Title: Little Gem and the Mysterious Letters
Author: Anna Zobel
Published: 1st June 2021
Synopsis: An adorable and charming new story about everyone’s favourite witch Little Gem. A sparkling gem of a read for anyone who loves Polly and Buster or Mummy Fairy and Me!
Little Gem is settling into her life at Ellsworth Pining with the help of Ghost Henry and her other friends. Everyone is preparing for the Midsummer Festival and Little Gem is in charge of the special effects for the Midsummer Play. But when Little Gem’s magic starts to go wrong and she receives several mysterious letters, Gem is worried that the festival is going to be a disaster! Will Little Gem be able to work out who is sending the letters and regain her confidence before opening night?
Little Gem, ghost Henry and the rest of the people who live in Ellsworth Pining are back for Midsummer, and preparations for the Midsummer Play and Festival are in full swing, and people are coming to Gem for magical help after so long without a witch in their town. Gem and her friends are joined by Emerald, the dragon, Amira, Renzo and the other citizens of Ellsworth Pining. Yet someone wants to make Gem leave town – and is sending her mysterious threats through the post every day – sometimes hand delivered! And the mystery of why Henry only appears near Gem could be solved or revealed. But first, Gem has to save her reputation, and find out who wants her to leave!
The second book in this timeless and charming series takes us back to the village where our favourite characters live in a world free of COVID, and free of technology it would seem – or at least, free of anything that could date the book. This is a beautiful way to create the world that Little Gem lives in, as it allows children and readers to imagine more than what is there. This time, Little Gem has been asked to help with the Midsummer Play – a play that Henry has never seen in his 412 years (or 403 years as a ghost!) yet her magic keeps going haywire. Is it Midsummer, or is something so wrong that Little Gem will need to find a way to leave and go back to Witch School?
The magic and joy is in the simplicity of the story that gently peels back the layers of our beloved characters. We find out more about them as each story progresses, and we find out a lot more about Henry in this book – and this gives him a much more rounded personality and deepens our understanding of his character. For kids, his story might be a lesson in what kind of person to be, or it might just be entertaining. I loved that the mystery of things that were missing from the village for so long was also explored, and the gentle mystery went to show that everyone is not always what they seem – and that we may have to change our minds about some people. But Little Gem and her friends reassure us that this is okay, and that we will all be fine.
The reassuring nature of Little Gem feels like what we need right now. Something comforting, where the world has solutions for the challenges we face, and where we are right now. It is gentle and loving and can be read by anyone from the target age group up. It can teach us about friendship and loyalty, as well as the idea and sense of community coming together to support and stand up for each other when it feels like everything is working against us. In these uncertain times, it is books like this that have been getting us through. The sense of finality in the story reassures us that bad things will always end. And I love the Little Gem books – they are simply adorable and divine.