Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Sticky Cake Race /Kitty and the Kidnap Trap / Mickey and the Trouble with Moles

These are recent additions to three deservedly popular young fiction series published by Oxford Children’s Books

Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Sticky Cake Race
Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths

In this latest tasty offering starring sweet-natured Freddie Bonbon, Belville’s best baker, summer is drawing to an end and the town’s inhabitants are busy preparing for an important community event, the Belville Rally.
Contestants have been considering their costumes and preparing their cycles making them race worthy, including Freddie himself who is participating along with his assistant Sophie and his bakery manager Amira who are going to ride what they call a tridem. Freddie is also going to make the cake to be awarded for the best costume.

There’s one person however with eyes on winning the first prize, who will stop at nothing to sabotage things for team Freddie and that’s rival baker Bernard Macaroon.

My mouth was watering at the mere mention of all the yummy cakes and pastries mentioned during this story; but who is the eventual race winner? Suffice it to say there is one very surprising outcome of the whole event, as well as a thoroughly delicious finale and fun illustrations by Alex G. Griffiths throughout.

Kitty and the Kidnap Trap
Paula Harrison, illustrated by Jenny Lovlie

Superhero in training and still perfecting her powers, Kitty is always on the lookout for ways to help others so she’s more than happy to have the opportunity to look after her friend’s pet hamster Marvin over the weekend.
That night after her first visit to the creature, Kitty feels uneasy and so she decides to don her superhero gear and with Pumpkin alongside, to go back to check Marvin is okay. When she gets there though, the cage is empty. Disaster!

Before you can say ‘rats’ Kitty is hot on the trail. Can she track down Marvin and more importantly, rescue him and return him to the safety of his warm cage before Emily returns?

Young solo readers familiar with the series will lap this latest story up and perhaps if they’ve not read all Kitty’s previous adventures will seek out some of those too. Like this one, they’re all full of Jenny Lovie’s splendid glowing illustrations.

Mickey and the Trouble with Moles
Anne Miller, illustrated by Becka Moor

Ace code cracker Mickey is now a full member of COBRA the secret organisation of animal spies and one night there comes a knocking at her window. It’s Rupert Rat, Head of Animals at COBRA, come to inform her that her help is needed urgently on account of a bank break in perpetrated by the moles that have been extremely busy tunnelling.

Once inside the bank, the COBRA members discover things are getting somewhat chaotic with moles running hither and thither. What on earth (or under it) can they want, surely not money. Then one mole accidentally triggers the security alarm and as smoke spreads everywhere, Rupert decides to follow the escaping moles and gather information, promising to report back in the morning, while the rest of team COBRA head back to HQ. All except Mickey who goes back home before her parents discover her absence.

Next morning Mickey heads back to HQ for the briefing only to learn that there’s some concern as Rupert still hasn’t shown up. Then comes a strange message delivered by a bird. Could it be that Rupert is in need of help.
Now seems the time for the girl to use some of her particular skills – the ability to read newspapers – for instance.

With codes to crack aplenty, traps laid for COBRA members, tension between the underground animals and overground animals and the reappearance of a nefarious character, the countdown is on to find Rupert and get to the bottom of the Impossible Vault mystery.

A fun adventure full of exciting twists and turns with Becka Moore’s illustrations adding to the enjoyment.

Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: Dancing with Doughnuts / Willow Wildthing and the Dragon’s Egg

It’s great to see new stories in two fiction series for younger readers, both from Oxford University Press

Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: Dancing with Doughnuts
Harriet Whitethorn, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths

It’s summer time in Belville the town of Freddie’s Amazing Bakery and the Summer Talent Show is imminent.

Freddie’s friend and bakery manager, Amira already has her show clothes: she’s going to dance with Samuel and the auditions are that very night; but the nefarious Bernard (of Macaroon’s Patisserie) is also intending to compete – as a magician.

Then disaster strikes in the form of an injury to Samuel’s leg that means he’ll have to pull out. (I wonder who was instrumental in that?)

Next day Freddie gallantly offers to step in, (so long as he can overcome his stage fright) but then, so too does Bernard, who is of course, rebuffed.

However Bernard is determined to get in on the act by fair means or foul.

