The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith

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The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: A fast-paced, funny and touching story about a boy who can't accept the death of his mother and doesn't want Dad to marry totally bonkers Ilona. But when Max ends up with Ilona's two children (honestly, what normal mother calls their kids Nettle and Wild?) on a quest in the Land of Ever After, he has no choice: either work together with the other two, or accept the fact that he can never go home.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 9781444015607

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Max doesn't believe in happy endings. How could he, when lovely, brave, caring Mum got killed climbing a mountain? He doesn't like heights or small dark spaces and he doesn't like silly fairy stories. He absolutely hates being dressed in knickerbockers, silk slippers and a cape for Dad and Ilona's wedding, and in fact, the only thing that's worse, in his opinion, is the fact that once it's over he'll have to share his home with a horrible new brother and sister. I mean, come on, people! Nettle is a total grouch who's clearly never cracked a smile in her whole life, and little Wild is just . . . well, to tell the truth, he's plain daft. He prances about the place like a demented butterfly, and he never takes his baseball cap off, even to go to bed. How's Max supposed to get along with that pair?

No matter how bad things get in stories they can, of course, always get worse – and they do. Just as he's on the point of climbing into a huge wooden wedding cake (don't ask!) Max makes a casual comment about happiness and suddenly all three children are hurled through space to a strange world on the point of utter destruction at the hands of a wicked witch. The fairy tale characters who live there believe that a human child will come to save them, and no matter how much Max protests, they insist that he's the one. Logical, cautious, think-before-you-leap Max, who loves Maths problems and hasn't read a story since his mum died, and who spends his time worrying whether Dad's remembered to use his inhaler. Seriously, does he sound like the danger-loving, rescuing-hero type?

What follows is a thoroughly enjoyable and occasionally slightly scary story about the three children and their adventures. Like it not they have to accept, and maybe even trust each other if they want to survive, and Max isn't the only one who has to learn to be a bit more open-minded. Readers will immediately identify with Max, and eventually come to love Nettle and Wild too: after all, it's not their fault they had such a batty upbringing. But what makes this book utterly special is the cast of characters they meet on their way to face the witch. Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, a knight in full armour, a group of dwarves . . . all taken from fairy stories but given their own personalities, quirks and problems. Wait till you meet the troll who really, really wants a billy goat, or the miniature girl with the terrible transport problems! It's a story that is both funny and exciting, and it'll make you think, too, without being in any way sappy. Make sure you don't miss it.

Want to read more about ordinary children thrust into completely crazy, pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming worlds? Where they're given near-impossible tasks, fast-approaching deadlines and a large dollop of danger at every turn? Try Night on Terror Island by Philip Caveney and the sequels Spy Another Day and Space Blasters, about a boy who is sent into films by a mysterious projectionist. And for slightly younger readers, Maudie Smith herself has written a hilarious series of books about making friends with an alien! The first one's called Opal Moonbaby.

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Buy The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch by Maudie Smith at


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