I received this book last year when it was released. I read it quickly, and then was prevented blogging about it through lack of time and other books pushing their way in front, unfortunately. I’m regretful to not have given this wonderful book air time sooner, but it is absolutely no reflection of the book itself, and completely worth the wait. In fact, I read it a second time very recently and loved it even more than the first, if that were possible.
This is Grace-Ella, Spells for Beginners, written by Sharon Marie-Jones and illustrated by Adriana Puglisi.
Grace-Ella has always wanted a pet, so when Mr Whiskins, a black cat, strolls through her door she is thrilled! But nothing really prepares her for the news he gives on the ninth day of the ninth month of her ninth year. He tells Grace-Ella that she is a witch and can start practising magic with the Witches’ Council.
Grace-Ella has always struggled at school, and along with her friend Fflur, is a bully target, and as such, the news of her newfound skill is daunting to say the least, but she soon embraces her skills to help her and her friends finally feel comfortable in their own skin.
Oh, I truly loved this gorgeous little book. As a huge fan of the Worst Witch stories when I was younger, this really took me back to those stories I was so fond of, and enjoyed. I can see Grace-Ella igniting the exact same feelings in young children. Sharon has created a hugely endearing group of characters in this lovely story. Grace-Ella and her friends are kind and sweet, but full of personality and uniqueness, which means they are the targets of bullies, but is also what makes them so wonderful. It’s a huge aspect of the first book by this debut author, to show children that embracing your quirky personality and differences is a brilliant thing. I love that!
This is a short book, beautifully written, easy to read, but not patronising or childish, if that makes sense for a children’s book. It’s a pleasure to read out loud, it feels very natural and flows really nicely. I like that. I also love that Sharon has embraced her Welsh roots in this book through location and names. It gives a lovely, unique feel to the story.
I’m a huge fan of illustrated books, particularly for younger readers. I’ve always felt a bit sad that more adult fiction isn’t published will accompanying pictures. Adriana’s illustrations in Grace-Ella are absolutely lovely. Again remind me of the strong black ink drawings from the Worst Witch. In no way copies or that similar in style, but they have the same charm and capture the characters and scenes in an endearing way which brings the story to life very nicely indeed.
Grace-Ella, Spells for Beginners is a spectacularly fun and feelgood book, with a host of great characters, surrounding a plot children can identify with, and including a fab fantasy twist. It’s all the ingredients to magic up a brilliant book for young children! I very much hope there is more to come from Grace-Ella as I feel this is the making of a fantastic series of stories.
Grace-Ella, Spells for Beginners is available from all good book shops and libraries right now!
To find out more about Sharon Marie Jones, you can read her honest and at times difficult, but also important blog here. I have huge admiration for this wonderful author as a writer and person.
And you can find out some more about illustrator Adriana Puglisi right here:
Thank you for reading this bewitching Book Monster review.