I have a real soft spot for chapter books – they have a mix of sweetness and exuberance that I find very endearing. These three books don’t have much in common beyond their genre – two are aimed at the younger end of the bracket and one a little older; one is fantastical, one contemporary, and one a whimsical mix of the two – but all three have that particular loveliness that makes them perfect for newly confident readers.
Magnificent Mabel and the Very Bad Birthday Party, illustrated by Ruth Quayle and Julia Christians, published by Nosy Crow (review copy sent free of charge by publisher)
Meet Mabel – she’s MAGNIFICENT.
Sometimes life isn’t fair for Mabel Chase. Like for instance she has to invite EVERYONE in her class to her birthday party or she won’t get any presents. And her school pack lunches are AWFUL. And when she goes on holiday she doesn’t get a MINUTE to relax.
But none of that matters in the end … because Mabel is still MAGNIFICENT.
This is the second book about Mabel I’ve read and her cheeky antics are very funny! She’s naughty and grumpy and irrepressible, and I think kids will find her really relatable in these three stories, though parents might have to add their own commentary about Mabel’s bad behaviour as she doesn’t often face many consequences. Her cheekiness is definitely supplemented well by the illustrations, which have some wonderful expressions! A really great read for newly confident readers.
Rigatoni the Pasta Cat by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Tony Ross, published by Andersen Press (e-ARC provided free of charge by NetGalley)
Rigatoni is a pasta cat. He loves pasta, any kind of pasta: spaghetti, penne, fusilli, with pesto, in soup, in lasagne, any whichever way his owners, Ruth and Tina, will serve it.
Then one day Ruth and Tina go away and leave George in charge. And the pasta is replaced with yucky cat food. Can Rigatoni find someone who understands what he really wants to eat?
A cat who loves pasta – how could I resist? This is a wonderfully funny book that does exactly what it says on the tin: tells the story of a cat who loves pasta more than anything. I really enjoyed Rigatoni’s point of view – even though the story is told in the third person, he comes across wonderfully cattish. The illustrations are perfect, with just the right combination of sweetness and humour.
Unicorn Academy: Sienna and Sparkle by Julie Sykes and illustrated by Lucy Truman, published by Nosy Crow (review copy sent free of charge by publisher).
When your best friend is a unicorn, magical adventures are guaranteed! Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together! That’s what happens for the students at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island.
Sienna loves to be the star of the show and she can’t wait for her laid-back unicorn, Sparkle, to discover his magic so they can do something amazing together. Their search for a mysterious treasure is leading them into terrible danger. Luckily, they’ve got fantastic friends to help them, and when Sienna and Sparkle learn to work together, they’re an unstoppable team!
This book is aimed a little bit older than the other two, at the 7-9 range, and is a little bit more substantial in both length and plot, but still has plenty of illustrations and short chapters to break up the reading experience. I’ve reviewed one of the Unicorn Academy books before, and since this is a direct sequel to that one, I had very similar thoughts: this is a super sweet, exciting read that will enthrall any unicorn lovers. I really liked the focus on friendship and the issues that can arise even between a tightly-knit group of friends, and I think it does a really good job of validating the negative feelings that a child might naturally feel occasionally even about people they like, and showing how to deal with them in a healthy way. Plus, there’s a fun adventure involving a treasure hunt!