The Indoor Pirates/The Indoor Pirates on Treasure Island by Jeremy Strong, Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

This is the first book I am reviewing that I didn’t actually read myself. Instead, husband Tim read it with Henry at bedtimes. I asked them both to describe the book and give me their views which follow shortly.

Jeremy Strong has written many books for children which are often very funny. I have previously shared some of his very early chapter books with Henry (review to follow soon!) but this was the first of his slightly longer chapter books. The copy we borrowed from the library contained both the original ‘Indoor Pirates’ story as well as ‘The Indoor Pirates on Treasure Island’.

It is a chapter books with chapters that are fine to read one each bedtime. On lots of the pages are brilliantly comical illustrations by Nick Sharratt.

Henry’s comments:

‘They are called the Indoor Pirates because they live indoors because they don’t like water. They think that no one else thinks they are pirates even though they all know really! They get up to all sorts of adventures but are not very clever pirates so not everything works.’

He described the characters as follows:

‘Captain Blackpatch has patches on his arm; Bald Ben doesn’t have any hair; the twins, Polly and Molly always argue; Lumpy Lawson does all the cooking because he is better than the other pirates.’

I asked both Henry and Daddy who their favourite characters were and they said:

Henry: The twins because they are happy at the end of the story.

Daddy: Captain Blackpatch because he always gets cross with the twins when they are arguing (he said it sounds familiar!!)

Whenever Tim and Henry were reading these books, there was always lots of belly laughs coming from Henry’s room, he really seemed to love all the mischief the pirates got up to. Tim said he really enjoyed sharing them with Henry too.

So based on Tim and Henry’s opinions, I would say these books are definitely a great bedtime reading choice and we will be looking for more of Jeremy Strong’s books.

Dixie O’Day – The Great Diamond Robbery by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy

This is the second of the Dixie O’Day books that I have read with Pippa at bedtime (see earlier review of ‘In the Fast Lane’). Dixie O’Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy 

Once again it is an early chapter book for developing readers with lots of illustrations on every page. The characters of Dixie and Percy are very appealing depicted and Pippa loved looking at the little details in the pictures as we read.

In this story, our hero Dixie, accompanied by his sidekick Percy, take a little holiday to the seaside, where instead of relaxing, become heroes and also investigate a robbery in their hotel.

It is an appealing story which evolves at a good pace. We usually read one or two chapters at each bedtime and we were both keen to read each night to find out what adventures Dixie and Percy would have.

Pippa said she liked it when they helped the man (when they became heroes) and how they found the treasure. She liked the characters again and the book is a really good length to retain her interest.

Once again, we would definitely recommend this Dixie O’Day story.

Astrosaurs Academy series by Steve Cole 

It’s been a busy week but Henry and I have this week finished another of the ‘Astrosaurs Academy’ books by Steve Cole. 

 This series of books follows the adventures of young dinosaur Teggs Stegosaur and his friends as they train to be Astrosaurs at the Astrosaurs Academy. Exactly as it sounds, an Astrosaur is an astronaut dinosaur who protects the rest of the dinosaur world! Teggs and his friends have to outwit T-Rexs and other meat eaters, uncover saboteurs and protect their planet from all manner of other mayhem. 

They are chapter books but still with some illustrations on each page. The chapters vary in length according to the book so we read different amounts at each bedtime. 

The most recent book in the series that we read was called ‘Volcano Invaders’ and in this story Teggs and his gang had to defeat a very different enemy whilst trying to avoid being swallowed up by an erupting volcano! This book had some longer chapters, and most end up on mini cliffhanger moments which makes it easy to build up suspense and excitement for the next bedtime reading. 

The dinosaurs have lots of gadgets and Henry really liked how the volcano ended up being more than it seemed.  He said he likes Commander Gruff because he helps rescue the Astrosaurs but his favourite characters are the Daring Dinos (Teggs and his 2 closest friends) because they have the special motto: ‘Do we dare? (Put hands together) WE DARE!’ He really likes joining in with this every time it occurs in the books! 

