The Clock Has Struck Twelve!


Tiger in the snow

May 2014 also bring about the much-needed changes so many yearn for.

For the noble animals of the wild, new global (enforceable) laws which will put an end to cruelty in all its forms, and the repealing of misguided existing laws which permit ruthless, indiscriminate slaughter of the innocent.

An end to the merciless, murderous activities of poachers in Africa, and an end to the brutal and dispassionate slaying  of the majestic and blameless wolf in other countries.

An end to the shameless narcissism and one-upmanship aiding and abetting the prosperity and growth of the cold-blooded fur industry, and the expansion of savage, sadistic fur factory farms.

An end to the rampant corporate greed destroying the rainforests.

New laws protecting domestic and factory farm animals, some so heartlessly abused and in such dire need of our help.

An end to cruelty to our fellow human beings, abuse of civil liberties and acceptance of those who are different.

If we continue to fight against all such wrongs in this world, I believe we will one day be where we want to be, allowing ourselves to enjoy a more peaceful, healthier and happier global society.  A society fit for all to live in on this still beautiful planet.

No-one really wants a perfect world, but right now, we all need a much better one.

Happy New Year everyone!

Related links
Fur is not back in style – Britain won’t stand for it
What really happens in the name of fashion?
Zara Refuses To Stop Torturing Rabbits After Hundreds of Thousands Petition Against It 
New Rules Would Allow Montana Landowners to Shoot, Trap More Wolves
Canada’s seal hunt can’t find cover in WTO trade laws

Advertisements

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 89 – The Mountain Bongo


Bongo calf

“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
Pythagoras

With their soft eyes, astonishingly beautiful coats and those magnificent horns, these highly sociable forest antelopes are a stunning vision.  Bongos, in general, are fairly plentiful across west Africa.  But, the critically endangered sub-species, isaaci, is only found in the mountains of central Kenya.  As you would expect, deforestation and hunting (including so-called ‘trophy hunting‘) have played a major part in its decline.  The numbers kept in captivity, now outweigh the numbers left in the wild by almost seven to one.

Male bongo Mount KenyaThe mountain bongo may look a lot like its cousin, the western bongo, but, in fact, it is heavier, taller and more richly coloured.  Adult mountain bongos stand at over four feet at the shoulder, and can be as much as an astonishing ten and a half feet in length.  Males can weigh up to almost nine hundred pounds, and females, just over five hundred pounds.

Mountain bongos, or eastern bongos as they are sometimes called, have beautiful coats of deep-chestnut with vertical white stripes.  Their muzzles are black with a white band across the nose and under the eyes, and their legs are dark in colour with patches of white.  Further white markings occur on the chest.  Like the okapi, the disruptive colouration of their coats helps to camouflage them in the forest.

Bongo with hornsAnother notable feature of the bongo are the heavy, but elegant, spiral horns.  Both male and female sport these, with the female’s being slightly smaller and paler.  These horns can be used to break branches allowing their long prehensile tongues to strip the same with ease.

Unfortunately, these spectacular horns have been a contributing factor in their downfall.  It is always wonderful how nature equips different species with these various adaptations for their survival.  But, wonderful turns to tragic when man comes along and ends that chance of survival because he sees that which belongs to another as his, and his right to possess; to satisfy his unquenchable greed and lust for death.

Bongos are outgoing and non-territorial, but they are also shy and wary.  They live in mixed herds of up to fifty individuals, though smaller herds are more likely.  They forage mostly under cover of the dense forest, but can be tempted out into clearings and swamps if the pickings look good enough.  Although mostly nocturnal, they are occasionally active during the day.

Distressed bongos bleat and mothers have a special low mooing call for their calves. Otherwise their vocalisations are fairly limited.

The peak breeding season for bongo antelope occurs between October and January. Following a gestation period of nine and a half Baby bongo at Taronga Zoo 2012months, a single calf will be born.  Females give birth in dense undergrowth where they can hide their babies from predators.  The mother will leave the calf alone for the first week, returning only to let the calf suckle.  By the time it is two weeks old, it will be racing round and ready to join the nursery herd.  Bongo calves are fast developers and will have the first signs of horns at three to four months of age. They are weaned at six months and fully mature at two years.

Natural Habitat
Dense montane forests and bamboo thickets.
Where
The central Kenyan highlands – restricted to Aberdare’s Conservation Area, the Mau Forest and Mount Kenya National Park.
What they eat
Leaves, shrubs, pith and bark of fallen dead trees, grasses and fruits.
Threats
Habitat loss due to illegal logging and charcoal production, poaching with snares and dogs, and diseases such as rinderpest.  The mountain bongo  are poached for their pelts and horns, and bushmeat to feed the ever-growing population.  Natural predators include leopard and spotted hyena.  Pythons have been known to eat calves. Bongo, in general, are considered a prize target for big-game trophy hunters, which in the past has devastated local populations of mountain bongo. 

