Beti and the Little Round House by Atinuke

Beti and the Little Round House – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Family, seasons, childhood, adventures, innocence .
Children’s book title: Beti and the Little Round House.
Children’s author: Atinuke.
Children’s illustrator: Emily Hughes.
Genre: Children’s fiction.
Published by: Walker Books.
ISBN: 9781406382433.
Recommended for children aged: 7-9 year-olds.
First published: Hardback May 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Younger children to discuss a totally different way of life and how it compares to their own.

Beti and the Little Round House by Atinuke

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Our review:

There are four stories contained in this charming book, one for each season.

  • Who’s Naughty?  – Spring in the woods beneath the Welsh mountains where Beti lives is when she celebrates her birthday!
  • Beti and the Waterfall  – Summer is hot in Beti’s Welsh home and after disaster strikes Beti knows she has the best friends ever.
  • Beti and the Storm Dragon  – Autumn means preparing and storing ready for the winter. After a bad storm Beti relishes the warmth and safety of her little round house.
  • Beti Braves the Dark  – Winter means snow and frost around Beti’s home and animals who can’t find their own food. When she makes a big mistake Beti learns a lesson about responsibility even if it is in the dark!

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Our verdict:

This is a lovely book which has the potential to enchant and help younger children understand a much simpler but harder life than their own which, although set in Wales, is common around the world. The illustrations are beautiful and provide just enough detail to give a child’s imagination free reign. The descriptions of a life the author lived with her young son are vivid and illuminating if maybe a little idealistic. Overall however, the message of living with and alongside nature rather than against it is one we could all aim to get a little closer to.

Each story begins in an identical way describing where Beti lives with her family in the little round house with thick earth walls and grassy roof that her Mam and Tad built. There is no technology, no car, electricity, or running water, and they are, it seems, totally self-sufficient.

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These stories cover subjects relevant to children everywhere but from a different viewpoint. For example if too much of the fresh fruit or vegetables they grow are eaten too early there will be nothing to preserve for the winter as there is no popping out to the supermarket, which most of us are able to do! Beti and her family’s problem solving could be compared to the ease with which we can call anyone we are worried about while details of missing pets can be put on social media or, as home printed posters, on streetlights.

The contradictions between ways of life in the same and differing cultures is a good starting point for many discussions on a variety of subjects. There is no indication of Beti’s age but she is old enough to differentiate between edible and poisonous plants and berries while foraging alone – not a common childhood skill! Although her education is never mentioned it could be assumed to be based in and around her home which although primitive and basic, is the centre of her world.

This is a book to treasure!

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Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • With easy to understand stories and the inevitable comparisons would be fun to discuss with younger children in many areas of the curriculum.

Many thanks to Walker Books for the review copy.

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If you like Beti and the Little Round House by Atinuke you might also like: our reviews of Outside In by Daniel Thompson, Man-Man and the Tree of Memories by Yaba Badoe, The Star Whale by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček and The Moon is a Ball by Ed Franck and Thé Tjong-Khing.

Browse our  list of books for year 3

About Tracy Wood

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I am a voracious reader and used to be a learning support assistant in a senior school for eight years before leaving to home school my now adult daughter. I have ten grandchildren who I love reading to and spending time with. Reviews by Tracy Wood