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belfin

belfin
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      11.08.2009 06:51
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      Lovely story in this series.

      ***Background***

      This is one of the earlier books in this popular Little Princess series. As well as an extensive list of books, this lovable but stubborn character also appears on television where Jane Horrocks and Julian Clary provide the voices.

      ***The Story***

      We start in this book with some news in the palace.

      "'There's going to be someone new in our family,' said the Queen.

      'Oh goody!' said the Little Princess. 'We're going to get a dog.'"

      The King explains, much to the cat's relief, that the new member isn't a dog, but a baby. The Little Princess is very excited and says she would love a sister. The doctor explains that you can't choose and that it may be a brother but the Little Princess is determined that a sister is all she wants.

      Members of the household all tell her that brothers can be just as much fun as sisters and finally the Queen goes off to have the baby. Her cousin asks her what she'll do if it's a brother and she tells him she'll put it in the dustbin.

      When the King and Queen bring the new baby home, the Little Princess coos over the baby saying that she's lovely and is shocked when she is told that 'she' is really a 'he'.

      The King and Queen explain that they already have a beautiful Little Princess and this cheers her up.

      The book ends with the Little Princess offering to give her new brother the potty she no longer needs.

      ***The Illustrations***

      Tony Ross, who seems to have a knack for getting the expressions on the characters' faces just right, draws the pictures in all of the books in the series. The drawings are all shown in boxes with the text underneath and with the white border of the page, they really stand out.

      ***My Thoughts***

      Babies are something that has already been discussed by my son and there was a time when he was practically begging for a baby brother because he already had two older sisters. Luckily that phase has passed as I have no intention of going down the baby route again but that didn't stop him enjoying this book.

      He should really be outgrowing this type of book but there is something about this naughty little girl that keeps him coming back to them when we visit the library. At seven he is more than capable of reading them himself now and I do often hear him laugh as he reads this story. It is also a fun one for bedtime because it isn't too long and he likes to read his father or I a book at night now before he settles down to sleep.

      What I love about this character is that although she sometimes seems a bit demanding, she doesn't often get her own way and this teaches children that sometimes they just have to go along with what happens. No matter how important a child thinks they are, it's important to have a reminder that other people have to come into the equation.

      I will be a little bit sad when this character disappears from our household because this series has not only kept my son amused but I find it really funny too. The simple illustrations and fun to read stories have been a joy to share.

      ***Other Titles In This Series***

      I Want My Potty
      I Want A Cat
      I Want A Present
      I Want My Tooth
      I Want My Dummy
      I Want To Be
      I Want My Dinner
      I Want My Light On
      I Want To Go Home
      I Don't Want To Go To Bed
      I Don't Want To Go To Hospital
      Wash Your Hands
      I Want My Mum
      I Want A Friend

      Pets Board Book
      Weather Board Book
      Shapes Board Book
      Bedtime Board Book


      ***Other Info***

      This paperback is available for the publishing price of £5.99 but is available from Amazon for only £4.49.

      ISBN No. 0006647308

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        08.08.2009 16:34
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        Another great read from Julia Donaldson.

        ***Background***

        Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have compiled quite a lot of books in the past putting clever rhymes and fun pictures together to make fantastic reads for young children. Of course Julia Donaldson is well known for stories such as The Gruffalo but this one doesn't seem to be so widely known.

        It is actually a compilation of three stories that have been separately published in the past but they are put together here to give children lots of fun as they find out what is behind the flap on each double page.

        ***The Stories***

        Rabbit's Nap is the first story and starts with a little bunny sitting on a chair with a big cushion.

        "Rabbit's feeling sleepy.
        She curls up in a chair.
        Tap! Tap! Who's that?
        Oh dear! It's Builder Bear."

        The poor rabbit tries everywhere to settle down for a nap but is disturbed every time by band-playing mice, a wood-chopping fox and a tortoise ringing his bike bell. Eventually she returns home only to be awakened once more by a knock at her door. When she opens it she finds all the friends who have been keeping her awake who come and sing her a little song to lull her to sleep.

        "'Hush-a-bunny! Tra-la-la!
        We'll sing you off to sleep!'
        Zzzzz! Zzzzz! What's that?
        Shall we have a peep?"

        Under the last flap, under the quilt on the bed, bunny curled up with her dolly, sound asleep.

        Postman Bear continues this set of stories about the animals in Acorn Wood and starts with a bear sitting writing letters. He has three letters to deliver and each one is to one of his friends who live in the woods. We are asked,

        "What was in those letters,
        One, two, three?
        Would you like to open one?
        Havea look and see."

        When the flap of the letter is opened we see that Bear has invited his friends to a party and then we see him preparing food and cakes. The story ends with a knock at the door.

        "Someone's knocking at the door.
        One, two, three.
        Bear goes to open it.
        Who can it be?

        When the flap of the door is opened we see all his friends standing there and underneath are the words, "Happy Birthday, Bear!"

        The last story in the book is called Hide-and-Seek Pig, and starts with Pig playing hide-and-seek with Hen. When it comes to Pig seeking she looks everywhere for hen but instead of finding her, finds other friends instead who join her in her searching fun.

        It's not long before there are a whole host of friends looking for hen and the story ends with them all standing beside a picnic basket.

        "'Come on, Badger, follow me.
        I'll lead you to our picnic tea.'
        Still no Hen! Where did she go?
        Pig can't think. But do you know?"

        Inside the last flap on the picnic basket is Hen who jumps up to give Pig a surprise.

        ***The Illustrations***

        I'm a big fan of Axel Scheffler's drawings and this one is no exception to the rule. His bright colours and realistic sketches make this book a joy to look at and there are always things to discuss in the pictures. The writing in this book is bold and black making it easier for young readers to follow.

        ***The Flaps***

        These are quite sturdy in this book and not as easily torn as in books such as the Spot series. There are a variety of items that incorporate these flaps including doors, gates, tent flaps and even an oven door. Underneath there is always a lovely picture waiting to be found.

        ***My Thoughts***

        Julia Donaldson is one of my son's favourite authors. Her lovely rhymes in the past have been easy for him to memorise when was learning to read now at school, but he is more than capable of reading this book by himself now.

        The stories are gentle and enjoyable for a bedtime read and the pictures that go with them are fantastic. The outdoor illustrations always have things like dragonflies or little insects crawling around for children to spot and there are lots of details on the indoor pictures too.

        The idea of putting these three stories into one book is a great idea and of course flaps seem to be very popular with most children who enjoy discovering what is hiding behind them as much as the story itself. The characters are lovable too and the stories are realistic so children can associate with them.

        This really is a good buy for the price and I would have to recommend it, as another winner from Julia Donaldson.

        ***Price & Availability***

        The publishing price for this hardback book is £12.99 but you can find it for only £8.44 at Tesco.

        ISBN No. 1405053895

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          07.08.2009 07:55
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          Funny book with lovely illustrations.