Status: Critically Endangered
The mountain bongo, or eastern bongo, (Tragelaphus eurycerus ssp. isaaci), is listed on the  IUCN Antelope Specialist Group  as Critically Endangered.  It is thought there are now no more than one hundred of the species left in the wild, possibly as few as seventy-five.  In 2012, six hundred and seventy-seven were recorded as kept in captivity around the globe.  All captive bongo stem from the wild population captured from the Aberdere Mountains area in the 1970s.

Eastern Bongo calves  at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy -“In 2000, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the USA (AZA) upgraded the bongo to a  Species Survival Plan  participant and in 2006 named the Bongo Restoration to Mount Kenya Project to its list of the Top Ten Wildlife Conservation Success Stories of the year.  However, in 2013, it seems, these successes have been negated with reports of possibly only 100 mountain bongos left in the wild due to logging and poaching.” (Wikipedia)  Although zoos are not the best option for wildlife, it seems, in this case,  they may well be the saving of the mountain bongo.  With so few left in the wild, the species might otherwise be lost to us.

Related Articles
Bongo Surveillance Project   A village is rewarded with solar power to say ‘thank you’ for hosting the mountain bongo.
UAE’s bid to save the Eastern Bongo from extinction
EASTERN BONGO (TRAGELAPHUS EURYCERUS ISAACI) CAPTIVE POPULATION AND CONSERVATION

Fast Fact Attack: Endangered Species No. 43 – The Ethiopian Wolf


Ethiopian wolf and cub

Source: Born Free Photos

Description
Also known by a whole array of others names, including Abyssinian wolf, Simien fox and Simien jackal, this species has the dubious honour of being the rarest canid in the world. It is the only wolf species to be found in Africa, and can only be found in a handful of scattered areas in the Ethiopian Highlands.  For those who favour wolves, this is a species well worth getting to know.

Personally, I find these fox-like wolves rather beautiful.  With their long, elegant legs, slender bodies and necks, deep red fur (the females are the slightly paler ones) with contrasting black and white markings, they are undoubtedly striking, and most certainly very photogenic.  That gorgeous coat is very practical from the wolf’s point of view.  It has an insulated undercoat to protect it against the cold, in temperatures as low as minus -15 degrees centigrade.  For added warmth they hide their faces beneath their bushy tails when resting.  On average males weigh about 16 kilos and females just under 13. They are about the same size as a coyote.  Their front feet have five toes and their hind feet have four.  I have yet to find out why this is.

Ethiopian wolves tend to be mostly lone hunters.  Their prey is so small there is not enough to share.  They do, however, join forces when hunting larger species such as antelope.  As their prey is active during the day, so are they.   They are very much pack animals when it comes to other everyday living.  At dawn and dusk, they patrol the boundaries en masse;  and socialise and sleep as such too.  They sleep together, curled up in a ball, out in the open.  Male wolves rarely leave the pack, but females tend to wander off at two years of age in search of other opportunities.

This species is very vocal.  There are huffs, yelps, barks, growls, whines and group yip howls.  The howls can be heard over five kilometres away.

There is no social hierarchy amongst these wolves when it comes to mating.  Bit of a free-for-all really.  The mating season is between August and November.  After a gestation period of about sixty days, a litter of pups, numbering between two and six, will be born. Although the adults sleep in the open, when the cubs are born, the mother digs a hole, usually beneath a large rock or inside a crevice, to shelter her pups.  The pups are born with their eyes closed and have no teeth.  The den will be moved several times before the pups are ready to experience the outside world.

Habitat
Afroalpine grasslands and heathlands at altitudes above 3,000 metres.
Where
The Bale and Simien Mountain ranges of Ethiopia.
What they eat
Rodents make up nearly 96 percent of all their prey – big-headed mole rats,  black-clawed brush-furred rats and  grass rats.  Highland hare is sometimes on the menu too, along with birds, eggs, and occasionally carrion.
Threats
Habitat loss and fragmentation, over grazing of livestock, road construction, persecution, confrontation and hybridisation with domestic dogs, and diseases from domestic dogs (rabies, distemper and parvovirus).  Most of these threats are related to the Oromo people who live in close proximity to the wolves in the Bale Mountains National Park .
Status: Endangered
The Ethiopian wolf  (Canis simensis)  is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered.  Less than five hundred mature individuals are thought to remain in existence.  The species is protected from hunting under Ethiopian law.   A vaccination programme is in place to curb diseases, in particular rabies which decimated populations in both 1991 and 2003.   Steps are also being taken to prevent cross-breeding with domestic dogs.
The Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme has undertaken:  [1]
• To assess, address and counteract threats to the survival of Ethiopian wolves.
• To secure the conservation of Afroalpine biodiversity and ecological processes.
• To strengthen Ethiopia’s environmental sector, particularly biodiversity conservation.

