Archives for category: For 5-8 Years

Published by Frances Lincoln

The second book in the Story Orchestra series. Last year they published The Four Seasons – which sold and sold and sold… I had hoped that they would do the 1812 this year, what fun to have cannons going off, but they did, I suppose the next best thing…The Nutcracker – ideal for Christmas and just as a wonderful piece of music.

I love this series…I haven’t been able to find a small button I can transport to this blog so you can have a blast of Tchaikovsky – maybe next year I will find out, and maybe they will do the 1812! Go and see this ballet if you can – the Coliseum is doing it this year… It really is a ballet, possibly the ballet, everyone should go to, at least once.


Published by Bloomsbury (April 2018)

A finger of fudge, is just enough…

The proof of this book came with a bar of McBudge Fudge – actually a bar of Cadbury’s Fudge, with a wrapper advertising McBudge Fudge wrapped around it. How could I not start the book, with that sort of incentive? I ate the fudge (and very good it was too) with a hot cup of tea and began to read.  I don’t think I can remember having a finger of fudge since the above advert was on ‘the box’. It had a ‘jingle’ that started with ‘A finger of Fudge is just enough, to give your kids a treat…’  It’s hot-wired into my brain…I could sing it for you, if you were here and not there… not very well, but I could.

Actually, not only did Bloomsbury send me chocolate, but they also supplied me with a very good book too. What more could anyone want? They did rather well.

I haven’t got very far with this yet, but it has the same feel as Sylvia Bishop’s Bookshop Girl and that isn’t a bad thing.

At the beginning of the story Archie McBrudge visits Honeystone Hall with his mother to meet a solicitor. He explains that not only has Archie has inherited the hall, but also the world famous McBudge Fudge Factory, as well as his great-uncle’s gardening tools to boot!

I suppose it could be said to have essences of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl) – Archie is set a series of tests he has to pass, and has met one or two very strange people. An extraordinary & ancient butler along with a young lass, who works as a plumber at the hall…and things are definitely not what they seem. I am going to enjoy reading this in bed tonight – its a book for curling up with, especially when it is very, very cold. Which it is. I have my oil heater on – in an attempt to warm myself up.

One of the reasons I like books are the odd phrases authors use to describe things – in this case a character is described as looking like a ‘forlorn slug.’ Which is wonderful. I have never really liked slugs (snails, I approve of, even though they destroy my plants), and I have never thought of them as being anything…however, I shall now think of them differently and will examine them carefully in the future to see if any of them look forlorn.

I digress. I am sure this is going to be one of those books that readers who are beginning to enjoy reading for themselves and have a little confidence will relish.

The title suggests there may be more to come – The Dundoodle Mysteries – which can’t be a bad thing. I hope there will be – not too many, just the right number…

Lastly – I looked up forlorn slug then chocolate slug on the Internet.  Sadly there was nothing that really depicted the former concept for me so, you aren’t getting a picture of one. The chocolate slugs sold in California (Humboldt) look, regrettably, rather revolting (even if they are chocolate), but then I expect they are supposed to.

The Internet did, though, bring up pictures of Chocolate Frogs – part of the Harry Potter franchise. We sell these now – at £4.99 a frog. You do, however, get a mystery card to collect…to go with it. Whether these are lenticular or not, is not something I can answer. Those produced by Cadbury’s years ago, were – and they made very good bookmarks. I hope these have moving pictures too…I have not, though eaten one, so I don’t know.

Anyway – to get back to The Chocolate Factory Ghost – if a book can refer to forlorn slugs – you can’t really go wrong – imagination, a good story, and wonderful inventive descriptive English – what more could you want?




Published by Egmont

The first thing that struck me about the proof I received was the illustrations and the wonderful cut-out cover. I know that you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but, as I think I have said before – its the first thing you see… Sadly I can’t find any reference to the illustrator of this – on the book, apart from a reference to the copyright of the text and illustrations being that of the author. Her work as an illustrator should be celebrated.

This is a perfect book for October and of course Halloween.

Unicorns are to be feared. Glitter to be avoided at all costs…and fairies – well, one fairy is known to have eaten Tangine’s mother… What more can I say?

My favourite character in this book is the head teacher in Catacomb Academy – Miss Inspine, who happens to be a skeleton.

“Now!” said Miss Inspine. “Right. Please open your books at page thirty-two, the questionnaire on Angel-Kitten History. You have fifteen minutes.” And with that she took off her head and put it in the cupboard for some peace and quiet.

I sometimes want to be able to do that…

She caught sight of Tangine and heaved such a big sigh of relief that her skull fell off.

Miss Inspine was so shocked that her whole skeleton disconnected into a big pile of bones.

It is a gothic tale of a spoilt sprout. A tale of differences and a tale of rumour misconception and secrets.

This is a fun book – will be stuffed full of pictures (by the author, no less) and a giggle for the autumn… There are exclamation marks triplicated (see previous posts), but for this sort of book, it is not really important. It isn’t a literary piece, (it’s not meant to be), it is a book to giggle over. I think this might be a new term for me, a ‘giggle book’.

