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In 2010 the Gruffalo, an award winning childrens book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler was made into a short animated film, with star voices and wonderful animation. It was televised at Christmas and soon after released on DVD. The Gruffalo animated film is told by Mother Squirrel, to her children, in order to teach them about bravery and keeping themselves safe from predators. It is the story of Mouse, who takes a stroll through the deep, dark wood and along the way bumps into potential lunch dates Fox, Owl and Snake - all of whom *invite* Mouse for lunch, or in other words TO BE lunch. Mouse has to think quick and so invents a creature with knobbly knees and turned out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose who he just happens to be meeting "right here" for lunch, and his favourite food is roasted Fox, Owl ice cream and Scrambled Snake (depending on who is inviting him for lunch), terrified of this terrible creature, the animals all run away from Mouse. Thinking he is very clever, Mouse exclaims "doesn't he know? There's no such thing as a Gruffalo!" Until... he bumps into ... a real life Gruffalo, and his favourite food is actually Mouse, on a slice of bread. So, Mouse has to be extra clever, and tells the Gruffalo that he is the scariest creature in the wood, and if the Gruffalo walks behind Mouse, he will soon see that everyone is afraid of him! The Gruffalo laughs, but agrees, and as he walks behind Mouse they encounter Snake, Owl and Fox, who all take one look at the Gruffalo and run (fly or slither) away scared! The Gruffalo thinks they are running away from Mouse, who declares that his tummy is beginning to rumble, and his favourite food is Gruffalo Crumble... and the Gruffalo, quick as the wind, turns and runs away. The animation is true to the illustrations of Axel Scheffler, and is bold and colourful, making you feel as if you are in the deep dark wood, with Mouse and the Gruffalo. The voices are from some of the UK's most loved stars - Helena Bonham Carter is Mother Squirrel, Robbie Coltrane is The Gruffalo, James Corden is Mouse, Rob Brydon is Snake, John Hurt is Owl and Tom Wilkinson is Fox. Amazing actors, with such characterful voices, bringing life to the animated creatures. The film itself is 27 minutes long, perfect for younger viewers as it is long enough to capture their attention but short enough to keep it, and the perfect length to allow busy parents to cook tea. It is ideal for children who already love the story of the Gruffalo but also for children who have yet to be introduced to it. And the big news for this animated film is ... it has been nominated, and hotly tipped for an Oscar in 2011! What greater recommendation does it need? Actors: Helena Bonham Carter, James Corden, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Rob Brydon Directors: Jakob Schuh, Max Lang Writers: Jakob Schuh, Max Lang, Axel Scheffler, Julia Donaldson Producers: Carsten Bunte, Daryl Shute, Martin Pope, Michael Rose, Polly Hill Language English Subtitles: English Classification: UC
For those of you who have not yet discovered the wonderful children's book The Gruffalo, you may want to know who he is before I review the jigsaw! The Gruffalo is an award winning childrens book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. It was recently voted the most loved children's book and is a staple in nurseries, pre-schools, creches and homes. This week sees the animated short film version nominated for an Oscar! The Gruffalo is the story of Mouse, who takes a stroll through the deep, dark wood and along the way bumps into Fox, Owl and Snake - all of whom *invite* Mouse for lunch, or in other words TO BE lunch. Mouse has to think quick and so invents a creature with knobbly knees and turned out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose. Thinking he is very clever, Mouse exclaims "doesn't he know? There is no such thing as a Gruffalo!" Until... he bumps into ... a real life Gruffalo, who quite fancies Mouse on a slice of bread. So, Mouse has to be extra clever, and tells the Gruffalo that he is the scariest creature in the wood, and if the Gruffalo walks behind Mouse, he will soon see that everyone is afraid of him! The Gruffalo laughs, but agrees, and as he walks behind Mouse they encounter Snake, Owl and Fox, who all take one look at the Gruffalo and run (fly or slither) away scared! The Gruffalo thinks they are running away from Mouse, who declares that is tummy is beginning to rumble, and his favourite food is Gruffalo Crumble... and the Gruffalo, quick as the wind, turns and fled! The story is amazing, but the illustrations are part of what makes this book so loved by a generation (or two) of children across the world. Axel Scheffler is award winning, and his depiction of the Gruffalo is astounding, causing the gasps and