”The quicker we humans learn that saving open space and wildlife is critical to our welfare and quality of life, maybe we’ll start thinking of doing something about it.”
Jim Fowler

Fast Fact Attack – Endangered Species 7: African Wild Dog


African wild dog pupsDescription
These lovely, long-legged creatures, although canines, have only four toes on each foot. Also called painted dogs or Cape hunting dogs, the African wild dog’s pack structure is like that of the wolf. They are highly sociable as a pack and are known to share food and pull together when one of them is injured or sick. They have great communication skills using touch, physical movements and voices. Packs are dominated by a monogamous breeding pair producing anything up to 20 pups. When the pups are born the whole pack turns out to help look after them.
Habitat
Savannahs, deserts and forests. 
Where
Sub-Saharan Africa 
What do they eat?
Antelope, wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, springbok and impala. Birds and rodents. 
Threat
Habitat loss, persecution (hunting and poisoning), diseases spread by domestic animals (rabies and distemper), and, the occasional run in with a lion.
Status: Endangered
It is estimated 3,000 to 5,500 remain in the wild; specifically within game reserves and national parks.Even though protected in these locations, the populations have declined dramatically. So much so, in some cases the packs have all but disappeared. 

“It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”

Edward Abbey

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor banner

Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my varied choice of books and the reviews of them. Please don’t forget to scroll down the page and read them all.

Children’s Book of the Week: The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” by Maggie van Galen – Illustrated by Joanna Lundeen
Available on Amazon: Hardcopy $19.95

Take one adorable, daring and disobedient little monkey, a very cautious, clever and ne’er do wrong elephant, throw in some rule breaking and mix with a hint of peril, and you have all the right ingredients for an utterly delightful children’s story. Please read my review below.

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest -"The Banana Tree" - Review by Amelia CurzonMy Review

Best friends Keeno and Ernest spend much of their time together eating bananas. Day after day they go back to the same old tree.  Until one day, Keeno sees “a huge banana tree with hundreds – maybe thousands – of super yummy bananas” across the swirling river. He must have those yummy bananas at any cost, even if it means disobeying his parent’s rules to get them. He pleads with Ernest to cross the river with him, and when Ernest refuses on the premise his parents have told him not to do so without  supervision, Keeno decides to build a raft and go it alone. As you would expect with an adventurous young monkey like Keeno, terrible danger lurks around the next bend in the river. Way out of his depth, Keeno becomes very frightened. Fortunately, a mutual friend, Toucan Tom, flies by and Keeno gets him to whiz off and find Ernest – because “He always knows what to do!”

With The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest, Maggie van Galen has given us a book which is perfect for reading aloud, beautifully written and easy to understand.  And, it is not difficult to remember the object of Keeno’s desire as every page has the coveted banana tree in it. The animals are well-chosen for this particular story. Characteristically, Keeno is an impulsive and mischievous little monkey, Ernest is a sensible elephant able to heed and remember quite clearly whatever has been said to him, and Toucan Tom, the only other character in the tale, is a loud, loud bird. All perfect! I particularly liked the very vivid hand-painted illustrations by Joanna Lundeen. In fact, there is really nothing here not to like. Moreover, this is a story of friendship, and of learning that when your parents tell you not to do something, it is probably in your best interests not to do it. This is an ideal book for any young child. Highly recommended! (5 stars)

(The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” would be best suited to 4 years and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed 

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns
Available on Amazon: Paperback $6.90 and Hardback $13.75

We All Went on Safari Review by Amelia CurzonI absolutely loved this book. We All Went on Safari is a counting picture book for young children, which also teaches them how to count to ten in another language – Swahili! It is tremendous fun, and after all, since the Maasai people are globally known; what better way of introducing young children to them and their culture than with a beautifully produced book such as this.
A group of Maasai women and children, accompanied by a Maasai warrior, take themselves on a short safari across the Serengeti where they encounter various wild animals, counting them in rhyme as they go; “We all went on safari, Among herds that intermix, We followed woolly wildebeests, Watende counted six”. The illustrations are simply gorgeous with their vibrant colours and wonderful depictions of the Maasai and their lands and wildlife.
Having learnt to count to ten (the numbers are depicted on each page thus: 1 – moja, 2 – mbili), the learning process continues at the back of the book with pictures and short facts about the animals of the Serengeti and their names in Swahili, the character’s names in Swahili with their meanings, facts about Tanzania (including a useful map) and numbers one to ten again in Swahili with an illustrated guide. Completely irresistible from beginning to end, this is a real must for any child’s bookshelf! (5 stars)
(We All Went on Safari is best suited to children ages 2 years upwards)

