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Each Peach Pear Plum (Picture Puffins)
Each Peach Pear Plum (Picture Puffins)
by Janet Ahlberg
Edition: School & Library Binding

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessly entertaining, 7 Jan. 2006
This is a very colourful and easy to read book that will provide a lot of fun for parents with young children.
The Ahlberg's writing and illustrating style is probably very well known and this book matches their high standards. It has very detailed pictures and a simple rhyme scheme which will be easy for children to pick up and repeat.
The plot of this book, such as it is, revolves around a character from a nursery rhyme or well known tale hiding in each picture. Children can see the main character mentioned in the rhyme and also get a glimpse of the character from the next page. It's I-spy basically.
My 2 year old daughter likes it and has fun spotting the characters hiding up trees, behind bushes and everywhere else. It's a pleasant, gentle book that should appeal to everyone.

Little Rabbit Goes to School
Little Rabbit Goes to School
by Harry Horse
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can we stop reading it yet?, 6 Jan. 2006
This is a lovely book, very colourful, full of detail and with plenty to prompt an inquisitive 3 year old when she listens to it at bed time. The layout is easy on the eye with the text kept separate from the pictures. The pages themselves are a mix of full page paintings and smaller pictures which can be 3 to a page.
I won't go over the story again but it is charming and will be relevant to all kids who are going to school or nursery, whether for the first time or not.
Our daughter loves it and asks for it every night, much to Mrs surelythisisok's dismay.

Avenue Q (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Avenue Q (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.19

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modern musical, 28 Dec. 2005
This is a musical that will probably appeal a lot more when it is seen, rather than simply heard. The conceit with this is that the characters are mostly puppets, in the style of Sesame Street, rather than the usual actors and singers. There are actors as well but the songs are sung by people visibly manipulating puppets onstage.
Anyway, how is the music? Pretty good and certainly very amusing. Some of the songs, eg 'The Internet is for Porn' are funny enough to make you laugh out loud. Some, 'A Fine, Fine Line', are trying for a more poignant emotional response. Most are lively and rousing.
The story, as far as the booklet explains, concerns a new arrival in the city. He comes to stay on Avenue Q and makes friends with other people in his building. They each have their own troubles and, naturally, their own song to explain them. The people get together, split up, get together again and all seem set to live happily ever after at the end.
This is quite a simplistic musical. It doesn't try to reach the emotional depths or heights that others (Rent?) might do. It doesn't have any really outstanding numbers which are obviously finales or showstoppers. Most of the songs are aimed at getting laughs, as is the show as a whole. As I said, it probably needs to be seen as the unique selling point with it is that it involves puppets, rather than being especially meaningful or beautifully sung.
Overall, the songs are pleasant and will make you laugh or chuckle. The plot is extremely obviously set up to end a certain way but it moves along smoothly. If you want an unchallenging musical with an unusual approach and songs you'll be humming and quoting when it finishes, this is it. If you want a musical extravaganza which will provoke an emotional response or tell you a story you haven't heard before, this isn't it. Enjoy it anyway.

I Am A Bird Now
I Am A Bird Now
Price: £8.28

8 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Try before you buy, 26 Dec. 2005
This review is from: I Am A Bird Now (Audio CD)
I bought this album on the strength of a few favourable mentions in the press. I wish I hadn't been so hasty now. It seems that every year the Mercury judges pick a couple of bizarre or almost unknown albums to give the impression that they are trawling a world of music, rather than just the white male indie scene. This year they seem to have given the award to one of the novelty acts.
The music on this album is nice in a coffee shop, background way. The singing is utterly contrived as the singer seems to be trying to imitate the style of the 20s, all gurgly falsetto. The subject matter is unappealing. It's the awful 'nobody knows how much I hurt' rubbish that so many grunge bands (and others) seemed to do. I thought we'd got past that, I certainly have.
Yes, Lou Reed does make a contribution. So what? It seems like just another box ticked in the effort to be fashionably cool and 'damaged'. If he wasn't dead, I'm sure Leigh Bowery would be in here somewhere. Perhaps Tracey Emin could make an appearance if they make it big in the UK.
Overall, this lot seem to be half musicians, half performance artists. It's the sort of thing that is almost funny and what is needed is a little boy to shout, 'He's got no clothes on' and the whole thing will crumble.
Definitely try before you buy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2014 8:44 PM GMT

