Autumn publishing from Bloomsbury kids books has been pretty impressive! I have a pile of great early to middle grade reads, some of which I’ve already featured in the last month and some which are to come.
Today, I’m focusing on two quite different middle grade books with a spooky feel, making them great October reads and perfect to keep children entertained over half term!
Witch Snitch A Witch Wars Adventure by Sibéal Pounder illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson
It’s Tiga’s first Witchoween – when everyone celebrates how brilliant witches are! Peggy has asked Tiga and Fran to make a documentary about Sinkville’s most famous witches, with Fluffanora helping out as wardrobe director. The intrepid film crew delve into every hidden corner of Sinkville and find mouldy jam, microcats and an astonishing amount of cake, but Tiga can’t help but feel there’s something going on behind her back…
This is my first encounter with Tiga and friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Larger than life characters abound and as the film crew travels through Sinkville we find out all about the witches and their various ‘talents’! Fran the fairy is quite hilarious and there’s a lot of slapstick humour involving jam and various types of goo. Thankfully with Fluffanora on hand to provide new outfits, Fran and friends don’t stay messy for long. Tiga is convinced there’s more to this documentary than outrageous outfit swaps and witchy stories…. and she’s not wrong. She needn’t worry though – it looks like Witchoween could be the best celebration ever!
Witch Snitch is definitely a tale focused on the lighter side of magic and witches, which is perfect if you find some elements of witchcraft too spooky. As a young girl I would have loved these tales. It’s also a celebration of friendship at heart – and fashion, sprinkles, cake and mouldy jam! I particularly liked the suggestions interspersed throughout the book for readers to really embrace the witchy fun; with instructions on everything from how to embellish a Witchoween outfit to making a jam jar party bag. Gorgeous illustrations by Laura Ellen Andersen add to the magic and mayhem! If you have a budding fashionista at home, and want to encourage creativity as well as reading, this is a perfect book to do just that and a great, fun read.
Try one of the other books in the series:
Find out more at:
Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestly
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Maudlin Towers. Behind the walls of this gloom-laden school, mysterious happenings and strange goings-on are afoot. It’s up to our intrepid heroes Mildew and Sponge to take on a spot of detectivating and save the day! Will they succeed?
Mildew and Sponge are shocked when they hear not only has one of their teachers Mr Particle died suddenly, but a precious and ancient artefact, the School Spoon has been stolen! Add to this the ghostly activities of a Viking in the ha-ha and a strange apparition in the attic – Mildew decides it’s time he and Sponge took action. With all the teachers behaving in as deranged a manner as normal, it’s a hard task ahead of them! They begin ‘detectivating’ and soon discover it really isn’t straightforward; especially when you add in the further complications of….a time machine….and of course, a werewolf!! A madcap, hilarious time-warped adventure follows, with Sponge just managing to keep up with Mildew- or is it the other way around?!
This is one of the funniest books I’ve read all year with some of the best dialogue between two protagonists ever; I laughed all the way through. Mildew and Sponge’s characters are brilliantly brought to life through their conversation and responses. I reviewed a proof copy of the book so am yet to see the fully illustrated version – which I suspect will bring the story leaping off the page! But this is a taste of the residents of the school:
Maudlin Towers is a school for the “Not Particularly Bright Sons of the Not Particularly Wealthy”– a somewhat unhappy, but very amusing premise. Having worked in several boarding schools myself, some of the teaching characters rang very true – especially Mr Stupendo the Games teacher. And what a name! In fact, the entire cast is full of fantastic characters with fantastic names (Hipflask anyone?!). A clever plot including all the obstacles that time travel can create keeps you on your toes. With action packed sequences, creepy setting, quite daft ideas and a really rather wonderful friendship, Maudlin Towers is the perfect Gothic read!
Other titles by Chris Priestly include:
With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me these books to review.