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

Mary-Kate Martin can sometimes be anxious. She has a long list of things she does not like, and an equally long list of lucky items that calm her when she encounters something she does not like.

All her lucky things get quite the work out when she heads to the English countryside with her archaeologist mother, who has been asked to investigate some bones at the bottom of an old well in a town called Woolington Well (where some very strange things seem to be happening).

Lord Woolington (of the original town Woolingtons) wants to build a shopping centre in the middle of the town, but a very vocal action group doesn’t want him too. 

They don’t like giant, noisy shopping centres, and they definitely don’t want one to be built on the town well because they believe it is the home of the Woolington Wyrm — a legendary giant worm that throughout history sometimes terrorises the town.

And while not everyone believes in the wrym’s existence (Lord Woolington included), some very strange things have been happening around town since construction started on the shopping centre: broken fences, earth tremors and a large amount of brown slime left throughout the town.

Mary-Kate finds all the commotion quite intimidating, but she also cannot resist getting to the bottom of the mystery. So armed with her strawberry-scented notebook and sparkly pens, she decides to get to the bottom of it.

But can she? This mystery is rather strange, and the facts don’t always add up. Is the Woolington Wyrm real or is it just a scary story?

The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm is book one in a brilliant new series written by Karen Foxlee and illustrated by Freda Chiu. Do you know that feeling when you pick up a book, start reading and just think ‘this book has it all’? Well, this is what I felt reading this awesome new junior fiction novel.

With a mystery-filled plot that keeps you guessing until the end, action and adventure, dangerous escapes and also humour, it’s a perfect balance of everything — charming, action-packed and humorous. And with stunningly spooky-style illustrations by Freda Chiu, it just ticks all the boxes.

I just adore Chui’s illustrations in this book. They are funky, quirky and perfectly paired for a story about a spooktacular mythical creatures like the Woolington Wyrm. Peppered throughout (with a stunning town map also at the front), they set up and reinforce Mary-Kate’s world in such a spectacular way.

Junior readers are going to love this book, particularly those that love mysteries with a side of the fantastical. It’s the type of book that makes you dream that monster mysteries were a real thing. It makes you crave to become a monster investigator like Mary-Kate and solve mysteries about mythical beasts.

Readers, too, will adore Mary-Kate. She’s a quiet girl with a strong moral compass. She has a plan for everything and has an inner strength she doesn’t seem to see. And she is like so many kids (particularly today), who worry about things out of their control.

Through reading book, and getting to know Mary-Kate, readers will get some very cool insight into ways you can still be a worrier-at-heart while also learning to step into the unknown. The things we are afraid of can’t always go away, but we can find ways to cope with our fears and sometimes it’s the little things that really help make a difference, like writing things down, finding friends and finding comfort in our favourite things.

If you are (or you know) a junior fiction reader who loves beasty mysteries and adventure, I highly, highly recommend checking out this new series.

Title: Miss Mary-Kate Martin’s Guide to Monsters: The Wrath of the Woolington Wyrm
Author: Karen Foxlee
Illustrator: Freda Chiu
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, $14.99
Publication Date: May 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760526627
For ages: 6 – 10
Type: Junior Fiction

June 1, 2022 at 12:56AM Shaye Wardrop