smiles of many small children (and parents) and that is what makes this jigsaw so wonderful. What is it? This is a large 24 piece floor puzzle, showing the Gruffalo meeting Mouse for the first time. The pieces are large, perfect for little hands, and the picture is simple enough for small children to grasp. The puzzle itself is very sturdy and doesn't bend easily, so no damaged or ripped pieces. My daughter is two, so slightly too young to fully grasp jigsaws, but she loves working with us to match the pieces, and is learning how to match the shapes (perfect size for a first jigsaw) and loves seeing the picture of the Gruffalo and the Mouse emerge as each piece is slotted together. She will happily spend 15 minutes on the floor with us putting the puzzle together, shouting out parts of the story as we go - for instance when the nose is put into place she shouts "poisonous wart end of nose!". It is 3+ - but only because the skills of putting a jigsaw together are quite complex, it is perfectly suitable for younger children, who love the story as they can put it together with the help of parents/siblings and will enjoy seeing the picture emerge. Is it worth £4.95? Most definately, it sells for alot more in many independent stores, and for such a large puzzle it is definately worth the money. Would I buy it again? Yes, and I would buy different versions of it also.
My daughter was bought this for her first birthday, as she loved to paint and colour in with crayons but we didn't always like the mess she left behind - so thought this was a great compromise, although we were dubious about it's value for money, as £25 seemed a bit steep. What is a rainbow aquadoodle? It is a large play mat, with a bright bold border and a huge white space in the centre (shaped like a cloud, with a smaller white cloud in the border at the bottom). The white space is a blank canvas for drawing and doodling. However, you don't use paints, crayons etc - you use something much less messy - WATER! You get various tools with the Rainbow aquadoodle mat - a pen which you fill with water, stampers which you attach to the tip of the pen, and a brush pad which you dip into a pot of water. With these water filled tools you doodle on the white space on the mat, and as you draw a rainbow appears! The water makes the rainbow pattern appear, and when it dries it disappears quickly, leaving it fit for use over and over again. Is it worth a hefty £25? I think so, it is very bright and colourful, and keeps my daughter (and husband) entertained for around 30 mins at a time, with no mess to clear up afterwards. The tools it comes with give variation to the doodles your child can do and makes it a little more exciting. The only reason I think it is worth the £25 is that it will be used for a few years, it was bought when my daughter was 1, she is now 2 and still uses it and can see it being used for quite some time to come. What age is it suitable for? The box says 18 months and up, but this is very dependent on the child. My daughter loved to draw and scribble, so we bought her this at 12 months, and was perfectly safe and easy for her to use. Would I buy it again? Yes, and we have bought different versions of the aquadoodle since, slightly cheaper versions because they just draw in one colour! They are great for taking out of the house to keep kids entertained as they fold up small too!
We needed a lightweight, compact buggy for my daughter, as the M&P Luna (which I love) took up too much room in the car. So we went to Mothercare and noticed the new Silver Cross Pop in Vogue Bon Bon design (limited edition, black bars etc.) and fell in love with how lovely it looked. Had read lots of great reviews, and noticing it was on offer with £50 off we snapped it up. It has a lovely big hood, with a fantastic peep hole, and pocket (perfect for chucking some cash and your phone in when popping to the shops), cup holder, big shopping basket and an easy to use raincover. It looks very nice, and handles very well too. A huge plus is that it lies totally flat. However, the negatives outweigh the positives for me. The handles are very high, I am only 5 ft 1 and find it quite annoying having the handles so high up. The hood keeps popping off and always looks a bit wonky. But most disappointing is the fact that it just looks so uncomfortable, my daughter finds it difficult to sit up straight in it regardless of adjustments made to the seat, the straps just do not work well, as cause baby to slouch in whatever position, the seat pad itself is really small, so when the leg rest is down she has very little room to sit comfortably (and she is quite small for a 2 year old) and when the leg rest is up it sags in the middle so the feet have nowhere comfortable to rest. It is now at grandma's and gets used for a total of about an hour a week. Very expensive for a second, barely used, uncomfortable buggy.
