Whether I’m looking for new and interesting books for the newly independent readers at my school or for books to read aloud to my 6-year-old daughter, I want a book that is going to be engaging. It’s got to have relatable characters, fun illustrations, and an eye-catching cover. Ruth Quayle and Julia Christians’ series, Magnificent Mabel, has all of these things and more. I read the first book in the series, just called Magnificent Mabel, to my daughter and we both immediately loved it. Mabel is a funny character who she really liked and I easily found the character’s voice. My daughter wanted me to get more Mabel stories, so thankfully they are being released pretty quickly. Magnificent Mabel and the Egg and Spoon Race is the latest in the series to be released here in NZ.
Like the other books in the series, Magnificent Mabel and the Egg and Spoon Race contains three short stories – the title story, Magnificent Mabel and the Class Play and Magnificent Mabel and the Dog Show.
Mabel is not a fan of sports day and things get even worse when she gets partnered with Edward Silitoe, a boy in her class who is always in a rush. Edward thinks that Mabel will ruin his chances of winning, but then comes the egg and spoon race, and Mabel is determined that no unhatched chicks will die because of her.
Mabel’s teacher is mad about acting so her class does a different play each term. Mabel loves acting, but she doesn’t like that some people (not her) get all the good parts. This term her class is doing a play about William Shakespeare and Mabel is very keen to be Shakespeare, especially because she would get to wear an interesting beard. Mabel is upset when she doesn’t get the part but she still finds a way to wear the beard.
Mabel thinks that dog shows are more fun than going on holiday. Her friend Lottie Clark goes to dog shows all the time, but Mabel has never been to one. Instead, her family drags her on holiday in the countryside. When Mabel discovers a dog show happening just down the road, her dad agrees to take her along. Mabel trains hard with her toy dog, Dermot, and when the day of the dog show arrives, she takes Dermot with her. Mabel and Dermot enter the dog agility competition, with surprising results.
I absolutely love the Magnificent Mabel series! Ruth Quayle has perfectly captured the voice of a 5 or 6 year old. Mabel is full of personality and has a view of the world that so many young readers will relate to. She gets fixated on certain things, like the Shakespeare beard, and can’t stop thinking about them. The humour is spot on, and both my daughter and I were chuckling our way through each of the stories. We couldn’t stop laughing reading the part where Mabel wears the beard everywhere!
Julia Christians has brought to life Mabel’s personality in her illustrations. She highlights how happy Mabel is and how much she likes to have fun. She also captures Mabel’s frustrations, especially when she has to do something that she doesn’t want to (like go on a boring holiday) or she doesn’t get what she wants (like a real dog of her own).
The Magnificent Mabel series is perfect for newly independent readers, as the stories are short but engaging and very relatable. They are also great to read aloud, either to a Year 1/2 class or to snuggle up and enjoy with your 5-7 year old. Magnificent Mabel and the Egg and Spoon Race is out now in NZ.