Chapter Books - Series Feed

Jane on Her Own: A Catwings Tale by Ursula K Le Guin and S.D. Schindler

Jane on her ownOrchard Books, NY, 1999

Hardback, 42 pages

ISBN: 978-0-5313-3133-0

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

The queen of fantasy, Ursula K Le Guin has written a gorgeous tale for younger readers.  Complete with colour illustrations by S.D. Schindler, this is a lovely tale about being different and finding your place in spite of the difficulties and dangers that being different can create.  Jane, the heroine of the story is a cat with wings who longs to venture out into the wider world, in spite of all the dangers.  She longs for adventure and new friends.

Other titles in this series: Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings

The Worst Witch and the Wishing Star by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch - Wishing Star

Puffin, London, 2013

Hardback, 200 pages

ISBN: 978-0-141-38339-6

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

Long before Harry Potter and his friends took the world by storm, there was another boarding school for sorcery - Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches.  First published in 1974, the Worst Witch series of books are written and illustrated by the supremely talented Jill Murphy and feature the accident prone Mildred Hubble.

In this book, Mildred Hubble is given the job of being lantern monitor.  Can she manage to fly around the castle on her broomstick every evening to the light the candles and again every morning to douse the candles without causing a mishap?  The bite size chapters and gentle story make this a perfect bedtime story for little folks.  There is also enough adventure and excitement to keep older readers entertained.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallow and AmazonsJonathan Cape Ltd, London, 1987

Hardcover, 384 pages

ISBN: 9780224606318

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Swallows and Amazons is a classic of English literature in the grand old adventure style.  You know the books - ones where the kids go off on amazing adventures with nary an adult in sight.  The difference with the Swallows and Amazons series of books, however, is that they are eminently believable.  The adventures are thrilling and daring, filled with imagination but not so far-fetched that they appear ludicrous or unbelievable.  A family friend lent me this book when I was twelve and I gobbled it up, nautical terms and all.  Learning to sail a boat is still on my bucket list!

In Swallows and Amazons, the first book in the series, we meet Susan, John, Titty and Roger who are on holidays at Dixon's farm with their mother and baby sister.  Their father is away in the navy and they are all keen sailors. They manage to convince their mother to let them camp out on an island in the river.  They use their boat, the Swallow, to ferry across to the island their tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food.  Fresh supplies are rowed to them daily by the "natives" at the farm.  The story describes how the Swallows meet the Amazons and the adventures they have together.

Older readers will be able to read this book, younger readers may need to have it read to them.  It is quite dense and doesn't talk down.  You may find yourself frantically googling nautical terms to explain them to your curious child!

Other titles in this series - Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Peter Duck, Secret Water, Coot Club, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, The Picts and the Martyrs, The Big Six, Great Northern, Pigeon Post, Missee Lee.

Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend by Anna Branford and Sarah Davis

Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend

Walker Books Australia, Newtown, 2013

Hardcover, 112 pages

ISBN: 978-1-9219-7756-5

Suggested reading age: 4+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Anna Branford and Sarah Davis have created a series of delightful books about a young girl called Violet Mackerel.  She lives with her mum and older brother and sister.  Her mum makes knitted things to sell at a local Saturday market which the whole family attend.  These stories are well written and beautifully illustrated.  Sarah Davis' pencil drawings perfectly compliment Anna Branford's stories.  They are full of heart, gentleness and warmth.  I just love everything about these books.  From the gorgeous illustrations to the delightful stories, to the size of the books and the cover illustrations.  They are a joy to read.

In Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend, Violet and her family move into a new house after her mum and Vincent get married.  Violet creates a hole in the fence and leaves a message for her neighbour.  Will her neighbour find it?  Will her neighbour (with a very tidy yard, unlike Violet's messy yard) be cross about the hole in the fence?  These books deal with the little troubles that are so big for children and the not so little ones they face in a kind and caring way.

Other titles in this series: Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot, Violet Mackerel's Remarkable Recovery, Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat, Violet Mackerel's Personal Space, Violet Mackerel's Pocket Protest, Violet Mackerel's Helpful Suggestion and Violet Mackerel's Formal Occasion.