Mirabelle and the Magical Mayhem / Magic Keepers: Spirit Surprise

Mirabelle and the Magical Mayhem
Harriet Muncaster
Oxford Children’s Books

Cousin of Isadora Moon, Mirabelle, has a witch mother and her dad is a fairy. What anybody who has encountered Mirabelle in her previous stories will know and others quickly discover, is that she seems to create mischief wherever she goes. Here she and her brother Wilbur visit their fairy grandparents for a sleepover. With Mirabelle goes her little pet dragon, Violet. No magic without the supervision of the grandparents is the promise the children make to their parents.

After just one night at Granny and Grandpa’s both Mirabelle and Wilbur have broken that promise and the result is messy and mucky. 

Surprisingly Granny, who inevitably finds out about the disasters they’ve created, isn’t furious. Instead she is thoroughly understanding and helps her grandchildren put things back in order before Grandpa wakes from his nap. ‘Mirabelle you must never try and hide who you are just to fit in with who you think other people might want you to be,’ she tells her granddaughter. Wise words indeed. Moreover she doesn’t let on what has happened when Mum and Dad come to pick up their offspring.

Another sparkling story that Mirabelle fans will absolutely love and newcomers to the series will enjoy too and likely want to go back and read all her other books.

Magic Keepers: Spirit Surprise
Linda Chapman, illustrated by Hoang Giang
Little Tiger

Life has changed since Ava and her mother moved into Curio House, the large Victorian villa left to them by Great Aunt Eva, Ava and her friends Sarah and Lily have discovered a magical world that surrounds the curios left in the house and are determined to keep it secret from the world at large. At the start of this story the three friends are exploring the magical energy of the crystals – the first magical things Ava found in her new home.

Outside the house and in the surrounding town, strange things start to happen. Despite it being late autumn, pollen has become so prolific that Ava’s mum is suffering badly from unseasonal hay-fever and plants are growing amazingly fast with vines shooting up everywhere.

Could the girls have accidentally unleashed some kind of nature spirit during their crystal investigations that is causing all this? 

If so, with Sarah’s mum far from happy about the influence the other two girls are having on her daughter, can they set things to rights before any of their parents or the townsfolk discover the cause of the out of control flora?

A second engaging episode for new solo readers with just the right amount of suspense.

The Christmas Department Store

The Christmas Department Store
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Hoang Giang
Little Tiger

It’s Christmas Eve but Benji feels anything but festive: it seems as though Christmas has lost its magic this year. His family can’t afford either a tree or a turkey and so they’re sad. As Benji walks through the snow-filled street wishing he could buy them spectacular presents he recalls his Granny’s words about magic happening on Christmas Eve. Suddenly a huge polar bear knocks him flying and as he gets up, there before him is a large department store. But this is no ordinary store; it’s full of wonder and magic, with penguin doormen and a shiny steam train that puffs along on a glittering spiral track.

One by one, Benji discovers the most perfect gifts for his family – a funky trumpet for his sister Hana, which he pays for by singing a silly song,

an unusual imaginary hat for his gran (he tells a story to a leopard in payment for that) and a very special warm-smelling potion for his dad. Full of excitement and high hopes for a wonderful Christmas Day, he returns home.

Next morning those hopes become doubts; but when he sees the smiles on Hana, Dad and Granny’s faces when they open their presents, he realises that the real gifts he’s given them are not material things but love and happiness.

Absolutely full of heart, this enchanting tale shows that the very best presents aren’t those bought with money, but those given with love and care. With their warm festive tones of red, gold and green Hoang Giang’s illustrations on every spread are filled with the magic of the department store.

Magic Keepers: Crystal Chaos / Theodora Hendrix and the Snare of the Shadowmongers

Magic Keepers: Crystal Chaos
Linda Chapman, illustrated by Hoang Giang
Little Tiger

This is the first of a new series wherein Linda Chapman establishes a magical world based at Curio House. Ava and her mother have just moved into what was her archaeologist great aunt Edith’s home, where she has left her collection of curios saying in her will that this must remain there and not be sold. Rather it was her hope that one of her relations would find this collection ‘special’. 

Enter Ava and her dog, Pepper. Pretty soon Ava discovers that special means magic or perhaps ‘Magyck’ in the case of the crystals. Each of said crystals holds its own potential energy. It’s into this magical world that Ava, together with her new friends Sarah and Lily fall. Ava discovers an ancient mummified crocodile that is affected by the resurrection crystal and it’s down to the three girls (and Ava’s dog Pepper) to discover how to control and make use of the other crystals’ powers, and do so pretty snappily, if they are to prevent the scaly creature terrorising the entire town.

As well as an exciting adventure this is a tale of new beginnings and of friendship that demonstrates that everybody is different and that working together is the best thing to do for them all.

A thoroughly enjoyable read for primary age children, strikingly illustrated by Hoang Giang. I wonder what comes next for the Magic Keepers and that curio collection.

Theodora Hendrix and the Snare of the Shadowmongers
Jordan Kopy, illustrated by Lisa Hunt
Walker Books

Theodora, the girl raised by monsters, is back for a third adventure along with Sherman (spider) and friend Dexter. Theodora is excited at the prospect of visiting New York for the Christmas holidays (other than having been given homework on the very last day of term, which she’ll have to take with her). She can’t help thinking of all the pizzas she will be able to consume. On arrival they discover that the Big Apple is packed with the horrendous Shadowmongers, supposedly banished to the Antarctica several thousand years back; and then they come upon the sinister Hilda who says she has unbanished them and now they have joined forces. Their aim is to bring down the Monstrous League of Monsters and with it Theodora, once and for all, thus putting humans the world over in the most terrible danger, causing them to have nightmares every night for the rest of their lives.

Facing perils aplenty, Theodora (the one who sees the Shadowmongers), Dexter (who doesn’t) and Sherman (he seems to know a fair bit about these vile creatures) have to navigate the city where the ghastly beings seem to reappear whenever they think they’ve escaped them.
With New Year over, it’s time to head back to face another school term but is that the last of the Shadowmongers? That would be telling …

With Lisa Hunt’s expressive black and white illustrations throughout, this is just right for autumnal reading, especially for those who enjoy spooky stories tinged with humour.