          ***Background***

          Pat Thomson has written a number of children's books although to be fair she is probably better known for writing books for slightly older children rather than picture books like this one. Jonathan Allen provides us with illustrations and this book is ideal for him as he specialises in writing and drawing books full of animals.

          ***The Story***

          The story starts with a cat being chased out of the farmhouse.

          "BANG went the door and SWISH went the broom.
          The farmyard animals heard Mrs Prout say, 'OUT, CAT, OUT!'
          'Meeow,' said Cat, 'that's so unfair.'"

          The hens ask her what happened and she replies that she only drank a little milk. This doesn't sound too bad and the hens are disgusted by this but what they don't know is that the picture of the cat's thoughts are telling the full story and we see how she has knocked over a carton of milk on the table before drinking it.

          The hens then tell the ducks and cat adds that she also only nibbled the baby's breakfast. Of course the full story is that she ate it from the bowl while it is in front of the baby.

          Stories continue to be told around the farmyard and each time cat admits to something else she has done. All the animals think that the Farmer should be told and even he sympathises until he finds out that the cat has also made a puddle on his favourite chair as well so he chases the cat back out too and the story ends with all the animals sympathising with a stunned looking cat.

          ***The Illustrations***

          The pictures in this book are full of comical expressions and bright colours that really catch a child's eye. A lot of the text in is speech bubbles and this is great for encouraging new readers to help out with parts of the story. A lot of the sounds are also written in big and bold lettering to make them really stand out.

          ***My Thoughts***

          This book is very funny throughout and that is mainly down to the wonderful illustrations, which show looks of horror and surprise on the animals' faces. The story is of course amusing too though and I like the way the animals all seem totally shocked about the farmer's wife's reaction despite the long list of things that the naughty cat has done.

          My son really enjoyed retelling the list as it got longer and longer with each different animal that is told and he kept saying that the cat did an awfully lot of things too and asking if he would get chased out if he did any of those things.

          I loved the way that the farmer seemed to think there was nothing wrong with hiding a mouse in granny's slipper or trying to catch the goldfish from the bowl and was ready to invite the cat back into the house until he found that there had been a mess made on his favourite chair. I have to say I applauded the cat for that one considering the way the farmer was so forgiving when it was other people's things being damaged and it really made my son laugh to see the indignant look on the animals' faces at the end of the story.

          I think young children will be able to relate to this book because there is always going to be a time when they have done something wrong and will think that the punishment is too severe for the crime. I've lost count of the times my own children have been grounded and then complained to grandparents who have sympathised with them, obviously not knowing the whole story. I'm sure most parents too will recognise this behaviour.

          ***Price & Availability***

          This large paperback retails for £5.99 but is available from WH Smith for only £4.79.

          ISBN No. 1842705946

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          05.08.2009 08:35
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          Another firm favourite for my son.

          ***Background***

          Max Velthuijs is the author and illustrator of this delightful storybook. He has written a whole series of books about this delightful character and we have had quite a few of them now.

          ***The Story***

          The story starts with a nervous Pig who notices that there is a stranger camped at the edge of the woods.

          "'Have you seen him?' asked Pig excitedly when he met Duck and Frog.
          'No. What's he like?' asked Duck.
          'If you ask me, he looks like a filthy dirty rat,' said Pig.
          'What does he want here?'
          'You have to be careful of rats,' said Duck. 'They're a thieving lot.'
          'How do you know?' asked Frog.
          'Everyone knows,' said Duck indignantly."

          This gets Frog interested in finding out for himself what the stranger is like and sets of to have a look that night. He sees that there is a tent and a campfire with wonderful cooking smells coming from it.

          Frog tells the others that he looks nice but they aren't so sure and they tell Frog that he is most probably cheeky and lazy. However, Rat works hard building a table and bench and when Frog decides to speak to him, he learns that Rat can also speak three languages. Pig still thinks that he should leave and they go and speak to Hare about it.

          Hare tells them that they must share the wood with Rat and that everyone has a right to live there. Frog and Rat become quite good friends and Rat tells him all about his adventures while travelling.

          The other animals still don't like him much but even they have to admit that he is useful when he saves Pig's house from burning down and rescues Hare from drowning. The animals gradually all become friends and find out that Rat is a great asset to the woods.

          They are all very sad one day when Rat tells them that he is moving on and going off to explore America.

          "The he left - that filthy dirty, but nice, cheeky, helpful, clever Rat. They stared after him until he disappeared behind the hill.
          'We'll miss him, ' said Hare with a sign.
          Yes, Rat left an empty space behind. But the bench was still there and the four friends often sat together on it and talked over their memories of their good friend Rat.

          ***The Illustrations***

          I love the drawings in this book. Frog is a lovely little character dressed in red and white shorts and the colours are very bold throughout the book. The story is told at the bottom of each page with clear black print on a white background.

          ***My Thoughts***

          We all have to be wary of strangers these days and it's important that you teach your children the rights and wrongs of talking to people they don't know. However, when it comes to starting nursery or school, they will find that they are inundated with them and how often a new starter in an already established group can be made to feel pushed out and unwanted because of preconceptions.

          It's important to teach children that just because someone is different, they still deserve a chance and that it's essential that not everyone be judged the same, as prejudice can be a terrible thing.

          This story is a great example of how people can get the wrong idea about a stranger because of something they have heard in the past. Despite all the bad things that are said about Rat, he is still willing to jump in and help in a crisis and I suppose this is how he proves his worth to the group, despite Frog trying his best to bridge the gap between them all.

          It's only when they realise that Rat is going to leave them that they all realise how much of a participant he is in the group and this is also something that children should be taught, as we don't often realise this until it's too late.

          This series of books seems to be a bit of a favourite with my son, and I have to say I'm not really sure why. I suppose it's because I'm used to him reading happy or funny books, whereas this series is more about teaching life lessons than anything else. Still, it is a good book for pointing out that differences don't have to be a bad thing and to teach tolerance of others. I think this is something that a lot of adults need to learn these days too.

          ***Other Frog Books***

          Frog In Love
          Frog Is A Hero
          Frog In Winter
          Frog Finds A Friend
          Frog Is Frightened
          Frog Is Frog
          Frog and the Wide World

          ***Price & Availability***

          This paperback has a publishing price of £4.99 but can be found from Amazon for only £4.49.

          ISBN No. 0862646251

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            03.08.2009 08:19
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            Great story and funny illustrations.

            ***Background***

            Ruth Galloway is both the author and illustrator of this book, which is part of a series of books all about underwater creatures. I personally wasn't aware of this author before but always delighted to try out new books, my son chose this one from our local library.

            ***The Story***

            The story starts with a sad looking crab.

            "Nipper the crab hated his huge clumsy claws. However hard he tried they always got in the way.

            None of his friends had clumsy claws. He wished he had tickly tentacles like Octopus and Jellyfish, or flippety fins like Turtle and the fish."

