The Magical Kingdom of Birds series is a gorgeous early chapter series from Anne Booth, creator of the wonderfully Christmassy Lucy’s Magic Snowglobe series and has fast become a much loved series with both my daughters but especially Littlefae.
This series is a quest based narrative where Maya our human protagonist is pulled into the Magical Kingdom when she colours within an enchanted book. Maya and her friends must battle the nasty Lord Astor who has seized control of the lands and Maya must do kind and brave deeds to earn feathers from each kind of bird to rebuild a magical cloak to help Princess Willow regain her birthright.
With Lord Astor there is a villain in these stories so there’s a bit more peril than the Lucy stories but this threat to friends and the kingdom galvanises Maya into action and promotes her resilience and grit in the face of trouble. But even sensitive children can enjoy Booth’s writing which has a hopeful, safe and comforting tone shining through, as does the quietly educational non-fiction elements scattered through the plot with details about different birds and a fact file at the end.
We often read aloud and I chose to read the Magical Kingdom Of Birds aloud on a quiet morning whilst Littlefae and Tinyfae initially played though I regularly tested to see if they were listening and it turns out they were captivated and slowly became more and more enchanted especially when we got to the action sections and climax, they both stopped and stared and you could hear a pin drop whilst they hung on every word. Immediately when we finished Littlefae asked if there were more books in this series and whether she could have them and a love for these stories was born.
The Sleepy Hummingbirds teaches us how Maya came to the Magical Kingdom Of Birds via her magical colouring book.
Here Maya must Trust in herself and find a way to work with her disability to collect the magical ingredients necessary to break a terrible spell.
The Ice Swans is a wintery adventure where Lord Astor has made eternal winter in the Kingdom.
Maya and her friends must go on a perilous journey travelling to the land of the Ice Swans to see if their enchantments have caused the problem. Maya must be brave and depend on herself and her quick thinking to save the day.
The Missing Fairy Wrens is inspired by the Fairy Wrens Of Australia.
This time Lord Astor has captured all the male Fairy Wrens because he is jealous of their devotion to their mates by gifting them with petals.
Maya learns how Fairy Wrens May be small but they are full of heart and the way they live as families and support each other inspire her when she needs team effort to save the Fairy Wrens from Lord Astor’s nefarious plans.
The Silent Songbirds features a tropical songbird concert held by Lord Astor supposedly to make amends.
Maya doesn’t trust him and finds Lord Astor really has dastardly plans to force the Songbirds to love him. Maya must find a way to save the birds and overcome her fear of performing in front of others to save Princess Willow and the kingdom.
I like Booth’s writing, it has a comforting warmth and a gentle sweet nature that allows young children to feel and be entertained by youthful characters who act, think and feel just like they do. It is a particular note that Anne Booth captures the mindset of young children, especially in how anxieties can manifest as grouchiness and how children can spiral with anxiety and guilt and especially in this series how children have complex feelings regarding their abilities and how they can be frustrated and embarrassed by disability or the fear of their disability just like adults can be.
We have used Maya’s example in discussing with Littlefae how her grumpiness or being harsh may be masking something else just like Maya did about ice skating. By relating to fictional characters with struggles and fears it seems a better route in for her than the more direct route.
I adore Booth for creating a protagonist with a disability, it’s acknowledged gently and we see how Maya finds ways to work through her limitations rather than erase them, and achieve her goals not by superpowers or magic but by cunning and adaptations. This approach makes Maya a great protagonist for all children but particularly those who may have disabilities themselves whether physical or special needs or conditions that seem to limit them compared to other children.
My daughters have an undiagnosed condition which means they are tiny for their ages and have hypothyroidism. I know the need for daily medication and being smaller than her peers grates on Littlefae so to see a character whose strength is to be kind to herself recognising and working sensitively with and around her limitations without giving up or in is a wonderful role model for children.
The playful tone and soft touches of graphic style in Rosie Butcher’s illustrations give the story a fresh and modern edge that fits alongside many other popular series but always with a sweetness and positivity that elevates these wonderful stories without looking twee.
I am thankful for this series, it has ignited both my childrens’ imaginations with Tinyfae adoring the stories too and has encouraged Littlefae to make up her own stories about Magical Kingdoms.
This series is an absolute gift to our family and we look forward to more adventures.
The Magical Kingdom Of Birds series by Anne Booth and illustrated by Rosie Butcher is published by OUP.
Pictures thanks to Unsplash.com & Pexels.com unless otherwise stated.