Posted in Review

Review: The Rise and Fall of Claude the Magnificent

I’m trying to do more than just one review a week, I have hundreds of books so I need to get them all reviewed, wouldn’t you agree?


“If horses can wear shoes, why can’t cats wear hats!” – My favourite part of the entire book

The Rise and Fall of Claude the Magnificent by Chris Capstick and illustrated by Monika Filipina is today’s review.

Image result for the rise and fall of claude the magnificent

My Rating: 10 out of 10

My Son’s Rating:

I love the idea that a cat has a strong desire to show off his artistic talents. After listening to his mum, he sets off to Paris to make a name for himself, which he thinks will be easy.  A lot of characters he bumps into tries to knock his confidence which then does happen. Is it all over for Claude?

There is a lot of text within this book, so I’d say the reading age range is probably 6+ though as a huge cat fan I’ve read this book to my 2 and 4-year-old many a time and they love each read.

The illustrations are beautiful, very pastel like with a lot of attention to detail on every page, Monika has done a fantastic job of setting the theme with the right colours, she has easily achieved her goal. Each hat Claude makes is over the top and very flamboyant, but that is what the people wanted.

As the story progresses, Claude manages to find a niche and becomes quite successful at hat making, hence the front cover image, though it comes with downsides and without spoiling it, there’s a nice little nod to Paris’ famous landmark.  His ego grows and what started out as a formidable character, you soon see his nasty streak.

I do like stories like this, where the character goes through a change.  In children’s picture books, sometimes, there aren’t any developments or changes within the character but I find my children understand the character a bit more if they were once bad but then good, or if they were good and they turn nasty, they comprehend the necessary change the character has to go through.

The story tackles, upbringings and greed very well and Chris has done an excellent job of dealing with these themes within.  It is a book I definitely recommend and enjoy.  My favourite part of the book has to be the double page spread of the giant hat because it shows off Claude’s amazing talent and gives off a very foreboding and impending doom about it.




As any reviewer will tell you, do your homework, and the results will pay off, so homework is what I did. If you feel I’ve missed something, please let me know. I’ve got notes upon notes of what to put in and leave out. Likewise, if it’s too long or too short do let me know. I’m refining this skill little by little every day.



Posted in Stories, writing

Short Story: Finn the Frog and his Missing Star Part 2

The next instalment of Finn the Frog and his Missing Star


He didn’t have a proper home like the way the birds have their nests, he usually just camped wherever his adventures lead him. He always knew where he was as he had explored the jungle a thousand times over and knew it inside out.

“I need to find my friends”, and he hopped through the woods and found Penelope Parrot, who was looking for food on the ground.

“I’ve lost my star flag, please can you help me find it?” he begged.

“Of course I will,” Penelope said “Where did you have it last?” she asked.

Finn pointed to the soil where he had been sleeping. “Erm, a flag is very light so maybe a gust of wind blew it into the trees, let me go and check, I’ll come and find you afterwards” and she opened her wings and headed towards the treetops, Finn shouted “Thanks for the help, I’m going to find Harriet Hippo”, and off he bounced towards the river.

The river was full of mud and rocks, but the one thing Finn knew was that most of the rocks were actually hippos hiding in the water, not very well either.

Finn hopped along quickly and arrived at the water hole where he saw Harriett hippo, she was sleeping, but that’s what she liked to do the most.

“Have you seen my flag, I can’t find it anywhere?” He shouted quite loudly, waking up the enormous hippo.

Waking abruptly, Harriet’s eyes bolted open and it took her a minute to realise who was talking to her “Sorry I haven’t seen it here, let me go and check the water hole, you never know it may have just blown over here and landed on the water”, and she sunk back into the water and searched for the flag. Finn wondered if Harriett would take another nap during her search and so he didn’t wait around for the results.

Only a few seconds passed, and Finn could hear the sound of monkeys through the trees, so waving Harriett Hippo goodbye, he bounced off towards the sound of the monkeys.
When he got there he saw the monkey family running around playing superhero chase, a game very close to regular chase, but everyone is a superhero. He saw Marian Monkey running behind a tree, Marvin Monkey was already halfway up a tree, but then he saw an unfamiliar face joining in with the play. He was a small monkey, and Finn heard Marian shout out “I give up Mel, where can your brothers and sisters be?” – Mel must be the youngest and newest member of the family, thought Finn. He was about to go and say hello when Mel turned around, and Finn saw his cape. It wasn’t his cape though; it was Finn’s flag, wrapped around his shoulders.