There is a bit on the back which says it is to be published on the 5th of October 2017  – so look out for it. I hope that it will be published with a similar cover to that they used for the proof. It will certainly be something to enjoy in the run up to Halloween…Perhaps you could organise a Scream Tea to celebrate All Hallows!

I hope and trust there will be a second volume – there is a last mystery that still needs to be resolved.



Published by Oxford University Press

Well done Oxford! This is a lovely book about a young boy and his brother. All brothers have their irritations and Arthur’s brother seems to be one big one. He sometimes struggles with day to day things. He doesn’t like crowds, change, loud noises and headphones… In desperation and in the hope of making his parents notice him, Arthur decides the only thing to do is to leave home…

‘Arthur rushed up to his room, searched under his bed for his survival tin, and stuffed his lucky crystal into his coat pocket. Then he crashed down the stairs and flung open the front door. He barged past the polar bear who was standing on the doorstep and hurtled off down the street, running as fast as he could. He wanted to get as far away from his house, his brother and his stupid parents as possible. He wasn’t going to let a polar bear or anything else stop him.’

This is a gorgeous small volume about siblings, parents, football, the world cup and of course polar bears, and one in particular.

It is not ‘out’ yet – due to be published next month with what looks to be some lovely line drawings (incomplete at the moment in proof form) – a book for everyone with a sibling…

Published by Nosy Crow

This is a post with my sister Clare in mind. She breeds Middle White Pigs…in Yorkshire – and once won the Great Yorkshire Show with her boar Boris…Not that I’m inordinately proud of my big sister…but there you are. So you get a picture of her and her pigs with this too!

Back to the review – Jasmine’s father is a cattle farmer. There are no pigs on his farm at all. He doesn’t want pigs; he only has enough time for the cows on his farm and doesn’t need or want the complications of pigs to add to his work load. His wife is a vet – dealing with everything from large animals to pets. The family is busy – the children going back and forth to school; everyone with their own interests….

Jasmine’s interests? Well, Jasmine is into all things porcine. Jasmine, would love a pig – whatever her parents say. She is reading up on all the rare breeds in a magazine she receives regularly, and any books she can get hold of. When her mother takes her out on a call to a calving at a local farm she asks the disagreeable farmer if she can look at his pigs whilst her mother deals with the calving. Without really thinking about it the farmer tells her that there are piglets – 12 of them.

There, in the third enclosure, sure enough, is a sow with 12 bright pink fat little piglets… but what is that movement under the straw?

This is the start of a wonderful series of books about Jasmine, her family and the animals she comes across.  Though a book for five to eight year olds it has not followed many other animal books for younger readers. The book includes details of the hard work involved and the more technical aspects of looking after animals, and this is stirred well into the mix – Jasmine knows about colostrum, about using the warmth from an oven to help small animals to recover. I don’t think this series will shy away from death either, (Jasmine makes the observation that the first 24 hours are the most important) – and it looks to cover the care of animals as well as having a good plot for this most important age group.

I hope there won’t be too many Jasmine books – just the right number and no more – I don’t think, though that Helen Peters will be prolific, and I suspect these will become much loved classics. I hope too that pigs, (perhaps Middle White Pigs) will feature again in one of the later books.

Published by Gecko Press

What makes a friendship work? Sometimes it can seem that one is always giving and the other taking.  Purdy the Cat and Barker the Dog have one such friendship. Purdy would rather take the easy way. He’s a dreamer. Someone who likes to hope, believe that everything will work fine, but without really planning anything. He refuses to worry. Barker on the other hand worries. About everything. If things aren’t done the way he feels they should be, if he doesn’t prepare, he worries that it will fall apart. He worries. Takes responsibility. Purdy though, is full of mad-cap schemes. He hopes that if he rides the moon beam across the water he will fly up to the moon. Barker knows this won’t happen, but then realises the Purdy can’t swim…

This is the story of a friendship. Actually its about all friendships. Its about hopes and dreams and practicalities too. Each chapter is a story unto itself, until the book is completed, when you realise that each story makes up a greater whole.

The illustrations are extraordinary and full of life. It is the story a bicycle ride. It is about a cat who has a birthday…





Published by Gecko Press

There are not, in my opinion many good books for 5 – 8 year old readers. For those young readers who are just beginning to enjoy and find out about reading – learning to disappear into another world, to learn about this one, new words, a turn of phrase, to experience a good story, well told.

The author and illustrator of this the first Dani book I have read are Swedish. The English is straightforward and simply used. The illustrations complement the story beautifully too.

Dani is staying with her friend whilst her father is in hospital. He rings each night, the highlight of her day, until one day he doesn’t. She and Ella do everything together so the next morning she goes to talk to her about it. Then Sven, her cousin arrives too and it seems he knows something he’s not supposed to tell…and Dani is confused and upset to hear about her father’s new friend…

This is a touching story, beautifully written that covers the subject of introducing someone new to a family of two. It covers jealousy and fear and is also just a lovely story too – of making and selling coffee, juice and buns to people who arrive at the island,  of swimming in the sea, and violin playing. It is a story of friendship – its lovely.

