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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK)
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Storyteller: Dragonory and other stories to read and tell for 7 to 9 year olds
Storyteller: Dragonory and other stories to read and tell for 7 to 9 year olds
by Pie Corbett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of short stories I've read in a long, long time., 21 Sep 2014
Another book that my seven year old home was given as a reading book. At first I thought it might be a little tricky for him, there are quite a few complex words, and quite a few made up words in the stories which can act as stumbling blocks and knock a child's confidence a little. Having said that, he was keen to give it a go, so we tried it.

We both loved this book, absolutely loved it. He read me two stories a night, every night until it was finished. I helped him with the difficult words and as he was eager to find out what happened he was happy to explore the words and keep trying until he had figured them out and remembered them.

This is a whole collection of retold and reimagined folk and fairy tales that originate from all over the globe. Some are very short, only a couple of pages long. Some are quite long, at about twenty pages. They are all different in character, which means that there is plenty to keep a child engaged, even if they don't enjoy one story they know there will be lots more to choose from that they will like.

There is lots of humour in the stories. My son particularly loved the story about the talking papaya, and the stupid man and the donkey.

As the cover says, suitable for 7-9 year olds, and older in my opinion. You may need to offer help with trickier words.

Perfect for sharing and ideally suited for reading aloud.


Spider McDrew (Roaring Good Reads)
Spider McDrew (Roaring Good Reads)
by Alan Durant
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, Gentle Book, 21 Sep 2014
My seven year old son was given this as a reading book recently. At first I thought it might be another Horrid Henry pastiche, an author jumping on the bandwagon, but as we got deeper into the story I was pleasantly surprised. Spider is a sensitive, dreamy child who spends more time inside his head than paying attention to what is going on outside. As a result he inadvertently gets into quite a lot of trouble and is often the target of teasing at school.

The three stories in this book show how Spider's gentle, loving nature wins out over his naysayers and against all the odds. The stories deal with his inclusion in the school football team, his bringing a cow to school and his winning the day at the school play. They're lovely and sweet with enough boyishness for boys and enough girlishness for girls and a bit of humour to cut through the sugariness of some of the sentiment expressed.


The Gardener from Ochakov (Vintage)
The Gardener from Ochakov (Vintage)
by Andrey Kurkov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly enjoyable surrealism, 20 Sep 2014
I love Andrey Kurkov's books. I can't say I always understand them fully. I have the same sense of enjoyable confusion say reading Haruki Murakami gives me. I quite like the fact that I don't quite get it. This book however, seems slightly less obscure than others of his I have read. It follows a fairly standard time line, albeit with time travel thrown in, but everything links together in an explicable manner and the ending is neat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and the slight dark edge to the writing. Igor is a great character and it was a great pleasure to find out what happens to him.


Charlie and the Great Escape
Charlie and the Great Escape
by Hilary McKay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A great alternative to Horrid Henry, 19 Sep 2014
My son was given this as a reading book in school. We read it together over the space of a week, a chapter per night, and he loved it. It was very enjoyable. Charlie is like Horrid Henry but with none of the cruelty that I dislike so much about the Henry books. The humour here comes not only from the awful things that Charlie does, but also the way in which his family deal with Charlie's efforts to run away. It was gentle and funny and my son actively enjoyed reading it.

Recommended for confident readers aged 7-10 both boys and girls.


Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu
Spies in Disguise: Boy in a Tutu
by Kate Scott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy sequel to a funny and exciting children's spy series, 15 Sep 2014
This is the second in Kate Scott's 'Spies in Disguise' series, the first being 'Boy in Tights'. The stories are told from the point of Joe, a young boy who ends up becoming a young girl, Josie, in order to help his parents protect their identities as super spies. Joe is delighted his parents aren't as boring as he first thought, but also utterly fed up to be a girl, until he meets Sam, a girl at his new school who makes him see that being a girl might not be so bad after all.

In this story, Joe has to endure intensive ballet classes at his local leisure centre, trying to infiltrate and bring down the criminals who are intent on stealing a world famous football memorabilia exhibition.

The book is wonderfully silly. There are lots of laugh out loud opportunities for children. The chapters whizz by with lots of comic and exciting incidents and a real sense of pace to keep your child hooked from page one. I liked the fact that there are overarching plot lines from the previous book. You could read this as a standalone adventure and you wouldn't lose too much sense of what is happening, but it is much more fun to read them in order and discover how the sub plots are coming along.

A lovely, funny read.


Disney Frozen Ice Skating Elsa Doll
Disney Frozen Ice Skating Elsa Doll
Price: £23.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expensive for what you get, 14 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Struggling to know what to say here.

