Mirabelle Gets up to Mischief / Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk

Young solo readers will be excited to discover the first titles in two new series from Oxford University Press

Mirabelle Gets up to Mischief
Harriet Muncaster

Meet Isadora Moon’s older cousin, the half fairy, half witch and absolutely adorable, Mirabelle Starspell.

It’s the day of the Midsummer Dance, highlight of the fairy year, and Mirabelle is under strict instructions from her (fairy) dad to keep her witch side firmly under control: potions, pointy hats and cauldrons must remain at home.

As she gets ready for the event, Mirabelle comes upon a couple of necklaces from each of which dangles a tiny potion bottle. No harm in putting something special in them and tucking them out of sight under her dress surely? After all, she’s not intending to use them.

But when Mirabelle meets up with Isadora the temptation to sneak off and experiment with the contents of those bottles proves irresistible for big cousin M.

Thank goodness for Seraphina Starspell – Mirabelle’s mum – who comes to her aid to prevent the entire evening being wrecked; and It’s a very penitent young Mirabelle who eventually comes down to earth right in front of her Dad.

Luckily for her, he understands the importance of his daughter being herself and comes up with the perfect way for Mirabelle to become a responsible speller.

New solo readers, especially the rule-benders among them, will love Mirabelle and her exploits, as well as the fact that she acts as narrator of her own magic doings illustrated in those uber-cool, purple and black illustrations of Harriet’s.

More mischievous magic will certainly be the order of the day.

Leo’s Map of Monsters: The Armoured Goretusk
Kris Humphrey, illustrated by Pete Williamson

It’s Leo Wilder’s ninth birthday and he’s been eagerly anticipating the letter telling him of his assignment. What he receives is an envelope marked TOP SECRET followed shortly after by a knock at the door.

It’s none other than Gilda the village chief who announces to Leo’s mother that she needs to ‘borrow’ her son.

Ordering him to remain silent, Gilda leads the boy out of the village and into the forest to a cabin. There he meets the village Guardian Henrik who tells him of the dangerous monsters lurking outside the village walls. Telling Leo that he too has Guardian work to do, Gilda leaves them together.

Henrik shows the boy the Map of Monsters with its different colour lights for the habitats of various kinds of monster. He also shows him the wound on his own leg made by an Armoured Goretusk and tells Leo that it’s not only the villagers but the monsters that it’s their job to keep safe.

There’s a secret at stake and it’s down, to Leo, armed with a pouch of stones and a slingshot, to turn the angry monster around in its tracks.

Can he succeed in his task? Perhaps, with some unexpected help …

And what will he decide about his future?

In addition to being gripped by Kris Humphrey’s story young solo readers will love the monstrous ‘zoological’ and ‘geological’ information at the back of the book, and be excited to learn this is just the first of Leo’s adventures.

Pete Williamson’s illustrations add further tension and sinister shivers to the telling.

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