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’).  

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.

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 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! 

Mud Puddle Farm stories by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo has written many amazing stories for older children, many of them featuring animals. This however, is a collection of short stories for younger children and was recommended by a teacher friend for us to read with Pippa at bedtime. 

The book contains 6 stories featuring Farmer Raffety and the animals of Mud Puddle Farm. There are lots of illustrations throughout by Shoo Rayner and these are often very comical and likeable and add to the story. 

The stories are told in part in speech by the characters which lends itself greatly to reading different voices adding to the fun! Pippa thought lots of the characters were funny and especially liked Pintsize the piglet. 

Each story is split between 5 and 9 chapters of varying lengths so it is not always easy to say just one a day!  We often went by the number of pages we had read and a story took us a couple of bedtime reading sessions to read. 

Overall, these stories were lots of fun and enjoyed by us both and great for bedtime reading. 

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam – The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

After reading and enjoying Tracey Corderoy’s Hubble Bubble books, I spotted this on the shelf in the library so picked it up to read with Pippa. 

The book is about 2 dogs – Shifty and Sam who, as well as being bakers, solve mysteries and crimes with the help of inventive baking gadgets from their ‘Bakemobile’. 

There are 3 different stories in the book, each split in to 4 chapters. It is easy to read either 2 chapters for a short bedtime reading session or a whole story in one night. There are fabulous detailed 3 colour illustrations on every page which are ideal in an early chapter book. 

This was a lot of fun to share with Pippa, the characters are lovable and the events caused us lots of laughs with Pippa oohing and predicting what the ‘baddy’ might get up to. 

When I asked Pippa what she had enjoyed, she said she liked it when they caught the robbers because they used cakes and it was a happy ending. She likes both characters because they are funny. 

After finishing this story I looked up other Shifty books and found out that, like the Hubble Bubble series, the first few are picture books and set the scene in which Shifty and Sam stop being burglars as they are better at baking cakes! 

When discussing the story with Henry and daddy, we remembered that one of the children had, earlier in the school year, brought home the first book from the school library! 

The Spooky School is the first of the Shifty and Sam early chapter style books, with currently only one other available – Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam – Up, Up and Away. 

Guess what we found in the library and started tonight! 

Review to follow soon…