If you're on the lookout for something fun or exciting to tempt a reluctant reader over the school holidays, these three great series might be just the thing to keep them entertained and out of your hair.
The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale
This delightful series of children's books stars Princess Magnolia, a princess who wears pink gowns, holds tea parties and rides a unicorn named Frimplepants. However, Princess Magnolia hides a secret- she is really the Princess in Black, a superhero who fights off monsters who try to steal and eat the neighbours' goats. Frimplepants is also secretly not a unicorn at all but a pony named Blacky, The Princess in Black's faithful steed. They conceal their identities because for a princess wearing black is simply not done.
There are four books in the series to date: The Princess in Black, The Princess in Black and the Perfect princess Party, The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde and The Princess in Black Takes A Vacation. They are easy chapter books that would suit readers aged 5- 8, but could be read aloud to younger children. There are full-colour illustrations and plenty of humour and action.
The 13 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
This wacky tale is a (hopefully) fictionalised account of the friendship and lives of the author, Andy Griffiths and the illustrator, Terry Denton, who live in a fantastic treehouse full of bizarre and dangerous inhabitants and devices. There is a pool of man- eating sharks, a machine that shoots marshmallows into Andy and Terry's mouths when they are hungry, a giant catapult and a secret underground laboratory. The two friends are frequently visited by their gentle friend Jill, who lives in the forest with her animal friends. With each book in the series the treehouse grows larger and gains more and more strange features which Andy and Terry must negotiate while trying to get their latest book written.
The Treehouse series are chapter books suitable for ages 6 to 9, but can be read aloud to younger children if you are prepared for a lot of repetition and silly noises. These are among the few books that both my children (who are three years apart in age) would happily sit and listen to at length (they would like me to read the entire book in one sitting, though I don't recommend attempting this without at least one break for a glass of water and a trip to the loo). It is illustrated throughout with simple line drawings and full of toilet humour and general silliness. The Treehouse series contains 5 books to date (The 13-Storey Treehouse, The 26 Storey-Treehouse, The 39 Storey-Treehouse, The 52-Storey Treehouse and The 65-Storey Treehouse, with the new one, The 78-Storey Treehouse due to come out this month.
Pearlie the Park Fairy by Wendy Harmer
Pearlie is a fairy who lives inside a pink shell statue in Jubilee Park, Sydney. She overseas the inhabitants of the park, who include various animals and other fairies, and thwarts the mischief of the naughty fairy Sapphire and the greedy rats, Scrag and Mr Flea. Pearlie is a little over enthusiastic at times and makes a lot of mistakes but everything always comes out all right in the end.
There are 17 books published in the Pearlie series to date, as well as a television series based on them called Pearlie in the Park. The books are suitable for readers aged 6 and up, or can be read aloud to younger children. It has full-colour illustrations throughout. The sparkly covers particularly appealed to my daughter. The stories are sweet and funny, and it's nice to find children's books set in Australia for a change. There is ethnic diversity among the fairies, with Jasper and Opal appearing to be indigenous Australians, and Pearlie meets fairies from many different countries on her travels.