The best middle grade fiction for children who love magic and animals

Linda Chapman Author Of Star Friends: Mirror Magic
By Linda Chapman

Who am I?

Growing up as an only child, books and animals were hugely important to me – they were my friends and I really wanted to believe in a magic that would allow me to talk to animals and them to me. I have now written over 250 books and pretty much all of them have either magic or animals in or a combination of both – unicorns, ponies that turn into magical horses, star animals who teach the children they bond with how to do magic, mermaids with sea creatures as pets. I really love to write – and read – about magical animals and their very lucky human friends!


I wrote...

Star Friends: Mirror Magic

By Linda Chapman, Lucy Fleming (illustrator),

Book cover of Star Friends: Mirror Magic

What is my book about?

Do you believe in magic? Mia and her friends do and when they meet the star animals who have traveled from the Star World and who teach them how to do magic, they are plunged into a whole host of exciting adventures!

In Mirror Magic, the first in the series, Mia's older sister has started acting strangely and the star animals sense dark magic at work. Soon, Mia discovers that the new compact mirror that her sister, Cleo, has been using must be to blame. Can Mia and her star animal, a fox named Bracken, help make things right and stop the dark magic before it’s too late?

The books I picked & why

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The Snow Bear

By Holly Webb, Simon Mendez (illustrator),

Book cover of The Snow Bear

Why this book?

I absolutely love all of Holly Webb’s books, sometimes she writes about animals in real life and sometimes about animals and magic but whatever she is writing, her books always have fantastic characters and show the bond between humans and animals. I particularly like her Winter Journeys series, they are longer than some of Holly’s other books and sensitively explore different cultures and family relationships. The Snow Bear is one of my favorites. It tells the story of Sara who loves to listen to her grandfather’s stories about the Inuits. One night she goes on a magical snowy adventure with a beautiful polar bear and finally discovers the magic of the Arctic for herself. A gorgeous, wintery story to share or to read alone.


Hedgewitch

By Skye McKenna,

Book cover of Hedgewitch

Why this book?

I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of this book written by debut author, Skye Mackenna and I instantly fell in love with the characters and the story. Perfect reading for middle-grade readers who like longer, more challenging magic books. It is set in a world similar to ours which also has witches, scary fairies, goblins, and talking animals. Cassie, the heroine, sets out to discover why her mother disappeared seven years ago and in the process starts a new life, makes new friends (not least the wonderful talking cat, Montague), learns more about her witch-family heritage, and encounters terrifying faeries. This is the first book in the Hedgewitch series and is due to be published in 2022 - I can’t wait to read the rest!


The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn

By Paula Harrison,

Book cover of The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn

Why this book?

I wanted to choose a book about unicorns (given they’re one of my favorite things to write about!) and this is the second book in a great magical series perfect for middle-grade readers who prefer shorter chapter books. Ava and her friends live in Arramia along with many magical creatures such as unicorns, dragons, firebirds, and star wolves. In this book, Ava sets out on a daring adventure to rescue a gorgeous baby unicorn who has been stolen from his herd by an evil villain. Paula Harrison is a brilliant writer for readers who like reading about magic and animals. She creates wonderful worlds and her books are hard to put down. The Royal Rescues is another great series too. 


Princess Ponies: A Magical Friend

By Chloe Ryder,

Book cover of Princess Ponies: A Magical Friend

Why this book?

Chloe Ryder is one of the (many) alter-egos of my writing partner, Julie Sykes (we write the Unicorn Academy and Forever Homes series together). Julie wrote this series years before we started collaborating and I have always loved it (as did my pony-crazy daughter when she was eight). It’s a perfect series for younger middle-grade readers who like their magic to be very sparkly. If they get hooked on the first one there are plenty more to read! When Pippa gets whisked away to the island of Chevalia, she quickly makes friends with Princess Stardust, a talking pony, and discovers that the magic horseshoes that give the ponies their magic have gone missing. Can Pippa help the ponies find their horseshoes and save their wonderful island before it’s too late?


Carbonel: The King of the Cats

By Barbara Sleigh, V.H. Drummond (illustrator),

Book cover of Carbonel: The King of the Cats

Why this book?

And last but definitely not least, one of my favorite books from when I was growing up. Carbonel tells the story of Rosie, a young girl who thinks she is going to have a very boring summer until she buys a cat (Carbonel) from a retiring witch and gets drawn into an amazing adventure trying to free him from the witch’s binding spell and helping him to reclaim his royal throne. I read this book so many times when I was a child that the copy I owned fell to bits. I adored the bond between Rosie and Carbonel and the way the author effortlessly weaved magic into everyday life. She made magic seem so possible and so real – a feeling I have tried to capture in my own writing ever since!


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