Book Reviews

Kitten Corner: A Chapter Book Round Up

I’ve read a few amazing new chapter books recently, so I thought I’d round them all up for you in one post! All of the books featured in this post were sent to me free of charge by the publishers, but that doesn’t affect my opinions of them. All of these are fun and exciting reads that really show off the fact that chapter books have just as much range as any other age bracket – from space adventure to fairy tale, they’re filled with humour and warmth!

Cosmic Creatures: The Runaway Rumblebear and Cosmic Creatures: The Friendly Firecat, written by Tom Huddleston and illustrated by Sophy Williams, from Nosy Crow

These books are what would happen if you mashed together Lost in Space with the Animal Ark series – a preteen on a planetary colony discovers and helps an array of strange space beasts. They’re very sweet stories, with an underlying ecological theme, and animal lovers are going to delight in the adorable creatures! These may be slightly more suitable for the older end of the chapter book age range, as there’s some mild peril and they do tackle some slightly more intense issues, like food shortages and animal trafficking – nothing graphic is mentioned, but the concepts might be too much to explain to really little ones. They’re great reads, though, with a really charming heroine and fun adventures, and I’m looking forward to more in the series.

Dragon Storm: Ellis and Pathseeker by Alastair Chisholm, from Nosy Crow

Somehow I totally missed the first two books in this series, but I’m going to have to go back and cach up with them, because this was delightful! This is another one that’s at the upper end of the chapter book range, with really quite a lot of text – if you’ve read the Unicorn Academy books, I’d say they’re at about the same level, and it seems to have a similar set up with each book focused on one member of a friendship group, but these are more classic fantasy, with children bonded secretly to amazingly varied dragons. This one sees Ellis and Pathseeker, who are both obsessed with maps, tackling three fiendishly difficult mazes – a fantastic self-contained adventure with some threads that definitely hint at more stories to come.

The Bear Stylist, written by Steven Butler and illustrated by Jacob Souva, from Little Tiger

A new installment in the Colour Illustrations series, this is a sweet story of a bear hairdresser who finds that he has a new rival. It packs an emotional punch despite being so short, pulling in themes of imposter syndrome, jealousy, how to work in a team and how to be true to yourself, and manages to do it all while still being whimsically funny. There’s a lot of humour in the illustrations, especially the fancy hairdos of the animals, and it has an enormous cast of side characters, so get your voices ready if you’re reading this one aloud. It’s one of my favourites of the series so far!

Princess Minna: The Unicorn Mix-Up and Princess Minna: The Enchanted Forest, written by Kirsty Applebaum and illustrated by Sahar Haghgoo, from Nosy Crow

These are such fun, fairy-tale-twisting reads! They’re pitched a little younger than the other books in this post, with slightly fewer words on each page and more of a picture book feel to the composition, so they’d be perfect for that transitional period. The picture doesn’t in any way capture how bright they are – the artwork has truly bold, neon colours throughout. I really loved confident, capable Minna (and how nice to see a princess with glasses!) and her adventures are genuinely funny subversions of typical fairy tale elements, with a pinch of girl power and a lot of charming touches. Whether she’s fighting unicorns, kissing dragons, or rescuing princes from curses, Minna is a character kids are going to love to follow, and I’m really looking forward to her next adventures.

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