Just how far will somebody go to sabotage things for the new partnership?

Is there any way Freddie and Amira can emerge triumphant in spite of everything?

Freddie’s third adventure is just as tasty as his previous ones. Harriet Whitehorn’s recipe, with its liberal sprinkling of Alex G. Griffiths’ humorous illustrations is just right for newly independent readers and for reading aloud to reception and Y1 audiences. Why not test out the recipe for Freddie’s doughnut muffins given at the back of the book too?

Willow Wildthing and the Dragon’s Egg
Gill Lewis, illustrated by Rebecca Bagley

As Willow and her family finish creating a safe indoor haven for the ‘baby dragon’ her little brother Freddie has found in the garden and head back indoors, Willow and her dog, Sniff, find a message from the Wild Things ( Fox, Bear, Hare, Mouse and Raven) telling of ‘Trouble in the Wilderness’ and asking for her help.

Off they go to the secret place, Willow taking a batch of Nana’s cookies with her, and she learns that River Camp, home to the Wild Things, has been invaded by strangers and some of their stuff taken.

Then the cookies are stolen from right under their noses and the thief runs away into the Forest of Forever Night

only to disappear completely, Moreover they discover that Mouse has also vanished and a note left in his place.

The other Wild Things decide they have to find him even if it means going deep into this forest, a place they’ve never been before. It’s in there, they see Mouse stuck up a tree and meet the no longer “Invisible Tribe’ who call themselves the Bark Skins, and demand to be given River Camp in exchange for Mouse.

Time to consult the ‘witch’ (actually a writer who lives in a cottage) – about dragons in particular. She gives the Wild Things wise words about dragons and dragons’ eggs and off they go to find a dragon’s egg.

Thus the battle of clans really gets under way, but what is really going on and can the dispute be resolved peaceably and in such a way that everybody is happy with the outcome?

And what will eventually be the fate of Freddie’s ‘dragon’? It can’t live in a tank forever …

Once again, Gill Lewis’ story of friendship and determination celebrates both the natural world and children’s imagination. Willow and her friends are terrific models of resilience and curiosity for young solo readers and listeners who will love this new adventure with Rebecca Bagley’s terrific illustrations and page borders.

Isadora Moon Goes on Holiday / Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Cookie Mystery

Welcome back to two terrific characters in new stories kindly sent, super speedily by Oxford University Press:

Isadora Moon Goes on Holiday
Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon enters a competition and is mega excited to learn that her picture has won a prize – a family holiday abroad.

Despite their initial reservations – the sticky heat, a plane flight the suitability of the hotel and more, her parents are finally packed and ready to embrace a new adventure.

Soon after their arrival Isadora, her mum and little Honeyblossom head for the beach, but during their first dip, Mum is concerned about the amount of rubbish people have thrown into the sea.

Next morning the whole family go on a boat trip and while demonstrating her underwater swimming skills Isadora encounters Marina, a friend she’d made when on a camping holiday. Now Marina too is holidaying with her family and she tells Isadora of the large amounts of rubbish they’ve discovered underwater.

The mermaid gives Isadora a conch shell to use as a communication device and later on she receives a call from Marina begging her to help in freeing a baby turtle that’s got stuck in a tangle of rubbish beneath the ocean.

Despite her parents’ warnings not to venture out again without telling them, Isadora, wand in hand creeps out into the moonlight and is soon diving beneath the waves on a rescue mission.

Even after successfully releasing the little creature, there’s a  huge task ahead of Isadora and for that she needs to enlist the help of her parents. Will they overlook this latest bit of disobedience in a far greater cause – saving our precious planet?

Telling and illustrating it with her usual sparkly magic and pizzazz Harriet Muncaster weaves into this latest story, important environmental messages about the horrors that we thoughtless humans cause the natural world.

Fans of the fangtastic fairy-vampire books will enthusiastically lap up this one, and will very likely espouse the cause of saving our planet too.

Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Cookie Mystery
Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths

We’re back in Belville town where kind-hearted Freddie Bonbon has his bakery.

