This is annual number 73 and was published for Christmas 2008.
===Why I Bought This===
I am a great fan of Rupert and am now quietly buying copies of the annuals that I have missed out on in the past. Not that it matters which one you buy as the stories are timeless anyway.
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd (4 Aug 2008)
Illustrations and Stories by Stuart Trotter.
Text and Editing by Anna Bowles.
===The Book in Detail===
Padded cover with image of Rupert and an orange lolly with a stean train in the background. The image wraps around to the back cover where there are more images of Rupert's friends with a hot air balloon and a fun fair - the back cover is not padded.
On the front is a removable sticker which states 'all new stories'.
By Egmont - 'we bring stories to life'.
Back cover states 'Express Newpaper' and 'Entertainment Rights'.
Published in GB 2008.
Printed in Italy.
Double endpapers inside cover back and front - image of a large steam train with small images of Rupert Bear, his friend Edward Trunk and PC Growler.
Price triangle still present showing £7.99.
Inside is a place for child to write their name.
The book contains just three stories:
* Rupert and the Ice Cream Van - 16 pages.
* Rupert and the Fairy Tales - 17 pages.
* Rupert and the Branch Line - 12 pages.
The book also has:-
* Page with images and descriptions of Ruperts family and friends.
* Join the dots page.
* Combination lock puzzle page.
* 2 page dice bean stalk game
* Page of Rupert's Riddles.
* Page of shadow animals.
* Colouring page.
* Spot the difference page.
* 2 pages about the History of Rupert with survey.
* Wordsearch page.
* Origami page.
* Anagram page.
* Maze page.
* Memory game page.
===Background to Rupert===
Rupert Bear has been a comic strip character in the Express Newspaper since 1920. The annuals have been produced since 1936 and even continued during the War years.
Rupert is a fictional little bear character who lives in the village of Nutwood with his parents. He and his parents and friends all wear clothes - his mother dresses in is a long dress and apron and his father is in a patterned sweater and often with a bow tie.
Rupert's friends are different little animals: Bill Badger, Willie Mouse, Edward Trunk (elephant), Algie Pug etc. They live in a sort of time warp era, Rupert has an old black telephone at home, there are a few old fashioned cars and steam trains, at Christmas the 'children' (i.e. Rupert and his friends) get given old fashioned toys as presents - ball, sailing boat, wooden soldiers, spinning top etc.
Rupert is depicted as a white bear in the stories in the book, but is brown on the covers (apparently he was changed to white to save on Newspaper printing costs of the comic strip). He always wears yellow and black check trousers and a red sweater, plus a yellow and black check scarf when necessary. He will wear black wellingtons in winter and also a bright red coat - this does not clash with Father Christmas in the seasonal stories as Santa always has to be dressed in a slightly darker shade of red. Rupert also has a red dressing gown.
£7.99 at full price. Currently can be picked up second hand on Amazon for £1.68.
===Why I Like Rupert===
I have always had Rupert books from the early 1960s when I inherited some of my sister's annuals. Then I would have annuals of my own, later I would get them for my nieces and then my own sons - so I have had a long relationship with him. Now I buy them for relatives - or just for my own collection.
What I liked about Rupert was that it was timeless. the little village of Nutwood was always the same - Rupert would go out and have adventures in the countryside - but always came back home safely to his little cottage. There was no violence - even if Rupert got kidnapped - and it all worked out right in the end.
My sons in the 90s also enjoyed Rupert - both on TV and the annuals - especially doing the 'spot the difference' puzzles - it did not seem to occur to us that his life was not 'current' with TVs and mobile phones - it was part of his charm.
===The Annual Itself===
First impressions was that I did not really like RUpert's face on the cover - it looked a bit to babyisH and immature for him. The padded cover was a nice touch - thoUgh whether it was done merely to make the book seem fatter than it is I cannot say.
To only have the three stories was disappointing - as was the fact that there was no seasonal story.
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 touch, as are the other games and puzzles - there seems an abundance of things to do in this annual - which I suppose makes up for the lack of stories.
Having a History of Rupert is very nice and I would have loved that when I was younger to have known more about his background.