I was bought the Nikon D40 SLR by my husband for my 30th birthday, shortly after having our first baby. It was recommended by a friend who is a professional photographer, and started off with this model. It is a high performance DSLR, but compact and lightweight, perfect for the casual photographer who wants to capture amazing shots or for amateur photographers. It is 6.1 mp, and comes with an AF-S DX 18-55mm lens with 3 x optical zoom. It is a great camera, but I have had a few problems with it, it has been back for repair once as it just stopped focussing, causing me to miss a few of those amazing shots of my daughter that would have made treasured memories. It was returned, fixed and I continued to take some more amazing shots, until recently the same fault has occurred again. This time it is out of warranty! On googling it seems a few other people have had similar problems, however, this is an older model, so I assume the newer models have been improved and this fault rectified. My photographer friend, however, had no problems with it whatsoever, and felt happy enough to recommend it to us.
The Torch is the newest and sleekest of the Blackberry family, and really is as good as it looks and feels amazing. With a slide touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, you get the best of all worlds, and is perfect for those who want an up to the minute phone, but can't manage the touch screen typing (like me!). When you hold the Blackberry Torch you can feel the quality, it is sleek and smooth whilst at the same time sturdy and robost. It looks modern, unlike the Bold (and no annoying ball) and the touch screen is faultless, unlike the Storm (of which I have had both). It comes preloaded with the most popular apps, such as Facebook, Twitter etc. and has an app store, with great value apps from games to calorie counting. The programmes on the Torch, such as the calendar, word etc. are perfect for professionals, but also a great tool for Joe Public to keep their affairs in order. The camera is much improved compared to the Bold and the Storm, quick click photos and takes seconds to upload to Facebook etc. It is only 5mp - but the quality is good, and the video camera excellent to use and easy to upload onto the pc. A brilliant phone, highly recommended.
The Gruffalo is possibly one of the best children's books ever written. For anyone with young children this is a must buy. It is about Mouse, who takes a stroll through the deep dark wood... and encounters a fox, an owl and a snake - who all invite him to lunch. Mouse has to think fast to avoid being eaten. So he invents the Gruffalo, a creature who has knobbly knees and turned out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose, and Mouse is meeting him for lunch, right here! This scares each of his would be lunch guests so much they run away, and Mouse is very pleased with himself laughing at how there is no such thing as a Gruffalo, until he bumps into.... a Gruffalo, who's favourite food is mouse on a slice of bread! Mouse has to think fast again, and tells the Gruffalo to beware, because he is the scariest creature in the wood. The Gruffalo laughs and agrees to follow Mouse to see if it is true, and they bump into the fox, owl and snake who all take one look at the Gruffalo and run away screaming. The Gruffalo thinks they are terrified of the Mouse and runs off. And then all was quiet in the deep dark wood! This is the Gruffalo sound book, and has 10 different sounds, from the owl to the Gruffalo running away. My daughters favourite is the frogs gasp - and she mimics it everytime! Read the story with your child and encourage them to match the pictures in the book to the pictures on the sound buttons, it really helps add to the story. We have bought this book for friends children and it has been a huge hit everytime! Suitable to use with young children around 6 months right up to primary school age, my daughter is 2 and loves it!
Perfect baby walker for little girls. My daughter was given this for Christmas off her Grandma. It is a lovely baby walker in the style of a baby buggy, and came with a soft my first doll. It is pink, lilac and white, has a musical bear *mobile*, buggy bar with toys and a storage shelf on the back, so she can be just like mummy and store her shopping! It is suitable from 9 months, but can be used earlier when baby is cruising early as it is very sturdy. Developmentally it allows babies to walk independantly before they take their first steps, and encourages walking and cruising. It also teaches them allows little girls to be like mummy with their own buggy and dolly. My daughter loves pushing it around the house and cuddling her baby doll. Unlike most walkers which can become redundant when a baby starts walking unaided, this one will last much longer and is therefore better value for money as it will be used in imaginative play by little girls as their first baby buggy. I can see this being a staple toy in our house long after she is walking unaided.
