Tuesday 8 June 2021

Little Gem and the Mysterious Letters

Little Gem and the Mysterious Letters written and illustrated by Anna Zobel (Puffin) PB RRP ISBN 9781760896096

Reviewed by Kathleen Grace

A small witch still in training, Little Gem is settling into her life at Ellsworth Pining with the help of Ghost Henry and her other friends. Everyone is preparing for the Midsummer Festival and Little Gem oversees the special effects for the Midsummer Play. But when Little Gem's magic starts to go wrong and she receives several mysterious letters, Gem is worried that the festival is going to be a disaster! She now needs to find out who is sending the letters so she can regain her confidence before opening night.

The first chapter gives a glimpse into the humour and whimsical tone of this book as Gem, Ghost Henry and their friend Amira are debating what to do about the fact that Emerald, Amira’s pet baby dragon, has swallowed eight earrings. Gem has learnt about dragons at school but her textbook about dragons, while it talks about diets, has nothing about earrings being swallowed. Happily, Gem solves the problem with koria root, but Emerald vomits it (and the pearls) up, along with a pencil sharpener. One can imagine young readers laughing at this episode. ‘Gem loved to help, and with practice and experience her magic was improving every day.’

As well as being a confident, accomplished writer, Anna Zobel is a fine illustrator. The black and white pictures which accompany her story are well executed and perfectly match the text.

This is a charming book, well-written and likely to be enjoyed by readers aged 8+ years. The first book in the series is Little Gem, about Gem who is everyone’s favourite witch, persistent, kind, and always helpful. Not all of her spells work, but always Gem is full of good intentions.

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