Betsy Bow-Linnet and her 44 highly trained mice are back! This time, they’re on a baking adventure…
Book: 44 Tiny Chefs by Sylvia Bishop, illustrated by Ashley King
Publication date: 8th July 2021
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Little Tiger Books. All opinions my own.
I really like this sweet and silly series, which balances zany mouse fun with gentle moments of friendship and family love. Books one and two saw the mice use their piano-playing skills and acrobatic skills, respectively (reviews here and here), and in this third instalment we see Betsy’s dad open up a bakery. When he’s asked to provide cakes for the Queen herself, the pressure becomes too much, and the whole family has to chip in, even Betsy’s mice – but what will the Palace think about mice in the pastry?!
This is probably my favourite of the series so far. I do love stories about magical baking, and while this isn’t quite that, it still hits the spot for me – and the illustrations of the cakes are so delicious-looking! This is one to read with a sweet snack on hand for sure. The main plot is exciting and will have readers giggling as Betsy infiltrates the Palace to rescue one of the mice that has been accidentally trapped in a cake, but there’s also some quieter themes. Betsy’s dad has to learn not to bite off more than he can chew, and as with the previous two books, it’s marvellous to see such a loving, supportive family, who all use their own skills to back each other up and help each other out. If you’re looking for a read with a close-knit family, these will be perfect – I mentioned in my review of 44 Tiny Acrobats that there’s been so much progression from book one in Betsy’s relationship with her parents, and it’s wonderful to see them so close here (which isn’t to say you couldn’t read this as a standalone, but it’s still nice as a series).
Each of these books has full two-colour illustration throughout, and this one’s colour scheme is blue, which feels very fancy, so perfect for the cakes and the palace! Ashley King’s illustrations are always a joy, and every page has something interesting going on besides the text, whether it’s a full illustration, an inset detail, or a coloured background – it really helps the book to feel exciting and fun when there’s something to discover on every page! The style and length is perfect for that transition from chapter books to middle grade.
I don’t know if there are going to be any more books in this series, but I hope there are! The mice seem to be able to turn their paws to any skills they choose, so the possibilities are wide, and I certainly wouldn’t mind filling up a shelf with such sweet, wholesome books. Five out of five cats!