It would seems that people are always looking for new first chapter books for readers who are looking for some that’s still highly-illustrated and engaging, but also a little wordier. Fear not, I have a brand new selection of titles which might just fit the bill! If you still more suggestions, click here.
These would all be suitable for readers aged 5+
Ballet Bunnies – The New Class by Swapna Reddy, illustrated by Binny Talib (OUP)
This is a brand new series featuring Millie and her miniature bunny buddies. Millie has just started ballet lessons and is finding it hard – the other dancers aren’t very friendly either. But then she discovers the ballet bunnies who live secretly in the ballet school! Maybe they can help Millie find her dancing feet?
A tutu-twirling new series about perseverance and making friends. Totally en-pointe for prima ballerinas.
Bug Belly – Babysitting Trouble by Paul Morton (Five Quills)
Bug Belly is a recommended title for the 2020 ‘Silly Squad’ Summer Reading Challenge. It’s Uncle Bug Belly’s turn to babysit the froglets so they know they’re in for bucketloads of fun! However, tummies start rumbling and Uncle Bug Belly leads the little ones astray and into possible danger. It’s going to take a spot of problem-solving and an ingenious plan to get out of this one!
Packed with belly laughs, gadgets and plans, you’d be hopping mad to miss this!
Meet Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman (OUP)
Headstrong Pippi Longstocking is a classic of children’s literature. To celebrate her turning 75 this year, Oxford University Press have published a great series of adventures specially adapted for younger readers. In the first two instalments, Pippi and her neighbours foil robbers, visit the circus and go searching for snirkles.
If you want a book with a powerful girl lead, Pippi Longstocking is the one for you. Full of mischief, adventure and fun.
Midge and Mo by Lara Williamson and Becky Cameron (Stripes Publishing)
Midge does not want to start a new school – he wants things to go back to exactly the way they were – with his old friends and his parents back together. Mo is assigned to be Midge’s buddy at school and tries really hard to be his friend, but Midge doesn’t seem that keen. When she remembers how she felt when she was new, Mo is even more determined to show Midge that he CAN be happy again.
A new title in Stripes’ gorgeous first chapter book range, Lara Williamson explores big and important feelings in this story about empathy and dealing with big changes.
Isadora Moon Goes on Holiday by Harriet Muncaster (OUP)
This is the 11th book in a glitter-filled series about half vampire, half fairy Isadora Moon. When Isadora wins a holiday in the sun for her whole family, everyone’s so excited! But when Isadora and her mermaid friend Marina discover an injured baby turtle, there’s work to be done. With the help of her family, Isadora sets about clearing the rubbish from the bottom of the sea.
I think it’s brilliant that Harriet Muncaster has tapped into the topical issue of marine pollution for young readers and, as ever, that pink and black glitter colour scheme is just sublime!
Freddie’s Amazing Bakery – The Cookie Mystery by Harriet Whitehorn, illustrated by Alex G Griffiths (OUP)
Freddie Bonbon in the best baker in town. So good, that someone has stolen his cakes! When Cookie the cat the also goes missing, it’s time to do some serious detective work. Could Freddie’s little dog, Flapjack, sniff it out?
This series contains some of the most delicious descriptions of cakes I have ever read and is sure to inspire a flurry of baking wherever it’s read.
Jasper and Scruff – Hunt for the Golden Bone by Nicola Colton (Stripes Publishing)
Jasper and Scruff are back and they’ve just opened the best bookshop in town! As they get ready for the day, a mysterious package arrives containing a rare book. Written by Captain Blackwhiskers herself, the pair of friends discover a treasure map inside which promises to lead them to the legendary golden bone.
A brilliant story about an unlikely pair of friends exploring the meaning of teamwork and friendship.
Magnificent Mabel and the Rabbit Riot by Ruth Quayle, illustrated by Julia Christians (Nosy Crow)
This book contains three laugh-out-loud short stories about the adventures of the witty and charming Mabel Chase. Life seems a bit unfair to Mabel at the moment: she’s the only person not to have a single pet; everyone else in her class seems to be losing their baby teeth; AND she doesn’t even a have a garden sprinkler!
It’s brilliant that readers get to read exactly what Mabel is thinking and feeling – the good and the bad. The books honestly explores Mabel’s feelings in a way all young readers will relate to.
