Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime by Steve Smallman

Now, I didn’t intend to review Steve Smallman’s Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime today, but it arrived in surprise book post yesterday from Morgan, one of the lovely team at Sweet Cherry Publishing and as I had just finished another book I thought I’d have a quick look. Before I knew it I’d read and enjoyed Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime and so I’m sharing my review immediately (though I haven’t had chance to make my own slime yet!).

Published by Sweet Cherry Publishing on 17th February 2023, Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime is available for purchase here.

Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime

Maggie Sparks does NOT want to go to a new school!

Especially not one with mean students and a teacher she is sure is a VAMPIRE.

But Maggie has no choice. When their school gets closed down, she and Arthur are forced to go to Peregrine Primary. Thankfully, Maggie’s a super powerful, super smart, super talented witch. Maggie plans to use her powers to get out of going to the nightmare new school – one way or another.

All she needs is a little magic …

About the Maggie Sparks series:

Step into the magical world of Maggie Sparks: the mischievous little witch who turns every day into an adventure. Join Maggie as she learns how to tackle school, make friends and most confusing of all: understand her emotions – when she’s not facing dragons and meeting aliens, that is! Perfect to bridge the gap between Isadora Moon and Amelia Fang for young readers aged 5+.

My Review of Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime

Subsidence means a new school for Maggie.

Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime is a smashing book aimed at 5-7 year olds. It’s filled with super illustrations from Esther Hernando that help bring the story to life, and support more reluctant readers, and has so much humour, especially involving spells gone wrong and with jokes about bottoms that children will love it. The images give lots of opportunity for parents and teachers to discuss what’s happening with children and for young readers to make predictions and to examine expressions as a means to see how someone is feeling.

It’s always a joy when a children’s book includes a range of ethnicity and I loved the fact that Maggie is mixed race. A female black protagonist is just right for sharing with children either in the home or in other settings. I thought Arthur and Bat were brilliant too.

The plot zips along and is thoroughly relatable for children despite the unusual magic in Maggie’s family. There’s the experience of being in a new school, the practice of show and tell, as well as the way some children can be unkind to others, but here Steve Smallman explores such themes with wit and humour that allows for discussion and comfort. I’d love to see children writing their own stories like Maggie’s Spy Duns version and I thought the science of creating volcanic lava was just brilliant in giving status to the subject, as was Arthur’s love of his telescope. Themes of kindness, friendship and responsibility underpin the story making a lovely read for young children.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie Sparks and the School of Slime because it is fast paced, funny and imaginative whilst being rooted in day to day activities that children know. I also think the book is excellent value as it includes an automatic QR code for the audio just inside the front cover too. I rather wish I’d been at school with Maggie and Arthur!

About Steve Smallman

Steve Smallman has been illustrating children’s books for over 40 years and writing his own stories for slightly less. He also teaches illustration workshops in schools, including mural-painting. Steve is the author of Smelly Peter the Great Pea Eater, winner of the Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2009. When he’s not writing or drawing, Steve enjoys watching films and television, gardening, and walking in the countryside.

For more information, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRT1, or visit his website.

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