Sunday, 22 January 2023

MARSHMALLOW PIE, the Cat Superstar; the four book series

 

 Written and fully illustrated by Clara Vulliamy;  


                                                                                   

An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction.
 

If you're here for a selfie, please scroll on down!

 

This week we head straight into our review, with a FAB set of four books, featuring a feisty feline called Marshmallow Pie!




AUTHOR:  Clara Vulliamy

 

Cover art by:  Clara Vulliamy

 

All interior art by:   Clara Vulliamy

 

Published by: Harper Collins Books



Publication date: Book 1  6/8/20.  ISBN:  978- 000 8355 852

 

Publication date: Book 2  6/8/20.  ISBN: 978- 000 8355 890

 

Publication date: Book 3  7/1/21.  ISBN:  978- 000 8355 913  


Publication date: Book 4  5/8/21.  ISBN:  978- 000 8355 944

 


 

Cover price for Paperback £5.99 approx

 

Pages: 128 approx

 

Age range:  6-9 (and all cat loving readers everywhere!)



 

 

SPOILER ALERT


Just a few as to plot direction and characters.

 

A Huge Thank You to... 

 

Clara Vulliamy for offering insights and letting us reproduce the images from within the stories. There are so many fun pictures that we have had to limit ourselves to one from each book. I do hope they will give a flavour of the action.

 

Also, thanks to Mrs H for buying this series as a set of four books for me. They made my week!

 

As ever, our views are our own, and we only ever share reviews of books we like and feel our readers deserve to know about and that we hope they will enjoy. 

 

 

The plots


Book 1. Marshmallow Pie, the Cat Superstar.

 

Book 1 cover. Image Copyright©

 

Amelia and her father live in a small top-floor flat in the middle of a busy city. When rich Aunt Julia has to go away travelling, her white and fluffy cat named Marshmallow Marmaduke Vanilla-Bean Sugar-Pie Fluffington-Fitz-Noodle is sent away from his country house to Amelie Lime to look after. It's quite a change for Marshmallow Pie, or Pie as Amelia calls him. But Pie doesn't mind and has a balcony to lounge on. Better yet, Pie loves to tease Buster, the big burly dog on the balcony below. He does this by staring at him or dangling his tail over the balcony edge and just out of reach.

 

Life is good, and Pie pretty much rules the small apartment, taking central place on the sofa and doing everything a home-loving feline could want to do.

 

Then, one day Amelia finds out an audition for a local animal acting agency is taking place locally. Knowing, as all cat carers do, that Pie is super special, she enters the audition. It means that shy Amelia can get to do exciting things, whilst Pie is the one in the spotlight. So, in preparation for the audition, Amelia tries to get Pie to do tricks. Well, you can guess how that turned out.

 

Come the big day, whilst Amelia is very nervous, Pie knows he is a star and what to do to shine. 

 

Pie is presented for audition. Image ©
 

 

Amelia meets a lad from her school who has brought his kitten along, aptly named, Gingernut. Obviously, Pie is unimpressed by the youngster. When Buster turns up with his owner, things turn for the worst, a disaster. The rest I shall leave to the imagination and for you to discover!

 


Book 2. Marshmallow Pie, the Cat Superstar on TV.

 

Book 2 cover. Image Copyright©

 

 

After the antics of book 1, the woes and disasters and tears, we find Marshmallow Pie has the chance to star in a TV advert. It happens to be for Pie's favourite treat, 'Shrimp Crunchies'! But, the downside is he has to star alongside Gingernut, the somewhat annoying kitten belonging to Amelia's new pal, Zack. 


Come the day, Pie, Gingernutt, Amelia, and Zack arrive on set but are brushed aside by the rather obnoxious, fake-tanned director, Brad Carter.

 

On set, Pie gets carried away. He wants to outshine the kitten and hog the limelight. 

 


Pie knocks over a bowl! Image Copyright©


Even when the kitten wants to help, he gives him the brush off. As is the way with cats, especially when it comes to following directions, things go wrong, and the kitten seems to get the brunt of the blame from Brad, even though Pie was mainly the cause. 

 

Day two starts well, but disaster strikes, and the set descends into cat-driven chaos. The ending is definitely not what you may be thinking! I shall leave the what, why and how for you to discover. 

 


Book 3. Marshmallow Pie, the Cat Superstar in Hollywood.

 

Book 3 cover. Image Copyright©

 

 

For reasons I won't go into for fear of spoiling book 2, Pie and Amelia find they have an offer they can't refuse! Yes, Pie is destined for Hollywood stardom! Pie has come to the attention of big Hollywood producer Rocky Milan, who thought Pie was HUGELY talented and FEISTY! That is precisely what he was after in cat to play...... the villain's feline companion in his new movie.

