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Tales from Puddle Lane: The Magic Griffle and Other Stories - Sheila K. McCullagh

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Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Author: Sheila K. McCullagh / Hardcover / 96 Pages / Book is published 2007-08 by Mercury Junior

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      17.06.2013 11:04
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      A classic

      Puddle lane takes me way back to my childhood and consists of several books that I remember fondly. When I spotted this collection of stories in a book shop several years ago I was very excited to welcome it to my daughter's collection. This particular puddle lane book, published in 2007, contains five of the original puddle lane stories, all of which were originally written in 1985.

      Puddle lane, or to be more accurate, tales from puddle lane, was initially a TV series in the 1980's which in the latter half of that decade was turned into a collection of books by Sheila McCullagh. The collection was primarily a reading programme consisting of 5 different stages with a total of 54 books. The original collection contained two different versions of each story, an easy read for children to read themselves and then a more thorough and in-depth version which is to be read to children. This particular collection of books however is unlike the originals as it no longer contains the children's easy read version of the story. Instead it contains five rather difficult stories which you could definitely not expect a child of a reasonably young age to read.

      The five books in this collection are:
      The Vanishing Monster (Stage 1)
      The Griffle and Mr Gotobed (Stage 1)
      Two Green Ears (Stage 1)
      Tale of a Tail (Stage 1)
      The Little Monster (Stage 2)


      These particular five books are focused on the magic Griffle. The Griffle is a special kind of monster who lives in the Magicians garden at the end of puddle lane. He's not however your typical monster because the Griffle just so happens to be a vanishing monster. The children who live on the lane often play within the magician's garden and these five stories introduce us to the children's first encounters with the Griffle followed by a string of fun adventures.

      The Vanishing Monster
      ---------------------------------
      The first story - the vanishing monster - introduces us to the Griffle and more importantly to the Griffle's first encounter with Davy, a boy from puddle lane. Davy and his sister Sarah feature prominently throughout the book and it's fair to say that, along with the Griffle himself, these are the main characters. The story starts with Davy playing alone in the magician's garden when he suddenly hears a strange noise. Looking closely Davy begins to notice two green ears moving towards him, and then he notices a green tail, before he knows it a fully sized green monster is stood before him. Here we come to learn that the Griffle is more scared of Davy than Davy is of the Griffle. The remainder of this story focuses on establishing the relationship between Davy and the Griffle and gives the reader a wider insight into these characters.

      The Griffle and Mr Gotobed
      -----------------------------------------
      The first story informed us that the Griffle - despite being a monster - is in fact a friendly monster, who is extremely timid and easily scared. This story however shows how the Griffle is ready to face his fears in order to help his friends. When Davy and his friends are playing with a ball in puddle lane it accidently flies through the window of Mr go to bed, Mr go to bed is asleep and the ball needs to be retrieved before Gita's Grandmother arrives later that afternoon. Can the Griffle overcome his fears of people and save the day for the children?

      Two Green Ears
      ----------------------------
      One day while playing in the magician's garden, Davy and Sarah decide to look for the Griffle to ask him to join them in their games. The Griffle however was feeling rather nervous so rather than letting the children find him, he stayed invisible. After playing, the children make their way back home down puddle lane and are suddenly confronted by a large dog. Fearing the dog, the children freeze and are scared as to what to do next. All the while the Griffle has been watching the children without them knowing and despite being scared by the dog himself the Griffle overcomes his fears in order to save the children.

      Tale of a Tail
      ---------------------
      This story see's the Griffle trying to overcome his fear of people by revealing himself to one of the residents of puddle lane, Mrs Pitter-patter. Slowly the Griffle starts to reveal little parts of himself such as his tale, his ears and his eyes. Mrs Pitter-Patter doesn't believe Sarah when she tells her that those parts actually belong to a vanishing green monster so when the Griffle finally does reveal his whole self to Mrs Pitter-Patter she is very shocked and scared and runs away. Her reaction scares the Griffle and he vanishes leaving Sarah alone in the street, he promises to return but the encounter with Mrs Pitter-Patter has left him scared and shaken and even further away from overcoming his fears.

      The Little Monster
      -----------------------------
      The children's favourite game with the Griffle is hide and seek. Because the Griffle is a vanishing monster it makes the game all that much more fun. While playing a game of hide and seek with Sarah in the magician's garden the Griffle comes across a 'little monster' which he is scared of. This little monster is in fact a mouse and is equally as scared of the Griffle. Can Sarah take care of the little mouse and convince the Griffle it isn't something to be scared of?

      These five books work really well together and share a lovely insight into the larger collection of puddle lane stories.

      Altogether there are 96 pages within this hardback book, all of which have a fair share of words and pictures. I can't say that the stories are huge but there is, on average one or two paragraphs of writing her page. The pictures throughout the book are rather splendid and contain a mix of old and new by the original 1985's illustrator Tony Morris and Prue Theobalds who in 2007 made additions and changes to some of those originals.

      This set of books has not disappointed and I enjoy reading them to my daughter just as much as my daughter likes to hear them. The books are so well written and (being one of the only old books on my daughters book shelf) makes for a striking contrast to the more modern books that we have. Not only is it just a difference in age, there are clear differences in writing style. I find this book generally more pleasant to read than any others.

      Each story throughout the book, despite having the same people and scenery, Have very unique and different stories which are individually interesting and fun. There isn't a particular one which me and my daughter favor because they are all so interesting and different in their own way. My five year old daughter really enjoys this book and has become fascinated with the Griffle. She gets so excited by the Griffle, and due the simplicity of the stories, they are more believable which has led to my daughter believing the Griffle is real which makes the whole reading experience more magical for her.

      I would highly recommend this book, the quality of the book is of a reasonable standard and is rather long lasting, and the durable pages allow for some tough love by a child and can still survive to tell the tale. A lovely book to share at bedtime and can be bought for a very reasonable price either new or second hand from a variety of book shops and online retailers.

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