Her Idea by Rilla: Dreaming’s great but doing’s better

posted in: Rilla | 7

Sozi is a child brimming with imagination. Ideas slosh and splash around inside her head but rather than keeping hold of them, Sozi allows herself to be distracted. She wanders off, giving her ideas leave to follow suit.

Without ideas Sozi’s life seems to have a black cloud hanging over it. Will she rediscover her imagination? Will she find the courage to persevere and turn one of her ideas into reality?


Her Idea by Rilla is a sumptuous exploration of the value of holding on to your dreams and being brave enough to see them through to the end. It’s a perceptive distillation of the artistic process. It will ring true with anyone who attempts creative endeavours, whether you’re a writer, a musician or ‘simply’ a child with an idea for something you want to do. Yes, effort is required to wrangle ideas. Yes, bravery is required to trust your instincts but in the end it is all worth it.


Energetic illustrations which often spill outside the bounds of the page, presented in a strong graphic-design influenced style, with a limited, bold palette give this book a sense of intensity, matching the vitality and purposefulness of Sozi in seeing her idea through to the end. The physical book is a treat, with gorgeously thick paper and an arresting cover: You are physically invited to dive into a swirl of inventiveness through the die-cut hole giving glimpses of the workings of Sozi’s brain.


Rilla’s rhyming text swoops and floats in the air as smoothly as her illustrations do. Her Idea works really well as a read-aloud, not least because the book itself appears as a character in the story. Kids will delight at realising Sozi’s helper is right here, physically in front of them: Rilla’s story can come to life in their hands, not just in their heads.


Inventive, exciting, and humorous, Her Idea by Rilla will have special appeal to those of us who are book nerds as Sozi’s idea centres around ending up in a book with her favourite friends. However, the wider call to action, the encouragement to grab your ideas, work on them and embrace the effort (and fear you may feel) will inspire any reader, young or old.


This video, at 17 minutes, is rather long but well worth watching for more examples of Rilla’s work and the backstory of how Her Idea came to fruition. The version Rilla reads at the end of her presentation is slightly different to that published in the UK by Flying Eye Books, but it will still give you a very good flavour of what to expect.

Rilla Alexander: Without the Doing, Dreaming is Useless from 99U on Vimeo.

When sharing this fabulous book with M and J we talked about where we get our ideas for play, for projects, for explorations from, and that ended up in a discussion of all the crazy ideas we have for things we want to do in the coming months. We decided the first thing to do was make a note of our ideas, to write them down and highlight them, so we wouldn’t forget them, and could come back to them at any time the words “Mum…. I’m bored….what can I do?” should slip from the mouths of my girls.

M and J decided they each wanted an “Ideas Board” and so we salvaged two old pinboards, rejuvenating them with a lick of paint and a few handfuls of pretty things.



M’s ideas include learning how to make macrame plant holders(?!), a day devoted to doing activities found in the The Kingdom of Silk series by Glenda Millard, and writing her own follow up novel to the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver 🙂


Whilst we made our idea boards we listened to:

  • Bad Ideas by Recess Monkey
  • Bright Idea by Al Start
  • So Many Ideas by Brady Rymer
  • What’s the Big Idea? by Scribblemonster

  • Other projects which might work well alongside reading Her Idea include:

  • Finding out more about Freedom to Think, an initiative set up by Jonathan Stroud (author of the Bartimaeus series and the Lockwood & Co. novels). This is a campaign calling for children to have dedicated free time to explore their imaginations.
  • Pairing Her Idea with a read of The Jacket written by Kirsten Hall and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova. This is another high concept picture book where the physical object you’re reading turns out to be a key character in the story, offering lots of opportunity for engagement with young listeners.
  • Creating ideas jars using this tutorial from The Crafting Chicks. Perhaps you could gradually fill them up between now and the summer holidays (Northern hemisphere folk 😉 ), and then you’ll be all set up for exciting projects once school’s out.
  • What ideas have you got buzzing around your head waiting to be turned into reality?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Her Idea by the publishers of this book.

    7 Responses

    1. I need this book!!
      So great!


      Thanks, Zoe. I have seen this in my local but have not yet taken a lengthy peruse through. I will next time.


    3. What great ideas, Zoe! Thanks for blogging. Will definitely buy the book.

    4. We have this book -it’s amazing! Sozi is so adorable. My husband and Rilla are friends from highschool!

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