Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball
Written and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson
Published by Egmont UK
Publication date: 5th October 2017
Age range: 6 +
Summary (from Netgalley – Goodreads)
A gorgeously gothic, wickedly funny new series from Witch Wars illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson.
Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball.
When the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue. In their race against time, they being to realize things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem… Join Amelia on her very first adventure. She won’t bite!
It was useless for Amelia to speak to her mother about what she wanted. Being a Fang meant countless vampiress etiquette lessons, cobwebbing practice and never-ending preparations for the Barbaric Ball. Sometimes Amelia wished she belonged to a different family.
This is the debut middle-grade novel from Laura Ellen Anderson, who most people might already know because she is the illustrator for the Witch Wars series by Sibéal Pounder. The illustrations are one of the highlights of the books with Anderson creating interesting, sympathetic characters with Amelia Fany, a young vampires, her pet Squashy, an adorable pumpkin, Grimaldi – a rather wimpy grim reaper who is practising by reaping the souls of frogs and Florence, a giant special type of yeti who cannot stand being called a beast. In the story, Amelia’s life is turned upside down when the King and his spoilt son decide to visit in the lead up to the event of the year, the Barbaric Ball. Amelia and her friends set off to put things right, leaving chaos in their wake…
Amelia and her friends loved reading stories about the dreaded Creatures of the Light: The gruesome glittery unicorns (Nocturnians were TERRIFIED of glitter), the evil sparkly fairies and the cute and fluffy angel-kittens of terror. It was the stuff of daymares.
What I liked: Charming illustrations, will be a hit with the audience who already love this style of illustrations and the quirky humour in Sibéal Pounder’s Witch Wars series. I did find the quirky writing style in Witch Wars and Amelia Fang a bit hit or miss, but I know it goes down really well with the 7-8 year olds I teach so I’m not going to judge too harshly!
I loved the supporting characters, particularly Amelia’s friends, Florence the special type of yeti, Grimaldi, the grim reaper in training (practising on frogs) and Squashy, the cutest pumpkin pet you could imagine.
Even better if: I would have liked it is there had been a bit more discussion about Tagine’s behaviour – why were the adults so quick to give him everything he wanted? I also felt like this book didn’t have a proper resolution – in fact it seemed to spend the last part setting up for the next book.
How you could use it in your classroom: Would make a fun read-aloud for the lead up to Hallowe’en. Would also be a good recommendation for any children who have enjoyed Witch Wars.
(Thank you to Netgalley and Egmont UK for my electronic review copy)