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Crayola Beginnings Tadoodles Bath Crayons
Crayola Beginnings Tadoodles Bath Crayons

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun but don't last long..., 1 Jan 2012
= Durability:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These crayons have been a huge hit with my children (15 months and 3 years) - the little one thinks it's magic she can make marks with them and the bigger one likes practising his "writing". They're chunky enough for small hands to grasp and (so far) have stayed in the holders fine. They make bath-time fun for everyone and wash off tiles/the bath easily.

However, I wish I had known that they don't make refills for these as I don't think they are going to last long and they are expensive compared to more basic bath crayons available.

A hit with the kids but I won't be so impressed when they run out!

City of Sin: London and Its Vices
City of Sin: London and Its Vices
by Catharine Arnold
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting - social history and a touch of humour!, 1 Jan 2012
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I really enjoyed this book - it paints such a vivid picture of London throughout the ages and gives a balanced and fascinating look at the history of prostitution and pornography. It was really interesting to see the differences between the different "classes" of prostitute and even read about the (surprising) success stories of those who made their fortune in the oldest profession. Not misery and destitution for all, as might be expected, although there do seem to be a lot of unfortunates along the way.

I particularly liked the way that the author approached the topic with humour, something that stopped the book from ever seeming dull or dry, despite the huge amount of academic research that has clearly gone into its creation.

Overall, I think this is an impressively comprehensive and readable work and I'll be looking into other books by the same author.

The Pirates Next Door
The Pirates Next Door
by Jonny Duddle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another lovely pirate book from the author of The Pirate Cruncher, 28 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Pirates Next Door (Hardcover)
My three year old son absolutely loved The Pirate Cruncher by the same author, so I was very keen that Father Christmas bring this book for us all to enjoy.

We have not been disappointed. The artwork is amazing - really interesting and lots to capture the imagination of young pirate fans (plus the paper cover can be used as a poster, with the Jolley-Roger family tree on the back). My husband and I have really enjoyed reading this (and the previous one) because of the nicely moral stories (not at all cutesy or shoved down your throat), the colourful characters, the big fold-out picture and the chance to do pirate voices!

Loads of ideas in this book seem to really appeal to my son - the mean neighbours, the idea of a pirate ship turning up next door, pirate treasure being buried in the garden, the pirate boy at school with no shoes...he has really enjoyed looking at and talking about the book.

Highly recommended for any little pirate fans or parents who want an interesting book to read to their children. Check out The Pirate Cruncher too - another little gem.

Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call (Nintendo DS)
Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call (Nintendo DS)
Offered by sir_bubby
Price: 17.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for puzzle fans, 28 Dec 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
I love all the Professor Layton games and this one is no different - it contains a huge variety of puzzles and some lovely graphics. If you have played the previous Professor Layton games then there isn't much new here - same navigation, tricky puzzles, mini-games, stuff to collect on your travels and a bonkers story. However, it is still charming and very engaging (I have basically ignored my family since I got it!)

On the downside (and these are little niggles rather than big complaints), I thought the game wasn't as long as some of the previous ones and there was slightly less variety in the settings (the trip to London seemed a bit of a distraction, just put in to stop all the action from being in one place, the town). Also, I thought the puzzles were a bit easier - in previous games I've had to go back to try things again, but not this time. Maybe I'm getting better at them, or maybe it is the inclusion of the "Super Hint", but I didn't have to take to the Internet for assistance this time!

Anyway, these are niggles and don't really detract from a fun and enjoyable game, perfect for all puzzle fans.

The Highway Rat
The Highway Rat
by Julia Donaldson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, not a classic...but my 3 year old loves it, 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Highway Rat (Hardcover)
Whichever way you look at it, this is a high quality, beautifully written and fabulously illustrated children's book (written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the team behind The Gruffalo, Tabby McTat and lots of others).

However, I think the authors have become victims of their own success - each book they produce is expected to be a classic, like the Gruffalo. This, I think, accounts for the negative reviews of this book - expectations are so high that people are always going to find faults with whatever is produced.

It is a lovely book - the pictures are great (my son loves the "baddie" Highway Rat and the clever duck that tricks him, even though he doesn't understand the idea of the echo that forms the basis of the trick) and there's loads to talk about with small children. The story is good, with the basic moral that greed is bad. The language used isn't as concise or catchy as in some of Donaldson's other books, but....

My 3 year old son loves this book. Surely that's got to be the best recommendation?!

An Object of Beauty
An Object of Beauty
by Steve Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.11

2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as other Steve Martin books, 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: An Object of Beauty (Hardcover)
I am a big fan of Steve Martin and loved his other novels, The Pleasure of my Company (really funny) and Shopgirl (less funny but still interesting).

However, I really struggled with this book. I thought I'd like it, based on reading the other books and liking the subject matter (art), but I found it over-long, rambling (yes, Martin clearly is a clever man and knows a lot about art but that doesn't make for something that is fun to read) and strangely flat - there was so little of Martin's trademark humour. The main character, Lacey Yeager, was mostly unappealing and I found it really difficult to care about what happened to her.

