I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books, they are perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Here is my round up of my favourite recent releases all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. They would make wonderful additions to any primary school library.
Dotty Detective: The Midnight Mystery – Clara Vulliamy
Meet Dorothy Constance Mae Louise (or Dot, as she prefers to be called) who, along with her trusty sidekick Beans and faithful hound McClusky, is always ready to unravel a mystery. In ‘The Midnight Mystery, Dot and Beans can’t wait for their school trip to Adventure Camp where they will do lots of exciting activities like zip-wiring, grass tobogganing and roasting marshmallows round a campfire! But once they arrive, strange things start happening. Could mean girl Laura could be up to her old tricks in a bid to win the Adventure Camp Prize? It’s up to the Join the Dots Detectives to find out!
Clara Vulliamy has created endearing characters who are really appealing to children. Who could resist the wonderfully inquisitive Dot, with her sense of adventure and her knack for getting caught up in the most intriguing of mysteries? Dot’s family are slightly chaotic and funny: her mischievous twin brothers who have a fondness for getting into trouble and her mum who is always convinced they will be late for everything. Both children and parents will appreciate the warmth and humour which shines out from this series. I especially love that the books are an interesting mixture of diary entries, doodles and pictures. You really feel that you are getting a sneak peek into Dot’s real-life notebook. Clara’s illustrations are lively, witty and full of energy, a wonderful addition to this delightful series.
The Trouble Next Door – Chris Higgins & Emily MacKenzie
It was with much anticipation that we read ‘The Trouble Next Door’ having been huge fans of Chris Higgin’s ‘My Funny Family Series’ and we can safely say we weren’t disappointed, it’s just fabulous. Bella and her family have just moved into a new (but old) house much to her disappointment, the countryside isn’t what she expected and she is far away from her friends. But when she discovers a girl the same age living next door, Magda, she begins to think things won’t be too bad after all. The problem with Magda is that trouble seem to follow her around yet she never seems to take the blame. Poor Bella keeps finding herself told off because of the troublesome girl next door.
A brilliantly, funny story featuring a wonderfully diverse cast of characters. It will make you cringe and laugh at the same time when you see Bella getting caught up in Magda’s antics. Magda is an uncontrollable whirlwind who on her quest for fun causes chaos, leaving a trail of carnage behind her. Despite this Bella is drawn to Magda because she is exciting and daring showing children that friendships aren’t always what we expect them to be. Emily MacKenzie’s lively and energetic illustrations capture perfectly the fun and turmoil of the adventures they find themselves mixed up in. We’re really looking forward to the next book in this series ‘Trouble at School.’
Rabbit & Bear: The Pest in the Nest – Julian Gough & Jim Field
Rabbit and Bear are back in another laugh out loud adventure full of humour and wisdom. I adored ‘Rabbit’s Bad Habit’s and ‘The Pest in the Nest’ is equally marvellous. It’s Spring and Rabbit is woken up by the incessant snores of Bear which is driving him crazy. Seeking peace and quiet he retreats to his burrow only to be disturbed by a BANG, BANG, BANG! noise from the tree above. Rabbit is enraged, something must be done about this noise. But it’s only Rabbit who has a problem and it’s up to his friend Bear to try and show him how to see the world differently.
Julian Gough has created a story that is incredibly witty and clever. We’ve all had days where we feel angry at anything and everything in the world for no apparent reason and it shows children that just a change in perspective can make a huge difference. There is something so comical about Rabbit’s fury at being disturbed, it’s totally irrational yet understandable at the same time. The book itself is a joy to behold. Jim Field’s exquisite illustrations are filled with humour and beauty. I particularly love how he portrays the mood of the characters through his brilliant expressions and then surrounds them with stunning landscapes in a soothing green palette. An absolute treat of a book, a truly genius collaboration, I loved it!
The Pudding Problem – Joe Berger
Meer Sam Lyttle who has a small problem in his life. Well no that’s not exactly true, he has a GINORMOUS problem that keeps getting him into trouble, but he is most definitely not a liar – honestly! To be frank he does sometimes tell the odd porky-pie. And occasionally he has been known to streeeeetch the truth. But the truth, well it’s complicated isn’t it? Sometimes Sam find it really is much easier to tell a lie.
I’ve been a huge fan of Joe Berger’s illustrations since I first saw them in Tracey Corderoy’s marvellous ‘Hubble Bubble’ series so I was intrigued to read ‘The Pudding Problem’. Sam has the most incredible, far fetched imagination and I love how Joe portrays the workings of his mind through hilarious illustrations. We see Sam literally and metaphorically trying to dig his way out of a lie and finding himself at the bottom of a rather large hole as a result. It is filled with subtle humour like the calculator with 5317 618 his Mum is holding which if you look at upside down spells ‘BIG LIES’. This is an incredibly appealing story and the mix of comic strips and text will engage and entertain even the most reluctant of readers.
A huge thank you to Bloomsbury, Hodder and Simon and Schuster for sending me copies of these fantastic books.