Friday, 28 December 2012

Crazy, confused horses and kids

Reading all about Lucy's holiday and then...
we jump 12 pages to some horse facts before returning to the story

 Lucy's in despair with her spoilt story

The Spoilt Holiday
Lucy's holiday is spoilt by a rubbish cellotape repair job that interrupts her dream-like adventure with a fairground horse with some down to earth horse facts.
Samuel's verdict: What?

Monday, 17 December 2012

There's a filthy monster in my book bag

An inviting first page...don't you just want to touch it?

Poor tatty, scribbled on Monster school stamped 1984

Great cellotape-enhanced illustrations by Quentin Blake 

New Monster, please

After a one-off new book last week, filthy Monster turns up in Luke's book bag, taking us back to the grubby, tatty ancient books that we've grown to love. Wear gloves to read to this and dozens of other filthy adventures illustrated by the fantastic Quentin Blake.

Luke's verdict: I love Monster but the books are always dirty.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Holy's a brand new book!

First new book in six years

No cellotape or stain in sight

Is this the first of many new school books?

Get out the party poppers and crackle open a bag of's the first new book to grace the kids' book bags in six years. Apparently, money has been spent on buying new books. Hoorah! But does this mean the dog-eared, dirt-encrusted books we've grown to love will be consigned to the recyling bin?


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dirty Babies

Mmm...lovely puppies but would you like to touch them?
More photos of dogs on dog-eared pages
Looks like she's spilt some of her milk
from all the bacteria on the pages
Now wash your hands.
Babies is so dirty that it looks as if the animals have come to life and rampaged over the book, eating and soiling it.
Six-year-old Kirsty's verdict: Eeee...yuk.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Don't want to touch it

Cellotape and dirt are holding this book together
Is the weather to blame for the state of this book?
Has it really fallen apart 'quickly'?
Or is it because it dates from 1974...

                                   which makes it nearly 40 years old.

Silly Billys

Two brothers take sharing to extreme measures injuring themselves in the process.
Apparently school books fall apart 'quickly' because they're taken out of school in all weathers...nothing to do with being antiques.

Samuel's verdict: It's yucky. I don't want to touch it.

School's definition of quickly:  Anything happening over a period of 40 years.
The rest of the world's definition of quickly: at a fast speed, rapidly.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Another 70s classic held together by cellotape

Just about beats grandma's knitting a hat adventure
A club that looks like a chicken leg

Rubbish grandpa

Why don't they just eat him or the cellotape?

Grandpa goes hunting

Samuel's verdict: Poo

Laurie's verdict: I thought I'd never have the bad luck to see this book again. It's even worse than I remembered.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Farts, feathers or hot air?

Chef points at the strange gas being emitted from the top of the General's helmet
Though her pony doesn't look so happy
The Mascot 
A marching band come across a range of unsuitable animals in their search for a mascot until they find Mary and her pony. First printed in 1978 with a school stamp from 1991, making this book at least 22 years old at our school and by no means the oldest. Some parents who went to the school as kids are now bringing back the same turgid rubbish that they had to read. Old books aren't a problem if they're as charming as this one but many just aren't worth rescuing with cellotape.
Luke's verdict: Why has he got farts coming out of his head?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Stupid lips

One too many botox sessions?

Hair not princely enough


Ugly sisters sport bizarre lips plates usually only seen on tribespeople like those of the Brazilian Kayopo tribe in this version of the classic fairytale.

Seven-year-old Genevieve's verdict: The illustrations are awful - the ugly sisters' lips look ridiculous. They're not funny. Cinerella doesn't look pretty and the Prince has stupid hair. They are trying to make it interesting for children but in fact they spoil the story which everyone normally loves. The story was quite good and I liked reading the different parts.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Another fine tale of housecleaning robots

...the cupboard under the sink?
Not so lucky because it's...
Mr Hi-Tech's hippy brother, Herb, and giant cat

Tales from Beyond

Three tales of aliens, ghosts and...yet another household labour-saving robot. Herb gets chucked into a swimming pool, watches a surfing film, listens to some Beach Boys and runs off with all the other domestic robots to a robot surfer's paradise.

Laurie's verdict: Why is there a Dalek with loads of tools stuck in its head standing in the doorway looking at a giant cat? Why do people write stories about robots that clean and cook?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sweets and Other Beasts

The 'guilt aisles'
Nothing to do with books...but check out Asda’s corporate affairs spokesperson on Radio 4 Today’s programme this morning stumbling over her words after calling the aisles with sweets next to check outs ‘guilt aisles’.

