Sharing some of our latest favourite early chapter reads with you

Sam (@SamJdThomas)

Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest

  • Written by Ole Konnecke
  • Published by Gecko Press

This is a gorgeous hardback that is a real treat for early chapter book readers, and not only is it rich in text, but it is also rich in illustrative content. The book is themed with minimal colour palette, which makes it eye catching in appearance, and the story itself is one that captivates readers as they follow the young Dulcinea along in her mission to save her father, who has been captured by a witch and enchanted. Using her cunning, and showing unbelievable bravery, this young girl faces down the dangers of the forbidden forest, all with the hopes of being reunited with her father.

Sunshine Stables: Amina and the Amazing Pony

  • Written by Olivia Tuffin
  • Illustrated by Jo Goodberry
  • Published by Nosy Crow

When I was a little girl I was obsessed with horses, and would absolutely love spending time at the stables with my cousins, learning how to look after a horse, and delighting in being able to go riding. When I picked up this book I was immediately reminded of all those years ago, and through the immersive text I was able to once again enjoy the experiences that I cherished having had as a child, and those readers that choose this book will feel as though they too have also been transported to Sunshine Stables, beside Amina and her friends, to enjoy all things equestrian. This book is perfect for those that love horses, or are interested in learning more about them, because it teaches you terminology, routine, and activities relevant to this hobby, and does so with an authenticity that readers will appreciate.

Amina and her friends are enjoying attending a camp at the the stables when they learn of the opportunity for one of them to be chosen to take part in an upcoming show. All of the girls seems keen to be chosen but Amina believes she is the one that wants it most, and finds every chance to improve her potential, even putting it before her friendship with the rest of the girls. Amina is often not very fair on the others, and her actions can be interpreted as sneaky, and selfish. But then Amina goes too far, and finds her chances of being selected diminishing, which leads her to accepting what she had already realised, that she had prioritised things in the wrong way. It is with the help of her friends, both human and horse, that she makes amends, and the story concludes with things returning to as they should be.

I love that this book has a morale of the story feel to it, and in doing so teaches readers that in choosing selfish actions, breaking promises – like the one Amina made with her friends – and taking things to seriously along the way, you miss out on the fun experiences being offered to you, and you ruin things for everyone including yourself. In the end the friends are all chosen to take part in the show, and that conclusion comes from them working together, and enjoying the moment, all as a consequence of Amina realising she was in the wrong, owning it and apologising, and making things right.

Readers will definitely enjoy the beautiful illustrations that feature throughout this book, especially as they bring the adventure to life on the page, and of course no horse themed story book would be complete, and as compelling a read, without pictures of horses for us to admire, of which there are many inside this book, making it impossible to choose a favourite. There are many more titles in this series, each of which focuses on one of the girls in the group and their respective horse/pony from the stables, and I am so delighted to have become aware of these incredible books, of which I will definitely be reading more, and cannot recommend enough, especially for school libraries and classroom reading corners.

Wigglesbottom Primary – The Talking Lamb

  • Written by Pamela Butchart
  • Illustrated by Becka Moor

This is the latest in the series, and as with the other titles it is jam packed full of funny moments, and antics that will get readers laughing out loud as they enjoy the three separate short stories that this book has to offer.

Whether it is the story of the school trip that sees the class enjoying seeing and petting animals, including a guinea pig (which is one of the brilliantly illustrated animals inside the book, and my personal favourite), and a talking lamb? Yes, that is what the children believe to be the case, unless of course they have reached a hasty wrong conclusion on the circumstances they find themselves in during their lunchtime there. It is a fantastic adventure, features animals and humour, so it will definitely captivate the imaginations of the intended readers, and have them eager to read the other two stories that follow in the book.

The remaining two short stories are located inside school, which readers will find relatable, and tell of an art lesson with a twist, anything and everything can be used as the children’s canvas to get creative on. When the head teacher pops in and see the chaotic scenes unfolding in the classroom he is less then impressed, but the talented teacher turns the situation around to avoid any repercussions, and soon the children’s efforts are being celebrated. The book ends with a crazy adventure that sees the children having to make sure to feed a ‘wildcat’ that the senior class always took care of, but have now left the school. It is an absolutely hilarious story, with some twists in the tale, and a brilliant conclusion.

I can see why this series is so popular, because Pamela Butchart is so incredibly talented at writing humour filled stories for children, and does so in a way that allows readers to relate to the context of the story whilst engaging them in the sorts of things that readers can only imagine, and combined with Becka Moor’s stunning illustrations, which feature throughout the book, these titles are immersive from the offset, and leave you with a smile on your face through the feel good, positive, fun content, which is something we all need, and can often be difficult to find. I look forward to sharing this recommendation with young readers, who will delight in there being more titles to read in the series after this one, and the longevity this offers a reader.

Helen (@helenbyles)

Grandpa’s Dear Old Girl

  • Written by Felicity Fair Thompson
  • Illustrated by Carolyn Paget
  • Published by Beachy Books

Many traditions have sadly disappeared, one of them is the job of a lighthouse keeper. They would be usually be men, and they would look after the people out at sea, and look after the lighthouse. 

Sadly technology took over and there’s no need for a keeper now. In this book Grandpa is the last keeper but he’s about to lose his job, but can technology read the weather, and advise people what to do?.

This is a lovely book about friendship and family and the changing world we belong to.

Night Zoo Keeper: The Giraffes of Whispering Wood

  • Written by Joshua Davidson
  • Published by OUP

When Will accidentally create a time portal during a trip to the zoo he becomes transported to the world of the night zoo keeper. 

Given a uniform, an orb and a powerful magic torch he’s given the job of protecting the zoos animals from the evil Voids, robot like spiders.

This is the beginning of amazing adventures for Will. I love that there are more titles in this series for children to enjoy.

Full of imagination and adventures children will love this series of books. With an image on most pages, this is ideal for children aged 6 and above.

This has bigger text and is perfect for children starting to read independently.

Worst Day Ever 

  • Written by James Bishop
  • Illustrations by Fay Austin
  • Published by Hachette

We all say we’re having a bad day, but is a bad day really?

Mylan is a blue alien travelling the world looking for someone that is having a bad day to follow.

Chloe’s is having a bad day, first she hurts her toe, then she discovers an alien following her, trying to help her. 

Can Chloe and Mylan work together to save the planet, and the most important question this book answers is will Mylan ever pilot a really cool spaceship, well to find out the answers to this you will have to read the book. 

This book is sure to be a hit with children who enjoy funny fiction and is perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart. This is a fasted paced pager turner.

The illustrations are fun and bring the book to life.

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