The Gruffalo's Child
The Gruffalo's Child
by Julia Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to match, 27 Nov. 2005
This review is from: The Gruffalo's Child (Paperback)
We've had 'The Gruffalo' for our daughter for a long time and she loves it. So, when we saw the sequel, especially as it came with a 'cuddly' Gruffalo, we snapped it up. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. The rhyme scheme, although it seems to try to be like the first book, doesn't scan as well and isn't as easy on the ear. Our daughter is two and a half and she is able to repeat some of 'The Gruffalo' to us (after hearing it hundreds of times). She can't do that with 'The Gruffalo's Child'.
The pictures are still appealing and the story features all the characters from the first book, plus the Gruffalo's child, of course. The baby Gruffalo wanders away from parent searching for the terrible mouse that scared the Gruffalo. Eventually, she meets the mouse and is scared herself. It's an amusing pay-off and the story makes the Gruffalo seem softer and more cuddly but I think, having set such high standards with the first book, it was always going to be hard to match them. Unfortunately, I don't think the sequel has managed it.


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How did it do that!?, 27 Nov. 2005
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: 20Q (Toy)
I first saw this when a teaching colleague showed me his. I was amazed at how it managed to work out what I was thinking. At first I thought of fairly mundane, everyday things but even when I tried to think of more abstract ideas (without being too obscure) it guessed those as well. I was so impressed, I bought one.Anyway, having had my own and played it quite a lot, it still retains the 'wow' factor you get when you are first outwitted. I intend to use it as a teaching aid to help my kids with question structure and improving their vocabulary. I would say that it will certainly be useful and amusing for the age range that I teach (8-10 year olds).I do have a couple of minor quibbles though. The text rate is a bit slow for me although probably fine for kids. That tends to make the fun wear off quicker for an adult. The questions, naturally, are rather repetetive and a bit weird eg 'Is it larger than a microwave oven? Does it weigh more than a pound of butter?' and, when you start racking your brains to think of something it won't guess, you have to keep answering 'Don't know' or N/A for more and more questions.However, if you're looking for something that will amaze and amuse, this'll do the job. Well worth a purchase.

Buffalo Soldiers [DVD] [2001]
Buffalo Soldiers [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Joaquin Phoenix
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shot up, 26 Nov. 2005
This is quite a dark story, without any really likeable characters. It shows us the lives of corrupt and debased US soldiers, stuck in Germany without a war to fight around the time that the Berlin Wall came down. It seems that the soldiers of the late 80s were as undisciplined and as drug addicted as the soldiers in Viet Nam, only the men in Germany have boredom as their curse, rather than thousands of determined guerillas seeking to eject them from their homeland.
The anti-hero, Ray Elwood _(played quite well by Joaquin Phoenix), is over his head in drug and weapon dealing on the black market. His new superior (a vicious Scott Glenn) is clamping down on all covert activity and makes sure that Elwood knows that he is dicing with death if he wishes to continue. Unfortunately, Elwood has got involved with an equally nasty arms dealer who will kill him if he doesn't go through with the deal. And so the thing must be done.
There are other characters to keep you watching; Scott Glenn is very menacing and there is real tension as you wonder whether Elwood will escape the noose. Ed Harris is wryly amusing as the inept and ineffectual colonel running the unit. Anna Paquin provides a diversion as the love interest for Elwood who also happens to be the daughter of Scott Glenn's character.
Ultimately though, there wasn't enough depth to the characters to really make me care about them. They are either drug addicts too unimaginative to find another path, amoral thieves and bullies, draconian enforcers who see only their way of doing things or blindly ambitious brown nosers. Pulp Fiction dealt with similarly unappealing characters but was better written and edited and crucially, gave you more of a back story for the characters so you felt that you had a reason to want to follow their progress. Elwood just cruises from one dodgy deal to another and doesn't seem to care what he does or who gets caught up in it. At the end he seems set to continue just as before.
The extras are more or less the minimum you'd expect; commentary and two or three short interviews or clips. I liked the film and it's quite dryly humourous and perhaps satirical of the army. I would be wary of giving it any more praise though. It may have been unfairly ignored and left on the shelf but that doesn't mean it is a cult 'classic'. It's good, but not great.

