Emma Laybourn


I'm a qualified teacher and librarian who has had seven children's books published in traditional form in the UK and USA. I've also had about sixty short stories published in British and Australian magazines.
In 2012 I set up a child-friendly website, www.megamousebooks.com, to offer free children's stories, ebooks and printable puzzles. Five years later I created my second site, www.englishliteratureebooks.com, as a home for free abridged classic novels and classic poetry ebook collections. Keeping both sites going is proving a full-time job, but a very enjoyable one!



The Plague of 1665: Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year and other contemporary accounts
Price: Free! Words: 82,320. Language: English. Published: June 18, 2020 . Categories: Nonfiction » History » European » Europe / Great Britain, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / contagious
(4.00 from 1 review)
The Plague of 1665 was the last great epidemic of plague to strike London.This book provides an overview of the plague's history and pathology, followed by a comparison of contemporary accounts, with an abridged version of Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year", and summaries and extracts of other works by doctors and diarists.
Humdrum the Hippo
Price: Free! Words: 2,800. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Hippopotamuses & rhinoceroses, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Chapter Books
Humdrum the little hippo lives with his family - but why do none of them want to listen to his wonderful story? Maybe the giant crocodile will like it... This easy chapter book for younger readers is also perfect to read aloud.
Children's Printable Puzzles
Price: Free! Words: 560. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2020 . Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Activity Books, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Games & Activities / Puzzles
Fifteen easy crosswords and other puzzles for children on various themes - deep sea, space, animals, fairytales and more!
Alien Ahoy! and Other Stories
Price: Free! Words: 13,190. Language: English. Published: March 25, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Chapter Books
A starship crew meet a most unusual alien! Read about their adventures in these four short, easy chapter books: Alien Ahoy, The Moon Monster, The Spooky Spaceship and The Runaway Space School.
Doofus on the Edge
Price: Free! Words: 52,440. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Pets & domestic animals
What is the secret of the mysterious black dog, Doofus? Can he really call up creatures from the distant past? When Holly and Clive take him to stay by the sea, strange things start to happen... This sequel to 'Doofus, Dog of Doom' can also be read as a stand-alone adventure story.
Pies and Harmony
Price: Free! Words: 4,340. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Ella and her brother Matt aren't looking forward to the Christmas holiday. Instead of presents and decorations, their house is full of noise and dust. But then they discover something surprising hidden in the wall... This short chapter book is a heart-warming family story for Christmas.
Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 130,110. Language: English. Published: March 8, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Classics, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
North and South is a great Victorian novel of social conflict and romance, set in the industrial north of England. This abridgement of Elizabeth Gaskell's humane and thoughtful work is two thirds of its original length. It makes her classic novel more approachable for the modern reader, and includes a section explaining the historical context.
W.M. Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 180,560. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Classics, Fiction » Historical » Regency
Vanity Fair follows the fortunes of several families through the Battle of Waterloo and after. It is one of the great Victorian novels, full of life and interest; yet is nowadays little read because of its length. This abridged edition makes Thackeray's classic more approachable for today's reader.
Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 131,010. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Classics, Fiction » Literature » Literary
Tristram Shandy, widely regarded as one of the great works of English literature, is also one of the most difficult to read. This edition simplifies and shortens the book to two-thirds of its original length, making it accessible to the general reader while retaining its wit and style.
Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights: Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 78,220. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Classics, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
This edition of "Wuthering Heights" has been shortened to two-thirds of its original length, and slightly simplified, whilst preserving the book's character. It offers readers with good English a more approachable version of Emily's Bronte's great classic novel.
Chaos at Custard Castle
Price: Free! Words: 8,280. Language: English. Published: December 26, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(5.00 from 1 review)
Custard Castle has three hundred dusty rooms, and only seven people. One of them is Wizard Watchit – whose spells have a habit of going horribly wrong! Four easy, humorous stories for younger children.
Horace's Christmas Sleigh
Price: Free! Words: 4,070. Language: English. Published: December 7, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(5.00 from 1 review)
Horace the dog is in despair. Christmas is cancelled – and it’s all his fault! He decides to make it up to his family by pretending to be Santa. But where is he going to get a Santa costume, and presents – to say nothing of a sleigh?
Clone Rangers
Price: Free! Words: 41,000. Language: English. Published: December 8, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Dystopian
Benbow is a police dog who patrols the ruined City, home to gangs of street children and their dogs. When he loses a leg, he thinks his career is over - but his boss has other plans. He has Benbow cloned, and then orders him and the pups to track down three special children hidden in the City... A futuristic adventure for readers of 9 and over.
George Eliot's Daniel Deronda: Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 186,580. Language: English. Published: August 12, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Classics, Fiction » Literature » Literary
"Daniel Deronda", the last, great novel by the author of "Middlemarch", is less read nowadays than it deserves because of its length and complexity. This abridged version makes George Eliot's important and insightful work more accessible to the general reader.
Doofus, Dog of Doom
Price: Free! Words: 44,460. Language: English. Published: May 15, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Paranormal, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
(4.00 from 1 review)
He's a sad, abandoned puppy from the dogs' home. But Doofus is no ordinary dog, as Clive and Holly soon discover. Can he really be a fearsome dog of ancient legend? And why is their village being invaded by frightening creatures from the past?
