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My children went through a phase of really liking Charlie and Lola, the cbeebies TV programme. I saw a set of books in the Book People catalogue. I can't remember how much exactly I paid for the set, but I think in the region of £10 for a set of 8 books is about right. Each book should have a RRP of around £5, so I was more than happy to pick this up for a bargainous price.
All of the books within the set where based upon the TV series rather than being the original books, and this one is one we have definitely seen on TV. All the books in this set were also a little bit smaller than others we have read in the series. Still square in shape, this one comes in at just under 21x21cm.
The cover features Lola and her friend who lives nearby, Arnold Wolf, enjoying delicious ice creams on a hot day. The plot to this story is probably a familiar scenario to many parents. It is a boiling hot day, and Charlie and Lola are trying to keep cool. They can't go swimming with their friends, but instead they decide to play in the garden with their friend Arnold. The ice cream van comes round, and Lola ends up dropping her ice cream and falling out with their friend Arnold.
Lola is determined never to speak to Arnold again, until she sees him playing in a lovely cool paddling pool and wants to join in.
As is often the case, some of Lola's behaviour is a bit brat-ish, and she doesn't always act in a kind manner. It is left to brother Charlie to steer the younger children into making friends and being civil again.
My children love the books from this series by Lauren Child because of the lovely illustrations mainly, and the way everyday situations are portrayed alongside ideas from Lola's head. Some good examples from this particular book are Lola thinking about cooling down with ice, and picturing herself in the North Pole floating along on an iceberg with whales jumping in the water around them. We also love a water game that the children play with buckets and watering cans which is shown very graphically in the picture used.
This book is perhaps easier for an early reader to tackle compared to some of the original series of books because the writing is written in conventional linear manner. There are some words written in a larger font, and sometimes in capitals too to emphasise the way the children are feeling or acting.
"ICE LOLLIES!" Lola says.
I find that my eldest son (aged 6) can read this book now independently, though my 5 year old can only recognise some words on the pages. At 22 pages, with quite a lot of text on each page, I would say the reading level is around 7 years old at least, and I always think that it benefits my son to read this one to me, or me to him, because half of the beauty to the series is capturing the emotions of the characters within the story.
This story will appeal to any fan of the series either in cartoon or written format. The story is a good stand alone plot which does not come across badly for having been converted from script to story. I can see my children asking me to read this to them for quite a while to come.