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Reviews Written by
Mrs. A. C. Whiteley "AllieW"
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Gumdrop and the Dinosaur (Picture Puffin Story Books)
Gumdrop and the Dinosaur (Picture Puffin Story Books)
by Val Biro
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 24 Jun. 2009
A delightful addition to the Gumdrop series, this one is also very educational.

Fed up with being accused of oldfashioned by his grandson Dan, Josiah Oldcastle (Gumdrop's owner) takes him to a museum to show him something much more old fashioned - a real dinosaur skeleton.

He follows up this visit with a purchase of a computer which, amazingly, converts Gumdrop into a time machine which transports them to the Mesozoic Era where they meet lots of real dinosaurs.. They have great fun learning about all the dinosaurs who dub Gumdrop an honorary dinosaur.

As usual with this series, the illustrations are superb. There is also a chart at the beginning giving the comparative sizes of the dinosaurs which will help children to imagine how they would have reacted to the events of the tale. Children aged 6 to 8 years old will especially enjoy this story which is exciting, funny and extremely well told.


Little Martha (Little Books)
Little Martha (Little Books)
by Jane Pilgrim
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, 24 Jun. 2009
Very sweet children's story from the delightful Blackberry Farm series aimed at children around 5, I should think. The Little Martha of the title is a lamb whose mother is unable to feed her properly when she is born and so she is reared by the farmer's children, Bob & Joy. One day, though, she goes missing. Whatever can have happened? Rest assured, however, the ending will not upset your children! A charming little tale.


Frank Muir Retells "Three Little Pigs"
Frank Muir Retells "Three Little Pigs"
by Frank Muir
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful stuff, 23 Jun. 2009
An utterly charming and amusing retelling of this classic tale. The three little pigs (whom we now know to be called Hot, Cross and Bun) have formed a rock band and are banished to the woods by their mother owing to the horrendous noise. The animals of the forest are not particularly impressed either and coerce the unwilling B. B. Wolf (a complete softy and not very frightening at all) into trying to scare the piglets away. Muir incorporates the elements of the straw, twig and brick houses in a delightful way and the eventual denouement is very cleverly done. Great fun. The illustrations are superb, too.


Dragon Mountain
Dragon Mountain
by Tim Vyner
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming folk tale-style story about a boy in search of a dragon, 23 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Dragon Mountain (Paperback)
Chin is a young boy who is sent off to sell the family's water buffalo. He has been told a story about an old man who lives at the top of a mountain with a dragon and he longs to see the dragon for himself. As he goes on his way to sell the buffalo, he sees the mountain and decides to climb up and try and find the dragon. A charming story which feels very traditional (the book does not say if this is its basis or not). The illustrations are lovely and will appeal to children. I think it is particularly appropriate for 7 year-olds.


King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (Child's Play library)
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (Child's Play library)
by Don Wood
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, funny & engaging, 23 Jun. 2009
This is a charming story for young children. King Bidgood is in the bath and will not get out. Many attempts are made to do so, but he just conducts the various activities suggested in the bath! Who will be successful in getting him to come out of the bath?

The illustrations are just exquisite and really add to the experience. This book is a positive feast for the eyes and will delight all ages. It is particularly appropriate for children aged 4 to 7 years, I would say.


Round Mr. Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne
Round Mr. Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne
by Barry Johnston
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do better, 10 Jun. 2008
Barry Johnston's very detailed biography provides a wealth of information about the late, great Kenneth Horne. It is fascinating but can on occasions be a little difficult to wade through. Some of the information on Kenneth's father (whose biography is this again?) was superfluous and Johnston's constant remarking on his favourite bits of the various radio programmes was unnecessary and a little tiresome. It gathered pace towards the end, however, where it improved significantly.

It's a shame, really, since the endorsement by Barry Cryer on the front cover promises a riotous read. Ultimately, however, the book fails to be as humorous as the man himself or to accurately convey the warmth and conviviality which came across so well in Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne. Worth reading for the detailed information, therefore, but a little disappointing.