From a grown up's point of view I think the doll is an absolute rip off for the price. She skates, yes, but only in a limited way with the attachment. If you lose that, you're scuppered, and in my long years at the coal face of parenting, you will inevitably end up losing the fiddly things that come with dolls like this. Once this happens you can do very little with the doll, because she's really just designed to mimic skating.

My other experience of parenting small children is that no matter how beautiful a doll is, and how delightfully presented, the child will shortly wish to strip the doll off and dress her in other things. This isn't really feasible with Elsa, as much of her outfit is kind of stuck/painted on.

This is the sort of thing that drives me insane, particularly when you pay £30.

On the other hand. My daughter, who is really too old for the doll, but who loves the film, thinks it is a thing of beauty and a joy forever and is very, very happy with it, which I guess is what it's all about, right? After all, I'm not the one who's supposed to be playing with it. As she is a little older than the recommended age for the doll, I suspect that the doll and its daft tiara and silly skate will last much longer than it would if she were a little younger, which is some compensation.

Other bonus point - the doll doesn't sing 'Let it Go.' which gives it extra marks from me.


The Rise and Fall of Great Powers
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers
by Tom Rachman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasingly Quirky, 14 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found I had a bit of a love, hate relationship with this book. Sometimes I couldn't put it down. Other times it was all too easy to put it down. I think the main reason for this was the fractured time line, which I understood needed to be there to give the novel some kind of suspense and show the protagonist's life in different aspects, but I did find it frustrating at times when I wanted to continue reading about a section of Tooley's life that was just beginning to get interesting, for it to suddenly cut off and for me to have to start again with a section that I was less enamoured of.

I did enjoy the characters in the book. I found the main character, Tooley, charming and, although I hate to use the word, appealingly quirky. The book wasn't quite what I imagined it would be from the frankly, fantastic blurb on the back cover, and it took me a while to reconcile myself to the fact that it wasn't really much to do with what the synopsis promises.

On the other hand, it was engaging and interesting and well written, and if it lagged in places, it picked up in more places, and I would be most intrigued to read more by the author.


Sara Dane
Sara Dane
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable, 13 Sep 2014
This review is from: Sara Dane (Kindle Edition)
This is the second Catherine Gaskin book I've read this year. I'm late to her work, but my word I am enjoying it. In this novel we follow the fortunes and misfortunes of the eponymous Sara Dane. Daughter of a feckless father, brought up to be intelligent beyond her station in life, and left at the mercy of others, she finds herself on a transport ship to Australia.

Determined to rise above what it seems fate has decreed for her, she turns her life around and we follow her extraordinary story through her years in young Australia.

I liked this because Sara is a brilliant heroine with spirit and intelligence. I enjoyed the fact that she kicked against the traces of what should be, and I was genuinely interested to see how things would turn out for her, despite this being rather a traditional novel in many respects.

My only criticism is that it ended too early and I would have liked it to continue in a sequel.


Mr Mac and Me
Mr Mac and Me
by Esther Freud
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, 2 Sep 2014
This review is from: Mr Mac and Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Freud's prose is always beautiful, sparse, poetic, thoughtful and nicely polished. I have been reading her ever since Hideous Kinky and she never disappoints. I particularly like this novel because it deals with an area I know well (Walberswick/Southwold), and an artist/architect I have always admired, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It tells the story of Tom Maggs, son of a drunken landlord and hard working mother, desperate to go to sea, but unable to leave his mother behind, and born with a twisted foot that keeps him restlessly pacing the land, but always looking out to sea. The outbreak of WWI brings unforeseen excitement to Tom's life for many reasons, not least his growing relationship with Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his mysterious and beautiful wife Margaret. The story spans just over a year of Tom's awakening and growth from child to young man.


Ghost Children
Ghost Children
by Sue Townsend
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Read, 1 Sep 2014
This review is from: Ghost Children (Paperback)
A pretty harrowing read to be honest. I have always avoided this novel of Townsend's, knowing what subject matter she would be addressing and not being entirely comfortable with it. After her death I decided to make an effort to read her entire oeuvre and this was the last thing on my list.

I cannot say I like it. I cannot say I enjoyed reading it. It was uncomfortable and upsetting, but written in her usual clear style with her eye for social niceties, and otherwise, used to full effect. The satire and darkness which lurks under the gentle exterior of the Mole books, and is more fully expressed in the later Mole volumes, and in The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, is given free rein here, and with little humour to lift it. Understandably, given the content.

Not a favourite of mine. I prefer it when she wrote with a slightly lighter touch, not because what she had to say was any less important then, because she could still cut to the heart of an issue, I just prefer a little light in the middle of bleakness.


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