Penelope Parrot came back and while fluttering her wings in the air; she said “Finn, you’ve beaten me to it, Mel has your cape, I couldn’t find you at the watering hole, and I couldn’t wake up Harriett.

Finn was cross; he didn’t like that someone had his flag, his only treasured possession. He was about to storm in when Penelope stopped him.

“No Finn. Look at Mel, he’s only a baby and he looks so happy with it on. Maybe you should let him keep it?” she suggested. But Finn felt lost without his flag.

He was about to get even madder when one of Mel’s sisters came running through the trees towards them “Hello, don’t tell mum you’ve seen me, I want Mel to find me instead, he’s been feeling sad lately because he lost his favourite teddy in the jungle, I’d do anything to make him happy” and just like that Finn no longer felt cross or angry. He knew just what to do. He hopped straight through the opening and bounded over to Mel, who was looking around warily for his siblings.

When Mel saw Finn, he suddenly turned away in embarrassment, but Finn went over and gave him a reassuring pat on the back. Marian came over to see what the fuss was about.

“Hello Finn, is there anything we can help you with?” she asked pleasantly. Finn knew why Mel went shy, he knew Mel was going through a bad time lately, and he found happiness with his flag.

He couldn’t be cross with him at all. Just as Finn opened his mouth to speak Mel broke down in tears, took off the cape and gave it back. “Sorry I took the cape off you Mr Frog, please don’t be mad” he finished shyly. Finn took one look at Penelope, and the brave frog did a courageous thing.

“It’s OK; you need it more than me, I’m an adventurer at heart and exploring is what I like to do best. I will go and find myself a new treasure and I’ll try my hardest to find your teddy too. My name is Finn, and you have a sister hiding just beyond the trees near the river” Mel was so happy to hear this and he gave Finn a hug.

In the end, if being a brave frog means helping others before yourself then that is what you should do. Being angry is normal but when you see how happy someone else is when they’ve also had a problem you shouldn’t take their happiness away. This act of kindness is what truly made Finn a star.




I hope you enjoyed this read, you can find more short stories, prose and scripts here.

I do appreciate any feedback so feel free to pass anything back, all suggestions, ideas, and improvements will be taken on board.


Posted in Review

Review: Solomon Crocodile

For my next review I’ll be looking at Solomon Crocodile, written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner.

Image result for solomon crocodile

My Rating: 7 out of 10

My Son’s Rating: 8 out of 10

The story is about a cheeky crocodile who just wants to play. Unfortunately, he keeps on making everyone unhappy by his wicked manner.

Catherine Rayner has done a wonderful job illustrating this book, the splatter type effect used on Solomon and the way she has drawn the storks and hippo works very well as a children’s picture book and I can understand why it won the Kate Greenway Medal.

The text is simple and easy to read, I’d say it is aimed at the 4 to 7-year-old market and I believe Catherine achieved her original goals for the story. The setting is in a jungle and you can tell this by the colours and scenery used – lots of greens, reds and yellows.

It’s not a story where the character changes his naughty trait, unlike Naughty Naughty Monster, but something good does happen to him at the end which makes me believe there may be follow up books. After a quick google, Yes I can see a follow-up!

Solomon doesn’t listen to what the animals are telling him which leads him down a path where he eventually feels lonely, this is what makes the story work because it’s reflective of an actual child’s mood when they don’t get their way, I’ve learnt that much from my own boys.

I wouldn’t say it’s an original, but it’s a cute little story designed to showcase how well Catherine Rayner can illustrate and combine the theme and setting to the text. From the start, we are told Solomon is trouble and we go on an adventure to see just how bothersome he can get with the other animals.

I did enjoy reading this but was hoping for a different type of ending, due to the character’s nature so I can’t give it full marks.

Comments from my son:
“I liked the part where he gets a friend.”

