Friday 17 August 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th August 2018: "The Hounds of Penhallow Hall: The Secrets Tree" by Holly Webb with illustrations and cover by Jason Cockroft (Stripes Publishing)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is a series that's already well established. We're kicking ourselves that we haven't come across "The Hounds of Penhallow Hall" before now...
Holly Webb is an absolutely amazing author. We just can't understand how she manages to produce so many brilliant and original stories, but we personally think this is her finest series yet.

"The Hounds of Penhallow Hall: The Secrets Tree" is the latest in Holly Webb's stunning spectral supernatural story series, illustrated brilliantly by Jason Cockroft.

The stories revolve around the brilliant central characters of Polly, a little girl with a special gift - the ability to see ghosts.

She has a faithful spooky sidekick, a huge ghost dog called Rex and together they love nothing better than exploring the huge and creaky old Penhallow Hall, where magical objects truly come to life.

As halloween approaches, Polly and Rex find a new ghost dog, a tiny terrier called Patch. Patch is skittish and nervous, and not at all sure that he likes all the strange changes happening to his home as it's decorated for All Hallows Eve.

Patch runs off, but when Polly and Rex track him down, he's quaking in the middle of a mysterious tree. The Secrets Tree!

Soon they're on the trail of Patch's ex-master, who was a highwayman hundreds of years before. Leaving behind a coded message to his brother, it's up to Polly, Rex and Patch to try and decipher the message to discover the true fate of the brothers. Were they the villainous vagabonds they were portrayed as?

I blitzed through this in double-quick time, as it instantly took me back to the sort of ghostly stories I absolutely loved as a kid and I couldn't wait for C to dig into this series too. Needless to say she loved it to bits as it's SO atmospheric, so beautifully written, hugely imaginative and original yet has all the spooky supernatural elements we love in ghost stories for kids.

The main story mechanic of ghost dogs is an absolute stroke of genius and we're so glad we found this one - and are now on a mission to get hold of "The Hidden Staircase", "The Moonlit Statue" and "The Lost Treasure" (the previous books in the series - told you Holly was prolific!)

Dazzling and thoroughly enjoyable, absolutely essential for all kids who love a spooky story - doubly so if they love dogs!

"The Hounds of Penhallow Hall: The Secrets Tree" by Holly Webb with illustrations from Jason Cockroft is out now, published by Stripes Publishing (kindly supplied for review).