            The story continues with the friends all playing together but it's a bit of a nightmare for Nipper because he pops the bubble they were catching and then trips over one of his claws and takes a tumble.

            They then decide to play hide and seek and Crab climbs into clam shell and closes it. This is good until Nipper's claws crack against the shell and split it into pieces. It is decided that he should be the one to find his friends and this he does but then Octopus gets tangled in seaweed and can't get free.

            Nipper comes to the rescue clipping the seaweed with his claws and finally the crustacean realises that they are useful after all.

            ***Illustrations***

            The pictures in this book are bright and full of energy. The expressions on the creatures' faces are excellently done and children are bound to love the way you can almost feel the movement as the friends play under the sea. Although the writing is always written on a coloured background it is big and black enough for a child to read it easily.

            ***My Thoughts***

            This story is a classic one really of a creature who thinks that they are no good at anything and is always wishing things were different, only to find that they are made that way for a reason.

            Stories such as these encourage children who are perhaps not as good at things as their friends but find that with a bit of thought, that they can excel at others.

            This book is full of bright colours that will attract younger children and there are good opportunities for parents to get them to count fish or discuss colours on the pages as they go through the book. This is so important for development and it is something that I would recommend to every parent to do with a book.

            My son is past that stage now and finds that this book is ideal for him to read to us at bedtime. The words aren't always that simple but he manages it well on his own with no help at all needed. Books like these are great for encouraging children to get the confidence to read on their own because it is animated and exciting throughout.

            He seems to love the characters in this book, that are cute and funny and when reading it for the first time he managed to guess what Nipper would do to help out his friend, which delighted him too.

            All in all this is a lovely storybook for any young child.

            ***Other Books In This Series***

            Smiley Shark
            Tickly Octopus
            Fidgety Fish and Friends

            ***Price & Availability***

            This book has a publishing price of £5.99 but it is available from WH Smith for the reduced price of £4.79.

            ISBN No. 1845061098

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              01.08.2009 07:24
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              Lovely rhymes will have children enjoying this book.

              ***Background***

              Tony Mitton is best known to me for being the author of the fantastic, Spookyrumpus, but this series was introduced to us by way of a special pack that came home with my son one weekend. The first one we saw was Roaring Rockets but there are many more to come.

              Ant Parker illustrates the series.

              ***The Story***

              The story starts with an aeroplane travelling up in the sky.

              "Whoosh

              An aeroplane's amazing,
              for it travels through the sky,
              above the clouds, for miles and miles,
              so very fast and high!

              The book then carries on by explaining how you go to the airport to catch a plane and that you have to check your luggage in at the correct terminal. We then see the bags loading them onto the plane and hear how you have to go along a special walkway to board.

              The next section features the cockpit and goes over all the checks that have to be done before the pilots are take off. It shows how the captain can talk to the passengers and how seat belts are important.

              The book explains how the plane works in the air and describes how the wings do their job before showing the important jobs that the cabin crew do before the plane comes down to land at your destination.

              At the end of the book there is a section called Aeroplane bits that point out various areas of the plane and explain what each section is.

              ***The Illustrations***

              The way this book is illustrated is very clever and it shows the various stages in a fun and exciting manner. The animals on the plane have various expressions and some of them do look a little bit nervous at the start. The colours are bright and the drawings are simple with bold black writing at the bottom of each page.

              ***My Thoughts***

              My son instantly recognised this book as being part of the Amazing Machines series that included the book he had previously from school and that made him want to try this one from the library too.

              It is full of information that could be useful for a young child that is about to jet off on holiday for the first time or just interesting for any kids who are obsessed with transport and want to know how a plane works.

              The information is told in a simplified manner, which means that young children will be able to understand it clearly and the glossary at the back is great for reminding where they can find the different sections of a plane and what jobs they all do.

              What I like is that it shows that aeroplanes can be fun and this book is full of enthusiasm with funny illustrations and clever rhymes that help hold a child's interest while reading it. My son certainly seems to love learning about trucks and cars so this one is perfect for him, as he loves to find out the mechanics of how things work.

              I'm sure most young boys and a lot of girls will enjoy this series of books as the information is told in a light hearted way and the rhyming makes it fun for any child trying to help you read the book to them.

              ***Other Books In The Series***

              Brilliant Boats
              Cool Cars
              Dazzling Diggers
              Flashing Fire Engines
              Roaring Rockets
              Super Submarines
              Terrific Trains
              Tough Trucks
              Tremendous Tractors

              ***Price & Availability***

              This paperback is available for the publishing price of £4.99 but is available from Amazon for the cheaper price of £3.24.

              If you think your child will enjoy this series though, it might be worthwhile getting the box set of the ten books as Amazon also have them available in hardback form for a total price of £9.09.

              Paperback ISBN No. 0753407221
              Box set ISBN No. 0753461544

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                31.07.2009 08:41
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                Lovely book that is fun as well as educational.

                ***Background***

                Usborne Publishers are well known for their range of educational books for children and within that range, one of the popular series of books is Farmyard Tales. These books are written by Heather Amery and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright, who is sadly not with us anymore but leaves behind a large collection of books with his signature on each page of a little yellow duck to find.

                This set of books is especially aimed at children who are learning to read. There is a shorter and easier line of text at the top of each page, which can be mastered first, and then a more descriptive story at the bottom of each page.

                ***The Story***

                We start off the story down on Apple Tree Farm with Mrs Boot the farmer and her two children called Poppy and Sam. Their dog Rusty is also there.

                "'Why are the cows so noisy?' asks Sam."

                They run outside to have a look and find that a hot air balloon is about to land in their field. They soon find out that they have run out of gas and they are waiting on their friend to bring some more out to them in a truck.

                The children are fascinated to see how the balloon works and they are offered a ride in the balloon with their mother.

                They are amazed to see how everything looks down below them and thoroughly enjoy the short trip. Eventually they land again and the truck comes to pick them up and take them home.

                The story ends with,

                "'Thank you very much.'

                They wave as the balloon takes off again.
                'We were flying,' says Sam."

                ***The Illustrations***

                Stephen Cartwright was a wonderful illustrator and his pictures will live on through these lovely stories for many years to come. The drawings are realistic and very bright and colourful but the most fun is the fact that there is a little yellow duck on each page that children love to look out for. Sometimes it will be in an easy to see position and other times it is hidden away with only it's beak and head showing.

                ***My Thoughts***

                I love this set of books and remember some from when my girls were little many years ago. My son was a big fan when he was just learning to read by himself, as this series is ideal for him because the line of text at the top of the page gave him confidence and pleasure to read the book.

                Bedtime has always been a big time for reading a book with him and he still loves to hear my hubby or I read to him but after starting school, he gradually wanted to try to sound out more and more words himself so this was perfect for him. Now that he is seven he can read it all quite confidently by himself.

                The characters are lovely and familiar to him because there are a lot of books in the series and he recognised some of the characters from earlier board books that he has seen. The story is simple and exciting - after all, what child wouldn't want the opportunity to fly in a hot air balloon.

