By Nicci, The Kids Books Curator
My top picks selected from both new and recently published kids chapter books (for ages 7+ and 8+).
How many of these have you read and enjoyed too?
Any you hadn't come across before?
The books are listed in recommended reading age order (not in order of preference).
’Into the Forest: Wildsmith #1’ by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
For ages 7+
🌱[Ad-review copy] War with Estria is about to reach the village of Holderby! Rowan’s dad swiftly despatches her and her mother into the forest away from danger. But, who is this mysterious Grandpa they’re going to stay with and why has she never heard of him before? Rowan’s stay in the Dark Forest becomes an exciting adventure as she discovers that her new Grandpa is an animal healer, and she ends up charged with some magical creature protecting to do herself (with the help of some new friends), plus… Rowan’s discovery of her own magical ‘wildsmith’ healing powers come in very handy!! I’m a massive fan of Joe Todd-Stanton’s illustrations and his books, particularly the Brownstones Mythical series. The cover artwork for Wildsmith is so beautiful, and the illustrations accompanying the text are fantastic. Liz Flanagan has created a brilliant new adventure series, that I’ll absolutely be collecting and reading!! Book 2 is out in April!! Reviewed from proof copy, not published edition.
’Press Start! Super Rabbit Boy Powers Up!’ by Thomas Flintham
For ages 7+
🌱[Ad-review copy] Created by the illustrator of the legendary young reader books by Pamela Butchart, this new series for younger chapterbook readers blends highly illustrated graphic novel strips with short-form paragraphs. Super Rabbit Boy is a character in a computer game played by Sunny, although getting through the levels becomes more of a fun family event as the game goes on. With characters like King Viking and his Robot Army (the baddies) and a Super Mario style Animal Town of happy friendly characters, these stories are engaging, great for kids who love video games and a super hero who doesn’t give up when it comes to helping a friend in need. I read the first two in the series and they’re a great starter book when transitioning from picture book reading levels.
‘Diary of an Accidental Witch: Unexpected Guests’ by Honor and Perdita Cargill, illustrated by Katie Saunders
(Little Tiger Press)
For ages 8+
🌱[Ad-Review Copy] Soooo chuffed to have been sent the latest in this series. I absolutely adore the diary format for young reader/early middle grade chapter books. Together with illustrations on almost every page, the text is well balanced for the reader who rejects a book with pure text, but still enjoys the maturity level of this stage. We rejoin Bea Black for another Year 7 school-based witchy adventure. The capers and magical mishaps are back in full force, lots of giggles and joy to behold. Little Spellshire’s School for the Extraordinary Arts is about to get a very special visit… however due to the advance notification letter being slightly chewed (by an excitable, but very cute, pig) the Head thinks they’re about to be visited by some Very Important Witches and the preparations are in full swing. Only when the the visitors arrive through the gates… they’re rather mean looking SCHOOL INSPECTORS!!!!! EEK…. Bea and her friends need to find out how to turn a magic academy into an ‘ordinary’ high school, and QUICK!! But, is another rather unexpected (ghostly) guest from the past going to be a help or a hinderance???? So much fun!! Lovely series, seriously, can’t wait for the next one!!
‘Villains Academy’ by Ryan Hammond
(Simon & Schuster)
For ages 8+
🌱[Ad-Review Copy] Imagine going to a school where you are praised for being BAD and punished for being GOOD?!?! Don’t be put off, your children won’t suddenly be breaking all the school rules!! This is a super fun and highly illustrated story from a talented new children’s author:illustrator, and I have to say I really enjoyed meeting this whole new cast of villainous characters. Werewolf, Bram, is new to the academy and he’s not really on board with the whole you’ve got to be bad thing. However, he really wants to make friends and fit in. Getting to know some of his new classmates like Bryan the lion, Sheila the ghost, Tony the skeleton or Mona the elf-witch is a bumpy ride and he makes a few mistakes along the way. There are some pretty dodgy things going on and Bram wants to get to the bottom of it, but he’s making some unfair assumptions about his new friends, and ends up alienating them, and then he has to prove himself as trust-worthy again somehow. This is a fun, feel-good and entertaining read from start to finish!! Read from proof copy, not published edition.
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