Regular visitors to the blog will know I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books, they are just perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Here are some absolute gems that I’ve read recently all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. If you’re looking for inspiration to encourage the young reader in your life or Christmas gift ideas, read on!
‘Knights and Bikes,’ is one of those books that comes hurtling in to your life with terrific speed causing you to gasp and laugh out loud in equal measures. This is simply one of the most intriguing and compelling adventures that I have read this year, it completely captured my imagination. I have so much love for the crazy antics of Demelza and Nessa who must uncover the strange mystery that lingers over Penfurzy Island. Gabrielle lovingly mixes retro splashes with modern storytelling as her feisty duo wrestle with possessed diggers, flee angry statues and outwit puzzling ghosts in a bid to save Demelza’s home. With only the help of a pet goose, a broken game gauntlet, their trusty bikes, oh and a quest mixtape, our dynamic duo must succeed where so many have failed before. I love the quirky illustrations they really give this book an unusual edge and fill the story with so much fun and energy. Fast-paced and furious, this is a must have read of the year.
‘The Nothing To See Here Hotel,’ staff are back with another adventure that proves to be even more wonderfully weird and wacky than the first. Guests are welcomed to enjoy the biggest celebration in the magical calendar, the summer festival of Trogmanay, a time for fireworks, music and mountains of food. But the hotels plans are disturbed by the arrival of a yeti family masquerading as a freak snowstorm, causing havoc to all their plans. And as more mysterious guests turn up something sinister is lurking all around the hotel causing chaos and confusion at every turn. Steven’s Butler’s madcap and humorous tale is captured brilliantly by Steven Lenton’s with witty and gruesome illustrations featuring the most dark and delightful details. This fabulous, frenetic story stands out from the crowd, with its many comic moments and its original storytelling, oh and this time they’ve thrown in an even bigger twist which I failed miserably to spot. Entertaining and endearing I can’t wait to return for another stay at this monstrously magic hotel.
Max the Detective Cat is back in another fabulous feline mystery in ‘The Phantom Portrait.’ This time Max becomes embroiled in a case involving unusual events occurring at Lord Fawley’s castle, when the theatre group are invited to perform at his daughter’s birthday party. The grand reopening of the castle’s theatre seems to unsettle the past with strange ghostly figures appearing terrifying the guests. But Max with the help of the sassy and smart Oscar, begin to suspect that something is not as it seems and are determined to sniff out the truth. Sarah’s beautiful storytelling mixed with her vivid engaging descriptions transport the reader directly into the story. Cleverly concealment of clues causes just the right amount of confusion to prevent us from realising the truth behind the ghostly appearances and missing diamonds. Nicola’s illustrations are a complete joy, she captures the curiosity and cheekiness of Max and Oscar brilliantly. 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.
The ‘Legend of Kevin’ is another terrific tale from the incredibly talented Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Unlike previous collaborations this is the first book in a brand new series featuring our intrepid duo Max and Kevin. One day a fierce storm blows into Outermost West blowing Kevin, a flying pony with a penchant for custard creams smack bang into the life of Max. Landing on the balcony outside his flat and changing his life forever. Determined to look after the injured pony Max sneaks him into his bedroom convinced he can keep him secret from his family, even his nosy and delightful gothic sister Daisy – who demands to be called Elvira as she’s going through a phase. But overnight the rain is relentless and Bumbleford begins to flood and as the storm waters rise the peaceful town is washed out and besieged by incredibly naughty sea monkeys. It’s up to Max and Kevin to stop all the chaos and carnage, rescuing the townsfolk and outmanoeuvring those pesky monkeys. Funny, heart-warming storytelling meets fabulous illustrations filled with so much humorous details., this book is a joy to behold.
Harriet Muncaster’s ‘Isadora Moon,’ series has been a complete sensation at school, children eagerly ask to borrow the books before they’ve even been returned to their shelves such is the demand to read all of these gorgeous stories. ‘Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic,’ is the latest book in this brilliant collection which has been stunningly produced in hardback with silver sprayed edges, making it ultra giftable. I love how this series celebrates difference and encourages children to be themselves because well Isadora is half vampire, half fairy so is never quite sure where she fits in. Even magical creatures can have the same feelings and worries as other children and it’s reassuring for them to see this in stories. Feeling upset and confused at not being invited to a friend’s birthday party, Isadora decides to create a friend of her own using some special snow but when the snow begins to melt can she save her new friend before he disappears. Packed with lots of fun activities, writing tips and things to do this is sure to delight and entertain.
Thanks to OUP and Simon & Schuster for sending me copies of these books to review and the children at my school for allowing me sneak peeks of ‘The Phantom Portrait’ and ‘Knights and Bikes,’ before I popped them on my school shelves. All of these books are available to buy online now (click on the link to buy) or from any good bookshop.