Wrigglesbottom Primary – Break-time Bunnies by Pamela Butchart, illustrated by Becka Moor (Nosy Crow)
There always seems to be a lot more going on at Wigglesbottom Primary than any of the schools I’ve ever worked in! This time the three mini adventures feature: Year 2 getting distracted by an outbreak on bunnies on the playground – could they be a clone army of Attack Bunnies? Miss Riley announcing that there is going to be a Special Guest visiting the school and a spooky-looking lady called Miss Stein seeming to have bewitched Bobby.
I love this series which seems to perfectly capture the world from the perspective of a group of children with overactive imaginations. Becka Moor’s illustrations are also amongst my favourites
Kitty and the Sky Garden Adventure by Paula Harrison, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie (OUP)
Kitty is a superhero in training getting to grips with her feline superpowers. On one of her moonlit prowls, Kitty and her cat friends, Pixie and Pumpkin, discover a secret sky garden filled with wonderful plants and decorations. But when Pixie tells all her friends about it, the garden becomes overrun by some rather badly behaved cats. Can Kitty repair the damage done before sunrise and will the naughty kitties learn the error of their ways?
A great series about finding your own power and doing good. The gorgeous illustrations and empowering story line make this title the purr-fect choices for those embarking on their chapter book journey.
I would suggest that these next books would be good for slightly older readers due to their longer length and content matter 7+
Willow Wildthing and the Swamp Monster by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Rebecca Bagley (OUP)
Willow and her family have moved house so they can be closer to the hospital her younger brother so often has to visit. When she decides to explore the woodland behind the house with faithful dog, Sniff, she meets the Wild Things – a group of children who behave like the animals they’re named after. You have to be bold when you enter The Wilderness; the only thing holding you back is your imagination.
This book brilliantly promotes the importance of imaginative outdoor play, and shows the power your imagination has to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary!
Super Happy Magic Forest and the Humungous Fungus by Matty Long (OUP)
If you’ve already enjoyed the off-the-wall humour in the preceding picture series, you’ll be thrilled to know there’s a new, longer chapter book to enjoy. Still packed with the same jokes and illustrations, this time the Super Magic Happy Forest team have to battle a malevolent force – a tiny mushroom has transformed into a humungous fungus with an appetite for chaos!
Such fun with clever nods to some of the fantasy fiction great for adult readers to spot too.
Sherlock Holmes – The Engineer’s Thumb by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Stephanie Baudet, illustrations by Arianna Bellucci (Sweet Cherry Publishing)
When one of Watson’s new patients arrives with a missing thumb and a truly horrifying story, Watson knows just who to turn to – surely this is a case for the legendary Sherlock Holmes? Hydraulic engineer, Mr Hatherly, tells the pair about a strange visit he had had from a colonel who offered him a large sum of money to complete a top secret job overnight…
The perfect introduction to one of English literature’s classic characters and to the sometime mind-boggling genre of detective novels.
Ghoul Scouts – Welcome to Camp Croak! by Taylor Dolan (Guppy Books)
When Lexie Wilde is dropped off at what appears to be the wrong Summer camp by her Grams, she finds herself rather ineptly riding a broom across a dark swamp to meet her fellow Ghoul Scouts. Lexie puts her story-telling skills to work and quickly makes friends. Everything changes when the diabolical Euphemia Vile arrives and seems hellbent on turning Lexie and her friends into prim and proper campers. It soon becomes clear that a cunning plan is in order…
A ghoulish delight with a cast of wild and wicked characters sure to make readers cackle with laughter. A story of friendship and daring with a huge dollop of fun.
Hotel Flamingo – Fabulous Feast by Alex Milway (Piccadilly Press)
The snow’s finally melting and it’s time to get Hotel Flamingo swinging again. Inspired by the hotel’s chef, Madame Le Pig, Anna decides that the hotel will host the Battle of the Chefs. Madame Le Pig will go trotter to trotter with some of Animal Boulevard’s most prestigious chefs. Some of the chefs take a little convincing and Madame Le Pig appears to have stage fright. Anna and the team will have to work together if Hotel Flamingo is going to win!
Fabulous fun with a host of cleverly named characters, charm and a barrel of laughs – the perfect recipe for a good book.
So there you have it. My round-up of some of the rather brilliant first chapter books I’ve been sent to read in recent months. There’s something there for everyone – let me know which is your favourite.
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*