Genie and Teeny: The Wishing Well / Clarice Bean Scram!

These two books are additions to favourite series from Harper Collins – thanks to the publisher for sending them for review:

Genie and Teeny: The Wishing Well
Steven Lenton

This third adventure of Grant the genie, and his best friend – the puppy, Teeny picks up where the previous one left off with Tilly’s mum coming into her daughter’s bedroom and hearing strange noises coming from Grant’s “Not-a-teapot’ now officially renamed tea-lamp. Those noises are made by a deeply sleeping Grant as he dreams of being back in Genie World with his family; inside the teapot, in diminutive form, are also Tilly and Teeny. On waking Grant feels even more homesick but he responds to Tilly’s urgent whispers about the close proximity of her mum with assurances about the plan he has – one that works only with the help of we readers.

Luckily the crisis is averted and after breakfast, plan B, Tilly announces will be to get Grant back to his world. The thing is Genie World, aka Wishaluzia, is an enormous distance away, high, high in the sky: no problem there then! Or rather, a very big one – how will he travel up through the sky. It’s not long before the Elastic Fantastic Flying Machine appears, first in Tilly’s mind, then on paper and finally, once they’ve assembled and fixed together all the items collected in the garden, there stands a rocket-shaped vehicle. Off goes Grant to grab some suitable gear to wear and once attired the countdown commences. Yes, the thing does get launched but almost immediately …

Time for some light refreshments and then a new plan; one that involves a visit to a theme park with an officious security guard and a no dogs rule.

From there on the action really ramps up and there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments (for readers not the characters) and wishes (of course).

What about that much anticipated and joyful reunion between Grant and his family way up high; will it eventually take place? That would be telling …

Another brilliant tale that, with Steven’s hilarious illustrations and magical mishaps aplenty, is great for both independent readers and reading aloud.

Clarice Bean Scram!
Lauren Child

The utterly irrepressible, indomitable Clarice Bean, she with a skill for stretching the truth, returns in a summer adventure – or several, that begins on a scorchingly hot day in the first week of the holidays. Clarice is bored, saying she has nothing to do; her best friend is away on holiday for the entire break and her mum, annoyed at her daughter’s continual moaning, sends her outside into the garden. It’s there that she informs the irritating Robert Granger that her family is getting a dog. Now it’s not exactly a case of be careful what you wish for as it’s her sister Marcie who really really wants a dog, but near enough for before you can say ‘bark’, this nothing day turns into anything but.

For instance there’s the episode of the tin of spaghetti (or several) for the family’s dinner purchased at Clement’s corner shop. This leads to an encounter (also several) with a dog – a dog that just refuses to go away. Clarice’s parents meanwhile have realised that they’re supposed to be attending a wedding and off they dash to catch a plane.

Now Clarice has the tricky task of keeping this pooch a secret from Grandad who is now in charge of the household, as well as her siblings. But there’s the question of food and much more, including disposing of the animal’s ‘you-know-what’, as she quickly discovers. It’s a task that proves too much for Clarice – not the poo disposal – but keeping the presence of the dog under wraps and before long Marcie discovers it.

Happily she’s eager to accept the creature and help raise money for his food and other necessities;

but nobody else must find out about Clement as they decide to name him. Errr …

Related, as only Lauren Child’s Claire Bean can, in an utterly credible manner, with her seemingly innocent, astute observations and vivacious voice, both of which are brought to life by Lauren’s scattering of deliciously quirky collage illustrations and line drawings throughout the book this is
Irresistible reading for almost any child (and many adults) from early KS2 onwards.

Roxy & Jones: The Curse of the Gingerbread witch

Roxy & Jones: The Curse of the Gingerbread Witch
Angela Woolfe
Walker Books

We’re back in that wonderful world where witches and magic are real, and fairy stories are part of modern history, for another fairytale potpourri featuring Roxy Humperdink and (Cinderella) Jones. I challenge readers to find out how many traditional fairytale elements are found between the covers of this one.

Now Roxy has seen a sign concerning the return for a record launch, of her older half-brother, musician and leader of the band H-Bomb and the Missiles; and she hasn’t set eyes on him for five years.
She also receives the strangest seemingly senseless letter from someone signing it PM but she knows nobody with those initials: a coded message perhaps? 

And so it is, from Jones of course, asking her to meet in a swanky department store wherein she’s currently residing. (It’s also the very same place where Hans Humperdinck’s record launch is to take place.) Thus begins another mission for the two, a search for the Missing, and Jones already has a clue.

Almost the next thing Roxy knows is that she (plus Mirror) is at a party in a nightclub, something at age thirteen she’s never done before; and then she discovers that Gretel is also there. Before you can say ‘awesome magic’ the two girls are whizzing up a giant beanstalk (we know which story that belongs in); but what in the world of fairy-tales is The Law of Sevens? And what is Magiscience?

It turns out that the children who followed the Pied Piper into the mountain some thirty years back are the Missing they seek, now trapped deep in a hidden mountain, completely forgotten thanks to enchantments. 

This madcap adventure also takes the girls into the evil Deadwoods with the possibility that the deadly Gingerbread Witch still lurks somewhere deep therein. Her cottage is certainly there.

With frissons of fear throughout, and humour too, Angela Woolfe’s gripping thriller of a tale will hold readers in its enchantment till the final page, and leave them asking for more.

The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon

The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon
Richard Adams and Alex T. Smith
Hodder Children’s Books

Here’s the result of an inspired bit of decision making from someone at Hodder: the teaming of Richard Adams (now no longer with us) and wonderful illustrator of the Claude series, Alex T.Smith. It’s the first and only picture book from Watership Down author and the last ever book Adams wrote.

Like a good many other children, Emma loved to make things out of egg boxes, not the awful plastic things but the pukka cardboard ones. One day she fashions a fantastic dragon from those egg boxes with the addition of bits of card, scraps cut from bin liners, wire, shiny bike reflectors and paint.

This amazing construction is hugely admired when Emma brings it home and one person not usually given to speaking out declares the “critter’s got magic.”

Doing as she’s bid, Emma puts the dragon to sleep under the moon and waits.
Sure enough the old man is right, the dragon comes to life and yes, he’s a fiery thing but this mischievous beastie has an amazing talent: he’s able to locate the whereabouts of almost anything that’s been lost – Dad’s specs for instance and the neighbour’s tortoise.

Pretty soon the whole neighbourhood has heard of this extraordinary gift and the TV news gets hold of the story.

Then comes a surprise call:

her majesty enlists his help and the Egg Box Dragon finds himself going to the palace to assist her in finding a missing diamond from her crown.

A thoroughly enjoyable tale, full of splendid characters in its own right, but with amazing artistry from Alex that’s simply brimming over with wonderfully imagined details, the whole thing moves to a whole new level of deliciousness.