 

So, Pie, Amelia and her dad arrive in tinsel town. They have a beautiful hotel room and beds more immense and more sumptuous than they have ever seen! Of course, Pie takes all the glitz, the glamour and the luxury in his stride. 

 

Like most kids her age would be, Amelia is very nervous the next day as she visits the set and gets to meet stars, cast and crew. The villainess's daughter, Madison, an internet star in her own right and a tad older than Amelia, is there too. She has her own brand and instantly falls for Pie, saying he'll be the perfect accessory for her. Her brash character, the opposite of Amelia's, takes charge. She takes them all shopping between acting sessions, driven and escorted by her very own security guard, Big Barbara.

 

Madison and Pie look seem so much alike. Or are they? Image©

 

 

They get to meet the press and go shopping in all the best boutiques. Why, Pie is really enjoying this glamorous life. But what of Amelia, who is being increasingly pushed aside? 


As filming goes on, Madison starts taking over, manipulating things and ..... OK, to say much more, I fear will take away from the second half of this adventure and a rather fun and very feline ending. 

 


Book 4. Marshmallow Pie, the Cat Superstar on Stage.

 

Book 4 Cover. Image Copyright©


 

 

We find Pie and Amelia are back home on the rebound from fame, fortune, and the red carpet treatment in Hollywood and global recognition. Life is good if a tad less dramatic, but stretching out on fresh laundry is just what a cat loves. 


We just know this can't last, and my, the peace and calm are shattered when Pie's Nemesis from Book 1 gets dumped on Amelia to look after when his owner goes away. Talk about putting a cat's nose out of joint. Well, Pie is not amused, and old rivalries ensue. 

 

Amelia sits between Pie & Buster. Image ©

 

Now, as a timely relief from this, Pie's agent, Dexter, from the Animal Acting Agency, calls with the chance to audition for a new role. It is a chance to appear in a new performance in the BEST theatre in town! What cat could say no to such an important role? Certainly not our Pie, especially when it means leaving Buster behind.

 

But when Amelia's dad has to go out to a meeting, Buster has to accompany Pie to the audition as he can't stay home alone. Pie is NOT amused. 


Of course, Pie is a shoo-in for the part in a play called The Everett Emeralds, about a cat burglar and a jewel robbery. Pie plays a companion cat who helps solve the case. It is a role he excels at. But to Pie's dismay, Buster gets hired when the producer says she is also in need of a dog. 

 

Come the day of rehearsals, Buster seems determined to upstage Pie. Have old rivalries suddenly come home to roost and spoil the day? And what has been going on in the wings that is distracting Buster? All is most definitely NOT what it seems, and great peril awaits come the opening night. Did I mention another villain? Well, to find out how it all goes down in this, the final book, you'll just have to wait until the books arrive from your local bookshop πŸ™‚.




So, what did we think? 

 

I absolutely adored the stories. Each has a moral, a lesson for Pie to learn. The interaction between Amelia and Pie is heartwarming. The interaction between Buster and Pie is very much tongue-in-cheek fun and, dare I say it, how we often think of cats v dogs. 

 

There is a sense that Amelia is growing as much from her experiences with Pie as she does from teaming up with Zack. It is, I think, a timely reminder that not everyone is bold and brash or able to make friends just like that. It also demonstrates how much our canine and feline pals mean and what they bring to kids and families (and housekeepers).

 

The scrapes Pie not so much creates as wanders into and then gets out off, and how he reacts are pure feline. Clara's observations of cats are, she tells me, from growing up with cats, six in total over the years. Alas, these days, she has no companions, only her fictional animal pals. 

 

Clara has quite a few YouTube videos. One is about how to draw cats, and it features Marshmallow Pie. If you want to have a go, or just want to be enthralled as to how easy Clara makes this not-so-easy task seem, please follow this LINK or type https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76vVky2kyAw 

 

It is just over seven minutes long, but time very well spent, and I think the kids will love it.

 

Now, if you don't already recognise Clara's work from her numerous other children's stories, you may well be familiar with that of her mother, famed illustrator and author Shirley Hughes. Mrs H says her formative years were filled with images from children's books illustrated by Shirley. 

 

Sadly, Shirley passed away in 2022, leaving a fantastic legacy. To learn more about Shirley's work, the illustrations, which to us are utterly captivating and timeless, please head on to Twitter, where there is a Twitter feed of her books and characters on her behalf. Use this LINK to visit https://twitter.com/ShirleyHughes_



So . . . . 



Crunch time. 