There are three other titles in the collection: My Happy Life, My Heart is Laughing, and When I am Happiest. I haven’t seen these, but I am sure they are similar to this one – books to be savoured.



Published by Egmont

This could be listed as the first of the Naughty Little Sister books – of which there are a handful, most of which I think are in print, but are not always in stock, with all good bookshops, which is a pity.

These are beautifully written stories about a small little sister and the day to day adventures she has, often with her friend,  bad Harry.

The scrapes she gets into are usually as the result of not understand what is going on, or because she is a little frightened. I particularly remember a chapter where she meets Father Christmas, with disastrous results, and one about a birthday party.

They are illustrated by that consummate artist Shirley Hughes, who manages to get the expression on her face exactly right – and the books should never be re-illustrated by anyone else.

Each chapter is an adventure – so they are ideal for bedtime stories, and for those who are just getting going with their own reading. Superb chapter books – they are of a quieter time – no monsters, no time travel, just good solid very English traditional adventures. Wonderful. Another series I grew up with.

There are some editions of these in colour, however, I prefer, on the whole, the black and white illustrations…probably because those are what I had.

Looking on the Internet it seems there are the following titles still in print:

My Naughty Little Sister

My Naughty Little Sister and Bad Harry

More Naughty Little Sister Stories

When My Naughty Little Sister was Good and

My Naughty Little Sister’s Friends


I remember this with great affection from my childhood. Most books Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated were small, but as my family would say, perfectly formed…

This was, I believe the only exception (I might be wrong about that, but I don’t think so.) As you will be aware she was quite determined that most of her books were to be small enough for small hands to hold with ease – and that has on the whole been continued to this day – though there are a few ‘spin-off’ titles that are larger, incredibly, there are even some illustrated by someone else. Further there are other Peter Rabbit books that have been written by different authors. It has to be said that hers, the original books are perfect and don’t need to be abridged, re-written and certainly don’t need their illustrations changed.

Sorry – this was meant to be a post about The Fairy Caravan – so I shall return to that.

This book is larger, and the story longer than her other titles, and the tale is centred around a guinea-pig named Tuppeny. He runs away from home to join a travelling circus. He has many adventures, but one in particular struck me as a child. The guinea-pigs with smooth hair were looked down on my those with rosettes and long hair in the story and if I remember correctly did more menial jobs. I’m afraid I can’t quite remember whether it is Tuppeny or another guinea-pig, but one of them listens to a travelling salesman who specialises in the treatment of hair, and his elixir promotes hair growth…

The guinea-pig takes a dose of this potion, with interesting results.

My copy was a hardback, with a bright yellow dust-jacket.

Puffin have recently published a new edition – in paperback with her illustrations too, including a section of coloured plates. Which is wonderful – just what this age group needs – good writing, and well illustrated.




Published by Oxford University Press

How can I not have written a post about Olga Da Polga in my blog before now? Unbelievable!

Not including the Sawdust family, (the family in these stories), these charming stories are about a very opinionated guinea-pig, her friends Noel the cat,  Graham the tortoise, Fangio an hedgehog, Fircone & Raisin, (Karen Sawdust’s two hamsters), Venables,  a toad who lives in the Sawdust family’s garden and of course Boris, Olga Da Polga’s boy-friend.

Olga’s is a very self possessed guinea-pig and believes she knows everything there is to know about a wide range of subjects. It is important for her to make sure that she is the centre of attention, to make everything exciting and to ensure that everyone (particularly Noel the cat), knows how vital she is in the great scheme of things and to this end she has the habit of exaggerating, just a little.

Her exaggerations get her into various scrapes, some more serious than others; once resulting in her escaping her run to go with Fangio to the local dump, and then there was the time when she fell, and couldn’t move. When life gets a little out of hand, and to attract attention Olga has a habit of making her views known by squealing very loudly – Wheeeeeee! Wheeeeeeeeeee! Wheeeeeeee!

In all the titles are: The Tales of Olga Da Polga, Olga Meets her Match, Olga Carries On, Olga Takes Charge, Olga Moves House and Olga Follows her Nose.There are also various compilations.

These books are suitable as stories to be read allowed, are particularly good for bed-time (each chapter is a separate story), and are well written – as one might expect from Michael Bond. They are also good for those who are becoming ‘fluent’ as they say with their reading…Though, to have the best experience of Olga, they should be read allowed, with the recipient of the story tucked under and arm. When read allowed, her squeals should be made loud and with as much intonation as possible.

These stories are superb – and as a result of Olga’s propensity for squealing…and are, therefore, almost interactive too!

They have recently produced a coloured editions of The Tales of O da P – when I grew up they were only in black and white and in paperback. The new illustrations by Catherine Rayner are perfect – though I still love the originals…too!

Enjoy them!