                The other thing I like about these books is the opportunity to discuss what is happening in the pictures and this is something that they are specially designed for too. It means that pre-schoolers can give their ideas too and of course they all seem to love looking for the little duck, which helps their observational skills.

                I'm sure any parent of a pre-schooler would find this book a helpful buy because it has quite a long shelf life with the various levels of text. It was certainly a popular choice with my son.

                ***Other Farmyard Tales***

                Barn on Fire
                Camping Out
                Dolly & the Train
                Kitten's Day Out
                Market Day
                Pig Gets Lost
                Pig Gets Stuck
                Rusty's Train Ride
                Scarecrow's Secret
                The Grumpy Goat
                The Hungry Donkey
                The Naughty Sheep
                The New Pony
                The Old Steam Train
                The Runaway Tractor
                The Silly Sheepdog
                The Snow Storm
                Tractor in Trouble
                Woolly Stops the Train

                ***Price & Availability***

                This paperback retails for the publishing price of £3.99 but can be found at Tesco for only £3.59.

                ISBN No. 0746062109

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                  29.07.2009 12:52
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                  Lovely book with beautiful illustrations

                  ***Background***

                  Emma Chichester Clark is both the author and illustrator of this lovely book about a little girl called Lily and her well-loved toy. As well as the Blue Kangaroo series, she has written many other books including the ones all about Melrose and Croc.

                  ***The Story***

                  The story starts with an exasperated looking mother telling Lily to stop doing what she is doing.

                  "Blue Kangaroo belonged to Lily.
                  He was her very own kangaroo.
                  Sometimes, when Lily was showing off
                  and not doing as she was told, she would say,
                  'I'll show you, Blue Kangaroo!'
                  And Blue Kangaroo watched. What else could he do?"

                  Throughout the book, Lily sees things on television or on stage that she thinks she will be able to do and although various family members tell her not to do it, she tries and then fails, causing upset wherever she goes. All through it, she implores Blue Kangaroo to watch her.

                  Eventually Lily's mother has had enough of her bad behaviour and sends her off to bed. Unfortunately Blue Kangaroo has been left outside clinging up in the branches of a high tree and takes a tumble to the ground. His tail is torn and he is losing stuffing but luckily Lily's mother finds him and sews up his tail.

                  Lily's mother tells her that she can't have him back until she has shown them that she can be good and that day she does everything she is told and doesn't show off at all. The book ends with her mother asking her if she has turned over a new leaf.

                  "'YES!' said Lily. 'I'm going to be good and
                  new and do as I am told! I'll show you.
                  And I'll show you, Blue Kangaroo!'
                  And Blue Kangaroo believed her.
                  What else could he do?"

                  ***The Illustrations***

                  The pictures in this book are wonderful with bright colours and realistic expressions on faces. There are plenty of things to see in the picture boxes and I like the way that a close up picture is often shown of Blue Kangaroo when he is worried about Lily. The writing is black on a white background outside the picture box and really stands out well. There are also some speech bubbles in a few of the pictures.

                  ***My Thoughts***

                  My son has really taken to these stories and he seems to thoroughly enjoy them because Lily always ends up realising that Blue Kangaroo is the most important thing to her and ends up giving him a big cuddle. Although he had just turned six when he found this book, he still had a favourite toy that sometimes doesn't get treated as well as it should, but he was very attached to it and got upset if it couldn't be found when he was unhappy.

                  I love this book because it shows children that they must learn that parents say no for a reason and most of the time it is to stop an accident occurring. My son has always been very headstrong and many a time he has continued to do something when told not to, only for it to end in tears with him hurting himself. Like Lily, he's a good kid really but does sometimes needs the threat of his favourite toy being made unavailable to get him to think about his actions.

                  All the books in this series have important behavioural issues in them and although told in a fun way, it does seem to help to get the messages across that being honest and listening to what you are told is a good thing. Showing Lily trying to ride her bike downhill with her feet on the handlebars when she sees older children doing so, may seem extreme but showing her crying with a grazed knee when she falls over is a good reminder to young children that although they might think that exciting things look fun, they can be dangerous too.

                  What is lovely though is that this book shows the special bond that a child can have with a certain toy and how friendship and caring can be encourages through that.

                  ***Other Blue Kangaroo Books***

                  What Shall We Do, Blue Kangaroo?
                  Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo!
                  Just For You, Blue Kangaroo
                  Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo?
                  Happy Birthday To You, Blue Kangaroo
                  It Was You, Blue Kangaroo!
                  I Love You, Blue Kangaroo!

                  ***Price and Availability***

                  The price on the back on this large paperback is £5.99 but you can get it for only £4.49 from Tesco.

                  ISBN No. 0007178948

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                    29.05.2009 09:38
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                    Great book for any child that is scared of stormy weather.

                    ***Background***

                    Colin and Jacqui Hawkins share the responsibility or writing and illustrating this rhyming book and this is a partnership that has worked extremely well in the past with many books that will encourage young children to read.

                    ***The Story***

                    The book starts with a picture of a boy and girl in their beds while a storm rages outside.

                    "Lightning flashed on a wild, stormy night
                    And Georgie and Dee shivered in fright.
                    'Come on,' said Cat. 'Don't be afraid!
                    I'll show you both how a storm is made.'"

                    The children follow the cat down the stairs and outside into the woods where they see a hot air balloon. They all get in and the balloon travels to a strange land that is filled with flying lizards that the children soon recognize as being dinosaurs.

                    The balloon lands and the cat takes the children to a place where the Dance of the Dinosaurs is taking place. It's not long before the children are enjoying the atmosphere and are dancing along with the huge beasts.

                    The children see that the teeth of the dinosaurs cause the flashes in the sky and the shaking rumbling noises are in fact the dinosaurs' feet.

                    At the end of the dance they see that the storm has stopped and the children get back in the balloon and return to their beds. The story ends with the children feeling safely tucked up in beds and...

                    "And far, far away...

                    ...The Dinosaurs dreamt under the starlight
                    Of another Dance on another night..."

                    ***The Illustrations***

                    The pictures in this storybook are drawn with lots of energy and bright colours. Textured layers give them a realistic burst of life and you almost feel like the dinosaurs will jump off the page as you go through the book. The text is bold and black and written on a white background at the bottom of each page.

                    ***My Thoughts***

                    I always love rhyming books and we've had quite a few now from this pair of author/illustrators. This one has a lovely rhythm to it that peaks and flows as the story progresses, making you really feel like you are taking part in the story.

                    My son has a passion for any book that has dinosaurs in them so this one was sure to be a favourite of his right from the beginning but the fact that it contains excitement, movement and lots of clever rhymes that he can join in with means that he reads it with so much enthusiasm and feeling when reading it out loud.

                    You get the feeling that some books are really only meant to be read quietly but this book screams to be read and shared out loud and this is great when you are trying to encourage a child to learn this important expressive art.