An absolute must-buy series of four short stories for the younger readers in your life. The artwork, which appears on nearly every page, is bold, fun, and full of life. Mrs H said she could see so many feline traits in Marshmallow Pie that she couldn't help but wonder if, given the same situations, I'd act the same way? My answer is yes, of course!

 

We love to review books that have companion creatures in them, and every now and then, they feature companions as protagonists. This is one of those times, and it delivers a cracking read for ages 6 and upwards. 

For dog lovers, Clara told me that the new series, starting this August, will feature canines. This is definitely one to look out for.




Want to buy a copy?

 

To get a copy, please head down to your local independent bookshop; auditions and accompanying pets are not necessary. There are plenty out there, and each shop just waits to serve up whatever kind of mystery, fun and adventure you desire.

 


Clara Vulliamy's web page can be found HERE or type this: https://claras.me/

 


I shall leave you with a Selfie. We are joining the Cat on My Head Blog Sunday Selfies! Hosted by Janet Blue and all her fine felines.πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 


 

Till laters!

ERin

26 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful selfie, ERin. It looks as if you are enjoying a really nice sunpuddle. The sun on your fur gives them such a lovely, warm, rich colour.

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    1. It was super nice and a rare winter clear sky outdoors which meant a lovely sunpuddle on my bed. The colours of my coat really do show up beautifully.
      ERin

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  2. ERin, Marshmallow Pie is such a fun kitty name and book name. OMCs you are aglow in the sun
    Hugs Cecilia

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    1. It is a really fun book, and Pie is a huge character and 110% feline superstar, for sure.
      ERin

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  3. Erin, these sound like such fun books. Marshmallow Pie sounds like quite the character! We will go watch Clara's videos and see how to draw Pie, and also read about her dear departed mum Shirley.

    Your sun-kissed selfie is wonderful. You look so delihghtfully relaxed. :)

    Hugs to you and Mrs. H!

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    1. I hope you enjoy each one, the videos and books. Kids are soo lucky these days to have great artwork and tales that include all manner of companions.
      I was super relaxed, and made the most of that sun till sunset.
      ERin

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  4. Nice sleepy selfie, Erin!

    That does sound like a fun series of books. I wonder if Marshmallow Pie has a human counterpart?? LOL!

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    1. Thanks, it was a supersnooze! Oh, I bet he does. There always are folks who go through life like Pie, though they dont always learn the lessons Pie does in the books.
      ERin

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  5. Those books sound like good ones and the fun covers are really cute. Speaking of cute, you look mighty sunpuddle cute sweet Princess.

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    1. Thanks, a rare winter puddle has to be snoozed in. The covers are awesome, and the interior art every bit as fun.
      ERin

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  6. OMC this series sounds SO good! Mudpie is super excited to meet another Pie ;)

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    1. It is rather nice to see anothe 'Pie'. Is your name just as fancy and long as his though? πŸ˜‰ A great book for the kids, and no mistake.
      ERin

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  7. Our Mom loves books! Thanks for the reviews. Very nice selfie, too!

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    1. You are welcome. Middle grade is our usual stomping ground, but there are other adult books we review too, as long as we like the subject matter πŸ™‚.
      ERin

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  8. Hello there! Great to meet you. I and Katie Isabella both love to read young adult or early teen books on occasion. So...hm....

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    1. Well, this is just a bit younger than your range, but is super fun and worth recommending to others should they ask.
      ERin

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  9. I love the covers, that looks like a cat bent on mischief and fun!!

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    1. I suspect Pie gets into more situations by chance than he does design. That's not to say he doesnt like teasing Buster, a lot!
      ERin

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  10. What a great review, sweet Erin, this serie looks like a fun read and the covers are very inviting to know more about that pussycat. Very interesting how that Marshmellow Pie is drawn! Your Selfie looks great in the sun🌞Double Pawkisses for a Happy Week aheadπŸΎπŸ˜½πŸ’ž

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the YouTube video. Mrs H and Im loved it. Clara really makes it fun. Doing a book full of drawings though, must have taken ages. We'd love to be able to draw like that, so fluidly.
      ERin

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  11. Charlee: "Erin! It looks like you found yourself some sun!"

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    1. I sure did! Cant waste a second of it at this time of year! πŸ™‚
      ERin

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  12. Those sound like lovely books for young readers. That is a lovely selfie, but where did you find that sun?

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  13. ERin, wavez two ewe gorgeouz..hope yur mew yeerz ben grate sew far and ewe haz ben stayin in all kindz oh trubullz..theez bookz sound awesum 🐟‼️❤️

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  14. Supurr review Erin, we think Amber has reviewed one of these books at some point. They are very entertaining!

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