While there seems to be an emergence of a huge range of illustrated fiction for younger readers at the moment, I’m still struggling to find enough books for my emerging readers at school. There seems to be a trickle of books starting to come through for those children who are not quite ready to take on middle grade reads because their length or content may be overwhelming. Today on the blog I’m sharing my recent reads of books that bridge the gap brilliantly between illustrated fiction and middle grade. All of these books are bound to delight and engage younger readers and form part of existing or new series, so there is plenty for any eager child to devour.
I was overjoyed to discover that there was a new Knitbone Pepper adventure, so it was with very high expectations that I dived into, ‘The Silver Phantom,’ and returned to the bosom of the Pepper family. Never fear Claire and Ross have worked their magic once more and delivered a truly eccentric and magnificent adventure that I truly loved. Knitbone Pepper and Winnie are thrilled when a vintage plane lands at Starcross Hall, bringing with it an unexpected blast from the past. But the visitor is a human ghost who everyone knows bring nothing but trouble and mischief unlike their ghostly animal friends. Along with the cast and crew of ‘Junk Palace,’ chaos and confusion runs rife at the hall, threatening everything the Pepper family hold dear. Can Winnie, Knitbone and the rest of the beloveds get to the bottom of these strange goings on before its too late? Claire’s writing is packed with humour and heart, while Ross’s beautiful, detailed illustrations capture the exuberance and eccentricity of this magnificent story brilliantly.
Fleur Hitchcock is better known for being the writer of dark crime stories for older readers but luckily for us she has turned her talents and created the ‘Clifftoppers,’ series. When Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh go on holiday to their grandparent’s cottage they experience a world of wild beaches and no curfews, which inevitably leads them to getting mixed up in all sorts of adventures. The first book in this new series ‘The Arrowhead Moor Adventure,’ promises a mystery packed with sinister villains, stolen jewels and a bunch of very smart kids and delivers this perfectly. Containing just the right amount of danger and peril for younger readers, you will find yourself gripped by this race against time to unmask the true criminals before they disappear with the stolen jewels. An intriguing start to this new series and I look forward to joining the cousins on their next adventure.
Following on from the charming, ‘The Pony With No Name,’ Tracey Corderoy is back with the second adventure in the ‘Seaview Stables,’ series. Bryony and her family are settling into their new life at Brook Dale, feeling more positive about what their future holds. And with the stables thrown into a whirlwind of excitement in the run up to the gymkhana competition there is lots to look forward to. When Bryony notices a light coming from the abandoned lighthouse at Stormy Point she is intrigued and is determined to discover who is inside. Bryony does love to solve a mystery but has she taken on too much especially with arch-rival Georgina prepared to go to any lengths to destroy her gymkhana dreams. Beautifully written, this story is the perfect mix of friendship and a truly enjoyable adventure.
With the ‘Unicorn Academy,’ being an incredibly popular series at school, I felt the need to discover what lies within these pages that has the children coming back and demanding more. Ariana is struggling to settle in at Unicorn Academy and is teased for being timid, unlike her unicorn Whisper who loves the thrill of an adventure. But when animals start to abandon the forest, they soon discover there is a mystery to be unravelled. Ariana and Whisper will need all their courage to protect their friends and return the animals home safely. Despite this being the eighth adventure in this series I soon discovered that the Unicorn Academy is a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together, on a beautiful island. There are so many intricate details that unicorn fans will find incredibly appealing from the, ‘Care of Unicorns,’ lessons to the magical bonding that takes place between the child and their unicorn. Enchanting and magical illustrations and writing that will truly delight younger readers.
I’m a huge fan of the Andrea Beaty and David Robert’s marvellous Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck and Ada Twist picture books so I was thrilled that ‘The Questioneers,’ would be making their appearance in a new illustrated fiction series. This story is the second book in this series and features the fabulous Ada Twist, the Queen of Questions, whose mind is a never-ending whirr of who, what, why, where and when? Ada knows the only way to get to the bottom of these intriguing questions is to work out the answers by experimenting. When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned gets carried away in his famous helium pantaloons, Ada needs some answers and she needs them fast! Together with her fellow Questioneers, can they save the day? Perfect for inquisitive minds, this series delves into the world of science and marvels at it’s mystery. If your child is constantly bombarding you with unanswerable questions then this may indeed be the book for them. Exquisitely produced with sublime illustrations this book is scientifically stimulating and filled with fun.
Lou Treleaven is back with the third book in this out of the world series. Jon thought that living seven and half billion kilometres from Earth would save him from the clutches of his teacher, Mrs Hall. That is until the President of Pluto goes on his honeymoon and puts Mrs Hall in charge of the planet. It soon becomes clear that she is clearly incapable of this job – in Jon’s opinion- creating new ridiculous laws that are more like school rules. Obsessed with upholding these laws, it’s left to Jon and Straxi to take matters into their own hands when they discover a giant, mutant snargler on the loose! I really enjoy the originality of this series, it’s fun and frenetic. The use of letters, posters and robot reports to tell the story is really engaging and different, it’s proved to be a popular series at school.
Thank you to Abrams, Maverick, Nosy Crow, Simon & Schuster and Usborne for my gifted copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All of these books are available to buy or pre-order now online (click title to buy) or from any good bookshop.