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Chrestomanci (UK)
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The Cat in the Hat: Green Back Book (Dr Seuss - Green Back Book)
The Cat in the Hat: Green Back Book (Dr Seuss - Green Back Book)
by Dr. Seuss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.79

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable book to help early readers read out loud, 21 April 2004
There are so many great things that can be said about this truly classic book: the witty plot, hilarious rhymes and wonderfully quirky illustrations. Now, with the release of a new children's film, the original story will be brought to a whole new generation of readers.
However, the initial concept of this book: specifically intended to be a unique teaching aid should never be overlooked.
When Dr Seuss designed this book, the words he chose were no accident. He deliberately set out to construct a story using a strictly limited vocabulary of short, easily recognisable words ... repeating them at regular intervals. In the hands of a lesser author the result could have been deadly dull, but Dr Seuss creates a story with a real page-turning plot, a vibrant central character and a great ending! As the simple words are read over and over again, the deveoping young reader soon starts recognising them.
The rhyming format was no coincidence either. Once a young reader can identify a word such as POT, it is a simple step for them to attempt deciphering the likes of NOT, HOT and LOT etc. The cunning use of rhyming couplets also enables the inexperienced reader to make a calculated guess at some words even if they can only identify the first letter or two ... and as an inevitable result, their confidence in reading for themselves is swiftly increased.
I have used this book with struggling young readers and watched their progress with delight. The slick wittiness of the text and illustrations will even prevent older children with reading difficulties from feeling they are attempting something too babyish.
For the very youngest (not reading yet but following the finger along as they are read to out loud) the repeating rhymes encourage them to join in too ... and gradually the words on the pages start to become recognisable.
I recommend following this book up with 'Green Eggs and Ham' another Dr Seuss specifically designed to work in the same way.


Going Solo
Going Solo
by Roald Dahl
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping biography for young readers, 15 April 2004
This review is from: Going Solo (Paperback)
I didn’t expect Roald Dahl’s account of life as a fighter pilot to interest me at all, but to my astonishment I found it gripping. It’s a real page-turner; I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter!
As always, his style of writing is a pleasure to read, and although most younger readers prefer his macabre tales of fantasy, this is well worth adding to their Dahl Library.
Both ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’ are the perfect way to introduce the developing younger reader to biographical/true-life stories, rather than remaining forever stuck in the magical realms of fantasy fiction. This book can be equally enjoyed by young and old alike … the sort of book a grandfather and grandson can read together!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2012 4:48 AM BST


The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Cover to Cover)
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Cover to Cover)
by Jill Tomlinson
Edition: Audio Cassette

5.0 out of 5 stars Cure �Fear of the Dark� in 7 days guaranteed, 9 April 2004
If you know a little someone who is afraid of the dark, then this book & tape set will cure them in one week ... guaranteed!
The story is about a young barn owl called Plop, who has the same problem. The plot is divided into seven little chapters (listen or read one per night until cured). Each chapter is a satisfying little tale in which Plop learns something new about the dark each night: dark is exciting, dark is kind, dark is fun, dark is necessary, dark is fascinating, dark is wonderful ... and dark is beautiful. Plop isn't convinced immediately, but by the seventh night he's looking at the dark through new eyes!
This is without doubt the most perfect bedtime story book ever. Furthermore, this version includes the fantastic audio tape of the book as read by Maureen Lipman. Her warm and witty character voices add a hilarious dimension to the tale. Your children will love listening to it over and over ... until they know it by heart!


Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams (Piero Fornasetti)
Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams (Piero Fornasetti)
by Patrick Mauriès
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.46

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-catchng!!!, 9 April 2004
This wonderful book charts the life of Piero Fornasetti. Furthermore, it is stuffed full of sumptuous full colour and black & white photos of his works - both the well-known and the more obscure.
This book shows that Fornasetti was a true visionary. Rather than adopt the styles of other designers or adapt his vision to the trends of the populace, he designed what he wanted ... and he did it in his own unique way. His designs are timeless ... looking every bit as relevant in a contemporary interior today, as they did when they were first created. Through the pages of this wonderful book, we see how his inspiration came from the simplest sources, frequently depicting ordinary household objects with a stylish twist, as well as the sun/moon or playing card motifs for which he was famed.
My favourite section deals with possibly his most famous creation: the Themes & Variations series, which gave us the most enigmatic and iconic beauty since the Mona Lisa. Yet, with typical Fornasseti flair and humour he gave this deceptively simple design literally hundreds of subtle variations. My only disappointment is that these variations are not depicted exhaustively ... as a definitive resource/reference for the true Fornasetti collector.
This book is an utter delight ... and a must have for any aspiring designer


Beauty
Beauty
by Robin McKinley
Edition: Paperback

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, 6 April 2004
This review is from: Beauty (Paperback)
This book is a delightful retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. However, don’t assume that you know everything there is to know about this story already. In this version, Beauty is plain compared to her two elder sisters … and the beast is more sad and mysterious than frightening or beastly.
Closer to the original French fairytale than any version so far, the style of writing has an old-fashioned charm and simplicity about it, giving you the feeling that you are reading a letter from Beauty herself describing her life at the beast’s enchanted castle.
This book would make a wonderful gift for girls aged nine to ninety!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2011 10:38 AM GMT


