WOW! Young fiction - my favourite age-group to read - is really on a roll at the moment. With the launch of another fabulous new series, a re-launch of an old series and another spin-off of the immensely popular Isadora Moon, there is plenty for the 5+ age-group to enjoy.
Princess Katie's Kittens by Julie Sykes, Illustrated by Sam LomanLink to Waterstones
Published by: Templar, 30th March 2023
Originally published in 2012, this new edition of Princess Katie's Kittens: Pixie at the Palace is as cute as cute can be. Told in a dual narrative which tells the story from both Katie and Pixie's perspective, it is perfect for cat-lovers and readers who have enjoyed Unipiggle and other princess stories.
When Katie finds a box of abandoned kittens in the woods, she is determined to help them by raising them at the palace. But when Pixie goes missing, can she find the weak kitty in time to save him? And will her mum and dad allow her to keep them?
This is a gentle but engaging story which uses the dual narrative to create tension and high stakes. Katie's kind nature and love for the kittens is balanced with Pixie's curiosity and determination to help his sisters, unaware of the danger he is in. Katie, perhaps, is a slightly stereotypical princess but knows her own mind and is set on doing the right thing, allowing readers to explore themes of caring for animals, friendship and finding compromises. With each story in the series focussing on a different kitten, there is definitely lots of fun to come.
Honey's Hive by Mo O'Hara and Aya Kakeda
This new series, penned by Agent Moose author, Mo O'Hara and illustrated by Aya Kakeda is a busy, buzzy and brilliant read which left us wondering why a young fiction series about bees has not been done before. With action, humour and a cast of loveable, whizzy characters, it's definitely going to be a firm favourite in our household.
Honey is in a sticky situation. It's time for her to work out which job she's most suited to within her hive...except Honey doesn't want a boring job, she wants adventure.
But when the hive falls under attack, Honey and her friends have to flee with their Queen. With the Queen unable to travel far, can Honey find them all a new home...and fast?
This is a super clever concept which combines highly engaging fiction with fascinating factual information. Not only is Honey a fun and relatable character as she tries to find her place in the hive and be true to herself, but readers will learn lots about the hierachy of the hive, why bees swarm and the waggle dance.
Although the story is relatively short, there's plenty of action packed into the pages. From rides in lifts to nasty encounters with wasps to a very funny, food-orientated fly, it's the story itself that will ultimately fly off the bookshelves. With strong eco-themes, educational learning and emphasis on teamwork and friendship, this book is buzzing with reasons to get stuck in.
Emerald and the Ocean Parade by Harriet Muncaster
With Isadora Moon and Mirabelle remaining hugely popular, prepare to meet a new character living in the same world as Isadora. Emerald and the Ocean Parade takes us under the waves to meet a young mermaid (whose sister once had an encounter with Isadora herself) who is getting used to being part of the royal family...
The Ocean Parade is approaching and Emerald is worried that things are going to be very different this year. Instead of hanging out with her friends and enjoying the stalls, Emerald is now part of the royal family and expected to join in the royal parade. But with lots of rules and expectations, can Emerald find a way to fit in and be herself at the same time?
Although this is a brilliant fantasy set-up with wonderful two-tone illustrations and a fun cast of sea-characters, what is particularly clever about this series is that it is full of relevant themes for young readers. Emerald's parents are separated and the plot focusses on the challenges she faces settling into her new blended family, who just happens to be royal. Exploring the need for understanding and compromise, Harriet Muncaster writes with sensitivity and positivity, acknowledging that while such change can be very tricky to manage, it can also bring with it new and exciting things too.
Setting these themes underneath the umbrella of an ocean parade brings fun, celebration and action to the story as well. From choosing a headdress, to riding in a dolphin-pulled carriage, Harriet Muncaster immerses us in a totally captivating world that I'm sure we'd all like to be part of. Perfect for the 5+ age-group, it's a fabulous addition to the Isadora Moon series.
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