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Moving from picture books to chapter books – Magic Faces

The Magic Faces series, for children aged 5 years and upwards, was conceived in the first lockdown of 2020 by Storymix founder Jasmine Richards, when she and her children used face paints to imagine fantasy worlds. Magic Faces is one of few fully illustrated chapter books. It’s bright, colourful and engaging and is designed as a chapter book series to support young readers moving on from picture books.Author Esi visited our blog this week to tell us more about catering for children moving from picture books to chapter books.
esi merleh

esi merleh

Guest Post: Esi Merleh

Author of Magic Faces

Esi MeriehSupporting readers moving from picture books to chapter books

It can be hard to find suitable books for children who are starting to move on from picture books but not quite ready for the challenge of middle grade fiction. Books for early readers have to appeal to both independent readers and children being read to. Magic Faces is a collaborative project led by the inclusive fiction studio Storymix. It is a new adventure series for five to seven year olds and is designed to help bridge the gap in that transitional stage and help them progress in a meaningful and strategic way.

In each of the three books in the series, twins Alanna and Austin go on an exciting adventure created by a magic face painting kit. The series is illustrated and in full colour, so it doesn’t feel like too much of a departure from their comfort zones.


How do the Magic Faces books support children used to the style of picture books?

Moving on from picture books, readers expect more detail and richness to really charge up their imagination. For many children, face painting is an introduction to imaginative play.

Vmagic facesery small children are quite concrete and some can find aspects of make-believe challenging. Pretend play is limited to role-playing what they see in daily life, like feeding stuffed toys. As children get older, magic and monsters take on a textural quality and can be almost overwhelming before they learn that there is a difference between what is real and what is not. It’s exciting to be immersed in worlds of fantasy and adventure, but up to a limit. In Magic Faces, home, security and familiarity are never too far away.

How do early chapter books like Magic Faces cater for children ready for more of a challenge?

Children of this age are also starting to socialise more and more with peers. And whilst the relationship with their parents is primary, developing a social life with siblings and other young children becomes more and more important. They are learning new social skills such as taking turns, listening to another’s point of view, reacting to the emotions of others and sharing. Books for this age group often feature themes of fairness, justice and working together. Magic Faces features a strong sibling bond, and shows how the twins are learning to relate to each other.

The twins are ready to take on bigger challenges, just like the children reading the books. Each story in the Magic Faces series features a different world and new problems to solve. Book one takes place on a pirate ship, two features superheroes, and in three the twins attend a Monster’s Ball. The format allowed me to have lots of fun with different genres! At the same time, I could maintain consistency through the main characters Alanna and Austin.

In writing the books I wanted to mirror the developmental stage of the target age group. At this stage in their young lives, children are developing rapidly physically and socially. They want home to be safe and cosy, but to also be the place where a little piece of magic can make anything happen.


Magic Faces: Heroes of the Pirate Ship and Magic Faces: Superhero Mega Mission are available to purchase online or from bookshops.




Many thanks to Esi for visiting our blog.

Purchase the Magic Faces books from Amazon or

We also have more early chapter book recommendations on our booklists.

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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