Author Archive > frangliz

Meerkat Mail

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Meerkat Mail, Emily Gravett, book reviewSunny the meerkat lives in the Kalahari Desert, and he does not appreciate the hot, dry weather there. His family’s motto is “Stay safe, stay together,” but Sunny sometimes feels his siblings are too close to him. He thinks there must be better places to live, so he leaves an explanatory note for his family and sets off to visit his mongoose cousins.

Sunny’s first stop is at Uncle Bob’s, where the African red hornbill warns the mongoose family if a jackal is lurking. Sunny feels that he doesn’t quite fit in there, so he drops in on his cousins Scratch and Mitch. Their family, however, is moving house, so Sunny visits some chickens on a farm.


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The Snagglegrollop

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The Snagglegrollop , Daniel Postgate, Illustrated by Nick Price, book reviewSam asks his parents if he can have a pet, but Dad thinks he would have to keep taking a dog for walks and Mum is afraid a cat will leave bits of fur all over the house. Sam asks if he can have a snagglegrollop; he tells his parents he made the name up, so they say he can have one.

The next day Sam’s Mum and Dad are amazed when Sam comes home with an enormous, weird-looking creature. He tells them it’s a snagglegrollop, so they have to let him keep it because they said he could have one. Dad stresses, however, that Sam will have to look after his new pet himself. This turns out to be quite a chore, what with bathing the snagglegrollop and drying its hair.

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The Living Coast: An Aerial View of Britain’s Shoreline

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The Living Coast: An Aerial View of Britain's Shoreline, Photographs by Dae Sasitorn, Photographs by Adrian Warren, Text by Christopher Somerville, book reviewBritain’s shoreline is about nine thousand miles long. Many people who wish to spend a holiday on Britain’s coast would perhaps simply be looking for a sandy beach to sunbathe on, where the children can go paddling safely. The Living Coast, however, with its 376 aerial photographs of Britain’s shoreline, shows that there is so much more to it than those crowded beaches. A mere glimpse at the eleven little images on the back cover will give a taste of what is inside; these eleven include the Needles, Groyne at Prestatyn, St Ives, Barrisdale Bay and Rumps Head. The front cover has a spectacular photograph of the white cliffs at Beachy Head, towering beside a lighthouse.

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1001 Paintings 2011: You Must See Before You Die

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1001 Paintings 2011: You Must See Before You Die (Cassell Illustrated), Stephen Farthing, book reviewI think I have come to 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die a little late in life, although I have seen a fair few of them already. Flicking through the pages for the first time, however, I could say for certain that there are plenty I have no wish to see, however significant they are considered to be. Others I will have to be content to see purely as reproductions in a book such as this one. Much as I would love to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, for instance, I think it is unlikely I shall ever do so. There again, if I needed an excuse to make another visit to Paris one day I now have one, as I have yet to go to the Musee d’Orsay.

The book begins with a two-page preface by Geoff Dyer, followed by a four-page introduction by the editor, Stephen Farthing.


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Turn the Tides Gently (The Portsmouth Stories)

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Turn The Tides Gently (The Portsmouth Stories) Matt Wingett, book reviewTurn the Tides Gently is a novella for Kindle by Matt Wingett. It takes place in Matt’s hometown of Portsmouth and neighbouring Southsea, centring around a character named Dave. Dave is being looked after in a hostel as he appears to be suffering from schizophrenia.

The scene is set with some beautifully descriptive language as Dave wanders on Southsea common near the sea. As the novella develops, there is more in terms of action and dialogue. Dave is frustrated by the treatment he is given at the hostel and attempts to escape. He hallucinates and is constantly drawn to the sea where he is convinced he sees a mermaid on more than one occasion.


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Hockney’s Portraits and People

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Hockney's Portraits and People , Marco Livingstone and Kay Heymer, book reviewConcentrating on just one aspect of artist David Hockney’s work, Marco Livingstone and Kay Heymer’s Hockney’s Portraits and People nevertheless contains a huge amount of variety. Of the 246 illustrations, 233 are in colour. Some of the works are well known, but others are published here for the first time. Some depict the famous, such as Christopher Isherwood, W.H. Auden, and Andy Warhol, as well as Henry Geldzahler and Celia Birtwell, both great friends of Hockney. Portraits of lovers and family members also make up a considerable part of the works reproduced in the book, and there are quite a few self-portraits.