The piece was about food companies agreeing a standardised labelling system to help consumers choose the healthiest option. ( It’s only taken ten years and will probably take another ten while they argue over the particular shade of red, amber and green and another generation stores up future health problems.)

James Naughtie questioned her as to why Asda was one of the worst offending supermarkets when it came to putting sweets at kid height in check out aisles.
The Asda’s spokesperson must have wanted the ground to swallow her after saying only two out of three aisles were ‘guilt aisles’ and James Naughtie pounced on the obvious interpretation that the others must therefore be ‘not guilty aisles.’

When she found her words again, she went on to say that there is no evidence to suggest that placing sweets next to check outs changes what parents put in their basket.

So, it begs the question; why are they called guilt aisles if it doesn’t increase the number of sweets sold?
Those colourful sweet wrappers must be for decoration only.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Spot the real aliens

Alien...or scary mum?
Alien...or scary brother?
All will be revealed in The Lost Spaceship
Chris being visited by two thumb marks
The Lost Spaceship

Little boy finds a crashed spaceship in a quarry. His big brother, Chris, begins to act strangely after finding the spaceship too. Aliens come and rescue the ship with a hook and then go back to space.
Nine-year-old Laurie's verdict: The family look more frightening than the aliens. The story was very dull considering it was about aliens. The best bit was when I finished it.

I don't like looking at them

Flat-headed aliens at a primary school near you

They invent a train with propellers so that it won't cause a crash

Because a flying train piloted by aliens would never cause a crash...

Pol and Pax on earth

The adventures of Pol and Pax who come from the land of three moons and a ring, and eat slices of brain food to make them extra clever. They invent a money machine, a flying train and a slide to rescue children from a burning school.

Six-year-old Luke's verdict: They are too freaky-looking. I don't like looking at them and their stupid flat heads. I don't like their ears or their hair or their suits.

The sequel: Pol and Pax in Jail. The cheeky aliens try to invent their way out of a high-security prison after being found guilty of causing a packed commuter train to crash into an old people's home being visited by local schoolchildren.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The uess the issing etters ook

M nt condition ipper
ords  ail me

ow confu ing for  arly eaders?

"Attention should be given to reading for purpose and pleasure, and to introduce children to more challenging texts as well as focus on word reading skills. A school should invest significantly in books and adult time to support reading," David Reedy, The UK Literacy Association.

Viewpoints: Teaching children to read at


Grandma needs to broaden knitting horizons

The only surprise is that someone could be bothered to write a book about it

What wonderful creation has inspired this exciting tale of knitting?

Grandma’s surprise
We were excited about the surprise Grandma was knitting and we debated what it could be. Tabitha thought the surprise might be a knitted lion that came to life and played with the children. Her sister Zoe thought it might be some magical knitted cakes that tasted real. I ventured that Grandma could be knitting a pair of enchanted support hose that turned her into a ninja.

The denouement revealed that Grandma was knitting a hat for the boy to wear to church. That was Grandma's surprise. When have you ever been surprised by a hat? It didn't even look that warm.

Tabitha, 6: A knitted hat is not a very exciting surprise.

Mum, 36: Grandma needs to broaden her craft horizons. Perhaps she could surprise her family by joining a stitch 'n bitch upcycling collective?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Lost the will to live

Boring monkey boring his monkey friends
A real monkey shortly after reading Little Monkey

Another monkey two weeks after reading it
No monkeying around

We lost the will to live half way through Little Monkey's 24 pages of dullness. We persevered till page 12 and then decided to call it a day. Kasper seemed to think this book was hard but he actually read it very well -  I think what he meant was it is very hard work. Dates from 1984 but originally printed in 1978, which I think makes this one a vintage read. The sellotape and wrinkly cover are probably the most endearing features of this book. Several generations of children will have suffered this. Should I do the next generation a favour by misplacing it in the recycling bin?

Six-year-old Kasper's verdict: This is very long and very boring and very hard and I don't want to read it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Mr Hi-Tech: the most boring robot in the world?

Possibly the most unimaginative tale involving a robot, household chores, burglars and Korean scientists, all stretched over nearly 100 pages, though it felt more like 1,000.

Nine-year-old Laurie's verdict: Please don't make me read any more.

Scary, dead-looking grandma

Would you let your son share a pot of tea with this lady?

Grandma’s House

A very sweet poem about a boy who likes to visit his grandma…or is it? The little boy leads us through the empty house and garden until we find her in the kitchen, pouring tea and looking like a zombie.
Seven-year-old Samuel’s verdict: I don’t know why he wants to visit her. She looks dead.