Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chapter books for early readers

Symphony Smythe and the Baked Bean Birthday Party by Christine Hurst, Prickly Cat Publishing (

The author has had several books published with commercial publishers, but is now moving into self-publishing. This is the first in an intended series about Symphony Smythe; more titles are in the pipeline. I think the intended readership (girls of about 7 to 9) is a good one to target because there are actually very few New Zealand books being published for this age group at the moment. Having said that, this story could also be read quite happily by children overseas. It’s a handy little volume with a casually inviting cover; the print is large and not too daunting; and there are appealing black and white cartoon illustrations on nearly every page (done by Alicja Ignaczak). The story is one many children will identify with - Symphony is worried about the too-healthy food her mother intends to serve up at her daughter’s birthday party. I wish the author well with her intended series.

There's instructions on how to make a baked bean boat at the back of the book.

Readers 5-7 years

ISBN 9780473255855 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Symphony Smythe Wants a Pet by Christine Hurst, Prickly Cat Publishing

Symphony Smythe desperately wants a pet but her parents won't let her. In the meantime, she makes up imaginary pets - furry ones, feathered ones, and scaly ones. Her parents think she has taken it too far when she begins to lap milk, walk on all-fours and only says, 'Meow' when someone speaks to her. Find out what mayhem ensues.

Kids can follow instructions on how to make a papier-mâché dog at the back of the book.

Will suit readers (5-7 years) who want something more challenging than a picture book but still need illustrations on every page. Girls will more likely pick this book up but boys can identify with the problem, and will enjoy the story as well.

ISBN 978 047 326 3225

This is Christine Hurst's third and fourth children's book. She wrote 'The Boy who bounced around New Zealand' published 2007 with Reed Publishing. Christine works as a librarian at Macleans College and gets to read children's books all day.  

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