Motorola V3 - Orange - Pay As You Go Mobile Phone - Black
Motorola V3 - Orange - Pay As You Go Mobile Phone - Black

88 of 96 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks or personality?, 4 Nov. 2005
I bought this phone because I was attracted by the distinctive look of it. You certainly won't see another phone as slim and stylish as this for a while.
It is very lightweight, the keypad is apparently chemically etched rather than made of rubber buttons and is as flat as the proverbial pancake. The screen is TFT (ie flat) and very colourful. It also has a smaller, less colourful screen on the outside which can show you caller id pictures and other display information. I use this phone for calling people and SMSing, rather than for browsing the internet (although the internet browser seems fine) or playing MP3s. The sound is clear and the ringtones are pleasant enough, in a basic way.
There are a few downsides to this phone, though, which will vary in importance according to what you want to use it for. First of all, the memory is measly (5MB) and not upgradeable. If you want to store photos, videos or MP3s on this phone, you'll have to keep them to a minimum. Mine told me that I'd run out of memory, basically because I'd been keeping SMS messages in the outbox instead of deleting them.
The camera is 1 megapixel. It's ok for a few little snaps of the kids around the house but it doesn't cope well in different kinds of light. The digital zoom makes the pictures a lot more blocky when you use it. Also, 1MP is fairly small, compared to what else is available. However, if you don't intend to take many photos, it doesn't matter.
I find the phonebook menu awkward as it lists each individual phone number, rather than grouping several numbers for the same person together. There are a few other features or aspects of the phone which aren't as easy to use as my previous one (Sony Ericsson p800).
Overall, I still like the visual appeal of the phone although the snob appeal of having one may wear off as it becomes more ubiquitous. I wish I'd taken a bit more notice of the technical, rather than visual, qualities though.

Shite's Unoriginal Miscellany
Shite's Unoriginal Miscellany
by Stephen Blake
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, 17 Oct. 2005
This is a very dull book with little to recommend it at all. It falls between two stools in trying to parody 'Schott's' while at the same time having to fulfil the same function in order to fill its pages.
There are very few items or lists which one would want to read twice. Most of the book contains lists which are trying so hard to be funny that there is no way they could succeed. For example; Days of the week, English counties beginning with B, ten parts of the body, very unpopular bumblebees resident in the UK.
Whether you thought it worthwhile or not, there was some use to Schott's. Avoid at all costs.

Eyewitness - Natural Disasters [DVD] [1997]
Eyewitness - Natural Disasters [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Eyewitness
Price: £5.21

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too brief, 11 Oct. 2005
I bought this for my kids at school because we're studying volcanoes and I know that the Eyewitness series of books is quite good and very appealing to the age group I teach (10 year olds).
Unfortunately, this dvd isn't quite what I wanted. It does give information about different kinds of natural disaster: hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, volcano, avalanche, flood, lightning(?) but each segment is a little too brief to convey much information. If you want an overview of natural disasters, this would be ok but not if you wanted something more in-depth.
Also, sad to say, the clips that are used are outdated. The dvd is based on footage available in 1997 and since then, as we know, there has been an enormous (and well documented) tsunami as well as large earthquakes. The dvd has to make do with reconstructions using models and close up footage or ordinary waves.
There is a feature called 'Hotspots' which supposedly gives more information about an event whenever a little icon pops up in the corner. It did go into a little more detail but I found it a distraction to constantly interrupt the programme and there was nothing that could not have been included in the main show.
This is for those with a short attention span who can't cope with too much information.

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