Isadora Moon has a Birthday by Harriet Muncaster 

During one of our many visits to the library,  Pippa and I found this book – Isadora Moon has a birthday, written and illustrated by Harriet Muncaster. 

The story is about a little girl called Isadora Moon who is half vampire and half fairy! As we started to read, we realised that it was not the first book in the series, however this did not really make any difference to our enjoyment when reading. 

Isadora attends a human school and after experiencing ‘human’ birthday parties, asks her parents if her upcoming birthday party can be like a human one with cake, bouncy castle and pass the parcel. You know things will be different when the invites come flying to the classroom on bat wings! The party goes ahead with lots of near mishaps which her human friends thoroughly enjoy! 

The book contains 5 chapters which vary slightly in length but were mostly ok for one each bedtime. Harriet Muncaster illustrated the book too and we both loved her quirky and cute images of Isadora and all her family. Suiting the theme, the illustrations are in pink, black and white AND glitter!!! and are on most pages. 

It is a really fun story and the book also contains a few extra bits in the front and back including a quiz, Isadora’s family tree and fancy dress costume ideas. Pippa said she liked Isadora and Pink Rabbit and her best bit was Isadora’s birthday present. She also said that it was a funny story because her birthday party was a vampire and fairy one!

There are 5 other Isadora Moon books available – Pippa squealed with delight when she saw in the back of the book that there was an ‘Isadora Moon Goes Camping’ book!! There are also audio book versions. 

We thoroughly recommend this book and since reading it, have also read Isadora Moon Goes Camping and are in the process of reading Isadora Moon Gets In Trouble (reviews to follow). The remaining books are on Pippa’s Christmas wish list!!

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Cakes In Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Having read some of Philip Reeve’s books for older children, I was interested to see what this book for a younger audience would be like. He has teamed up with the fantastic author Sarah McIntyre to create not only Cakes in Space but a couple of other books. 

I read Cakes in Space with Henry, the chapters are quite long so we didn’t always read a whole one every night. The illustrations are orange, black and white and appear on most pages. Both Henry and I loved the characters Sarah McIntyre has depicted and definitely found that in a book like this, the pictures tell as much of the story as the words. 

The story follows a little girl called Astra who is on a trip with her family to the new world of Nova Mundi. Everyone has to be asleep for the journey as it will take so long, however Astra wakes up early and has to then rescue everyone on board from man-eating cakes! 

It is lots of fun and obviously set in space which helped make it a hit with Henry. His favourite character was Pilbeam the robot who helps Astra and he enjoyed the different aliens too. 

A great book, which we both enjoyed. We will, I’m sure read more from Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre!
(Their other collaborations currently include ‘Oliver and the Seawigs’, ‘Pugs of the Frozen North’ and ‘Jinks and O’Hare Funfair Repair’. Some of these are available in the USA as ‘Not so impossible tales’).  

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.