                    The illustrations are really fantastic in this book and the addition of a cute but fat cat and a toy dinosaur that springs to life in the bedroom and accompanies the children means that a younger child can really enjoy seeing the story told through a series of pictures whilst a parent reads it to them.

                    The couple of lines of text on each page also means that a younger child won't get easily bored and will be excited to turn the page to find out what happens next. I feel this is also an ideal book for putting a child at ease when a storm is raging outside. It shows them that there is nothing to worry about and gives them something fun to think about.

                    This is one book I would definitely recommend for anyone scared of thunder and lightning.

                    ***Other Books By These Authors***

                    Fairytale News
                    Pat The Cat
                    Tog The Dog
                    Jen The Hen
                    Zug The Bug
                    The Numberlies
                    Foxy In The Kitchen
                    The Spooks

                    ***Price & Availability***

                    This large paperback is available for the publishing price of £5.99 but Amazon have it on sale at the moment for the bargain price of only £3.00.

                    ISBN No. 0007114443

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                    • Whiff - Ian Whybrow / Junior Book / 85 Readings / 84 Ratings
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                      19.03.2009 09:35
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                      A book that every child is sure to love.

                      ***Background***

                      My son is a huge fan of the Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs series of books but Ian Whybrow has also written many other picture books for children over the years and this one is illustrated by Russell Ayto.

                      ***The Story***

                      The story starts with a picture of a baby warthog sitting on his own with a flock of flies above his head.

                      "By a bend in the river lived a beautiful big fat smelly baby warthog.

                      His mum and dad were very proud of him.
                      They called him Whiff.
                      They wanted him to make friends and be happy."

                      The warthogs have neighbours on either side of them and across the street so it's not really a surprise when Mrs Crocodile knocks on their door and asks if the baby warthog wants to play with her baby. The Crocodile asks if Whiff is rough and his mother replies that he is not.

                      Soon they are playing happily together until,

                      "But then down came some tickly quickly flies!
                      They tickled their ears and they tickled their eyes.
                      So the crocodile bit his teddy bears,
                      He bashed the table and he crashed the chairs,
                      His teeth went snap and his tail went wheee!
                      Down fell the pictures, one-two-three!"

                      Mrs Crocodile blames it all on Whiff and sends him away with his flies. Whiff is very upset.

                      The next animal who comes to call is Mrs Monkey and asks Whiff round for tea. Whiff behaves beautifully until the flies arrive and the monkeys all end up making a mess with the plates and jelly. Again Whiff is sent packing and is really sad.

                      Finally Mrs Littlebird comes over and asks Whiff over to play. When the flies arrive Whiff starts to leave but the baby bird starts to eat them all up and Mrs Littlebird tells Whiff to stay right where he is. Whiff is so happy to have found a friend at last.

                      ***The Illustrations***

                      The pictures in this book are very funny and the animals' faces are full of expression as they jump about in shock as the flies tickle them. The text is bold and black and very easy to read. There are speech bubbles at certain points in the book so we can see who is saying the words.

                      ***My Thoughts***

                      Every child loves stories about animals that are a little bit out of the ordinary and boys especially will love this story of this big fat smelly baby. The illustrations are done in such a way that my son and I always laugh as we read this one. The text compliments them beautifully with rhymes, speech bubbles and a general way of flowing through the story.

                      Friends can be difficult to make sometimes especially if a child is shy or a little bit different to all the other kids around them. This book helps to show those children that it's worth pursuing it until they find the perfect person for them. I love the way that although Whiff is described as being big, fat and smelly, the first word to describe him is beautiful.

                      What makes this book a real joy to read out loud is the way the words are put together. The lilting rhymes and tongue twisters ensure that whether it?s you or your child reading the book, mistakes will probably be made along the way that you can laugh at together. It's also a great book to share the reading with. My son likes it when I read the main parts of the story and he reads the text in the speech bubbles.

                      Books like this one are so important for helping children to understand the joy of reading and when something is this much fun, it encourages them to want to learn how to read it themselves. My son has really taken off with his reading this year and it is books like this that I think helps him. The repetition of the rhyme when the flies come down is one that children can remember and recite along with their parents.

                      I have to say this is the funniest book I have come across for a long time and every time I even look at the front cover I can't help but smile. This has to be a recommendation all the way.

                      ***Whybrow Books***

                      Harry Books
                      Little Wolf Books
                      Say Hello To The Animals
                      All Change
                      The Bedtime Book
                      The Tickle Book
                      Tim, Ted & The Pirates

                      ***Price & Availability***

                      This paperback book is available for the publishing price of £5.99 from Waterstones although it can be a little bit hard to get hold of so you might have to look on Ebay or Amazon Marketplace for it.

                      ISBN No. 0552546151

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                        27.02.2009 11:50
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                        Another lovely book in the Blue Kangaroo series.

                        ***Background***

                        Emma Chichester Clark is responsible for not only writing this series of books but illustrating them as well and this book was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. As well as the Blue Kangaroo series, she has written many other books including the ones all about Melrose and Croc.

                        ***The Story***

                        The story starts with a little girl cuddling her toy.

                        "Blue Kangaroo belonged to Lily.
                        He was her very own kangaroo.
                        Every night, Lilly said,
                        'I love you, Blue Kangaroo!'
                        And Blue Kangaroo fell fast asleep in Lily's arms."

                        Things start to slowly change for Blue Kangaroo throughout this book as various family members come to visit and bring Lily other cuddly toys. Each night she snuggles them into bed and tells each one she loves them and every time the list gets longer, Blue Kangaroo feels that he is getting pushed further and further down that list.

                        He is very sad by all this and can't sleep at nights, then one night he is pushed out of the bed in the middle of the night and goes to fine another bed to sleep in. He finds Lily's baby brother is alone and cuddles in with him.

                        In the morning Lily is very upset because she can't find Blue Kangaroo anywhere and then notices her little brother playing with him. The baby is upset when Lily takes him back and her mother suggests that she should let him have one toy because she has so many.

                        Lilly brings out all her other cuddly toys and insists he can have them but not Blue Kangaroo. The story ends with the little baby cuddled up in his cot with all the toys that Lily had been given.

                        "Lily went to bed with Blue Kangaroo.
                        Blue Kangaroo snuggled up to Lily. She stroked his blue ears, then she kissed the tip of his soft blue nose.
                        'I love you Blue Kangaroo!' she said...

                        ...and Blue Kangaroo fell fast asleep in her arms.

                        ***The Illustrations***

                        I really love the illustrations in this series of books, as they are so bright and full of colour throughout. There are little speech bubbles to show what characters are saying and this cartoon type style seems to work very well alongside the longer story at the bottom of each page. When Blue Kangaroo is worried each night we see a picture of him in a little circle that shows a very sad expression and this is captured perfectly.