As the story opens it’s a lovely spring morning and Freddie is just about to leave on his delivery round leaving the bakery in the capable hands of Amira, his best friend and manager who is putting up a sign advertising for another baker. He’s heading for Van de Lune’s Hotel with a special delivery.

At the same time, the unscrupulous owner of Macaroon’s Patisserie, Bernard, is thinking super-bad thoughts about Freddie, intending to sample one of the  yummy confections he’s just stolen from Freddie and work out what it is therein that so delights everyone.

The following morning Freddie learns that Cookie, the superstar cat staying at Van de Lune’s has disappeared, presumed kidnapped. Can he, with the skills of his small dog, Flapjack succeed in solving the case of the vanishing feline?

The recipe of Harriet Whitehorn’s fun story with its highly satisfying ending, generous sprinkling of Alex’s superbly characterful black and white illustrations, posters, signs, and appropriate capitalisation of the text, plus a culinary glossary and instructions for baking delicious cookies, this is another yummy treat for junior fans of The Great British Bake Off.

Freddie is destined to win even more young book enthusiasts with this, his second mystery.

Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang / Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Great Raspberry Mix-Up

Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang
Nick East
Hodder Children’s Books

This is the first of a proposed series of adventures starring super-spy Agent Weasel, resident of Flaky-Bark Cottage in United Woodlands.

Nick’s writing is wonderfully silly as he plunges his often inept Agent Weasel, WI6, super-spy of high renown, into all kinds of scarifying scenarios in his efforts to foil the nefarious Fiendish Fox Gang who, so rumour has it are creating absolute havoc with such dastardly deeds as nicking nuts from squirrels and shaving sleeping badgers’ bottoms.

It certainly seems as if Agent Weasel has his work cut out, though thankfully his team-mates – Doorkins, Steadfast, Mole and Muriel Moth are also at work in the woods.

But before you can say ‘catastrophe’ Weasel and his pal Doorkins find themselves taken captive and face to face with the notorious FFG leader Vixen von Fluff …

and what’s this she’s saying about sabotaging the eagerly anticipated Autumn Big Bash?

Can our super agent extraordinaire succeed in extricating himself from a potentially very sticky situation and if so could he possibly pull off what looks like the impossible feat of derailing Madame Vixen’s plan and saving the show?

Chortles galore guaranteed whether it’s read alone or read aloud; with a liberal scattering of Nick’s own hilarious illustrations, this is comedic craziness through and through. More please!

There’s competition chicanery too in:

Freddie’s Amazing Bakery: The Great Raspberry Mix-Up
Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths
Oxford University Press

Young Freddie Bonbon is Belville town’s star baker. He works alongside his manager and best friend Amira who greets him one autumnal morning with the news that she’s been busy doing the maths to see if they can afford to replace their old and far too small cooker but unfortunately they just cannot afford to. Unless perhaps Freddie manages to win the advertised Belville Baking Competition with its £500 prize. He certainly has a fantastic design in mind for his cake.

In a swankier part of town is Macaroon’s Patisserie, run by the curmudgeonly Bernard Macaroon. He’s not at all like Freddie who is willing to offer advice to anyone, even those he knows will be rival contestants in the baking competition. Bernard shall we say, lacks imagination and flair when it comes to baking but his determination that he, not his young rival will win the prize means he’ll go to any lengths so to do.

As competition day draws nearer strange things start happening. First there’s the incident when Freddie out on his delivery round almost runs over Bernard’s beloved cat.

Then comes the disappearance of the remains of the raspberry pink food colouring he’ll need for his competition cake and when he goes out to buy some more, all the shops have mysteriously sold out and the only place he can find any is …

What luck, thinks Freddie but is it?

The day of the event arrives and Freddie is well prepared; but no sooner have the competitors been told to begin than things start going wrong for him.

Is it the end of his chances: or could it be that the kindnesses he’s shown to his fellow competitors might make a difference?

Like Freddie’s cake baking, there’s plenty to spice up Harriet Whitehorn’s story of cooking, community and camaraderie. Young readers will appreciate the way the story is broken up into short chapters that include lists and a generous sprinkling of Alex Griffiths’ quirky illustrations. There’s even a recipe for Freddie’s Raspberry Cupcakes at the end of the book. Mmm! Tasty.