===Rupert and the Ice Cream Van===
Here Mr Bear, Rupert's dad, has renovated an ice cream van and takes it to the fair. A hot air balloon carries it and Rupert off and they end up floating in a river and then get carried out to sea until some fish tow them Back to the beach.
===Rupert and the Fairy Tales===
Rupert is reading a fairy tale book at home when the gingerbread man escapes out of the book and runs to the woods. Rupert follows and then gets caught and tied up by a wolf. He is rescued by his friend Bill Badger and in the woods also meets the Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. Rupert goes up the beanstalk and meets the Giant. Rupert and Bill ride back on the Golden Goose, later meeting Hansel and Gretel and Goldilocks.
Later Rupert awakes at home and thinks it has all been a dream - until he finds bean seeds in is pocket.
===History of Rupert===
Rupert has been famous for over 80 years and it states that possibly your parents or even grandparents are fans of Rupert.
===Mary Tourtel - did Rupert from 1920-1935===
Early Rupert wore a blue jumper and white trousers. He also had his friends Bil Badger adn Edward Trunk from this time.
===Alfred Bestall - did Rupert from 1935-1965===
Did over 270 strips of stories and is the most famous of Rupert artists. Bestall created much of the Nutwood that we know and love today. he was very exact and insisted that Rupert's trousers had only six stripes.
===John Harrold did Rupert form mid 1970s to mid 1990s===
Some of John Harrold's work featured in the annuals until 2007. Until recently Rupert stories had not been written for some time and the annuals contained reprinted classic stories.
===Stuart Trotter from 2008 onwards===
Stuart has been a life-long Rupert fan and stated that this job with Rupert was 'a dream come true'.
A half page survey asking readers what they wanted in the Rupert books and which were their favourie characters etc.
===Rupert and the Branch Line===
In the story Stuart Trotter introduces a new character - Clara the Cat.
The friends go camping as they want to view a train containing Egyptian artefacts passing trough. however in the woods Rupert and pals stumble across robbers who wish to steal the items from the train. Needless to say Rupert and friends save the day and the robbers are caught.
Rupert and pals have a reward of tea in Nutchester.
The Egyptian treasure was from Bearamesis - and it turns out that the hieroglyphics depicted Rupert, Clara and Edward doing a recue - it had all been forteold.
===What I Thought===
Well I was pleasantly surprised with this book as it has had some bad reviews.
===Firstly I will list its good points===
* Although only having three stories it was packed with more puzzles and features than normal - so there was plenty of 'play value' in it.
* I especially liked the article giving Rupert's history.
* The puzzles and origami are always nice to see.
^ Dice game to keep children amused.
* Origami pyramid to tie in with the Egyptina story.
* Survey asking for reader's opinions.
===Some of the bad things about the book===
* The babyish face of Rupert on the cover.
* The fact there are only three stories.
* The fact there s no seasonal story with either Father Christmas, snowmen or reindeer.
* The artwork in some images is very undetailed - normally you can look at the backgrounds and see lots of little details and features - but these are very plain in lots of cases - as are the features of Clara the Cat (or rather the lack of features).
4 stars - better than I had expected after reading bad reviews.
===Would I Recommend?===
Yes - only three stories ut lots of puzzles and things to do - just what you need in an annual - often we used to find the puzzles the best part.
When sons were ill we would always get all the old Rupert Annuals out and go through the puzzles - especially the Spot the Difference.
===Other Rupert Items===
There is much merchandising connected with Rupert - from ornaments to DVDs, cuddly toys and Doulton figurines. There was The Frog Song with Paul Mac Cartney as well.
===Rupert Up To Date===
Unfortunately Rupert has been brought 'up to date' in the last few years - now he wears trainers and a sweatshirt - not my sort of thing at all.
More on this new Rupert at - http://www.rupertbear.com
His new TV series have been aired on channel FIVE since 2006.
Luckily the annuals still use the old version of Rupert with his homely ways.
This is a fan club for Rupert which has regular newsletters and articles on Rupert. Their website is at - http://www.ee.ed.ac.uk/~afm/followers/