Regulars to the blog will know 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. I love watching children at school discovering new books and then going on to devour the whole series and pass them on to their friends. Today I’m sharing some new illustrated series that have been recently released, all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. They would make wonderful additions to any primary school library.
When Max swaps life from a red velvet cushion in the drawing room of a fashionable townhouse to the dark and dangerous of London streets after an unfortunate incident with a mouse, his life changes in the most unexpected of ways. Forced to seek shelter in the Theatre Royal his mouse-hunting skills soon make him indispensable but little does he know he’s about to get caught up in a truly intriguing mystery. Nobody can understand why legendary opera singer Madame Emerald is behaving so strangely, only singing in her dressing room and refusing to perform onstage. Max is a curious cat and carefully watches her becoming increasingly confused by her odd behaviour but soon enough the pieces of the mysterious puzzle start to slot together and he discovers something dastardly is afoot. I was utterly charmed by Sarah’s delightful storytelling and wonderful characterisation which combined with Nicola’s gorgeous illustrations make for a really enjoyable and entertaining read.
‘Horace and Harriet’ is a quirky new series written & illustrated by Clare Elsom which is full of so much chaos, misadventure and humour that it’s bound to delight younger readers, with its many laugh out loud moments. Harriet can’t believe her eyes at the park, when she sees a statue come to life and climb off it’s pillar and sets off to investigate. Soon an unlikely friendship is forged between Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace as we’ll call him for a short) and Harriet, as she helps him navigate the confusion of 21st century life. I love the contrast between Horace’s rather formal language and behaviour with Harriet’s direct casual style and if perchance you young whippersnappers are confused by his splendiferous language Clare has deigned to give you a dictionary to help out. Superbly illustrated with a wonderful attention to detail, I think this is a really fun and appealing book and I’m pleased to discover that you can also get your hands on the next title in the series, ‘Horace and Harriet: Every Dog Has it’s Day.’
I’m a huge fan of Laura James’s Pug books so I was intrigued to discover she has a new hilarious series featuring one of the greatest minds of our time Fabio, who just happens to be flamingo. ‘The Case of the Missing Hippo’ is the first crime to be solved in ‘Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective’ series. With the help of his giraffe sidekick Gilbert, Fabio must use his cunning mind, his powers of detection and a side helping of pink lemonade to discover the whereabouts of Julia the jazz-singing hippo who suddenly disappears in the middle of the talent show. Laura has a talent for creating eccentric and interesting characters who leap off the page totally capturing children’s attentions. Vibrantly illustrated in vivid tones of pink and green this book demands to be read. Emily Fox’s illustrations are bursting with humour and life, this is a truly marvellous collaboration and I can’t wait for more crime solving capers with Fabio.
‘Homework on Pluto’ takes us back on a space adventure with Jon and Straxi who managed to save the entire planet in ‘Letters to Pluto,‘through the powers of letters as part of the interstellar penpal programme. After saving the planet surely Jon deserves to put his feet up and have a well-deserved rest on his holiday to Pluto but his teacher Mrs Hall has other ideas and sets him homework! In the process of dismally failing to avoid writing essays about life on Pluto, Jon discovers that contrary to general belief Pluto is a lot more interesting than he thought. But things take a turn for the unexpected when his little sister is kidnapped by the skwitches, Jon and Straxi find themselves having to come to the rescue once again. I really enjoy the originality of this series, the use of letters, posters and actual homework to tell the story is really engaging and different. Again it carries an underlying environmental message told in a very subtle manner that provides a starting point of conversation to share with younger readers.
The Great Telephone Mix-Up – Sally Nicholls & Sheena Dempsey
‘The Great Telephone Mix-Up’ is one of those gorgeous stories that just fills your heart with joy and leaves behind a warm glow inside. Sally Nicholl’s was inspired to write this charming story after hearing about a real life event where village phone lines got crossed creating much confusion. In this story the mix-up seems to be causing many problems, Margaret can’t run her summer fair, Jai can’t speak to his friend Aditi, although it’s great news for Will who is quite relived that nobody can ring his Mum and tell her what mischief he’s been up to! But this chaos soon becomes a force for good when neighbours have to go and actually talk to each other in person and they soon discover how working together and understanding each other better has a positive effect on their community. Sheena’s wonderful illustrations are full of warmth and humour capturing the nuances of each of the characters perfectly. Another treasure of a book from Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems collection.
Thank you to Barrington Stoke, Bloomsbury, Maverick Books, Nosy Crow and OUP for sending me copies of these books. All of the books are available to buy online now or from any good bookshop.