HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8The Little Guides to Great Lives, by Isabel Thomas | Speed Interview

The Little Guides to Great Lives, by Isabel Thomas | Speed Interview

The Children’s Book Review | November 16, 2018

The Children’s Book Review: Which five words best describe The Little Guides to Great Lives?

Isabel Thomas: Inspirational true stories for everyone.

Can you share one highlight from any book in the series?

Nelson MandelaHannah Warren’s illustration of the moment when Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison (Nelson Mandela, page 42 to 43). It’s an outline drawing of Dennis Goldberg the moment he called out: “Life! To live!” Along with the pared back text, it has exactly the emotional impact I was hoping for. We wanted readers to feel and connect with these stories, not just observe them.

What has been the best reaction from a reader, so far?

Frida KahloI spoke about the books to several hundred children at a school’s festival in London, along with Marianna Madriz, illustrator of the beautiful Frida Kahlo title. At the very end of the day, a little boy came up to me and said, “Please tell me the part again about what I should do if people tell me I can’t do something?”

My answer is woven through all of the Little Guides: Ignore them and do it anyway.

Why do you think history books are an important part of a child’s home library?

I’m so happy that with this series, Laurence King gave me and the illustrators the opportunity and space to tell the whole story behind each of these great lives. Not just the achievements and accolades, but the challenges faced, and the obstacles overcome.

Full-length biographies are important because they show children that you don’t have to be the brainiest, bossiest or most beautiful person in the room to achieve amazing things. If you’re curious, keep doing what you love, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and stand up for what you believe in – we’re all capable of living a great life and changing the world for the better.


For your writing energy: sugar or salt, tea or coffee?

Coffee always and forever! We recently invested in a coffee machine and my perfect dose for writing is three espressos a day, at 8 am, 9.20 am and 1 pm!

Writing tools: computer, pen and paper, or all of the above?

Definitely the computer, though I keep a pen and paper next to my bed. I seem to have my best ideas and solve tricky edits in the first few minutes after laying down at night. I also have a huge file of scraps of paper with scribbled ideas, literal back-of-the-envelope stuff. So maybe I should say pen and paper for the generative phase of writing, and computer for the hard part: researching, refining and editing!

What’s on your nightstand? Any books?

That pen and paper! Usually balanced on abandoned coffee cups, strange objects made by my children, and a dusty pile of books that I’m definitely going to read if I get time…

Can you tell us something that even your most loyal fans may not know about you?

My strength, my inspiration, my work ethic all come from my mother, Merlin, who raised me and my two sisters on her own. She died when I was in my mid-20s, and it meant the world to be able to dedicate a picture book to her this year.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Marie Curie- Little Guides to Great LivesThis quote, which appears in Little Guides to Great Lives: Marie Curie:

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

Charles DarwinLittle Guides to Great Lives

Written by Isabel Thomas

Illustrated by Various Artists

Publisher’s Synopsis: Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. From Curie to Kahlo and Darwin to Da Vinci, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with colorful illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Laurence King Publishing

Available Here:

Text, logoLogo

About The Author

Isabel Thomas is the author of the Little Guides to Great Lives series from Laurence King Publishing. She lives in Cambridge, England.

Book Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a Little Guides to Great Lives prize pack!

One (1) lucky winner receives:

  • A copy of Frida Kahlo
  • A copy of Charles Darwin
  • A copy of Amelia Earhart
  • A copy of Marie Curie
  • A copy of Leonardo da Vinci
  • A copy of Nelson Mandela
  • An extremely adorable Frida Kahlo tote bag
  • Some fun buttons starring a few of the historical figures featured

Giveaway begins November 16, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends December 16, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

How To Enter
  • Complete the entry form below.
  • Enter once daily (optional).
Giveaway Rules
    • Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on November 16, 2018, and 11:59 PM on December 16, 2018.
    • Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, as well as international shipping addresses, who are 13 and older.
    • Winners will be selected at random on or about December 18, 2018.
    • Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
    • The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
Prizes Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

This speed interview with Isabel Thomas, author of the Little Guides to Great Lives, was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with , and .

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

  • What a wonderful way to introduce the young children to our history.. Always enjoy the speed interviews.

    November 17, 2018
  • I love these! My 8 year old daughter is going to need them all. Good thing Christmas is right around the corner! I just picked up the Benjamin Birdie Series for my 5 year old, even though I know my 8 year old will love them too. Michael Dotsikas is the author. I can’t rave enough about this collection. It’s simply enchanting. The adults and the children will love these titles! I learned more about the author here, http://www.michaeldotsikas.com. Thank you again for this post, I can’t wait to read these with my girls!

    November 18, 2018

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