                        ***My Thoughts***

                        My son is starting to get a bit old for these books now but when he used to see a Blue Kangaroo book in the library, he would get excited and insisted we take it home to read. This little character really seemed to appeal to him even though the story centres round a little girl.

                        I suppose the reason for this is that all children have a favourite toy and it's not always a bog standard teddy bear these days. My son has a favourite grey rabbit that he got when he was just a baby and it's only been in the past year or so that we've managed to convince him not to take it everywhere with him. Of course it always takes pride of place in his bed at night and if he is upset, he always reaches for it.

                        In this story we see how that special bond is formed and that even though other toys may be given, the original is often the best one of all and it just takes a feeling of that toy being lost for a child to realise how important it is. I think it's very clever that we are shown the feelings of Blue Kangaroo too, and although this toy doesn't speak or really do that much, he is very appealing and cute.

                        I also like the repetition in this book as each night the list of toys that Lily says she loves gets bigger and this is good for encouraging a child to try to remember what comes next in the sequence.

                        This is definitely a book I would recommend for any child who has a favourite toy.

                        ***Other Blue Kangaroo Books***

                        What Shall We Do, Blue Kangaroo?
                        Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo!
                        Just For You, Blue Kangaroo
                        Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo?
                        Happy Birthday To You, Blue Kangaroo
                        It Was You, Blue Kangaroo!
                        I'll Show You, Blue Kangaroo!

                        ***Price and Availability***

                        The price on the back on this hardback is £5.99 but you can get it for only £4.49 from Amazon.

                        ISBN No. 0006646840

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                          24.02.2009 09:34
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                          Lovely story that has a useful message in it too.

                          ***The Background***

                          Helen Cooper is the author behind this wonderful book that continues the story of the characters featured in the award winning title, Pumpkin Soup. These books are magical, both for the stories and for the remarkably beautiful illustrations.

                          ***The Story***

                          The story begins with a picture of a strange white cabin in the middle of a wood. Coming from the chimney is steam and smoke filled with the scent of pumpkins.

                          "Something was bubbling in the old white cabin.
                          What was in the cooking pot?

                          PUMPKIN SOUP!

                          Made by a Cat, a Squirrel and a Duck,
                          waiting just for a pipkin of salt
                          to make it the best you ever tasted...
                          but..."

                          When the page is turned we learn that there is no salt left and there is a picture of the three friends trying the soup with looks of disgust on their faces. The Cat decides that shopping is in order and the Duck wants to come to but the Squirrel and Cat are worried because Duck has a tendency to wander off and become lost.

                          They finally agree to take Duck and tell him that if he gets lost he must stay where he is until they find him.

                          Duck is amazed by all the sights, sounds and smells of the city and sees a store that sells pepper. He immediately thinks that this would make the pumpkin soup taste even better than before but the other two disagree and go to buy some salt leaving the daydreaming Duck behind.

                          Duck panics and forgets to stay put and has to ask the help of a friendly Mother Hen who takes him back to the pepper shop. He finds out that his friends have already been there and have gone again and is most upset so the owner of the shop phones the police who get everyone to look for Cat and Squirrel.

                          Duck is extremely happy when they are all reunited and they all flew home in a police helicopter with salt and pepper.

                          The story ends with Duck adding a pipkin of salt and a whole packet of pepper but the soup still tastes delicious.

                          ***The Illustrations***

                          The artwork in this book is amazingly beautiful and each stroke has obviously been done with great care and attention to detail. The colours give the story a lovely warm glow and the animals look so real that you can almost feel their fur on each page.

                          ***My Thoughts***

                          We discovered Pumpkin Soup when my son brought an educational weekend pack home from school and since then he has been looking out for more books by Helen Cooper about these lovable characters, every time we visit the library.

                          As with the first book, this one lilts its way through the story with an almost rhyme like quality, with Duck's thoughts being shown in swirls over the page. The quality of this beautiful book is top notch and the illustrations as well as being carefully done, tell the story well with lots of little details that children will find enchanting.

                          The story also teaches children an important lesson about staying close to their adults and not getting distracted. In a sensible way it encourages children to stay put, as more often than not, they will be found quicker if they don't wander off again on their own. This is really good advice and it obviously is something that is very important these days with child safety being such a concern.

                          My son seems to love the way the words are written on each page because there is so much variety there. Enthusiastic comments are shown in big, bold lettering and this encourages him to put emphasis on them while he is reading them.

                          One of my favourite bits about this book is that there are two little mini-beasts that keep popping up in the pages with comments and observations along the way. Similar to the yellow duck in the Osborne books, children will find it fun to watch out for them.

                          As most of you will know we get through a lot of picture books in our house and we are regular visitors to the library. Although there are loads of really good books out there for children, I have to say that I think this series will turn into a bit of a classic in years to come and if you get the chance to have a look at any of them, then I would certainly recommend it.

                          ***Other Helen Cooper***

                          Pumpkin Soup
                          Delicious
                          The Baby Who Wouldn't Go To Bed
                          Tatty Ratty
                          Little Monster Did It
                          The Bear Under The Stairs.

                          ***Price & Availability***

                          We had the hardcover book from the library and if you're looking for a book to treasure then it may just be worth paying more for it. It publishes for £10.99 but Amazon sell it for the cheaper price of £7.25. It is also available in paperback at the publishing price of £5.99 but again Amazon have it cheaper at the price of £4.49.

                          Hardback ISBN No. 0385600070
                          Paperback ISBN No. 0552546313

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                            26.08.2008 10:53
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                            My favourite restaurant ever.

                            ***Background***

                            The first time I visited this small restaurant was on a very cold and windy lunchtime, just before Christmas, around 17 years ago. The office where I worked decided to have their festive lunch there and it was so good that it wasn't long before I was booking a table there one evening.

                            Since then my visits have been kept to mainly special occasions and I was delighted the other week to hear that hubby was taking me there for a birthday treat.

                            ***Location***

                            Auchmithie is a small fishing village just north of Arbroath on the East Coast of Scotland. It's not the easiest to find but the best way from Arbroath is to head out towards Montrose on the A92. On the outskirts of Arbroath you turn right at the Meadowbank Inn and then follow the road to the end where you make a left along tiny country roads. Keep going until you see a sign for Auchmithie leading you down towards the sea and you'll find this small restaurant easily.

                            Parking is available on the street and by way of a small public car park just round the back of the restaurant. In summer you can have a gentle stroll down to the sea but it winter it can be pretty wild so dress accordingly if you want to round off your meal with a blast of sea air.

                            ***The Restaurant***

                            Any fans of The Broons from the Sunday Post will know that the family often spend holidays at their But 'n' Ben, which is a little cottage in the country. This restaurant is well named because on first glance this looks like someone's home and as you enter, it has a warming atmosphere too.

                            In winter there is always a real fire blazing away and the décor of this quaint establishment has a very welcoming and homely approach to it. There are artworks on the walls from various local artists that often depict pictures of local scenes such as the cliffs, the wild sea and Arbroath Abbey. These can be bought on site if you want to take home a small reminder of the area.

