Book Review: Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City by Will Mabbitt

mabel jonesMabel Jones has taken me by surprise. I’m 41 years old and now i’m her biggest fan. I thought I’d dip into this book to get a flavour of it, then ask the 8 year old to read it for me to get a flavour of whether the little reluctant reader enjoyed it. Instead I sat down and a couple of hours later I emerged having been on a laugh out loud journey with her. This book is bonkers, utterly and completely engaging, a journey into uncharted imagination and very inspiring. I loved it, the eight year old is currently loving it. How did I miss the first story?

For those of you who have been living without Mabel Jones until this point think of her as a sort of adventuring Alice in Wonderland crossed with Goth Girl, Ottoline and the best of Enid Blyton. This is not a story for the faint hearted, its a tail of poison, nose picking, paddle steamers, fantastical animals, a witch queen and much more all in the name of finding baby Maggie, Mabel’s little sister.

One of the things which I thought was wonderful was the use of figurative language. Its brilliant and mad and I used it in a practical sense to try to explain something to the children about using metaphors. This is a book which I can see myself returning to for examples for a long while yet.

The book is brilliantly illustrated and I think this would help the most reluctant reader as it breaks up the text and makes for a very appealing read.

In all honestly, I cant fault this book. I think its perfect for the 7+ age group, its a joyful, exciting, and slightly devilish read for this age group. On reading it I was transported back to my seven year old self and I felt once more the joy you can get from reading a book such as this. I’m off to the library today to get out the first Mabel Jones, I just need to decide which library card to put it on- mine or the children’s?

The Mabel Jones series is published by Puffin Books you can follow the author Will on Twitter @gomabbitt and find a whole dedicated website with more information at

Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City will be published in paperback by Puffin on 4th February 2016 priced ay £6:99


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