Just Imagine

Molly Rogers to the Rescue

Authored by Cornelia Funke
Illustrated by Kasia Matyjaszek
Published by Barrington Stoke

This is a classic and wonderful adventure story, in which the baddies’ evil plan is foiled by some brave and honourable heroes. Molly Rogers and her mum, Barbarous Barbara, embark on a quest to save Monkey Skull island from being looted by Captain Firebeard and his team of pirates and to banish them from the seas forever.

The story is packed full of fun and action which will appeal to children’s sense of adventure and their imaginations, with scenes in which monkeys beat up pirates and an enormous octopus seizes a pirate ship. Kasia Matyjaszek’s illustrations are brilliant – colourful and entertaining and cleverly interspersed through the text. For those wanting to go a little deeper, there is a subtle environmental message: Molly and her Mum act as guardians of the sea executing their civic responsibility and foil the pirates’ plan to dig up the island and chop down all its trees in order to extract treasure.  And, importantly, Molly and Barbara are fantastic strong, non-white, female leads!

Aimed at 5-7 year olds (one of Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems series), this is an excellent book for readers who are beginning to want a bit more text than they might find in picture books for their age. The narrative is well structured and easy to follow; short chapters and carefully chosen chapter titles guide the reader through the plot; the illustrations carefully match the text to support comprehension and fun examples of alliteration are dotted throughout. It is also a very visually and physically pleasing book, both in terms of size (slightly smaller than the average chapter book so better for smaller hands) and the spacing and positioning of the text and illustrations on the page. Finally, a nice additional touch, there are some amusing jokes on the inside cover to get readers hooked on the pirate theme and diving into the story.