                            Making a booking can be done over the phone but don't expect to go there on a whim especially during the holiday periods, as this out of the way spot is well known amongst locals and regular visitors to the area and it can often be difficult to get a spur of the moment booking. When my hubby phoned on the Thursday to make an appointment for Monday night, he was told that it was lucky that it wasn't the weekend we needed, as they were fully booked.

                            What gives this spot it's charm though is the fact that it has been family run for many years and it has a certain old-fashioned feel to it with a gorgeous welsh dresser and wine unit near the kitchen area, along with the big open fireplaces.

                            ***Our Visit***

                            On arrival we were warmly welcomed and immediately seated at our table. We could see right away that it was going to be another packed night for them but this didn't really worry us. We were seated in cosy little corner at an intimate table for two, which was decorated with a small vase with freshly cut flowers.

                            Our menus and the wine list was given to us as we were seated and after only a couple of minutes after we had set the menus down, the waitress came back to take our order and brought us our drinks. We had also been informed of the Soups of the Day and other specials available for the night but it's worth mentioning that if you plan to have something from the sweet trolley, that it might be better to skip the starter because main meals and desserts are very filling here. This is exactly what we decided to do.

                            We were then brought a choice of cheese scones or wholemeal bread to keep us going while our main courses were being prepared. This took a little bit longer than it would normally take because a large order had been taken just before we arrived but we were informed about this and more scones and bread were brought to us with an apology, which we thought was a nice touch.

                            I had decided to have a favourite dish of mine, mainly because it is not exactly available in most restaurants and I know they cook it to perfection here. Medallions of Venison cooked with red wine, rowan jelly and juniper berries, accompanied by a redcurrant tartlet was my choice and hubby decided to try something a little bit different too and ordered the Game Pie, which had pheasant, rabbit and wood pigeon in it and was covered with shortcrust pastry.

                            One thing I really like about this restaurant is that what you order is what you get on your plate and the accompanying vegetables come in side dishes so you can take exactly what you want. In this case there were three dishes to choose from. Broccoli cooked with toasted almonds, an oven cooked selection of vegetables including courgette, onion and tomatoes and some lovely boiled potatoes, still wrapped in their tasty skins.

                            As always I thoroughly enjoyed the venison, which was cooked to perfection and was so tender due to the way that it had been prepared with the wine and juniper berry sauce. The meat was easy to cut through and broke up well in the mouth and the strong flavour of the venison was tamed with the sweetness of the tartlet. The vegetables were also cooked just right and tasted delicious.

                            I have to say that although I wouldn't have gone for the game pie myself, it did look very appealing and hubby said that the flavours of the three different meats blended in well together with a pastry that was to die for.

                            We savoured every morsel with great pleasure, knowing that we had to leave some room for the sweet trolley, which is really a favourite of mine here. I often find that with dessert menus you are never quite sure what to have and when this sweet trolley is brought out to your table, you know that one dessert is not going to be enough. Don't get me wrong, the portions are more than adequate, in fact I would go as far as saying they are on the large side, but you are encouraged to take a bit of this and a bit of that to fill your pudding bowl and this is something that is most welcome when you see all that is on offer.

                            Seeing the desserts first hand is much better than just reading from a list on a menu and that is really what gets your mouth watering here. There were a couple of hot options to choose from including the traditional Clootie Dumpling and the ever-popular Apple Pie but these were not the ones that really got my juices flowing. With a choice of delights such as Coffee and Walnut Cake, Rich Chocolate Fudge Cake and Fresh Strawberry and Cream Sponge, it was always going to be a difficult decision to make and I finally chose a section of Coffee and Rum Cake along with a slice of the amazing looking Lemon Cheesecake. Hubby also liked the look of the Lemon Cheesecake and decided that he couldn't resist trying the Strawberry Sponge Cake alongside it. All these can be served with cream or ice cream and there were more strawberries available too if you wanted them.

                            We both tried each other's desserts and had to decide that although the Strawberry sponge and the Coffee and Rum Cakes were delicious, the winner of the night had to be the Lemon Cheesecake as it was unlike any other we had ever tasted. The mixture of the sweet biscuit base and the tartness of the lemon blended together in a way that had our taste buds jumping all over the place and the creaminess of the fluffy topping finished it off perfectly. This has to have been one of the best desserts I have every tasted, and I do like my puddings.

                            After all that we felt we didn't have room for coffee and finished our drinks before going for a pleasant stroll down towards the sea. As we paid we were chatted to in a friendly manner and we were asked if everything had been to our liking as well as receiving another apology for the wait for our main meal. I immediately said that this was more than okay as I didn't think 30 minutes was too long to wait for a meal that good.

                            ***The Menu***

                            Nowadays, restaurants are applauded for sourcing their stock locally, but the But 'N' Ben has been well known for serving local fare for many years and I think that is what keeps it so popular amongst locals and visitors alike.

                            Arbroath is a big fishing area and is famous for The Smokie, which is also known as smoked haddock. With this in mind, a lot of the dishes are fish based so if you are a fan of seafood then this is definitely the place to come. It's not all about fish though and you can have Chicken, Beef or some of the more unusual meats like we sampled on our visit.

                            For starters there is always a selection of homemade soups along with delights such as oysters, mussels or the more usual dishes of Prawn Cocktail or Garlic Mushrooms. Also on the menu are Hot Buttered Smokie and Smoked Salmon.

                            Main courses start with a wide selection of fish dishes and the one that is most impressive is the Fruits de Mer platter. This large plate is served completely covered in many different varieties of smoke fish and shellfish. Also available and highly recommended by friends of ours is the Smokie Pancake.

                            Other meat courses include Boeuf Bourguignon and Chicken Breasts with Prawns as well as a selection of Angus Steaks and for vegetarians there are choices of Pasta or the Vegetarian Flan of the Day.

                            As well as the sweet trolley there is also the choice to have a cheese board and coffee is served with good old Tablet here. Although I didn't have this on my birthday visit, I have had it in the past and the tablet is gorgeous. Liqueur coffees are also available.

                            ***Prices***

                            For our two main courses, two desserts and two drinks our bill came to £37.10, which was extremely reasonable given the quality of the food.

                            Most of the starters are under £5 and the main courses range from £7.95 for the pasta, through to £16.50 for the Fruit de Mer platter. A full pudding bowl from the sweet trolley will cost you £4.20 or the cheese board will set you back £4.50.

                            ***Final Thoughts***

                            This small but exceptional restaurant doesn't really advertise much but then again it doesn't really need to because I'm sure that most people who eat there go on to tell others about the fantastic food and pleasant atmosphere. It has been my favourite spot to go to for a treat for many years and I'm sure it will continue to be so for many more.

                            So if you are visiting the East Coast of Scotland and want to treat your taste buds to a variety of delicious local dishes, this is the place to go.