If you liked this book, I recommend “Naughty Naughty Monster” by Kaye Umansky and illustrated by Greg Abbott.



As any reviewer will tell you, do your homework, and the results will pay off, so homework is what I did. If you feel I’ve missed something, please let me know. I’ve got notes upon notes of what to put in and leave out. Likewise, if it’s too long or too short do let me know. I’m refining this skill little by little every day.


Posted in Stories, writing

Short Story: Finn the Frog and his Missing Star

Next in my short stories collection, I have a tale about a frog who lives in the jungle.  Enjoy the read, please give any feedback and provide any criticism. Thanks.


Finn was a bright green frog. He lived in the jungle where beautiful colours could be seen wherever you looked. One thing he loved to do was go down to the river and practise swimming. He was a good swimmer, one of the best out of his friends; this was mainly due to his extra webbed feet. Most frogs have five toes on the back feet, but Finn had eight. This gave him speed in the water, bravery on the land and although he stood out from his friends, he liked how unique it made him feel.

The jungle was the best place to live; every day was different, he would see Terry and Tessa Tiger teaching their young how to grow up to become strong and powerful. Other days he would see Percy Parrot searching for food in the oddest of places, some days, if it suited Finn, he would go and help. It made him feel like he was on an adventure, plus Percy gave good piggyback rides.

Finn loved adventures, and he would always take his star flag with him. It was a special little flag because it had many purposes. During the day he would use it to wave to his friends, and at night he would sleep underneath it and use it as a blanket. In the summer he would roll it up and use it as a pillow only. It went with him everywhere, so it could also enjoy the same adventures Finn had.

Waking up from his lovely nighttime sleep, Finn rubbed his eyes and went to take the flag off him, but it wasn’t there. He patted around lazily because sometimes it would be next to him on the soil, but again he couldn’t feel it. At this point, Finn decided to sit upright and take a good look around because it just had to be there. But it wasn’t. He looked all around, even glancing up in the trees, thinking maybe he has thrown it off himself during the night, yet he still couldn’t see it anywhere. “No, oh no, oh no, where are you?” he frantically muttered as he started brushing the leaves and the soil away because he thought maybe it had got buried in the night somehow, but it just wasn’t there. For the first time ever, Finn felt really sad.



Find out in the next part what happens with Finn.  Can he cope without his star flag? Where has it gone? Can anyone help poor Finn out?


You can find more of my work here.



Posted in Review

Review: Naughty Naughty Monster

The next review I will be doing is a book called “Naughty Naughty Monster” by Kaye Umansky and illustrated by Greg Abbott.

Image result for naughty naughty monster

My Rating: 7 out of 10

My Son’s Rating: 8 out of 10

It’s about a monster who keeps on causes harm and mayhem to all the woodland creatures for fun when a fairy comes along and changes things.

I enjoyed the rhyming prose, and in my eyes everything in this little world made sense. I do like to read stories whereby the main character needs to go through a change and much like the bully in this story he learns the hard way not to hurt others, especially for fun.

Image result for naughty naughty monster

I think the illustrations fit well with the text and the setting of the story, lots of browns and greens are included. The text is easy to read, and you do feel sorry for the monster at one point, but this balances out as you also feel sorry for the foxes, rabbits and hedgehogs.

It is a story about lesson learning, it’s also about bullying and doing the right thing, I believe the goals from Kaye were achieved, and it was a delightful book to read to my children. I quite liked the idea behind the story, as in the main character, from the start isn’t likeable, and you can see why. The fairy is an excellent example of a parental figure trying to guide the monster towards a more positive way of life.

It is an original story, with a few nods to other fairy tales which makes it an enjoyable read.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read lesson learning stories and teach morals and good values to children.


Comments from my son:
“I liked the monster at the start but even better by the end.”

If you liked this book, I recommend “The Truth According to Arthur” by Tim Hopgood and illustrated by David Tazzyman.



As any reviewer will tell you, do your homework, and the results will pay off, so homework is what I did. If you feel I’ve missed something, please let me know. I’ve got notes upon notes of what to put in and leave out. Likewise, if it’s too long or too short do let me know. I’m refining this skill little by little every day.


