Literary Critters: William Shakesbear’s Journey for Inspiration – Sophie Corrigan

Literary Critters Sophie Corrigan
Literary Critters: William Shakesbear's Journey for Inspiration by Sophie Corrigan
Published by Zondervan on August 2, 2022
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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From Sophie Corrigan, the creator of the Pugtato books, Literary Critters soars with imagination as it introduces young readers to iconic authors like William Shakesbear, Beatrix Trotter, Crane Austen, Edgar Talon Crow, Yak Kerouac, and many more while promoting the importance of reading and storytelling in a whimsical and inventive way.

Literary Critters is a truly unique picture book, introducing young readers to classic literary figures and encouraging them to use their imaginations. This playful story promotes literacy and storytelling as quirky playwright William Shakesbear sets off on a journey to visit some of his Literary Critter friends to see if they have any writing ideas to share—including friends like Mole Dahl, Crane Austen, Beatrix Trotter, Edgar Talon Crow, Yak Kerouac, C.S. Shrewis, Langston Mews, and more.

As Will visits his fellow Literary Critter Guild members, he’s greeted with lots of advice from his author friends and has some adventures along the way. He also invites young readers to become part of the Literary Critters Guild and continue growing in their love for all things reading, writing, and books.

This charming picture book introduces children to famous authors and some of their work. Sophie Corrigan tells her fictional story from the perspective of William Shakesbear, and as he searches for inspiration to write his next play, he talks with other animals and gets their advice. Animals such as Crane Austen, Beatrix Trotter, and C. S. Shrewis share advice that fits with their preferred genres and their work, and Corrigan sometimes riffs on actual quotes from the authors. Children and adults will enjoy the creative puns and cute illustrations, and the book encourages creativity, friendship, and creative communities in a way that is funny and never feels preachy.

Literary Critters: William Shakesbear’s Journey for Inspiration is primarily for school-age children. Many people assume that picture books are only for the 0-5 crowd, but there are lots of educational picture books for older readers, and this book’s length, word count, and complexity make it appropriate for elementary-aged readers and older. Although a parent certainly can read this to a younger child, older kids who are familiar with at least some of these authors will enjoy this the most, especially if they are aspiring writers themselves.

My one significant critique is that Corrigan never shares bios about the authors. The final page includes names and realistic illustrations identifying all eighteen authors that she characterized or mentioned here, but she doesn’t include any other details. I would rate this even higher if she had included short bios to explain when and where these writers lived, what they wrote, and what they are best known and remembered for. Since children will only be familiar with some of these authors, this is a lost opportunity to share more information, and I hope that parents and educators will fill in the gap.