When nine year old Megan moves to Buttercup House, she has no idea how special the house is. With her new best friend, Freya, who lives next door, they find out all the wonderful secrets about her new home, and she meets the magical animals that live there: some very clever mice, Dorothy, the mysterious black cat, and a very special dog called Buttercup. A book about friendship and magic, aimed at 6-9 years.
Megan is a great main character. We meet her at a vulnerable point, as she's moving house, which is unsettling for many children. It's easy to empathise with her worries and her nerves about leaving her friends behind, but her new house soon begins to win her over with its mysteries and exciting features like a treehouse. Her new neighbour, Freya, tells her fantastic tales about magical mice and a cat with an extraordinary lifespan and Megan's curiosity is roused, as is ours.
The story is sweet and charming, whilst avoiding sentimentality. It will undoubtedly appeal to girls - magic and animals, what's not to love? - but it doesn't succumb to the cloying girliness sometimes thrown at this age group. Abi Burlingham respects her young readers and doesn't insult their intelligence.
As an adult reader, I was perfectly able to enjoy the story and didn't find it predictable (as you sometimes can when you're not the intended reader). It was reminiscent of my own childhood reading: plenty of Enid Blyton, sprinkled with a little fairy tale magic.
Overall I found this to be a highly successful read-alone for my 8yr old and can imagine snuggling with a younger child to enjoy it together.