New reviews: A little middle-grade magic – great books for Christmas!

Today I’m sharing some middle-grade magic in the shape of fantastic books for middle-grade readers that I’ve enjoyed in recent months – all of which would make great Christmas gifts!

The Peculiar Thing with the Pea by Kaye Umansky illustrated by Claire Powell is a fantastic retelling of The Princess and the Pea. Prince Pete has no interest in getting married, after all he’s only 11! But his mother the Queen has other ideas and soon she’s putting her tried and tested method of using a pea to discover if Patsy really is the Princess she claims to be. An accessible read with lively illustrations, this story will have children laughing-out-loud and no doubt joining in with some of the eye-rolling at the embarrassing-mum moments! Published by Barrington Stoke, find out more The Peculiar Thing with the Pea – Barrington Stoke

Lori and Max and the Book Thieves by Catherine O’Flynn is the second in the series featuring two school friends who have a penchant for solving mysteries! Warm-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable, this story sees Lori and Max solving several mysteries with a priceless book at the heart of the equation. Not just a mystery story though, there are layers of emotion as Lori and Max deal with multiple real-life issues and use all their determination and the power of their friendship to find the solutions. A standalone adventure, this is a great addition to the series. Published by Firefly Press, find out more Lori and Max and the Book Thieves | Firefly Press

The Marvellous Land of Snergs by Veronica Cossanteli illustrated by Melissa Castrillon is a total delight! A forgotten classic first published in 1927, the story has been brought back to life with the support of the family of the the original author E.A Wyke-Smith. Pip and Flora, running away from a Children’s Home, stumble into the Marvellous Land of the Snergs – a magical world of cinnamon bears and incredible feasts alongside vegan ogres, dastardly Kelps and a purple-wearing villain. Enter Gorbo, a lovable snerg who proves to be Pip and Flora’s only friend. But can he help them find their way home? A fabulous adventure ensues, full of everything you would expect from the story that is said to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Marvellous by name, marvellous by nature, this totally deserves it’s place as a classic and will surely find it’s way into the hearts of a new generation of readers. Published by Chicken House, find out more Chicken House Books – Marvellous Land of Snergs

Little Badman and the Time-Travelling Teacher of Doom by Humza Arshad and Henry White, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff sees the return of the wannabe rapper, Humza aka Little Badman and his best friend Umer. This time they have been sent away to summer school in Pakistan, and something strange is going on. Humza is convinced there’s a sinister plot and given recent experiences with Alien Aunties, perhaps he’s right! Guaranteed mayhem and chaos, hilarious observations and a huge helping of laugh-out-loud humour; if you are looking for a funny book for the middle-grade readers in your life, then Little Badman is it! Published by Puffin, find out more Little Badman and the Time-travelling Teacher of Doom (penguin.co.uk) Read my review of Little Badman’s first outing here.

Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre retold by Tanya Landman brings two classics of English literature to a new audience, in these accessible retellings. The Carnegie Medal-winning author uses her critically acclaimed writing talents to take both these stories to new heights, accentuating key elements and scenes into a more concise format. The stories lose none of their timelessness nor any of the power of the characters they portray. Both of these titles would be a great way to introduce the classics to a new generation of readers in an accessible format, giving the stories a new lease of life. Published by Barrington Stoke, find out more Wuthering Heights: A Retelling by Tanya Landman – Barrington Stoke

Trouble in a Tutu by Helen Lipscombe is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Peril en Pointe (review here) and returns to the Swan House Ballet School – a secret spy training school! This time, Milly must investigate a dangerous trickster in the shape of the ‘Mouse King’ as he threatens the safety of everyone at the school. Milly has to contend with suspects all around, making sure her jealously of a new arrival doesn’t blind her investigations. Full of adventure and themes of friendship at it’s heart, this is middle-grade espionage at it’s best, perfectly combining the art of ballet with the world of spies! Published by Chicken House, find out more Chicken House Books – Trouble in a Tutu

With thanks to Barrington Stoke, Chicken House, Firefly Press and Puffin Books for sending me these books to review.

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