The Grimmelings by Rachael King

The Grimmelings by Rachael King – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Mythical creatures, New Zealand, legends.
Children’s book title: The Grimmelings.
Children’s author: Rachael King.
Children’s illustrator: Max Thompson.
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy.
Published by: Guppy Books.
ISBN: 9781916558250.
Recommended for children aged: 9-12 year-olds.
First published: Paperback May 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Discussing the power of myths and legends and how as they are passed down from generation to generation the details can change and sometimes centre around magical and mystical creatures.

The Grimmelings by Rachael King

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

Our review:

Ella lives with her mum, Morag, younger sister, Fiona, and grandmother, Grizzly in a beautiful part of New Zealand known as the Basin. Her dad and grandfather both disappeared at the local lake and so now Morag runs the family pony trekking business by herself. Both Ella and Fiona experience bullying at school because most of their peers think the family is a bit odd.

Grizzly loves words and shares them with Ella in little notes left where she will find them but her grandmother has cancer and is getting ever weaker. Lonely at the start of the school holidays Ella wishes for a friend but she had already cursed someone during the day and that’s when things begin to change.

One of her classmates disappears and a boy her age introduces himself as Gus saying he’s working at a neighbour’s farm. A beautiful but elusive black horse is seen in the area but it isn’t until Grizzly hears about these things and can explain what’s happening that the danger to the family becomes clear. Can they break the cycle of disasters that have befallen them or has the chance already passed to save Ella, her family, and the rest of the Basin’s inhabitants?

The Grimmelings by Rachael King spread 1

Our verdict:

This is an atmospheric, well-written, standalone novel where the majesty of New Zealand’s stunningly beautiful landscape leaps off the page and even the mythical parts of the story are easy to imagine.

The lives of Ella and her family draw you straight in and their everyday existence merges seamlessly with the gradual increase in tension caused by both Gus and the black horse. The words included at the start of some chapters are a nice touch as is the way the author uses them in context throughout.

This is quite a serious book and probably more suited to confident rather than reluctant readers.

Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • The words at the beginning of some of the chapters, including the definitions, would make ideal sentence starters and lesson starters.
  • The author has an engaging website and can be found on Twitter.

Many thanks to Guppy Books for the review copy.

To order a class set of this book, please click below to order via, an organisation that supports local bookshops, or

Buy from UK.Bookshop.Org Buy from

Disclosure: If you buy books using the buttons above: we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops; as an Amazon Associate earns from qualifying purchases.

If you like The Grimmelings by Rachael King you might also like: our reviews of The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart, Stone by Finbar Hawkins, The Ash House by Angharad Walker, By Ash, Oak and Thorn by Melissa Harrison and The Rescue of Ravenwood by Natasha Farrant.

Browse our list of books for Year 6

About Tracy Wood

Photo of author
I am a voracious reader and used to be a learning support assistant in a senior school for eight years before leaving to home school my now adult daughter. I have ten grandchildren who I love reading to and spending time with. Reviews by Tracy Wood