I really like these Barrington Stoke middle grade (UK Key Stage 2+) novellas: written by an array of superb children’s authors, they have a dyslexia-friendly paper stock and typeface, a length of circa 100 pages and are edited to a reading age of 8 with an interest age of up to 12, so they can be enjoyed by as many readers as possible.

This latest book, The Griffin Gate, is set in fictitious Moreland. Grace’s family are wardens of the Griffin Map, which enables them to fight crime across the land via its teleporting powers. While Grace’s older brother is now trained to complete missions, she is still too young. However, her curious, impatient nature gets the better of her and so when a distress signal is called, she decides to take on the mission herself. Unfortunately, once in situ, she begins to realise that things are not as they seem – has she bitten off more than she can chew?

This is another excellent read by the brilliant Vashti Hardy. She has packed a mighty punch into a reduced word count, incorporating all of the key ingredients that have made her earlier stories so successful: excitement, family connection, curious and brave characters, a STEM theme and brilliant, imaginative world-building. I shared it with my daughter – who has a high reading age but just doesn’t like longer stories – and she absolutely loved it, particularly as there are some fab illustrations by Natalie Smillie peppered throughout, which helped bring the story to life for her (it has such a beautiful cover, too). Anna was very excited to find out that there will be a follow-on story next year and now can’t wait to read it (and, TBH, neither can I).

The Griffin Gate
Author: Vashti Hardy
Illustrator: Natalie Smillie
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
ISBN: 9781781129432

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