Blog tour: ‘The Secret Sunshine Project,’ by Benjamin Dean, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat.

For those of you who’ve read Benjamin’s debut novel, ‘Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow,’ it will come as no surprise that his second title is equally as joyous with a LGBTQ+ theme appropriate for its middle grade audience. It’s one of those books that will leave you with a huge smile on your face!

“Bea’s family are happy. Like, really happy. Like, kind of gross but also cute happy. So when they visit London Pride together and have the ultimate day out, Bea doesn’t think her family could possibly get any happier. But a year later, a grey cloud is following Bea’s family around. Dad has passed away, and without him around they have no choice but to pack their bags and move to the countryside to live with Gran.

With Bea’s big sister, Riley, taking the news hard, Bea will do anything to cheer her up. So with the help of new friends, The Secret Sunshine Project is formed – Bea’s plan to bring Pride to the countryside and a smile back to Riley’s face. There’s just one teeny tiny problem – the village mayor. A grumpy old woman who’s on a mission to rain on Bea’s parade . . .”

As soon as I started reading, I was totally wrapped up in the warm embrace of Bea and her family.

Love and acceptance were, for me, two of the key themes of this story. The fierce, protective love of Bea’s family and the love of a close-knit community for one another burned brightly from the pages as they came together to remember a life lost and to celebrate being proud to be yourself.

There was also plenty of humour woven into the tale. The rather fabulous Buttercup represented the glittery, over the top world of drag queens perfectly – outspoken, tough, but vulnerable at the same time. Whilst the long running feud between the awful village bully, Rita Ruckus, and Bea’s formidable gran, the legendary Sylvia Gordon, provided plenty of laughs as well as a strong message about standing up to bullies.

The themes of family and celebrating being yourself are sure to resonate with many readers aged 9+ Highly recommended.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*

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