Beaver Towers by Nigel Hinton

The Beaver Towers series was a favourite of both mine and my brother’s when we were children and I was excited to be able to share it with Henry.

When we were at Primary School (in the late 1980’s!), Nigel Hinton visited and our original 3 books (first two my brothers, third mine) were all signed by him and the first one was the one I shared with Henry.

The first story in the series – Beaver Towers introduces us to the main characters. Philip is a human boy who gets magicked away to an island by his kite. On the island he finds himself being considered ‘The Saver’ by a group of talking animals. Most of the animals on the island have been captured by the witch Oyin and her evil creatures – the Growlers. The few that remain include an elderly Beaver called Mr Edgar, his Grandson, Baby B and Mrs Badger who looks after them.

The animals have only a few days before Oyin returns to the island and claims it to be her own, destroying all the animals. Mr Edgar uses magic to send for a ‘Saver’ but Philip was not really what they had in mind.

The story follows the adventures of Philip, Mr Edgar and Baby B as they try to defeat Oyin and the Growlers.

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this book with Henry – he said his favourite character is Baby B as he is so funny and he is right, there were lots of chuckles at his exploits through the book. Henry said the best part was when the animals were rescued and when Baby B made up stories about the rescue. He really liked that Baby B muddled up his words too!

The chapters are varying lengths so we didn’t always read the same amount each night. I was a little concerned Henry might be bothered by some of the scarier bits with Oyin at bedtime but they didn’t seem to bother him at all. If a child is sensitive, it might be worth reading the book beforehand to make sure they wouldn’t be scared.

It is a great book and we have already started reading the second in the series – The Witches Revenge.

There are 4 books in total, the final one written much more recently so I haven’t read it myself yet – I will look forward to sharing it with Henry soon!

Freya the Friday Fairy by Daisy Meadows, illustrated by Georgie Ripper

The Rainbow Magic stories by Daisy Meadows are extremely popular with young girls in particular and there are now many different ‘sub series’ focusing on a range of fairies. 

This particular book that we read with Pippa was a chapter book but she has also read some of the beginning and early readers to herself. 

Freya the Friday Fairy is part of the ‘Fun Day Fairies’ sub series – 7 books focusing on each of the days of the week’s Fairy. 

It is a story about 2 girls – Rachel and Kirsty who have a special secret – they are friends with the fairies and are helping them find the Fun Day Flags which the fairies use to recharge their magic. 

They have to outwit Jack Frost and his goblins who are after the flags too. The story follows their adventures as they try to retrieve Freya the Friday fairy’s flag. 

The chapters are around 20 pages long with line drawn illustrations on most pages, so we usually read a chapter per night. 

It is a fairly simple story so easy for Pippa to follow with good vs bad and the added attraction of fairies. 

The girls are easy for Pippa to relate to and she liked the Magic, she enjoyed the baddies and liked the idea of Jack Frost being in charge of them! 

Overall, it was an easy enjoyable read, perfect for fairy loving children and I’m certain Pippa will be looking out for more of the Rainbow Magic fairies! 

Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Henry chose this book from the school library and it’s taken us a few weeks to get through it! 

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is the sequel to the ever popular Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the story picks up right where the first book ends. Charlie has just been given the chocolate factory and he and his family are with Mr Wonka in the Great Glass Elevator. 

Events then develop as the Great Glass Elevator takes them off on adventures firstly into space to battle the alien Vermicious Knids then back to the factory to explore more of Mr Wonka’s amazing concoctions. 

The chapters vary in length but are quite long so we usually only read one each bedtime which is why it took a couple of weeks to finish! 

As with most Roald Dahl books there are fab illustrations by Quentin Blake throughout which help break up some of the longer passages of text. 

Henry is a big of fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and often listens to it on audio CD so the characters are familiar to him. I asked him what he thought of the Great Glass Elevator and he said that he liked the Vermicious Knid that had a bumped bottom and that the best bit was when they came back down to the chocolate factory. 

Henry enjoyed the story but said he still prefers Charlie and the Chocolate Factory though! 

He also said he didn’t like Grandma Georgina because she wasn’t very nice to Mr Wonka who is his favourite character! 

Although Henry listened well and understood the main parts of the story, some of the word play, jokes and events were a little beyond his comprehension. It will be a good book for him to revisit himself in a few years. 

When reading, I realised that I had not read it before and I enjoyed reading more about the characters from Charlie and the chocolate factory. 

Overall, a great bedtime read but probably better suited for 7+ year olds who will appreciate more of the jokes and word play. 

Pirate School series by Jeremy Strong 

Henry really does like pirate books so this series by Jeremy strong is a winner with him.

There are 5 books in the series and so far we have read 4 of them. 

Patagonia Clatterbottom is the headmistress of the Pirate School where Smudge, Flo, Ziggy and Corkella are pupils. Each of the books deals with the adventures and mishaps that the pupils and teachers get up to. As usual with Jeremy Strong books, the events are silly and funny and often make Henry laugh out loud. 

These are early reader books and have colour illustrations and short chapters – we easily read two a night. 

They are great for sharing with Henry at bedtime and he especially loves it every time we have to say ‘Clatterbottom’ ! 

Captain Firebeard’s School for Pirates by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Anna Chernyshova 

Whilst browsing the library shelves for books to read with Pippa at bedtime, we came across Captain Firbeard’s School for pirates. It is an early chapter book and has a very ‘orange’ cover which caught Pippa’s eye as it’s her favourite colour. I read the blurb and she liked the sound of it. 

It is an entertaining story about a boy called Tommy who starts at the best pirate school there is – Captain Firebeard’s. it follows his first term and the lessons he has in how to be a pirate. Like most school based stories he makes a few friends and there  is a rival gang of ‘baddies’ who want to cause mischief for Tommy. The story features treasure hunts, secret codes, whirlpools and all kinds of piratey stuff with plenty of opportunities to say aaaaarrrrr! 

There are orange, black and white illustrations on most pages, some are just text but are usually followed by ones with lots of pictures. The chapters are around 20 pages long so we usually only read one per night. 

Pippa’s best part of the book was when it said ‘poop deck’ – cue hilarious giggles! She said her favourite character was Tommy because she liked that he had a parrot called McBeaky. She also liked Captain Firebeard because he had a big orange beard and is funny. 

This is currently the only book about Tommy and Firebeard’s pirate school, I don’t know if there will be any more but we really enjoyed this one so hopefully there will be more adventures in the future.  Definitely a great bedtime read for pirate fans or those who like adventures or school based stories. 

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.