A Bundle of Dinosaurs: Three Dinosaur Stories
Price: Free! Words: 5,060. Language: English. Published: February 18, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals / Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Chapter Books
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Three dinosaur stories, with full colour illustrations. Meet a terrifying T Rex, and the world's biggest dinosaur! "Earthshaker," "Elly and Aargh!" and "King of the KIllers" are ideal for reading aloud, or for confident readers to enjoy on their own.
Price: Free! Words: 6,310. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Pets & domestic animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Chapter Books
What use is a cat that can't catch mice? Bobbins lives in an old cotton mill with three other cats, who are much better at the job than he is. Bobbins is determined to learn - but then disaster strikes the mill, and puts them all in danger....
Jane Austen's Mansfield Park: Abridged
Price: Free! Words: 105,300. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Classics
This edition of "Mansfield Park" has been shortened to two-thirds of its original length, and slightly simplified, whilst preserving Jane Austen's style. It offers readers with good English a more approachable version of the great classic novel.
Flying Fur
Series: WHEElers, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 20,340. Language: English. Published: August 2, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Cars, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Pets & domestic animals
It's fast, it's sleek, it's beautiful - it's the Golden Arrow car, first prize in a competition that Horace is determined to win. But all the other dogs want to win it too; to say nothing of the stunt hamsters, and those sneaky cats... More mayhem with Horace and his friends, in this fast and funny sequel to the free books PETROL PAWS and RACE NIGHT.
Race Night
Series: WHEElers, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 11,490. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Cars, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
What's a car-mad dog to do? The cats have challenged Horace to a race - but he's been banned from driving the family car! So he decides that he'll just have to build his own. What could possibly go wrong? This sequel to PETROL PAWS is full of fun for ages 7 and over.
Petrol Paws
Series: WHEElers, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 12,130. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Cars, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(5.00 from 1 review)
Can a dog really learn to drive? Horace is a car-mad hound who longs to get behind the wheel. With the help of two stunt hamsters and a snake, he sets out on the road - and drives straight into trouble! Action-packed fun for ages 7 and over.
Cosmic Camel
Price: Free! Words: 22,760. Language: English. Published: March 23, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Wild animals (general)
(5.00 from 1 review)
Donal's school trip to the zoo turns into an unexpected journey across space. Accompanied only by a lofty camel and a lemming, he finds himself hurtling towards a distant planet, a crowd of little green aliens - and a deadly mission! Thrills and laughs for readers of 8 and over.
I Can't See You
Price: Free! Words: 11,550. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Bullying, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / General
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
"I can't see you!" said Oliver. "You're not there." All Reece wants is to make friends at his new school. But when Oliver snubs him, he finds a most unusual way to get revenge... A lively and thought-provoking story for ages 9 and over.
Cold Cuthbert's Journey
Price: Free! Words: 4,640. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent, Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
"Snowmen can only walk," said Mum, "when it is very, very cold and very, very still indeed." But that Christmas Eve was the coldest and stillest that Owen and Lily had ever known...
Mummy Mania
Price: Free! Words: 24,230. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / Ancient Civilizations
Can an Ancient Egyptian mummy really have got up and walked out of the museum? Amber and Jake set out on its trail - and end up on a hair-raising and hilarious chase!
The Ghost of Custard Castle
Price: Free! Words: 9,960. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
Six stories about Custard Castle, which has three hundred dusty rooms and only seven people. But it also has a ghost, a skeleton and some unwanted visitors - including a knight with no head, and a Count with worryingly sharp teeth! Excitement and humour for younger readers.
The King of Custard Castle
Price: Free! Words: 5,920. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
Custard Castle has a King, a Queen, a wizard, a dragon under the stairs - and a terrifying Thing in the dungeon! Four gently humorous stories for younger children.
The Trophy Trap
Price: Free! Words: 9,030. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Family / General, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
Abby's never won a trophy before. So why should her brother Liam be the one who gets to keep it? There's only one solution: steal it off him. Her attempts to get the trophy back leave chaos in their wake... and will amuse readers of 8 and over.
Captain Snatchit's Parrot
Price: Free! Words: 6,740. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Pirates, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Chapter Books
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
The parrot Neptune sails the high seas with the pirate Captain Snatchit. Then the pirate ship sinks - and Captain Snatchit decides to take over Parrot Island. With thrills, spills and laughs, it's pirates versus parrots in these three stories about Neptune. Beware of bad pirate language!
Price: Free! Words: 21,120. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Computers
"It came alive!" Joe can't believe it when his new computer mouse comes to life. He's thrilled - until Megamouse goes exploring, and ends up in terrible danger... A new edition of the book reviewed as: "Very funny" (The Observer) "A rollicking adventure" (The Independent
One Thousand Lollipops
Price: Free! Words: 8,450. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Children’s books » Family / General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Sam just loves sweet things. So when he wins a thousand giant rainbow lollipops, it's a dream come true. But very soon the dream turns into a disaster... A fast and funny chapter book for readers of 8 and over.
Save the Unicorn!
Price: Free! Words: 2,680. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(4.00 from 1 review)
No unicorns have been seen near Kia's village for twenty years, so when she spots one, she is delighted. But the fierce Sir Crabcut is determined to hunt it down, and Kia is the only person who can save it. The trouble is, this unicorn doesn't want be rescued...
Price: Free! Words: 3,320. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals » Marine creatures (general)
Nobody can swim in the sea because of the sharks. So Mr McBlister the millionaire invents the terrifying robot Sharkbiter to get rid of them - but who will get rid of Sharkbiter?

