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Mr. Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson, is the third of the Barrington Stoke, Little Gems books that fell into my lap at school this week. I am delighted the series seems to be such a hit with everyone who introduces me to them. Children are thrilled to share these stories and seem to enjoy reading them to me as much as I enjoy listening to them read them.


In this case I am particularly delighted, as unlike most of the rest of the reading population I am not particularly enamoured of Julia Donaldson’s work, which is unfortunate when you work in a school. Her books are perennially popular.  This book, however, I really loved.

This seems to be aimed at a slightly older age bracket than her usual works (more for early years children). I would suggest that although this would work well for an early years audience, read over a few days, as it is a chapter book, it would suit the 6-8 age bracket readers very well indeed.

As I have already mentioned in several posts, Barrington Stoke are a publisher who specialise in reading books for children of all ages, but with specific care for children with reading disabilities. The production values are high, and the books are designed specifically with children in mind. Indeed, Barrington Stoke use child readers to help them vet books before publication to make sure that they are properly hitting their target markets, and it shows.

This book is broken into easy to read chapters, and has wonderful colour illustrations. It tells the story of Elmo and his older sister, who move into a house they don’t like, but next door to a house they love. This jungle house becomes their private and secret domaine in which they live out their amazing, imaginative adventures, that is until the terrible Mr. Birdsnest moves in. But is Mr. Birdsnest really so terrible?

This is an utterly charming and funny book that appeals to the adventure loving child in all of us.