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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Seriously Good Series Books

Jessica Marston discusses the joys of holiday reading with her children, aged 8 and 11, relating the books mentioned to the context of other titles in a series, and connecting clearly to other titles written and illustrated by the same creators.
In our house at the moment we are relishing the extra time that the Summer holidays have given us, especially when that means more time to spend reading together at bedtime. Some of the books my children, aged 8 and 11, received as Christmas gifts fall into the category of seriously good series books and it is those that I’m going to talk about today.
Let me start with Fizz the Police Dog Adventure series, written by Lesley Gibbes and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.  You may remember their previous collaboration, Scary Night, which was an Honour book in the 2015 CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year Awards.
This delightful four part series is written for the newly independent reader, but certainly contains enough interest, action and humour to also keep older and more confident readers engrossed.
In book one, Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts, our main character Fizz, a Bolognese (cute, fluffy ball of white), is not your average Police Dog breed.  From members of his own family to the other dogs trying out for the Police Dog Academy, Fizz is faced with many detractors along the way to achieving his dream of Police Dog status.  My 8 year old son and I found that his determination, quick thinking and ability to solve mysteries helped to make him an admirable and loveable character. From the illustrated character pages at the beginning of each book, to the short and snappy chapters, and the satisfying endings these books are 68 pages of fun and adventure that will appeal to a wide range of primary school children, and their parents. 
Another series title that my 11 year old daughter and I are enjoying immensely is book two in the Stella Montgomery Intrigue series, Wormwood Mire, written by another CBCA awarded writer, Judith Rossell.  This follow up to 2015 Honour Book for Younger Readers, Withering-by-Sea, is just as engaging as its predecessor.  We are taken along for a wild and unpredictable adventure as Stella is sent off by her disapproving Aunts to Wormwood Mire to be schooled by a governess, along with Strideforth and Hortense, Stella’s cousins whom she has not met until this time.  Needless to say the prim and proper education the Aunts imagined is far from the reality that Stella encounters upon her arrival at the derelict mansion.
We love that Judith’s beautiful illustrations share the same colour palette as the text, blue in book one and green in book two, adding to the exquisite presentation of these timeless hardcover novels, complete with ribbon bookmark.
My daughter and I have found these well labelled as an “Intrigue”; they certainly are, with both books keeping you guessing and on many occasions, on the edge of your seat.  They are definitely hard to put down and I highly recommend them.
One of the things I really love about these two series is that each title can be read as a stand-alone book, or enjoyed for its place in the series.  Both leave us wanting more instalments, though I’m not sure that this is the plan for Fizz.
I asked my children which other series books they would recommend.  My daughter lives for all things Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) so of course that is number one on her list, but she also includes Ruby Redfort (Lauren Child) and the Three Doors Trilogy (Emily Rodda).  My son lists his favourites as Weir Do (Ahn Do), The Bad Guys (Aaron Blabey) and Pixel Raiders (Bajo and Hex, hosts of the ABC’s Good Game SP show).
Which seriously good series books would you recommend?
Jessica Marston
Teacher-Librarian, Hagley Farm School (K-6)




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