Reviews /

Marshmallow Pie

Authored by Clara Vulliamy
Illustrated by Clara Vulliamy
Published by HarperCollins

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Marshmallow Pie is a book for newly independent readers that is humorous, enchanting, has a gripping plot and features a fabulously flamboyant cat. These are sure-fire guarantees of classroom success.

Marshmallow’s full name is Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle! Unfortunately, this splendid title  is a little too long for his business card! He is a demanding cat who ensures his tastes – sleep, Shrimp Crunchies and fashion accessories – are always met.

Marshmallow enjoys superiority; his power struggles with Buster, the dog in the flat below, are hugely entertaining. However, this turns sour when his owner Amelia wants Marshmallow to succeed in a pet audition. At the contest, Buster scuppers their dreams as he smugly appears with our hero’s beloved toy mouse. As a result, Marshmallow behaves outrageously and all hopes of stardom seem dashed.  But Amelia is persistent and Marshmallow has (perhaps) learnt his lesson; will they get a chance to recover from calamity?

Text and illustrations – both the work of the hugely accomplished Clara Vulliamy – work together in exuberant harmony. The illustrations are joyful and hilarious. One glorious spread shows Marshmallow in fabulous hats, as ‘there is no such thing as too many sombreros’!  Because of this beautiful layout, a child will race through these pages, and feel all the pride of completing a book independently. Meanwhile, the book gently encourages observation and subtly introduces children to point of view. After all, Marshmallow can be a biased narrator!

The book is extremely attractive inside and out. For example, the map at the front, the ball of wool page numbers and the be-whiskered chapter headings all demonstrate a high attention to detail. This is very welcome in a book for this age bracket. Furthermore, the various fonts mean that text becomes illustration too; Marshmallow Pie is an invitation to enjoy reading.

This book is one for teachers to read and share. It is a book that given at the right moment could create a reader. For Marshmallow is a very special cat; from the moment he purrs onto the page he speaks with a distinctive voice. As he clearly deserves the limelight he craves it is pleasing to see that he is now the worthy star not just of one book but of a well-loved series.