The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trliogy)
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Trliogy)
by Jonathan Stroud
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Original, 6 April 2004
This is a very strong book. However, some of its strengths are also, perhaps, its weaknesses.
The story is told from two very different viewpoints: Nathaniel the apprentice and Bartimaeus a 5,000 year-old djinn (a good scrabble word). Bartimaeus is a witty raconteur, and tells his first-person story in a style reminiscent of P G Wodehouse, complete with hilarious footnotes. (In fact, the two main characters often reminded me of Jeeves and Wooster – a know-it-all servant frequently rescuing his hapless young master). Unfortunately, the djinn’s sense of humour makes Nathaniel’s chapters (told simply from a narrator’s viewpoint) seem to drag a little in comparison.
Furthermore, Nathaniel isn’t always the most likeable of heroes – though his human flaws are sometimes a refreshing change from some young wizards. However, the two main characters’ uneasy relationship is what makes the book really work – especially as Bartaemus is no stereotypical sidekick; it is impossible to be certain precisely where his loyalties lie (apart from with his wickedly self-obsessed self).
The writing is a sheer delight. However, I began to wonder whether this was what kept me turning the pages, rather than the plot. The plot itself worked well, but at times suffered slightly from a rather too feeble villain. Simon Lovelace (even his name is feeble) is certainly no Voldemort. I await the second part of this trilogy with anticipation. With a really dastardly villain and a few more twists to the plot, Mr Potter could find himself with some serious competition!


Pirates! (Teen's Top 10 (Awards))
Pirates! (Teen's Top 10 (Awards))
by Celia Rees
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Adventure Story for Teenage Girls, 4 April 2004
This book is a really great adventure story for teenage girls. Although set in the past, and in a world that few modern girls can fully comprehend (slavery & piracy), the two heroines face many of the same issues that their readers also face.
Although clearly a fantasy, the author depicts both the characters and the world they inhabit with such skill and attention to detail, that we are transported back to the past with ease, and instantly feel that the characters are true historic figures rather than the product of a vibrant imagination. A slight predictability of plot is soon forgiven; when the journey is this enjoyable, knowing the probable destination is no real stumbling block.
Possibly not a book for boys, as there are no real heroes ... only heroines! Recommended for young adult readers rather than girls below the age of ten; for younger readers try "Piratica" by Tanith Lee ... an adventure story with a similar setting/concept that takes a more light-hearted and humorous route!


Molly Moon's Hypnotic Holiday
Molly Moon's Hypnotic Holiday
by Georgia Byng
Edition: Paperback

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars /////(((((((((((MESMERISING))))))))))\\\\\, 24 Mar 2004
This Molly Moon mini-book, created for World Book Day, is a really charming little story and great value for money.
Molly is meant to be taking an enforced rest from hypnotism (due to an eye injury) when an injustice impels her to intervene. But what can she do without using her hypnotic-eye skills? She tries to help a penniless outcast (with self-worth issues) find inner confidence and make a fresh start in life. But the moment she intervenes she sets a trail of events in motion that cannot be stopped - the domino effect - and things seem to go from bad to worse. It all ends happily with valuable lessons learnt along the way.
To my surprise, I enjoyed this short story (about 60 pages long) even more than the two full-length Molly Moon books. If you haven't read either of these and wonder if they're for you ... try this little book first; you won't be disappointed.
These little books, released for World Book Day, are really great - especially as they are complete self-contained mini-stories, not just a few sample chapters of a previously published book. Their release is limited - and I strongly suspect they will become collector's items in a few years!


Holes [DVD] [2003]
Holes [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Shia LaBeouf
Price: £3.60

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meet the Original Book's author!!!, 23 Mar 2004
This review is from: Holes [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a great little film. The actors chosen for the major roles are perfect for the parts - and if you've read the book, there is nothing here to either disappoint or annoy.
However, the thing that really makes this DVD stand out for me, is the fact that you get to meet the original book's author. This film is one of those rare times when the author of the book gets to write his own screenplay. Therefore, nobody takes liberties with his plot or dumbs-down the complexities of a story that unfolds in numerous flashbacks; the result is a film that truly reflects the flavour of the story it is based on. The author talks about this in a special feature, but better still, he also talks about his work in one of the 'voice-over' commentaries. If you are interested in the work of a writer, either novelist or screen-writer, this is a real insight.
So, why did I give it 4 stars, not 5? Only because it isn't quite as satisfying as the book. The twists are at times so subtley done, that they could easily be missed, or misunderstood, if you haven't read the book first. Here's what I recommend: If you're not familiar with the book, order it too, and read it beforehand. It will highten your enjoyment of both the film itself and author's commentary.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2008 7:11 PM BST


Artemis Fowl:The Seventh Dwarf
Artemis Fowl:The Seventh Dwarf
by Eoin Colfer
Edition: Paperback

127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short & Sweet ... a little gem!, 9 Mar 2004
This short book works well in two ways.
Firstly, for fans of Artemis Fowl, this is a neatly written little episode that fits in between the first and second AF books.
Secondly, this is an ideal introduction to the series. If you’ve never read the Artemis Fowl books and wonder if they’re for you, then this little story is a great way to discover them; especially as it is a complete story, not just a couple of sample chapters, which this kind of mini book often is.
The story has all the Eoin Colfer trademarks: Fairies and high-tech gadgetry – encapsulated in a witty and briskly written tale. Not to be missed!


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