Posted in Stories, writing

Short Story: Katrina’s New Clothes Part 2

The next instalment of Katrina’s New Clothes


Though Katrina felt shy towards the girls, it was like her dress gave her some new courage and bravery. Placing her last plate down she stood up and faced the girls.

“Do you like it?” She pointed to her dress. She waited while the girls huddled together for a few moments, and then they sprang their heads back up.

The tallest girl, Emily, grinned from pigtail to pigtail before responding “like it? I love it, I want it, it looks amazing” and just like that Katrina befriended some not so bad but instead some delightful girls.

Tracey, Katrina’s best friend, had been hurt by Emily’s crew frequently in the past, so much so she had made a promise to Katrina to never make friends with the nasty crowd. It was Tracey who turned up first to Katrina’s house, she opened her car door and froze in horror on her seat. She could see Katrina pouring pretend tea into a cup which was being held by Emily. She also spotted Rebecca and Faye joining in with the tea party. Everyone looked, and this made Tracey feel angry.

Getting out of the car, Katrina noticed Tracey had turned up. She bit her bottom lip and went over to her friend, just as she opened her mouth to speak, Tracey burst out “what are you doing with Emily’s crew? You know they how horrible they are” Katrina replied with “not always, they have been really nice to me today, they love my dress”.

Tracey had noticed the dress but was still angry. Rebecca and Faye were overhearing the girls talk and giggled at Tracey, Faye shouted out.

“Don’t worry about Katrina, we will take good care of her.” Tracey just scowled at her.

“Well my new friends are at my party now, I can’t just turn them away,” Katrina said in a matter of fact.

“Yes you can, it’s either me or them,” Tracey said stubbornly, “And don’t forget about Olive, Vera, Lucy, Jessica, Polly, and Wendy, when they turn up they will think the same”

Katrina just shook her head and did nothing, she had no idea what to say. Then that was that. Tracey turned on her heels and went back to her car, unhappy that Katrina chose her new friends.

Tracey was right though. When Jessica and Polly turned up, they had the same reaction and stayed less than a minute before turning away, Olive lived down the road so she could see Emily’s crew from a distance – she quickly turned back around and headed home. Vera and Lucy were sisters, so they turned up together and decided to stay for a while. Things got a little tense when Faye and Emily found a slug and thought it would be funny to hide it in Lucy’s teacup as a joke. Lucy didn’t find it funny at all. Katrina was appalled momentarily but quickly found it funny when she saw Emily and her crew laughing hard, she had to join in to impress her new friends right?

Wendy turned up wearing denim jeans and a top with a hole in, the crew thought it would be funny to poke the hole in her top with a stick, but Wendy didn’t find it funny, she ran off in tears leaving her favourite teddy at the party.

After Vera and Lucy left, Katrina’s mum popped her head outside “Is everything OK girls?” she asked, they all nodded.

“Oh I see you have new friends, where’s Tracey gone? I thought I saw her here earlier. What about Vera and Lucy?”

Katrina casually answered with “There wasn’t enough room for all of them with my new dress and friends” and she finished with a big smile.

Her mum wasn’t convinced though. “Hmm, maybe you should think about squeezing your old friends back into your tea parties,” said mum. “You’ve known them a lot longer, and they were all excited to come today, I guess they went home feeling sad”, and she paused for a moment to let the power of those words sink in before turning on her heels and going back into the house.

Faye spoke first “I don’t like Tracey anyway, you’re better off without her, she always wears tatty looking shoes, and she never smiles at me”.

Katrina didn’t like what was being said about her friend, so she replied with “She just likes to play rough, that’s all, she’s got a great imagination, and some afternoons we will play princess games for hours”.

Faye scoffed at her “Play rough? Like a boy you mean? Maybe she should go and play with the boys then”, and Rebecca and Emily burst into laughter.

Katrina felt uneasy, it wasn’t nice hearing hurtful comments about her friend, so she quickly changed the subject “You liked my other friends though, didn’t you?”

Emily spoke first “Not really, no. Stood next to you and your beautiful dress they hold you back, you can reach your potential as a princess by ditching the peasants and sticking with other princesses”, and she flicked her fair “like us”.