The book spans a good few years, taking in Lacey's rise from intern to gallery owner and the background details of 9/11 and the economic downturn. I found that this made for inconsistent reading - some bits were really detailed and interesting, other bits skipped over huge periods of time. As other reviewers have said, the book has flashes of brilliance, but they weren't enough to keep me going.

I did finish the book, but it was a struggle. I'll still read future books by Steve Martin, although it will be in the hope that he'll use some more of the humour that made him famous.

Strangled in Paris: The Victor Legris Mysteries 6 (Victor Legris Mystery)
Strangled in Paris: The Victor Legris Mysteries 6 (Victor Legris Mystery)
by Claude Izner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.19

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book 6 in a great historical detective series, 13 Nov 2011
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I've read all the books in this series (this is the sixth one to be translated into English from the original French) and have been impressed with them - they are very cleverly plotted, with characters that develop throughout the series and very atmospheric detail about 1890s Paris.

This book has all the features I look for in a good mystery - characters with murky pasts, mistaken identity, a number of puzzling murders and detectives with a bit of depth (the main detective, Victor Legris, is helped/hindered by a whole cast of interesting characters).

The reason why I've given this four stars instead of five is that the translation into English feels a bit odd in places which sometimes took my attention away from the story. Also, the writers (because Claude Izner is actually two sisters) focus a lot on the detective and his setting (girlfriend, family, the bookshop he owns etc), occasionally to the detriment of the mystery story.

I agree with the other reviewer that these are best read in order (start with Murder on the Eiffel Tower) but would wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who loves historical murder mysteries. I'm looking forward to the next books in the series very much - I only wish my French was up to reading the originals!

Handprint or Footprint Cufflinks - Ideal Fathers Day Gift - Baby hand or foot prints fused on to glass cufflinks
Handprint or Footprint Cufflinks - Ideal Fathers Day Gift - Baby hand or foot prints fused on to glass cufflinks
Offered by The Keepsake Shop
Price: 24.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect present!, 13 Nov 2011
I bought these cufflinks for my husband and am really impressed with them. I looked at the silver fingerprint cufflinks available but thought they were just too expensive - these really are a lovely, more cost-effective alternative.

The Keepsake Shop sent out the kit to take the prints from my children the day after I ordered the cufflinks. The whole process was very easy - not messy at all, because you get a printing wipe (like a baby wipe) and special card to print onto so there is no mucky ink to deal with - you just wipe your child's hand or foot and put it on the card and the prints magically appear! My prints came out quite smudgy (very wriggly children!) but The Keepsake Shop managed to tidy them up for me so the finished article looks lovely and neat.

Once I'd sent the prints back (in a prepaid envelope), Clare sent me a proof of what the finished item would look like - I chose a blue background because the prints look very clear. She managed to do exactly what I wanted - my 3 year old's handprint on one, and my baby's hand and footprint on the other. Her communication was also friendly and helpful throughout.

The finished cufflinks arrived in time (I'd asked for a particular date, as they were a present) and I'm so pleased with them. The quality is nice - they feel quite heavy and substantial and the little prints look clear. My husband loved them too.

I would recommend these cufflinks as I think they make a lovely, personal present for dads, grandads and anyone else who wants a lovely keepsake.

Port Side Pirates (Book & CD)
Port Side Pirates (Book & CD)
by Oscar Seaworthy
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Catchy music and a beautifully illustrated book - what's not to like?, 4 Oct 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My little pirate fan (who is just turned 3) got this for his birthday and loves it. I don't think the CD has left his CD player yet, in nearly a month - it's surprisingly catchy too (my husband and I have both been caught singing it with no children in earshot! Yes, the CD is a bit short - I'd have liked a few more songs - but it certainly appeals to its target market.

The reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is that the book is a bit odd. It has the lyrics to the main song in, beautifully illustrated with interesting pictures to talk about with your child. However, it's a bit of a repetitive reading experience - great set to music, pretty dull without and extremely painful if Mummy has to sing it every night! It also has a few pages of pirate facts and a diagram of a pirate ship at the end - fine for me, but lost on a small child (it seems like the end of the book is suddenly aimed at much older children).

I'd definitely recommend this for pirate fans from 2 - 6 but you'd better make sure your singing voice is up to it! Once they've heard the CD then you'll not get away with just reading it ever again!

Spot Goes to the Farm (Spot - Original Lift The Flap)
Spot Goes to the Farm (Spot - Original Lift The Flap)
by Eric Hill
Edition: Board book
Price: 4.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book for little Spot fans!, 20 Sep 2011
This is my daughter's favourite book at the moment - she's 11 months and we've been reading it to her for the past couple of months. She's worked out how to open all the flaps (with a little prompting!) and seems to enjoy the hands-on element. The book is sturdy enough to withstand her attentions and the flaps are all still attached.

What makes this book lovely is that there are pictures behind all the flaps (we have another Spot book which has writing behind some of the flaps, which is slightly lost on such a small reader). It also provides a good opportunity for parents to try out a range of farm animal noises! The pictures are brightly coloured and lovely, as you'd expect from the Spot series.

Good all round and a nice starting point for little people developing a love of books.

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