The Master of Go
The Master of Go
by Yasunari Kawabata
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 20 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The Master of Go (Paperback)
The game of Go is ancient and, although originating in China, may be said to have reached its zenith in Japan where it was further developed and its experts revered. You do not need to understand the intricacies of tactics and rituals, however, in order to fully appreciate this beautiful work.

Based on contemporary reports made by the author while he was working for the Mainichi newspapers, this 'chronicle-novel' (as Liza Dalby calls it in her succinct but informative introduction) relates the details of and events surrounding the last ever match played by the Master and his opponent Kitani Minoru (called Otake in the novel) in 1938.

Owing to the Master's illness, the match was prolonged by three months and thus lasted for six. Even the originally allotted time-span, however, was longer than most other comparable matches and was the result of accommodating the needs of the aging Master, who was used to the old ways where moves were not timed and sealed plays not permitted.

Although all that happens in this novel is this match and a description of Shusai's death (as detailed in the blurb), it held my attention throughout. It is beautifully written and is,indeed, as the Washington Post describes it, "one of modern literature's greatest, most poignant elegies". The prose is simple but beguiling and it is easy to see why Kawabata was a Nobel Prize winner. Treat yourself.


Thirty-one Patience Games (New Popular Handbook)
Thirty-one Patience Games (New Popular Handbook)
by Tom King
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and clear, 2 Jan. 2007
Lovely little concise volume, which also includes an interesting preface outlining the history of playing cards and their relationship with their cousins, tarot cards. Patience games included are: Roll Call, The Travellers, Tower of Hanoy, Sir Tommy, Demon, Triangle, Miss Milligan, Sultan, Star, Big Wheel, Emperor, St. Helena, Rays, Elevens, Black & Red, Corners, Eight Aces, Partners, Vertical, Flapper, Picture Gallery, Flower Garden, All Fours, Reversible Sequences and Vanbrugh. He also describes several multi-player patience games: Domino (or Sevens), Holiday, Battle, Golf, Cribbage, and Poker. All in all, there is plenty to keep you amused. My one, very tiny, minor quibble (which is not enough to deprive it of any stars) is that Clock patience is not included, but as it is only a very slim volume it could hardly be expected to be comprehensive. As I say, it is, in general, excellent.


The Penguin Dictionary of First Names (Penguin Reference)
The Penguin Dictionary of First Names (Penguin Reference)
by David Pickering
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, informative & inspiring, 28 Sept. 2006
This is easily the best name book which I own (and I own several). It is arranged in alphabetical order (as one might expect from a dictionary, I suppose) but for all names rather than with the usual Girl/Boy division. The gender of the name is indicated in brackets with either m or f. Each name has a paragraph of information about its derivation, meaning and historic use. This is far more thorough than many others on the market and allows you to make a very informed choice about your son or daughter's future name. I have used this book to make many suggestions to my sister about my future niece/nephew and she is very impressed. Even if you aren't expecting a child, this is an extremely interesting book to leaf through and well worth the modest price tag.


The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just delightful, 31 May 2006
"He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty four days now without taking a fish" p3

So begins this beautiful, elegantly written fable. Finally, on the eighty-fifth day, Santiago's luck changes for the better when he hooks a giant marlin. The strength of this majestic creature is immense, for he tows the boat far out to sea. For days, the old man bides his time, ignoring his pain, getting by with minimal sleep and food, gradually reeling him in. Once he succeeds in harpooning him, he is so huge that he has to be lashed to the side of the boat. But by now he is some days sailing away from home and these are shark infested waters. Indeed, the journey back is nothing short of heroic.........

This wonderful, mesmerizing short story is simply and exquisitely told. Hemingway fails to put a foot wrong. Although it is barely two hours worth of reading, this delightful tale will remain in your memory for years to come.


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