It’s not every day that a vampire borrows your pencil. When was the last time you sat next to a werewolf in maths?
Meet Trixie Grimble, the newest pupil at Monstacademy. Unfortunately, in a school filled with monsters, she’s the only ordinary girl and when she’s asked to help prepare for the annual Halloween parade, everything starts to go wrong.
Oh, and she’s also been kicked out of her bedroom to make room for a cat circus.
Fans of Jill Murphy and Isla Fisher will adore the silly humour and loveable characters in this delightful modern classic.
About the Author
Matt Beighton was born somewhere in the midlands in England during the heady days of the 1980s and continues to spend most of his days in the same shire. He is happily married with two young daughters who keep him very busy and suffer through the endless early drafts of his stories.
When he’s not writing, he teaches primary school (Kindergarten to some of you), messes around on canals in his inflatable kayak and supports his beloved Leicester City.
What I Thought
This was lots of fun and perfectly captures the emotions of starting a new school. It’s ideal for kids to read at this time of year and especially if they are joining a new class where everyone already knows each other.
Trixie not only starts a new school but she is very much the odd one out and having to board there too. Not everyone welcomes ‘her sort’ at the school. Humans at a school for monsters, how very unusual!!!
Having just re-read all of The Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy, I can confirm the comparisons to them are well founded and luckily, like Mildred, Trixie eventually finds herself a couple of good friends to help her settle in … and save the day. There’s a nefarious plot that needs foiling and, can you believe that Monsters don’t like trick or treating?
There are some funny names included, especially for the teachers (Flopsbottom 😂) which will give readers something to giggle about. The illustrations by Amalia Rendon were great and really added to the story. I loved the picture of the school caretaker Grimsby and it was good to be able to visualise all of the teachers.
There is a subplot with Trixie’s mum and some cats, and it was good to see that this wasn’t all focused on school and I liked the hints at how their relationship developed that we got in the extra Christmas themed short story. Initially I would have compared Trixie’s mum to Mrs Wormwood!
Aimed at a slightly younger reader, I think this is the perfect gateway to Harry Potter and I highly recommend it as bedtime story material.
Author Matt is a primary school teacher and he’s included some fun activities in the back of the book too (a wordsearch and spot the difference – I’m still stuck on this btw Matt and there’s no answers 😱😂). I’m such a kid because I also loved the fact the book has its own ‘This Book Belongs to’ page.
The Halloween Parade has set things up well for an ongoing series and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters develop. It looks like there are at least two more books in the pipeline including a choose your own adventure version (I used to love these).
Today is the last stop on the tour but do make sure you go and check out what everyone else thought. Thanks to Matt and Faye for my copy of the book which I read for the purposes of an honest review.
All of the Monstacademy series are available in both standard and dyslexia adapted format. To celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week 2018, use the code DYSAWARE to get 15% of any Monstacademy orders at the Green Monkey Press Etsy store. Offer valid from Monday 1st October to Sunday 7th October 2018 at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/GreenMonkeyPress
…Preceded by Chaos Vol -1 by M. Wheeler (Writer) and B. Bicknell (Illustrator) – Blog Tour Book Review
…Preceded by Chaos is a graphic illustrated series, charting the dramatic past, present and future of a young emergency room doctor, as the stress of saving lives threatens to overwhelm him. Mitchell Weaver is a troubled young Emergency Medicine doctor, orbiting a world of high-stress, intense pressure. It’s a distinguished profession with the burden of a variety of particularly disturbing personal demons that he must battle in order to maintain the façade of sanity and control. The third instalment of the series, Volume -1, takes place before the first book in the series, Volume 0, before Mitchell’s attempt at sobriety and self-awareness. During this chapter Mitchell travels to Spain in an attempt to find a part of himself that his been lost. But ultimately, Mitchell’s trip to Barcelona may be an escape more than journey.
M. Wheeler has held an eclectic array of jobs – including working as a studio engineer and a teacher — before he entered medical school in his thirties. During his residency in New York City, he wrote the first three books which would eventually become the …Preceded by Chaos series. Wheeler travels extensively for his job but currently calls Miami, Florida, home.
What I Thought:
I started this book thinking it was going to be a graphic novel. But as it says above it’s a graphic illustrated series so there are some illustrations but also lots of pages of text only. This is actually the third book in the series but is a prequel (I haven’t read the others).
I was drawn to the story of an emergency medicine doctor battling his demons and the cover illustration really demonstrates that concept. The sections that take place within the hospital were the ones I most enjoyed and it was during those that you felt the pressure on Mitchell. There are some quite verbally (and illustratingly) graphic depictions of drug use. The scene with the case of a young boy is realistic and upsetting and the language used definitely reflects the author’s experience as a medic.
I am assuming that the series title is based on the following quote: “All great changes are preceded by chaos” by Deepak Chopra,
and the summary for the next books describes how Mitchell aims to change and battle the addiction and demons that are affecting his life. He is left with a summons that means change is inevitable and this seems to link to an enigmatic case that is alluded to but not discussed in this volume.
The preceding chaos is definitely evident here and I have to admit to being a little confused about what was happening. The majority of the story takes place in Barcelona where he goes on holiday with a mate from work and lots of alcohol is consumed. The foreword is by a fictionalised character from the story who I’m not entirely sure actually exists or if we have a Jekyll and Hyde situation going on. The red eyed bull demon again could be a metaphorical representation of turmoil or a real inner demon.
Unfortunately I wasn’t drawn to Mitchell as a character and I didn’t feel women in the story were treated all that well. There was was a scene that featured a prostitute and a very unusual shopping list that I think I’d prefer to forget – so I’m not convinced I would read on to find out what happens but hopefully the character manages to turn his life around. Despite his irresponsible actions there is clear evidence that he cares for the patients and has become burdened by past events. I think the concept of mental health could be considered more explicitly. I think in this case it was more that my expectations of the story didn’t match what I got.
I believe the print copy I received was the final version and there were a few errors still present, and some of the text on the illustrations was blurred and difficult to read. I wonder if the kindle option makes this easier with the ability to zoom in.
The illustrations were all grayscale except for a couple that included a dash of red. Oddly one chapter was entirely presented in captioned illustration and I do think that the material would lend itself to being presented in this way as a graphic novel.
Do check out the other stops on the tour to see what everyone else thought.
I received my copy from Faye Rogers and the publishers for the purposes of honest review.