The Great Cake Race / Sindhu and Jeet’s Missing Star Mystery / Time Travel at Puddle Lane

These are three additions to the Bloomsbury Readers series – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review.

The Great Cake Race
Teresa Heapy, illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Sindhu and Jeet’s Missing Star Mystery
Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Amber Huq
Time Travel at Puddle Lane
Emma Shevah, illustrated by Laura Catalán
Bloomsbury Education

In the first story Jamila sees a note announcing The Great Cake Race ‘fastest cake wins’ she reads. Now she knows that she’s a fast runner but something of a novice at cake making. However she resolves to create a cake like no other and to do so in honour of her beloved Nani. With her name on the list of entrants all that remains is to learn how to bake. With her dad to help and memories of what her Nani used to say, off she goes but her initial attempts are pretty disastrous. Maybe that box containing Nani’s baking books might just be what she needs. With Nani in her mind, can Jamila create something truly spectacular and beat the person who has won the title for several years in a row?
An unlikely story but one that with its determined little girl as main character is great fun especially for those readers just starting to fly solo. Erica Salcedo’s black and white illustrations are a delight.

Rather more challenging is the second set of adventures of detective duo Sindhu and Jeet. The first of the three mysteries involves working out which of two wills of a deceased neighbour is the valid one. The outcome can make a big difference to one human and a lot of rescue dogs.
The second story involves a missing film star, Ranjith Kumar who disappears on the day he is supposed to make a TV appearance. Where has he gone and why has he vanished? Readers may well be surprised when they find out.
In the third story a precious emerald ring is missing on the day of the wedding although the bride-to-be swears she put it safely away in a wooden box the previous evening. Can the children discover what has happened to it so that the wedding can go ahead as scheduled?
Readers will find out something about South Indian traditions as they read these three enjoyable episodes.

Time Travel at Puddle Lane refers to what two friends, Ariella and Yusef, suspect their school librarian is doing when they notice the sooty state of her clothes and her filthy fingernails on several occasions. They decide to investigate using the same means as that they suspect Miss Riche uses – by taking an artefact from the school’s collection kept in a cabinet in the library and going through a door that’s always kept locked. The soap dish the children use transports them to early 19th century London where they have an exciting adventure, are helped by some very kind people, meet their school’s founder when she was just a child and discover things about slavery. An unusual tale that will likely leave KS2 readers hoping for further time travelling adventures of the friends, perhaps in the company of their school librarian.

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