Nora and the Map of Mayhem by Joseph Elliott

Nora and the Map of Mayhem – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Hilarious, adventurous, swash-buckling, fun.
Children’s book title: Nora and the Map of Mayhem.
Children’s author: Joseph Elliott.
Children’s illustrator: Nici Gregory.
Genre: Children’s fiction.
Published by: Piccadilly Press.
ISBN: 9781800784994.
Recommended for children aged: 8-12 year-olds.
First published: Paperback June 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: children who love pirates, monsters and comedy.

Nora and the Map of Mayhem by Joseph Elliott

To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.

Our review:

Nora, a “very lovable and incredibly charming” old lady who works as a florist, is expecting her grandchildren over to stay while their dads go away for work – one to Stockholm and the other to Birmingham. Nora is unhappy about it as she thinks her grandchildren are too young and too annoying! Autumn is a 3-year-old who eats anything and everything and cannot string a proper sentence together, and Atticus is a 10-year-old boy who is always glued to his phone, not taking notice of the world around him.

This is the first time Nora has looked after the grandkids by herself and let’s just say, she definitely has better things to do, in particular joining her friend Mavis for bubbles and bagels in her new hot tub. Little does she know how the next few days are going to pan out!

Suddenly, there is a bang at the door and Atticus opens it to find a knife stabbed into the wood and a note that reads:

“I know where you live. Return what’s mine by moon-rise tomorrow or there will be consequences.”

Instantly Nora knows they are all in imminent danger so she leaves the house and takes her grandchildren to her flower shop and there they find another threatening note! From this note, Nora knows who the letter is from and what they are looking for.

Nora and the Map of Mayhem by Joseph Elliott spread 1

We soon learn that not everything with Nora’s life is as it seems as Nora used to live a double life, known as the infamous Spit-Tooth.
One of Nora’s old foes, Ripclaw – is back with a vengeance – and looking to take back the Map of Mayhem that Nora “stole” (borrowed with no intention of giving it back!)

Nora and her grandchildren travel across treacherous seas, fight off the Gracken, escape the grasp of the Rot Wraiths and sail to the Craggenwich Isles on their ship, The Wonky Goose.

Nora and the Map of Mayhem by Joseph Elliott spread 2

Our verdict:

A laugh-out-loud child’s, fiction book with character growth and development throughout. Joseph has you gripped the moment you start, with hilarious anecdotes and beastly monsters to picture vividly.

Not only hilariously written, the book observes that all families are different and should be celebrated. We learn that Atticus is facing relatable struggles  – struggles of navigating friendships and battling his own anxieties.

The discovery of who Nora is and what she did in her past life helps create a character that young readers will root for and grow to love. Fabulously written, Nora and the Map of Mayhem is a great read for any child in primary school who loves pirates, monsters and comedy!

Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • Discuss family units and how every family is different.
  • Study of pirates and pirate ships.
  • Exploration of mythical sea creatures.
  • Debating how old children should be to have their own phone.
  • Creative activities turning yourself into a pirate and giving yourself a made-up pirate name.

Many thanks to Piccadilly Press for the review copy.

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If you like Nora and the Map of Mayhem by Joseph Elliott you might also like: our reviews of Max Magic: The Incredible Holiday Hideout by Stephen Mulhern with Tom Easton, Sar Wylda & The Legendary Goldbreaker by Jake R Wilson, Skylar and the K-pop Headteacher by Luan Goldie, Grimwood: Attack of the Stink Monster by Nadia Shireen, Nikhil and Jay: Off to India by Chitra Soundar and Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret by Claire Barker.

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About Harriet Davies

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Experienced primary school teacher, reading and phonics lead, school librarian and children's book enthusiast! Twitter | Reviews by Harriet Davies