. (Ages 8+)
The Wild Soccer Bunch is a group of soccer-loving friends who form their own team. Each book in this popular middle-grade series by Joachim Masannek focuses on a different player. Kids will love the sense of humour, football storylines, and realistic friendships. (Ages 8+)
What happens when a star player ends up on the worst team? In Mike Lupica's Shoot-Out, Jake learns that being a good captain means assisting off the field as much as scoring on it. (Ages 8+)
Matt Christopher has written many exciting, stand-alone sports novels for middle-graders. Dylan has read Soccer Hero, Soccer Duel, and Soccer Scoop. (Ages 8+)
Football Mad is fun collection of four stories sure to please any young reader that loves soccer. (Ages 7+)
Rich Wallace's Kickers follows nine-year-old Ben and his team, the Bobcats. There's lots of footy action to keep readers turning the pages. (Ages 6+)
In Soccer on Sunday, the popular Magic Treehouse series takes Jack and Annie to the 1970 World Cup in search of Pelé. (Ages 6+)
Lisa Wheeler's Dino-Soccer picture book features footy-playing dinosaurs, colourful illustrations, and irresistible rhymes. It’s a combination sure to please the youngest of soccer fans.
Note: Most of our books have boys as the main character. Please see this fabulous list from A Mighty Girl for titles about girls who play soccer.
Two kids, two cats, and a house full of books. We share our favourite picks for young readers.