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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Maddison McQueen and the Cupcake Mystery by Kate Gordon-Smith


Maddie and Grandma are all set to enter the baking competition at the town’s annual show when someone steals Grandma’s cupcakes.


Maddie knows how much winning the competition means to Grandma. With the help of her loyal collie Ruby, Maddie has to find the thief. Ruby finds the first clue: a cupcake dropped on the street. Talking to the neighbours offers another. Maddie’s friends Josh and Rose help her put together a list of suspects. But when Maddie encourages them to climb into the showgrounds after dark, she gets them all into trouble… Can Maddie find out who took the cupcakes and why?


Maddison McQueen and the Cupcake Mystery is a fun and adventurous story for younger readers, aimed about 7 to 10-years-old. It was refreshing to see a New Zealand's book for kids set outside main centres, with Maddison and her friends based in Wānaka. With the addition of the A&P show, the story allows a wider range of youngsters to see themselves, and their lives, on the pages. 


A dyslexia-friendly font and layout opens the book up to even more readers, too.

The book starts off a little formulaic, but perfectly pitched for the intended audience. However, the pace picks up, and there is far more to the story than just a missing batch of cupcakes. Author Kate Gordon-Smith navigates friendships, intergenerational relationships, diversity, mental health and much more. These topics are handled sensitively and realistically. Gordon-Smith doesn't let the topics dominate either, allowing readers to lose themselves in the story.


Gordon-Smith knows her audience. She pitches the book bang on for those readers taking their first steps into novels. The language used is spot on for those developing fluency, while the unknown words aren't going to break the flow. This book will also make for a great read-aloud, with short, snappy chapters and plenty of pace.


The Cupcake Mystery, the first in a series featuring Maddie and her friends, is an engaging mystery which will keep readers both young and old enthralled.


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Relish Books

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