Emma Laybourn's tag cloud

abridged classics    abridged novel    adventure    alternative energy    ancient egypt    ancient history    animal story    automobiles    black death    black dog    black dog legend    british industrial history    bubonic plague    bullying    camel    candy    car story    cars and driving    castle story    cats    chapter book    childrens adventure    childrens christmas story    childrens crosswords    childrens dragon story    childrens humour    childrens magic story    childrens story ww1    childrens wizard story    christmas story    classic literature    classic novel    climate    climate change    cloning    computer mouse    computers    cotton mill    crocodile    dentists    desert    dinosaurs    dog story    driving dog    driving dogs    easy crosswords    easy reader    easy story    ecology    egyptian mummy    eighteenth century novel    english literature    environment    fairytale    family story    fantasy    friendship    funny christmas story    funny fiction    funny story    futuristic story    george eliotvictorian novelvictorian literature    ghost story    global warming    grandfather    headless knight    hieroglyphs    hippopotamus    history of medicine    humorous books    humour    jane austen    kids humour    lemming    literature classics    lollipops    mansfield park    marine life    mice and rats    middle grade    mill workers    museum    nineteenth century literature    original fairy tale    outer space    parrots    pets    pingpong    pirates    police dogs    prehistoric story    prehistory    regency england    relationships    robots    santas sleigh    school    school story    science fiction    sea    sea animals    sea life    sea story    seashore    seismosaurus    sharks    sibling rivalry    snow story    snowman story    social novel    space monster    space story    space travel    story about dogs    storytelling    stunt hamsters    sweets    t rex    table tennis    teeth    themed crosswords    unicorn    vampire story    victorian novel    victorian novels    waterloo    waterspout    wizard   

Smashwords book reviews by Emma Laybourn

  • Animal kennings (poems) on March 31, 2012

    There are some lovely images in these short poems by school-children. They should inspire other children to try writing their own kennings.
  • Breakthrough on April 24, 2012

    This SF/horror story is written with considerable skill and panache. The only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because the ending was a little too guessable - and too short. I wanted more!
  • The Red Man on May 15, 2012