Henry loves dinosaurs and is also interested in things to do with space so these books are perfect for him for bedtime stories. They are a lot of fun and easy to read and I have to admit to really enjoying them too! 

Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett

This is one of Pippa’s all time favourite picture books and one of the first she proudly told us she could ‘read’ by herself. As the title suggests it is a story about a monkey (a toy one) who along with his owner, a little girl, go and visit a range of animals at the zoo. 

Emily Gravett has written a wonderful repeating text which is very easy for even very young children to pick up on. On each of the pages the little girl’s actions give a clue to which animal they will see next. This is lovely for children to guess what is coming next and Pippa certainly enjoys doing so even though we have read the book many times. It is also lots of fun to make the same shapes as the little girl does, although this does not always lend its self to a calm bedtime read! 

The illustrations are very appealing and the little girl and her monkey are lovely characters. We have been reading this book for a long time with Pippa and, even though she is now able to read it herself, she still very much enjoys having it read to her at bedtime. 

I said it is one of her favourites, her reason why – because she says it is just like her and her toy Monk 🙂 

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam: Up, Up and Away by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

Pippa and I really enjoyed the first Shifty and Sam book and I spotted the second chapter book on the ‘New Books’ shelf in the library just before we finished the first one, so immediately picked it up! 

Once again the book follows the adventures of the baking, mystery solving duo of dogs – Shifty and Sam. This particular book contains 3 stories – the title story plus two others. Once again each story is split in to 4 chapters and we read at least 2 per night. The fabulous illustrations by Steven Lenton are again in 3 colours (greeny/blue as the main colour this time rather than orange in the previous book) and really add detail to the story – Pippa found some of the images very funny! 

Pippa said she liked this book just as much as the first one and that her favourite story was the first one – Up, up and away as she liked the race in it and the fact Red Rocket (the ‘baddy’) couldn’t get them (spoiler!) as they flew away. She really likes all the gadgets the bakemobile has and was telling Henry about them the next day. 

We borrowed both of these books from the library and they have been bedtime reading hits with Pippa. Both are now on her Amazon wish list and as well as us reading them again to her, I can see that as she progresses with her reading skills, I am sure she will thoroughly enjoy reading them again for herself. 

A few days ago, just before starting to write this this review, I was able to give Pippa some very exciting news – Steven Lenton posted a picture on Twitter of a book cover: Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam, Jingle Bells!  Out this winter! 

Guess what Pippa has already asked to be put on her Christmas list…

The Twits by Roald Dahl

We finished reading Henry’s latest Roald Dahl book yesterday – The Twits. 

It is one of the shorter novels so didn’t take us long to read. Each of the chapters is quite short so we easily read a few at each bedtime. As with all Roald Dahl books there are great illustrations throughout. 

The Twits tells the story of the odious Mr and Mrs Twit who spend their lives thinking of ways to be mean to each other. They are also mean to their monkey family and the local birds and the story develops into how the animals get their own back. It is a very funny story and Henry loved the yucky things Mr and Mrs Twit got up to. 

Henry said he didn’t like Mr and Mrs Twit but he did like the things they did to each other with his favourite being the wormy spaghetti! His favourite characters were Mugglewump the monkey and his family. 

It was another of Roald Dahl’s books that we really enjoyed and would thoroughly recommend. 

The Jolly Rogers and The Ghostly Galleon by Jonny Duddle

Henry loves pirates so this was a great choice for a bedtime story for him! 

The story features Matilda whose best friend Jim is a pirate and together they need to retrieve some stolen booty and defeat the crew of the Black Rat. It is a great pirate adventure with lots of classic piratey references! The characters are lots of fun and the events keep you wanting to read each night. 

The chapters are a good length to read one or two per night and there are lots of illustrations to complement the story. 

This early chapter book is based on the characters from the picture book ‘The Pirates Next Door’. We have not read the picture book but it made no difference to our enjoyment of this story. There are a couple of other early chapter books available featuring Matilda and Jim and their further adventures. 

Henry really liked the characters and was keen to keep reading each night so definitely a winner with him. We will be reading the other Jolly Roger books I’m sure!