Reader Reviewed The Adventures of Alfie Onion by Vivian French

The Adventures of Alfie Onion

Written by Vivian French
Illustrated by Marta Kissi

7+ readers   9+ readers   Books for Boys   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

If you love fairytales – and who couldn’t? – you’ll love this brand new adventure written by one of our most inventive and entertaining children’s authors. Magnifico Onion might be the seventh son of a seventh son but he’s been spoiled rotten all his life and is no hero, despite what his mum thinks. His little brother Alife however has all the qualities that make the youngest son a fairytale favourite. Together they head off in search of adventure and fortune. To find out which one gets to marry the princess and which one settles down with an ogress, you’ll have to read the book – and a real treat it is. A sparkling story that will leave everyone happy! ~ Andrea Reece

Readers who like this will also enjoy Kaye Umansky’s Pongwiffy series.

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Anya Fuller, age 8 - 'This book is good to read if you like magical stories and I like magical stories so I loved it.'
  • Erica Motoc, age 10 - 'It is a brilliant and amazing book!'
  • Oliver Lonsdale, age 8 - 'Crazy, funny book, the talking animals are the best.'
  • Daniel Bisland age 8 and Alexander Bisland age 10 - 'We recommend it to 7+ good, adventurous readers...We really like the illustrations and like what happened in the story.'


The Adventures of Alfie Onion by Vivian French

A stand-alone comic adventure for younger readers by sublime storyteller Vivian French, with pictures by a talented new illustrator and animator, Marta Kissi. Alfie Onion has just set off on a great adventure ...but only to carry his brother's luggage. It's his elder brother, Magnifico Onion, who's destined to win their family a Happily Ever After. But when it turns out Magnifico isn't half the hero he's cracked up to be, it falls to Alfie to save the day - with a little help from his loyal dog, a talking horse, and a couple of meddling magpies.


A fresh, funny fairytale adventure with oodles of comic appeal. The Bookseller A sparkling story that will leave everyone happy! Andrea Reece I loved this! My first (yeah, sorry about that) Vivian French book. Not my last. [...]Even when you know who has to kiss whom, this is fun and exciting. Great stuff. And how to get round the seventh son nonsense. Cute and funny illustrations by Marta Kissi. Bookwitch blog This is no ordinary fairytale! [...] Vivian French re-creates the fairy tale genre with a host of engaging characters and talking animals, all desperate for a Prince to kiss a Princess. [...] A happy ending all round completes this alternative tale on the traditional form. What's not to like? Join the adventure. IBW Children's Book Guide, The Bookseller A hilarious fresh new take on the fairytale genre Surrey Advertiser

About the Author

Vivian French

Vivian French is an acclaimed children's author who has written over forty picture books for Walker. Her non-fiction titles include Yucky Worms, Growing Frogs and T. Rex in the Nature Storybooks series and she has written numerous retellings of fairytales and folktales as well as the Stargirl Academy series. Vivian teaches on the illustration course at Edinburgh School of Art and is beginning a PhD on picture books at Newcastle University. Vivian lives in Edinburgh.

Vivian French - as a child

Vivian doesn't remember her schooldays with any affection at all. "I had a nightmarish imagination," she says, "and I could always see exactly how things could go wrong. I ended up scared of everything - games, teachers, lessons - and I was always sick on Sunday nights if there was school the next day. My best times were when I went to stay with my grandparents; they had a huge garden, and I lived a blissfully happy fantasy life in among the trees."

As an adult

Vivian's first job ever was at the National Book League (now BookTrust) where she was always reading children's books. She left to have her first daughter, then joined a travelling theatre company. "My whole life changed," she says. "I loved the acting, and I loved touring. I began to write plays for us to perform, but it never occurred to me to write stories.

As an artist

Vivian has written dozens of books on all subjects and for all ages, including the board book Lullaby Lion, the picture book Polly’s Pink Pyjamas, the non-fiction picture books Yukky Worms, Chocolate and Caterpillar Butterfly, (shortlisted for the 1993 Kurt Maschler award), the fabulous comic fantasy series Tales from the Five Kingdoms and six first experience books about the Buttons family (publishing in 2012). She says, "I like to move between picture books and teenage angst, between fiction and non-fiction, between retellings and new ideas. Someone wise once told me that it's all right to be a free wheeler (at the time I was earnestly searching for a defining label) and I'm happy with that.

Vivian has been writer-in-residence at libraries, schools and festivals, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Wordplay, Swansea. She was a regular reviewer for The Guardian for six years, and travels all around the world swapping and sharing ideas with children and adults.

Things you didn't know about Vivian French

1. When she was little she had an imaginary lion called Jesus.

2. She is absolutely no good at cooking at all; all she can make is macaroni cheese.

3. She's written three books under the name of Louis Catt - her cat's called Louis.

4. She once got muddled and told a school that she had five daughters instead of four, and had to make up a whole story about the extra daughter.

5. She hates mince pies, and beetroot with vinegar on it.

6. Her favourite journey is the number 22 bus route in Edinburgh; it trundles along beside the Water of Leith and takes her home.

7. She really likes cars, and would LOVE to have a Mark One Ford Cortina (she used to have one but it fell apart.) If anyone's got one going spare, please send it c/o Walker Books.

8. She is rather nervous of cows, especially when they stare at her.

9. Her favourite food is mango sorbet. Or raspberries. Or both together.

10. She is usually hopeful.

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Book Info


192 pages
Interest Age: From 7


Vivian French
More books by Vivian French

Author's Website


Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

5th May 2016




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