Katrina felt torn by this. She loved her dress, she loved the fact Emily’s crew was there, but she was starting to feel upset because her friends weren’t there. “I know, if we put some of the chairs away and I get my mum to ring them up maybe my friends could come back, we could start again, and everyone will like each other, and we can talk about my dress, and it will all be good”. Katrina spoke.

Mulling it over Rebecca said “I’m happy for us princesses to stick together, the riff-raff make us all look bad” Faye and Emily agreed.

“Stop saying those things about my friends” Katrina snapped back, she had had enough. Standing up she brushed her dress down took a deep breath “I want you to leave.” She couldn’t believe those words came out of her mouth, but she carried on. “I always wanted to be a part of your crew, but now that I’m in it I want my old friends back, and you gone.

She stood up and started packing the tea party away. Emily, Faye and Rebecca glanced at one another, they had just been put in their place, and they didn’t like that.

Emily spoke “Riff-raff stick with riff-raff girls, rule number 1, princesses need to stick with princesses” the others agreed with nods.

“I don’t care what you think anymore, you are mean, unkind and horrible to everyone else. In my eyes that makes YOU riff-raff” and she shooed the girls off the front lawn in such a hurry she got a bit of dirt on her dress. Emily and her crew sniggered at this and were off back down the road within seconds. Katrina was fuming. She was mad she let them play, she was mad her dress got ruined and most of all she was mad with herself for allowing her other friends go home, clearly all of them angry at her choice of invites.

Her mum stepped out of the front door quite quickly and gave Katrina a cuddle. Katrina was grateful for this and full to the brim with emotion she cried into her mum’s arms. “Can you help me, mum, I want my friends back, is it too late?”

Her mum stroked her hair and softly spoke “it’s never too late to want to change. People have been hurt badly today, but the fact you recognise you want to repair the damage done shows what a mature and loving girl you are. Come on let’s go in, I have an idea”.

The idea was simple. Have another tea party and invite her friends around again. It was arranged for two days time. This time though, they should turn up wearing their prettiest of dresses. All of her friends were phoned, but Katrina didn’t know if any would come, she kept her fingers crossed and wished for something good to happen.

The first to arrive were Vera and Lucy. Vera turned up with a gold dress with butterfly wings on. It was very sparkly, like a diamond made from stars and Katrina thought it was a lovely dress. Lucy wore a silver dress, with lots of layers and a matching headband, again Katrina thought she looked angelic.

Greeting them both Katrina stood sheepishly, twirling a corner of her dress over in her fingers briefly “I’m sorry for upsetting you the other day, slug tea is an awful idea anyway, what were Faye and Rebecca thinking?”

Lucy replied “They thought slug tea was nice, ew!” and Katrina nodded in agreement then asked quietly “Friends?” Vera and Lucy smiled and gave Katrina a big hug.

Wendy turned up next, but she wasn’t wearing a dress, she had jeans on and a different top to the one worn 2 days before, but it suited her. “You know I’m not a dress kind of girl, I graze my knees a lot in dresses, so I prefer jeans or trousers,” she said defiantly. “Emily’s crew aren’t coming are they?” she asked cautiously.

Katrina said “Definitely not, they will never be welcome to any of my parties again” and Wendy found that a comforting thought. “Good, my skin still itches from where they prodded me with a stick, I won’t let anyone do that to me again” Wendy finished. At this Katrina handed her precious teddy bear over and Wendy gave it a big loving squeeze.

While the girls talked, Jessica, Polly and Olive turned up. Olive, who was wearing a turquoise dress with bunnies on had prepared an excuse for not turning up the other day and rehearsed it over and over. In her head, it felt correct.

She spoke, “I was on my way to yours when I got called back by my mum, she said Grandma was stuck in the bedroom, and they needed my help, so I turned back.”

Katrina bought the fib but replied with “Oh well that’s fine, don’t worry about it, for a moment I thought you saw Emily’s crew from a distance and ran back home” Olive laughed so hard she admitted to her fib. Katrina told her it was probably for the best she avoided the crew as they weren’t at all nice and went into detail about the afternoon.

