Friday, 27 March 2015

Chapter Book Roundup - March 2015 with Claude, Matilda and Kittens!

"Claude on Holiday" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Childrens Books)

Welcome to our March edition rounding up some of the amazing and awesome chapter books and early chapter readers we've been casting our eyes across over the last few weeks. And we're starting off with a long-time blog favourite penned by an awesome booktastic chap! Alex T. Smith's "Claude" series has been a favourite of Charlotte's for quite some time now and she constantly talks about the time she met Alex and got her copy of "Claude in the Spotlight" signed.

We've been catching up with the series courtesy of Hodder and join Claude on Holiday and Claude in the City in two further adventures, accompanied by his Tardis-like beret and his ever-faithful and dapper companion Sir Bobblysock.

In "Claude on Holiday" Claude and Sir Bobblysock are off for some desperately needed R & R to a lovely seaside resort. Strictly no adventures and no crazy antics, just sun, sea and sandcastles! Of course things don't always go according to plan for Claude and Sir! Excitement and adventure are never far behind, and as Claude settles in for a well earned rest, nefarious ne'er do well pirates seem set to scupper their hols! EGAD! Claude may be a little dog, slightly on the plump side, but he's a brave soul and so dive in to find out whether sharp-witted Claude and Sir Bobblysock can outwit those dimwit salty coves! Yo ho!

"Claude in the City" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Claude in the City" returns Claude to slightly more cosmopolitan climes as Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes disappear to work for the day as usual, leaving Claude and Sir Bobblysock to plan their next grand adventure. Claude rather fancies hitting the town in fine style, visiting the sights, stopping by a cafe for a much needed sticky bun and a cup of Earl Grey but as seasoned Claude fans will know, excitement and adventure are usually around the next corner. There's a terrible robbery in progress and Claude ends up hopelessly mixed up in the caper! Smart doggies like Claude aren't foiled by gruff robbers though so it's time to swing into action!

It's easy to see why Charlotte loves these stories so. Alex has a keen wit (anyone who has ever followed him on Twitter can't help to hoot with laughter at his commentaries on popular TV shows as they air, particularly Downton Abbey!), his illustrations are utterly brilliant and the Claude stories achieve the perfect balance between picture book fun and chapter book depth. We love them to bits!!

Who could possibly follow an act as classy as Claude?

"Matilda" by Roald Dahl (Puffin Books)

Only one of the world's most best loved children's books. Matilda has been around since I was a wee whippersnapper but now Charlotte is getting her teeth into more wordy fare as she reads to herself at bedtime, she's ready to jump headfirst into the amazing book worlds of Roald Dahl. What better place to start than with the story of Matilda, a little girl with a huge intellect and a deep love of books.

Matilda's family don't share her enthusiasm for literature (in fact her parents are downright boorish). Despite this, Matilda finds her way to her local library and falls in love with all the books she finds there, rapidly working her way through the children's section before discovering the delights of The Secret Garden and Charles Dickens!

Matilda's rotten parents eventually send her off to school, and she meets the wonderful Miss Honey - a big hearted teacher who realises Matilda's potential, and also shares her love of books. Unfortunately the school's headmistress is one of the most terrifying characters ever created in children's literature. The huge, the hulking, the temperamental Miss Trunchbull - Ex-Olympic shot-putter and all round big fat horrendous bully.

Can Matilda's sharp intellect and quick wits help solve a mystery from Miss Honey's past? Will Matilda ever be free of her annoying parents and brother?

You'll have to read on and find out. It was quite something to see three girls in Charlotte's cloakroom at school drop-off all reading their own copy of Matilda the other day, testament to just how brilliant Dahl's books are and this book in particular! What a great place to start a life-long love affair with Mr Dahl's fantastic work!

One more before we go? Oh there's always room for one more....!

"The Secret Kitten" by Holly Webb (Stripes Publishing)

You'll have to wait a couple of weeks till you can enjoy "The Secret Kitten" by Holly Webb, but this is the amazing 30th book (30 BOOKS! 30!) in her wonderful animal stories series. Centred around a young girl named Lucy who goes to live with her Gran, it's a touching tale of a lonely little girl who finds solace in an unexpected friend. Gran doesn't like animals but Lucy can't help but fall in love with an adorable stray kitten she rescues and begins to look after in secret. Will Lucy's annoying brother find out? What will Gran say!

Holly Webb's animal stories are perfect for Charlotte's age group (and like Matilda, we've seen lots of kids toting books from the animal stories series at drop off and pickup times at home). Charlotte read through the story fairly quickly and gave it a huge thumbs up, wanting to track down more of Holly's astonishing collection so we'll be looking out for them very soon! "The Secret Kitten" is out on 6th April 2015 from Stripes (Little Tiger) and you can find out more about Holly's brilliant books on the Little Tiger / Stripes Website.

That's a wrap, tune in next month for more chapter book goodies in April's roundup!