My daughter got this for Christmas off a friend, and it is just delightful. It consists of a lovely pink & lilac musical teapot, with different settings - music; sounds and words - 2 lilac teacups, a pink shape sorter plate with 3 shaped cakes. The settings on the teapot are lovely, the music is very sweet and my daughter bops along to it while pouring cups of tea, the words are very educational with please, thank you etc. in a very nice well-mannered voice and the sounds are great - when you tip the teapot up it sounds like it is pouring. My daughter got this when she was 11 months old, it was the perfect age for her to grasp what to do with the set, but I would say from 6 months is a good age to help them develop awareness of drinking out of cups etc. As soon as we took it out of the box she was sipping from the cups, making the slurping noises to go with it, and it didn't take her long to learn what to do with the teapot - we sat for a good hour having cups of tea poured for us and cake passed round. It really is lovely, and she hasn't tired of it yet like she has with many toys she got for Christmas. Every day we get at least one cup of tea poured for us. Educationally and developmentally - I think it's great, it has helped us teach our daughter about sharing, she happily passes us the cups and cakes, and about please and thank you - everytime she gives us a cup of tea or slice of cake we say ta, and as soon as we give her them back she thanks us by repeating ta! I remember seeing it in the store and thinking it was expensive, but I think it is worth every penny! I think however, Fisher Price would benefit from making it in a more neutral colour also, to market it at boys too, it's not only girls who should learn manners!
The Laugh & Learn Puppy has been a huge hit with our daughter after she received it for Christmas from my aunt. It is bright and colourful and has a little red heart that lights up, which my daughter loves pressing to hear the music and words. It is suitable from 6 months and can help babies develop in different ways at different stages. Initially, around the 6 month stage it is great at teaching co-ordination with babies learning to press the different buttons and the bright colours and music provide the stimulation they need at that age. As they get older babies become more aware of parts of the body and the labelled hand, foot, tummy and ears are great to help this stage of development. When the baby presses the body part it tells you the colour and the name. My daughter is one and now points to her feet and hands when Puppy (or anyone) says the word, and she will point to Puppy's ear, tummy etc when we ask her too. It also teachs babies to be affectionate asking for hugs which he regularly gets off my daughter. As she gets older I can see the Laugh and Learn Puppy helping her colour and then number development too, as it links all the different stages of development together to make a great educational toy that will be valuable for more than a few weeks.
The Bumbo is one of those baby accessories that first time mums wonder if they really need, or if they are just a new expensive fashion accessory to own for your little one. After lots of recommendations from friends and a 4 month old baby who was desperate to sit up unaided I caved and bought my daughter a pink Bumbo. It was one of the best things I bought, and well worth the £30. At first she would sit in it for a few minutes at a time, playing with a rattle or toy and as she got older would sit in it for a little longer and *read* a book. My daughter sat unaided quite young and I do think the Bumbo helped her do this. The real benefit of the Bumbo for us was during the first few weeks of weaning, we weaned at 5 months and she was not comfortable in her high chair so we used the bumbo and it was a godsend, she was comfortable and happy, and really enjoyed weaning, rather than sitting in a highchair or on our knees in an awkward position. If we ever have another baby I will without doubt buy another Bumbo.
The Luna is a funky looking pushchair, which I have had no problems with at all in the 6 months I have used it. We bought it as a second pushchair as our Silvercross pram is too big for the car. It folds up small, very quickly and easily, is really comfortable with a great floating harness which allows your baby to move around freely, lean foward, peep round the side of the pushchair, whilst being totally secure. The basket is another plus, it is easily accessed and quite a good size, holding a number of bags of shopping as well as the raincover. The raincover is easy to fit and the handle allows one handed manoevering! As it is suitable for babies from birth it lies flat, great for naps. The only real downsides are that if you put something too heavy over the handle it can tip, but this can happen with most pushchairs and it has never happened for us, and also the way it folds up can mean that the apron will touch the ground which will make it a little grubby, but you can fold it a little more awkwardly which stops it from touching the ground. I would buy the Luna again without hesitation!