The sisters, Jessica and Polly, hadn’t stopped to talk to Katrina when they arrived but instead busied themselves with the tea party. Katrina tried to say something to them but they just acted like no apology was needed and that they had moved on. Their dresses were red with white polka dots on, they looked like twins though there was a 2 year age gap. Katrina was happy to do just carry on as usual with them.

All the girls were having fun, for what felt like the whole afternoon but by 3pm Tracey still hadn’t turned up. Katrina felt sad. The girls were talking about all the horrible things Emily’s crew got up to and how glad they all are to be rid of them when a car pulled up. It was Tracey, and suddenly Katrina felt nervous and a bit scared, she saw Tracey was wearing the same blue dress like hers and looked even prettier than herself in it. “I didn’t choose you, I broke our promise and I’m so sorry Tracey. The things I let them do, I don’t know what they were thinking”

Tracey crossed her arms defensively “They were only thinking about being mean because that’s all they know, mean people aren’t ever nice.” Katrina nodded, “Yes I’ve learnt the hard way on that one” she hurriedly tried to find the right words to say before splurting out “I love your dress, it looks better on you than me.  I hated it when you left the party, I’m glad you came today, please can we just be friends once again?”

Tracey left an awkward pause before coming out with “I didn’t go and buy this dress for nothing, it reminded me of you and how special you are to me” and she looked happy to have said this to her friend. Both Katrina and Tracey hugged then went over to the tea table. There was plenty of cups, plates and cutlery for everyone, Katrina had saved a space for Tracey, it was at the top of the table so everyone could easily see her and one another.

That afternoon the girls had the best tea party ever, no one was mean, they all joked about Emily’s crew, and more importantly, they all fawned over each other’s clothes and everyone was happy with what they were wearing. Everyone felt special, Katrina realised she didn’t need a new dress to feel like a princess, her friends had already made her feel this way all along.



I hope you enjoyed this read, you can find more short stories, prose and scripts here.

I do appreciate any feedback so feel free to pass anything back, all suggestions, ideas, and improvements will be taken on board.


Posted in Stories, writing

Short Story: Katrina’s New Clothes Part 1

Katrina was a happy girl. She had a lot of friends and loved them all so very much.

When she turned eight, her mum took her around the shops.

“Shall we get ice cream?” Her mum asked as they finished, Katrina, however, was staring at a bright blue dress in a shop window.  Her mum smiled at her daughter

“Isn’t that the prettiest dress ever?” Katrina said in a dream-like state.

“It is pretty, but there is nothing wrong with the clothes you have, darling, those ice creams will melt if we aren’t quick enough” her mum tried to hurry her along, but it didn’t work.

“All of my friends would love me even more if I had it” Katrina spoke frankly. “I won’t move until you buy it for me”.

Her mum frowned, then tutted and sighed “Fine, you can have it, but this means no ice cream OK?” Katrina smiled, happy that she had won. She knew she would win because she always gets her way.

It was early afternoon when they got back home, Katrina was excited to put the dress on, and as soon as she ran through the front door, she bolted upstairs, clutching the shopping bag in one hand and ran straight into her bedroom.

She put the dress on as fast as she could and checked herself out in the mirror.

“Wow I look amazing, like a princess, but even more special” and she twirled around on the spot, the dress twizzled with her as she spun.

“With this dress, I can have a lot more friends, and they will all love me” she paused before continuing “I will have to get more dresses, oh this is going to be so much fun!” Then there was a knock on her door, it was mum.

She entered the room and gave her daughter a loving look “My sweet Katrina, you look wonderful, would you like to invite some friends round for tea so you can show them your dress?” At this, Katrina nodded, and mum left the room to make a few phone calls.

The only grass at her house was at the front, so Katrina often played here, and it was mostly tea parties. She was setting up some chairs and plates when a group of girls walked by, Katrina noticed them checking out her dress. The group of girls were very familiar to Katrina, but she never found the courage to speak to them because they were popular and they had been mean to her a few times before.


Are the girls going to ruin her party? What will her friends think? Will Katrina get her way once again? Find out in the next part of Katrina’s New Clothes.  Thank you for reading.


You can find more of my work here.