    I thought I'd just take a quick look at this and then couldn't stop reading. It's intelligently and skilfully written, with some striking images and a rhythm to the prose that hasn't just happened by accident. Well-researched on archaeology too. Oh, and nicely creepy...
  • Barnaby's Shorts (Volume One) on July 27, 2012

    These good-natured, discursive stories are sometimes a little slow to get going, but contain some really inventive ideas. I especially enjoyed "Benny" and "Onwards and Upwards."
  • A Little Orange in the Big Apple on Dec. 31, 2012

    The story of Ali and her family, who move to New York in the 1950's, this thoughtful, carefully-crafted story is very evocative of its time and place. Although its heroine is 7 at the start, the book is better suited to ages 10 and over; it's quite long and leisurely and describes unsettling events as well as happy ones. However, it should be enjoyed by older childen and adults who like realistic family stories.
  • Spoticus on Jan. 04, 2013

    This is a clever, funny book, skilfully written with plenty of excitement and an interesting, well thought-out plot. Because it's fairly complex and has a bit of slightly bad language, I think it's best suited to children over ten. The setting and humour are very British and might at times bemuse readers of other nationalities - but give it a go anyway. Lots of thought-provoking fun.
  • 4 Go to Dumdumland on Feb. 18, 2013

    I really enjoyed this funny, anarchic story, packed with silliness and good jokes. My only reservations are that the use of the present tense might put off some readers; and in one or two places the punctuation appears to have gone walkabout. But overall it was a very entertaining read.
  • Creepy Christmas on Nov. 20, 2013

    I'm really impressed by the way the author gets inside her 10 year old heroine's head. This is a well-written story with some creepy effects worthy of a Dr Who plot, and a suitably heart-warming finale for a Christmas story. I think the book would have been even better if the first 2 or 3 chapters made more use of dialogue and paragraph breaks. The solid blocks of text might deter some children if they're not confident readers; and that would be a shame, as once the story picks up pace it remains absorbing to the end.
  • The Ride to Save King on Jan. 05, 2014

    Well-written and clearly told, this realistic adventure does a good job of conveying the tension of trying to outrun a hurricane. Although the heroine is 14, the book would appeal to readers of 10 and over - and not just horse-lovers. I felt the ending was rather abrupt, but overall a good, engrossing read.
  • 5th Grade Freak-out on Jan. 23, 2014

    If the author was only 10 or 11 when she wrote this, she shows tremendous talent and a strong grasp of narrative language and style. While the book obviously owes a great deal to Enid Blyton's St Clare's and Malory Towers school stories, it's carefully plotted, with lively dialogue, and is fun to read. I hope the author keeps writing!
  • Theophilus Grim and the Fowl of Ruin on Dec. 11, 2014

    This tongue-in-cheek adventure set in Victorian London is written with verve and aplomb. Its wordy style is appropriate for the setting, though it means the book is best suited to older children (or indeed adults).
  • Speed on Dec. 12, 2015

    This is a very competently written thriller for readers of about 11 upwards. It has plenty of excitement (and doesn't pull its punches) but is also perceptive in its analysis of the 14 year old hero's frame of mind as he finds himself caught up in a web of fear and deceit. A good, pacy read.
  • The Alphabet Game (an Interactive ABC Book for Kids) on April 21, 2016

    This animal alphabet book is based on a really clever idea. It asks children to recognise one letter in an animal's name; then by clicking on it, they are led to a picture of a new animal, where they click on a new letter in its name, and so on. It also works well as a standard alphabet book. The illustrations are bright, colourful and appealing, and the game is easy to play. The animal names are in upper case (which some people might not like) - but children have to learn upper case letters as well as lower case, and this book is an attractive way of helping them to do that. Unfortunately you can't play the interactive game on Smashwords' "online reader" format as links don't work in that format (for any book, I believe, not just this one). However, if you wanted to play the game on a computer screen with your child, the pdf version works very well.
  • That Five Percent on Feb. 11, 2017

    Funny, surreal, cleverly written short story about life in an abnormal office. Or maybe a normal one.
  • Sarah Sues Santa on Dec. 17, 2017

    This is a cleverly thought-out, well-written story, with shades of DIckens's "A Christmas Carol" in the way in which the heroine, Sarah, is shown different versions of Christmas. Although Sarah is seven, the book may be best appreciated by slightly older children. Thought-provoking and fun.