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.

Ken's fun go-kart ride

Ken looks as if he's having the time of his life

Penny has a go-kart. She calls on her neighbour, Ken, whose legs ‘don’t work very well’ to play. Destination? A park? Funfair? Zoo? No, a supermarket. And a bridge under construction. Mmmm. Life in the 1980s.

Luke’s verdict: Very boring. And they wouldn’t allow a go-kart in a supermarket. People would get so annoyed.

Very small? Really?

My head is going to explode

Devious little Sammy finds an unlikely hiding place...

Sammy's New Yellow Jumper

The scintillating tale of Sammy whose mother buys him a... yellow jumper and his pathetic attempts to hide it under/on various household furniture. How many times can you make a child say yellow jumper, yellow jumper, yellow jumper, YELLOW JUMPER. Sammy is sad. He doesn't like his yellow jumper. WE KNOW. It is obvious on page 1 that he won't like his yellow jumper. You don't have to tell us again and again over 12 pages.

Verdict: Luke, 6: My brain is going to explode if I had to say yellow jumper one more time.

Look out for: The sequel, Sammy's New Red Jumper when he finally snaps and stabs himself to death.

Is there no end to Sammy's ingenious hiding places?

Sammy's New Yellow Jumper as featured in Terrible stories and other tigers