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Miss Mary-Kate’s Guide to Monsters: The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm by Karen Foxlee

Title: Miss Mary-Kate’s Guide to Monsters: The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm

A girl in red shoes walking through a village while writing in a notebook. The village is surrounded by purple. Miss Mary-Kate’s Guide to Monsters: The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm by Karen Foxlee

Author: Karen Foxlee

Genre: Adventure/Mystery

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 31st May 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Miss Mary-Kate Martin might be anxious, but she’s not scared of monsters. Travelling the globe with her famous archaeologist mother, Mary-Kate helps solve legendary problems in this fun fantasy adventure suitable for fans of the Travelling Bookshop or the Magnolia Moon series.

There are those that hunt monsters to harm them and there are those that hunt monsters to help them. Which one are you?
Dressed in sparkly red shoes and carrying her strawberry-scented notebook, Mary-Kate is accompanying her archaeologist mother to the tranquil English countryside to investigate some interesting bones found in an old well. But once they arrive, they realise that the village of Woolington is not as peaceful as it seems. Mysterious noises, earth tremors and a terrifying legend have the locals frightened.

Could there be any truth in the myth of the beast who lives in the ancient well? And if so, why would it return? Mary-Kate might be anxious, but she is not afraid to get to the bottom of this monstrous mystery.

A delightful fantasy-adventure from the award-winning and bestselling author of Lenny’s Book of Everything and Dragon Skin, with lively line illustrations by Freda Chiu.

~*~

Mary-Kate likes calmness and order. She doesn’t like beginnings or endings, but she’s okay with the in between bits. She has anxiety, and her ways of coping are supported by her mother, an archaeologist. Mary-Kate usually goes to stay with her gran when her mum has a dig. But this time, Mary-Kate is going with her mother to a place called Woolington, where things aren’t that peaceful, and rumours of a wyrm start to emerge as someone starts to change the village. Mary-Kate teams up with Arabella Woolington to solve the mystery of the wyrm, and to stop Arabella’s father from building a big shopping centre with the Wyrm Watch Society – but they need to prove that the wyrm exists first! So Mary-Kate investigates and researches, becoming daring and adventurous as she seeks to uncover the truth.

Characters dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues in books is becoming bigger, particularly in middle grade, and they are being done really well. So well in fact, I think these are books that people of all ages should read, because just like Mary-Kate, adults get anxious and worried too. The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm allows the characters to be who they are, but also allows for growth, understanding, and for people to help Mary-Kate find her way of doing things, and a way of coping with the things that worry her and make her anxious, all whilst reassuring her that if she uses her new pens, nothing bad will happen. I liked that she had ways to cope, rather than just getting over her worries, because that is very realistic for so many people. It showed that the worries will always be there, and that sometimes, finding a way to deal with them or put them aside, finding that one person who understands you and doesn’t question you and why you do things can help you. Can help calm you down or see that slight changes won’t bring about danger.

 This is the first in a promising new series that allows a young, anxious girl to be herself, to explore her world and have what comforts her around – whilst trying to make friends, be an archaeologist, and prove to herself that she can come through the fear and anxiety, even if it doesn’t wholly go away. I loved that her anxiety was allowed to be a part of her, and throughout the book, she had several coping strategies that might help younger readers – all readers, really – with their own anxiety and fears. I adored this book and am so glad I got to read it. It is exquisite and filed with the right balance of mystery and magic that all readers need right now. I love that kids’ books are dealing with issues like mental health these days, and I wish more adult books would as well. Another wonderful book from Karen Foxlee!

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