Hockney began making portraits and self-portraits at the age of sixteen, and he feels that “Faces are the most interesting things we see.”

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Simply Beautiful Photographs

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National Geographic Simply Beautiful Photographs (National Geographic), Annie Griffiths Belt, book reviewThe title Simply Beautiful Photographs is of course self-explanatory. This book is a National Geographic publication, a hardcover book containing superb images printed on high quality paper. It is just asking to be consumed, but there is of course no way anyone could take in all of its images at once. It is the kind of book to dip into every so often, and every time you do you are bound to come across an image that surprises or delights you and is totally different from the ones you poured over on the previous occasion.

Simply Beautiful Photographs begins with a foreword by Maura Mulvihill and a seven-page introduction, after which it is divided into six sections entitled Light, Composition, Moment, Time, Palette and Wonder.


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A Bit More Bert

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A Bit More Bert,  Allan Ahlberg, Illustrated by Raymond BriggsA picture book containing six chapters might sound rather too much for young children. But Allan Ahlberg and Raymond Briggs A Bit More Bert is full of illustrations and has just a little text on each page. The chapters have a title page and then another three pages, except for Chapter 5 which has seven pages. Each chapter is actually more like a mini story, so if a child has a very short attention span, you wouldn’t have to read the whole book at once. We read about Bert and his dog, who is also called Bert, we give Bert a haircut, and then we see how Bert is constantly nagged by his mother (named Grandma Bert).

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Catlopaedia – A Complete Guide to Cat Care

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Catlopaedia A Complete Guide to Cat Care J.M. Evans and Kay White, book reviewCats can be such independent pets, yet they are bound to need proper care just like any other living creature, especially now that they seem to be living longer lives. Nearly ten years ago I adopted a sixteen-year-old cat when I moved into her house, and she lived for another four years. When I eventually had to have her put to sleep, I was horrified to be told by the vet that one of her kidneys was only the size of a baked bean. Not long after that I acquired a rescue kitten, and I decided that it would be a good idea to buy a book about cat care as I had realised how little I knew. The Catlopaedia is a slim volume, but its 206 pages are crammed with information covering everything from breeds to diseases.

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Monsters in the Movies

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Monsters in the Movies (Hardback) by John Landis, book reviewJohn Landis, writer and director of films such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “An American Werewolf in London,” among many others, has put together this superb tome that gives a guide to a huge range of monsters from the world of film. Lovers of vampires, zombies and ghosts can feast their eyes on these fantastical creatures in the images, principally from the Kobal Collection, that are reproduced here. In his introduction, Landis describes the book as “a pictorial overview of monsters from the movies” that he thinks are “cool.” He aims to be entertaining rather than scholarly.


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Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 5

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Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 5: book reviewLandscape Photographer of the Year is the publication that features the winners and other commended entries from renowned photographer Charlie Waite’s Take a View competition. The contest is run in collaboration with the AA, who publish this book. Both amateur and professional photographers may enter, and they do not have to be UK residents. All photographs submitted, however, must be taken in the British Isles. There is a separate section entitled Youth Class for photographs taken by children under the age of sixteen.

The competition gives photographers the opportunity to enter all or some of four categories. First is the “classic view,” which should demonstrate the ‘beauty and variety’ of the British landscape.


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How Do Dinosaurs Learn Colours and Numbers?

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How Do Dinosaurs Learn Colours and Numbers? by  Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Mark Teague, book review“How Do Dinosaurs Learn Colours and Numbers?” is a picture book divided into two sections, predictably for numbers and colours. The first section covers all the primary and secondary colours plus brown and pink one at a time, as well as white and black together. It ends with a double-page spread on rainbows. The second section introduces the numbers one to ten in order and ends saying that the dinosaur will count again. It isn’t the most thrilling ending to a book.

Jane Yolen’s text for the book is in a very clear, large font on a white background; there is no problem reading it. Perhaps one of the book’s strongest points is that the text is in rhyming verse, for example:

“a purple towel
left on the floor,
a green sign taped
to the bedroom door.”

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