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This is a review of the Classic Rupert Annual 2013 which I was really surprised to come across at Poundland. I always take a look at the books when I'm in store as I have found some great reads there and for a pound you don't mind if you buy an odd mistake!
The Rupert Annual is definitely the official and proper version. But I have to say the pages are not as high quality as I'd expect for what some may consider to be a collector's item. Let me add up front, I do plan to use this book for various crafts as the page illustrations are beautiful but my version is destined to be cut up. Sorry about that. Apologies also to Rupert experts, my knowledge is limited and the review is just observational rather than a fan's view!
The inside cover uses an old fashioned illustration of a dated looking Rupert in front of a waterfall with a fish (salmon?) jumping out. These 'endpapers' are taken from the 1966 Rupert Annual. The first page enables the owner to add their name to a printed name plate which is a nice touch if given as a gift. The contents give a hint to the content of the book which include the story titles and puzzles and games. The next page was already worth my £1 spent as it was a 2013 Calendar at a glance which has been taped to my computer desk, just what I needed to keep an eye on the year as it speeds by! The Calendar has lunar dates marked off which is also of interest.
I suspect I picked this up cheaply as we are well in to 2013 now and perhaps buying annuals is not at the top of everyone's lists now. The illustrations are lovely and will work well for the home made envelopes I am gifting to a friend shortly (when I've made them!). There are plenty of the Rupert cartoons to read that will entertain young owners of this annual. Each story is accompanied by rhyming verse which is typical of Rupert style and quite charming.
There was only one copy to my knowledge on sale in Poundland but you can buy them from 1p on Amazon (plus postage of course) so copies are freely available for a cheap price.
I am not sure of the intended age for this annual (although the back cover suggests 5+) but it looks like one that could be read aloud and the pictures shared or independently read (ideally under the duvet with a torch!). The extra touches like 'Ru-doku' and a memory test at the end of the book make it interactive and fun if your child is dedicated to these sort of things. Clearly some will prefer the cartoons and others will want to play the dice game. I can't fault this for the money I paid and yet I am a little disappointed by the quality of this annual for its RRP of £7.99.
This is annual number 77 and is published for Christmas 2012.
Annual number 77.
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd (6 Aug 2012)
---The Book in Detail---
Matt cover with image of Rupert, seaside view and an old fashioned train. The image wraps around to the back cover where there are more images of Rupert's friends and a paddle steamer and castle.
By Egmont - 'we bring stories to life'.
Back cover states 'Express Newpaper' and 'Classic Media'.
For age 5+.
Printed in Italy.
Double endpapers inside cover back and front - dark image of Rupert by a waterfall - taken from the Rupert Annual of 1966, the illustration was by Alfred Bestall.
The book contains just three stories:
*Rupert and the Blue Moon (from Rupert Book 1956)
*Rupert and the River Pirates (from Rupert Annual 1987)
*Rupert and the Bosun's Chair (by Stuart Trotter).
The book also has:-
*Two origami patterns
*A dice game
*A memory game
*A spot the difference page.
£7.99 at full price. Currently £5.99 on Amazon.
---The Annual Itself---
First impressions were a disappointment for two reasons - the cover is matt and not shiny and glossy as it usually has been - and Rupert's face just does not look as detailed and friendly as it should.
It also feels very lightweight and thin - no wonder as it only has three stories in it - when there used to be six!
The end pages, which are usually colourful and interesting views of Rupert's home area of Nutwood are dark and gloomy and anyway are recreated from the 1966 annual.
Moving on to the stories - three seems very little, but worse is to come. In fact two of those stories are from old Rupert books, one from 1956 and the other from 1987.
Only the last story is an original and it is very short, being only 10 pages (the first old reprinted story being 19 pages).
The Rupert story about the Blue Moon is set at Christmastime but this is not as Christmassy as some stories that feature Father Chriatmas and snowmen.
Rupert stories come in three levels - the colour pictures enable you to follow the story with a very young child, the rhyming couplets tell a bit more of the story, or you can read the full text in paragraphs at the bottom of the page.
Each page mostly has four colour pictures each with rhyming couplets underneath, then at the bottom of the page are two larger paragraphs to read if you wish.
The illustrations are bright and colourful, and it is good to see Origami back in the annuals. The double pages of a dice game is a nice addition, as are the other games and puzzles - though I am sure I have seem the train puzzle before.
The full page for the 2013 lunar calendar is a nice touch to go with the 'Blue Moon' story - though they do say that a lunar calendar will not show you when a blue moon will occur, whereas one explanation of 'blue moon' is if there are two full moons in one month - so it can be seen on a calendar - confusing.
Although I love Rupert I feel these annuals are getting really bad value for money. They are getting thiner and thiner and with only one small new story it seems a very bad production. It is odd that so many stories are being repeated in the annual when facsimilies of the old annuals are also on sale.
However even with all my negative comments I would still urge people to get this annual - it will bring back lots of memories for many of us older readers and may entertain some younger ones. Also as the annuals mostly sell out people do want to collect them.
4 stars - not a patch on the older annuals but still worth investing in.
---Would I Recommend?---
This is difficult because I do not think very much of the book but if people stop buying it there might be no Rupert Annual at all, which would be very sad.
It would probably be fine for children who would not know the older stories, but for collectors and those who are nostalgic it might be a mixed blessing. The games and puzzles are good and I would say it was worth getting - it is just a shame as I know the book could have been so much better than it is.
---Next Rupert Annual---
The Christmas 2013 Rupert Annual will be available for pre-order on Amazon from around June 2013.