                            This review also appears on Ciao with photos of the food and surrounding views.

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                              21.08.2008 12:25
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                              Another fantastic Lynley Dodd book.

                              ***Background***

                              Lynley Dodd keeps children happy with her series of books about the scruffy mutt that is Hairy Maclary. Her clever rhymes and funny illustrations mean that she is a very popular choice with children and adults alike.

                              ***The Story***

                              The story starts with a picture of a town hall where a cat show is taking place.

                              "In Riverside Hall
                              on Cabbage Tree Row,
                              the Cat Club were having
                              their Annual Show.

                              There were fat cats
                              and thin cats,
                              tabbies and greys,
                              kick-up-a-din cats
                              with boisterous ways."

                              Outside Hairy Maclary is tied up but wants to see inside and does just that as he escapes from the tree he is tied to. Inside he gets all the cats worked up and various people try to catch him as he hides and jumps around.

                              Along the way he manages to get everything tangled up until eventually Miss Plum catches him and the action moves to the row of prize-winners where we see prizes for the biggest family, worst temper, snootiest and longest whiskers.

                              The story ends as we look along the line.

                              "and WHO won the prize
                              for the SCRUFFIEST CAT?
                              Hairy Maclary
                              From Donaldson's Dairy."

                              ***The Illustrations***

                              As with all the books in the series, the format is kept simple with a picture on one half of the double pages and the story written on the other. The illustrations are very detailed as well as being bright and colourful, with lots going on in the backgrounds. This is great for keeping children occupied as you read the story. The text is written in clear black print on a white background.

                              ***My Thoughts***

                              The first time my son was introduced to Hairy Maclary was by way of a jigsaw book and although we weren't aware of it at the time, it has passages and pictures taken from this book and from Hat Tricks, so when my son saw the full story of this one he was quite excited by it.

                              Hairy Maclary is a very lovable character that children seem to love. His scruffy appearance and cheeky expressions capture the heart of adults too and I have to say I love reading these books to my son.

                              The pictures in the book go extremely well with the pace of the rhyming story and I love the picture of all the cats in their cages as Hairy Maclary goes by, jumping and barking along the way. Each cat has a different expression from sheer terror to amusement.

                              The way the rhyme bounces along through the book goes ideally with this mischievous character and you really feel the energy and excitement in the story as it progresses.

                              Of course the funniest part of the story has to be when they decide to give the prize of Scruffiest Cat to the playful pup and the look on his face, which seems to indicate a bit of shame there, despite the fact that he is sat up so straight on the prize-winners table.

                              I have to recommend this book to anyone with young children, as it is everything that a good children's book should be - full of fun, with a good story and wonderful drawings.

                              ***Other Hairy Maclary Books***

                              Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy
                              Hairy Maclary Scatttercat
                              Hairy Maclary's Bone
                              Hairy Maclary's Rumpus at the Vet
                              Hairy Maclary, Sit
                              Hairy Maclary's Caterwaul Caper
                              Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack
                              Zachary Quack Minimonster
                              Scarface Claw
                              Hairy Maclary and Friends

                              ***Price and Availability***

                              This book retails for the price of £4.99 but is available for the cheaper price of only £3.99 at WH Smith.

                              ISBN No. 0140545506

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                                06.08.2008 13:32
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                                What's that noise in the dark?

                                ***Background***

                                This is one of the latest in a long line of Little Princess books that Tony Ross has written. As well as an extensive list of books, this lovable but stubborn character also appears on television where Jane Horrocks and Julian Clary provide the voices.

                                This one has only been out on the shelves a few months but already it is becoming a very popular addition to the series.

                                ***The Story***

                                The story starts at bedtime in the palace.

                                "The Little Princess loved a story at bedtime.
                                But she didn't like the dark.
                                'I WANT MY LIGHT ON!' she said"

                                When the King asks her why, she replies that there are ghosts in the dark and they probably live under the bed. Her dad reassures her that there is nothing under her bed. She's still not convinced that there are no ghosts though and the Admiral and the Doctor try to put her mind at ease too.

                                The Maid then tells her that if there are ghosts around they must be really small because she has never seen one and this makes the Princess relax a bit. The Princess cuddles down in bed thinking that ghosts are probably scared of the dark too.

                                Suddenly she sees a ghost and both are very scared of each other. They both hide under the bed with their toys until the little ghost runs back upstairs to find his mum.

                                The story ends with the ghost and his mother having a chat.

                                "'Don't be silly,' said his mum. 'There are NO such things as little girls!'
                                'I WANT MY LIGHT ON ANYWAY!' said the little ghost. 'Just in case.'"

                                ***The Illustrations***

                                Tony Ross, who seems to have a knack for getting the expressions on the characters' faces just right, draws the pictures in all of the books in the series. The drawings are all shown in boxes with the text underneath and with the white border of the page, they really stand out.

                                ***My Thoughts***

                                I think parents will agree that their child has been afraid of something at night at some stage. My son has never really been that bothered about monsters but was at that stage where every little sound had to be explained, especially when the nights and mornings were darker.

                                Books like this one are great for making children see that even though there is something there, it is probably more scared of them than they are of it. This funny scenario is brought to life in a series of amusing illustrations and shows that even ghosts can be scared too. Most kids love to speculate about monsters and ghosts so this is an ideal way of getting them to see that there is nothing at all to be scared of. I'm sure most parents out there have made up little excuses about unexplained noises or shadows at one time or another and this can be made into a game to help eliminate any fears a young child might have.

                                My son really is a big fan of these books and was delighted when his big sister brought this book home from the library where she works at weekends. The cover is very clever with only some eyes and the princess's crown showing up on a black background. He really loved the thought that you would have to be careful when you were walking around so you didn't step on the small ghosts and this made him chuckle when we read it together.

                                The simple text makes it easy for young readers to follow and to sound out some words for themselves. My son is in the process of learning to read at school so books such as this one are invaluable, as any book that makes a child laugh is going to be one that they want to learn to read by themselves.

                                You would think that this series would be starting to get old now but this new book shows that it is only getting better as time goes on.

                                ***Other Titles In This Series***

                                I Want My Potty
                                I Want A Cat
                                I Want A Present
                                I Want My Tooth
                                I Want My Dummy
                                I Want To Be
                                I Want My Dinner
                                I Want A Sister
                                I Want To Go Home
                                I Don't Want To Go To Bed
                                I Don't Want To Go To Hospital
                                Wash Your Hands
                                I Want My Mum
                                I Want A Friend
                                Pets Board Book
                                Weather Board Book
                                Shapes Board Book
                                Bedtime Board Book


                                ***Other Info***

                                This book is available in hardback for the publishing price of £10.99 but is available from Tesco for the cheaper price of £7.14. It is also available in paperback for the publishing price of £5.99 but is available at Amazon for only £4.19.

                                Hardback ISBN No. 1842706640
                                Paperback ISBN No. 1842707345

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