Bookshelf Read Aloud

Picklewitch and Jack


Having just moved house, Jack is about to start a new school- St Immaculate’s School for the Gifted- where he is convinced he will fit in perfectly unlike his old one. However, a cheeky little witch has decided that he is her new best friend and to his horror, Jack finds himself in trouble for the first time in his life! Jack tries everything he can to rid himself of Picklewitch until he realises that friendship can be found in the most unlikely places and a little bit of magic can make life a bit more fun!

Full of wonderful characters, ‘Picklewitch and Jack’ is a warm, fun look at friendship and how opposites not only attract, but often need each other. Jack’s development as his world is turned on its head and he learns the importance of loyalty and being yourself is wonderful. Picklewitch is just a bundle of fun- and she loves cake!

Claire’s writing is lively and brilliantly descriptive, adding detail to every scene. Teemu Juhani’s illustrations are quirky and wonderful and match the story so well. The book is just a joy from start to finish!

Picklewitch and Jack Claire Barker, illustrated by Teemu Juhani

Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571335183

You can read out review of ‘Knitbone Pepper: Ghost Dog ’ here and about Claire’s visit to one of our schools here.

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yeti!


It’s Trogmany and the owners and residents of the Nothing to See Here Hotel are getting ready to celebrate. But there’s a blizzard on the horizon, a leprechaun in a caravan pulled by chickens has pitched camp in the hotel reception and a strange figure, dragging a bird-cage shaped piece of luggage has arrived. How are the Bannister family going to make sure the festival is an occasion to remember- for the right reasons?


Delightfully funny and endlessly imaginative, this second visit to the Nothing to See Here Hotel is every bit as enjoyable as the first! The tone is chatty and fast paced with plenty of jokes, making it easy to read.


This story has a lot to do with the Bannister family tree and it is a pleasure to read Frankie’s pride in his mixed heritage, celebrating the diversity in his family just as we all should do.

Yep, I’m one thirty-sixth troll and I’m proud of it.


The illustrations are magical! With plenty of pictures throughout, they really add to the fun of the story; Maudlin Maloney and her chickens are just magical! I got carried away with counting the chickens.

‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yeti’ is a fantastic story, sure to appeal to a wide audience. A brilliant read aloud, there are plenty of characters to bring to life- but having listened to Steven Butler in action at the Hay Festival, I’m not sure I could do it justice!

The Nothing To See Here Hotel: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yeti!

Steven Butler, illustrated by Steven Lenton

Simon and Schuster ISBN: 978-1471163852

Wish for a Witch


Back home with her family in Smallbridge, Elsie Pickles has put on her best outfit and a pretty blue shoes with ribbons and is celebrating May Day with the rest of the townspeople. Given to her by a witch, the shoes suddenly develop a mind of their own and lead her away from the celebrations- followed by Nuisance the dog- to The Pickles’ Emporium where Magenta Sharp, that very witch, is waiting for her.

Magenta’s business ‘Sharp Spells on Tap’ is in trouble and delighted to find her help is needed once more, Elsie returns to Crookfinger Forest where she is reunited with old friends. But with a grumpy genie on the loose and a mountain of unopened orders and dissatisfied customers, has Elsie taken on too much this time?

The second adventure for Elsie Pickles and her friends is every bit as enjoyable as the first. Kaye Umansky’s light-hearted, humorous style is simply a joy to read and the story bounces along at a great pace with plenty of action and adventure. Elsie remains one of the most delightful characters I have read about recently, with her positive outlook, caring nature and friendly disposition. All the characters- animal, human and building- really bubble with life and Corbett must be the best raven around!

With Ashley King’s wonderful illustrations, ‘Wish for a Witch’ is a brilliant follow-up to ‘Witch for a Week’, long listed for this year’s awards. An enchanting read!

Wish for a Witch Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Ashley King

Simon and Schuster ISBN: 978-1471160936

You can read out review of ‘Witch for a Week’ here.