For this post I am going to share reviews of the first two books in the children’s chapter book series, “The Adventures of Cecilia Spark”, written by Ngaire Elder and illustrated by Peter Maddocks.
Book #1 – The Adventures of Cecilia Spark: The Brimstone Forest
I could tell right away that Cecilia Spark is a character after my own heart. Instead of being into “girly” stuff like princesses, dolls and tea parties, Cecilia is all about adventure! She would much rather be out bug hunting or chasing dragons than sitting around painting her fingernails, which makes her my kind of heroine! It seems rare to find a book series where the main character is a strong girl with interests that fall outside of the female stereotype. While I enjoyed some girly pursuits growing up, I was always a “tomboy” who would rather be outside getting dirty than inside doing something domestic. This series will definitely appeal to girls who like adventure and fantasy.
I also really liked the elements of fantasy woven into the story and the creative names that the author bestowed on some of her characters. For instance the bad witch named Trixa, the dragon named Jinxi, the talking mouse named Soldier and the “Thingamabob” which turned out to be a good witch named Senorita Favorita. This book is full of creativity and imagination, aspects which are sure to delight young readers. The illustrations are simple black & white drawings, but they are very well-done and definitely add visual delight to the storyline. I would definitely recommend this book for grades K-3 (although kindergartners and first graders might still need some help reading it).
With the second book of the Cecilia Spark series, Cecilia finds herself facing an even bigger adventure than last time! This book is about twice as long as the first book in the series, but since it comes in at a little under 100 pages, it is still appropriate for the chapter book age set. In this book we get more of a look at the history behind the magical world that Cecilia finds herself drawn into. It was cool to find out how Soldier became a talking mouse. Although I don’t want to give the plot away too much, I will say that the plot for this book was more complex and personally, I found it even more fun than Cecilia’s first adventure. Using the suspense technique of pitting her characters in a race against time to help defeat evil, the author made this story into a book that is hard to put down.
We also meet several new characters in this book that I really enjoyed. Ractus the Armadillo was probably my favorite, maybe because he could be a little grumpy and high-strung, but in a lovable way. The two other new characters who really stood out were Pacha (a friendly little raccoon, who isn’t quite who she seems to be at first) and Turan (a half-human, half-tiger creature that plays a pretty important role in the climax of the story). Again, this is definitely a series that would be enjoyed by children age 4-9.
If you would like to find out more about The Adventures of Cecilia Spark, please visit the series’ website, www.ceciliaspark.com. On the website you can find out where to order the book and enjoy some extra features like character illustrations, print-off activities to go along with the books and news stories related to the book series.