• Gemma

Bernie and Boatie by Natalie Reeves Billing



Get ready for a life-changing adventure!

Bernie and Boatie face an epic journey across the stormy seas, which will test their friendship and their mettle to the max. Will they overcome their fear and make it to the island across the ocean? All aboard the #BoatofHope This book follows the real-life journey of Bernie Hollywood, OBE as he undertakes his greatest endurance test yet for charity. As part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge Race, Bernie will be rowing solo for up to 90 days across the Atlantic Ocean in 2022. The story tells the tale of a young boy and his boat who face multiple ups and downs at sea. Together they discover there’s nothing to fear and a problem is halved when it’s shared with a friend.



This fun, colourful book is such a delight to read and makes it all the more special knowing that this book was written for The Boat of Hope project. Their purpose is to help open up conversations with children about mental health across the world and to provide help and support for young people and their families.

Bernie and Boatie tells the story of a little boat anchored in Liverpool docks. She is too scared to sail the sea until one day Bernie comes along, he promises to take her for a ride. Along the way they face a terrible storm which threatens to destroy them both. But through the ups and the downs and the support they give one another they ride that storm and realise they are not alone and in this together.

Natalie Reeves Billing is such a magical lyrical storyteller, her writing flows beautifully through the book capturing the characters' emotions and echoing words of encouragement that every child needs to hear. Although the characters face moments of stress, anxiety and difficultly there is also a calmness that is portrayed which encourages the reader to acknowledge that these moments don't last forever. I love that this book is written for a younger audience. Children often struggle to vocalise their emotions and I know that this book will help them identify the different stages of emotions that the characters face and will be able to pick out the advice that is being suggested. This book is definitely something I will share with my class and use as a tool when children are facing their own times of anxiety. Additionally I love the resources at the back outlining the different charities children and families can turn to for help and support.

The illustrations are so fun and you may be able to spot a few celebrities hiding in the pages. Another thing to spot is the hope spark on each page. Children will spend hours scanning the pages as there is so much to see and take in. I imagine for those who live in and around Liverpool there will be other familiar things to spot amongst the pages. The illustrations support the writing so well in helping to portray the emotions of the characters and the dangers that the pair face. Overall a stunning and captivating picture book.

All proceeds from the book go the The Boat of Hope charity.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Natalie Reeves Billing for not only writing another beautiful picture book but for producing one with such an important and powerful message.



Natalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction.

Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.

Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All