Little Music Lessons for Kids: Lesson 1 – A Fascinating Story about the Staff and Treble Clef by Tatiana Bandurina
Available on Amazon: eBook $4.11

Little Music Lessons for Kids Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a short and very clever introduction to sheet music for small children. And it’s fun. It begins with an unnamed musical family, all of whom play different instruments, being introduced by their puppy, the musical puppy. The puppy goes on to explain very carefully and in simple words, the basics behind the staff and the treble clef.  It counts the floors in the musical house (the staff) and compares them to the fingers on the hands.  It shows us on which floor of the house the treble clef lives. As the title suggests, the staff and the clef are the only subject matter in this lesson and are dealt with methodically using repetitive text, making the facts easy for a child to remember. At the end of the lesson there are some very helpful and concise step-by-step instructions for parents.  Even if, as a parent, you do not have any sort of background in music, but want to encourage your child, this is where to start. This is the first lesson in a series of ten. Refreshing, thoughtful, educational and very appealing! (5 stars)
(Little Music Lessons for Kids is best suited to 3 to 9 years old)

The Awkward Owl by Shawnda Blake                                                                                                             Available on Amazon: eBook $2.96 and Paperback $9.99

The Awkward Owl  Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a very sweet book about a clumsy little owl that couldn’t fly.  Hard as he tried, he always seemed to end the wrong way up and the wrong way round.  One day he crashed into the trunk of tree and fell to the ground. A small girl picked him up, took him home and loved him. She gave him some much-needed encouragement to try again, by telling him he could do it. And do it he did.
The text is well-written and enjoyable, and I loved the book cover at the beginning of the story promoting ‘Flying Basics: For the Beginner Bird’ – both funny and clever. Regrettably, the illustrations, hand-drawn in crayon, didn’t really grab me, though young children may well identify with the style and simplicity.
There is also a message here: If you try hard enough you can do anything – so always believe in yourself.
A great little book for the very young!  (4 stars)
(The Awkward Owl would be best suited to 2 years upwards)

***

All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor banner

Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them. Please don’t forget to scroll down the page and read them all!

Children’s Book of the Week: The Issy Books by Pat “Gigi” Calfee – Illustrated by Isybilla Gee
Available from issy.com

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to review these books, which were recently sent to me. The Issy Books are, in fact, a series of eleven short books for emergent readers. They are written by Pat Calfee and illustrated by her very creative granddaughter, 5-year-old Isybilla Gee. Pat, now an educational consultant, previously spent 15 years teaching both 2nd and 3rd grade students.

My Review

The series opens with the picture book “Meet Issy”, the talented five-year old illustrator, and we learn about her likes, her pets and her family. The series then continues with tales of Harry the Hippo, Webster the Spider and a host of other animals, each with their own little book.

Every page of every book in the series has its own simplistic illustration and a short sentence to describe it. The illustrations and the well-ordered vocabulary go hand in hand, making the meaning of every page clear, easy to follow and fun, with just enough words to help the young reader grow confidence. Specific keywords go with each  book, and are clearly listed at the start below the ‘suggestions’ for using the book. I have no doubt parents teaching their children to develop their reading skills will find these extremely helpful. The books are also produced in a nice handy size for small hands.

The fact that a young child, herself an emergent reader, has illustrated these books makes them all the more endearing, and other young children will so easily be able identify with the naïve style.
Each book is a delight in itself, but I particularly liked Oscar the Octopus where numbers are cleverly introduced, counting backwards from 8 to 1. And then there was Flossie the Flamingo where the words for different shapes were presented.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Issy Books, and I especially delighted in introducing the youngest member of the family to them, who, albeit she is not quite at the emergent reader stage, was able to instantly identify the animals in the books, and the short sentences on each page held her interest. So much so, she was happy to repeat the words and point to the pictures.  An excellent start for any child!  In my opinion, this is a fairly strong indicator of the success of the books.

It can be very difficult at first for young children to decipher the written word, therefore the vocabulary must flow and the accompanying illustrations need to speak out in a way which adds value.  It is my opinion that The Issy Books do precisely that. Added to this, there is the parental guidance factor which can only enhance the reading satisfaction and ability of both parent and child.  I am giving The Issy Books a very solid 5 stars!

Switch by Karen Prince     
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.24

The story is set in Zimbabwe and opens with the High Priest, Drogba, looking for a person to provide him with a new body. This opens the door for the introduction to the wicked and very comical witch, Gogo Maya, who is being pursued by someone unknown in the forest that she would rather avoid.  Her only escape it to ‘switch’. Through pure miscalculation she finds herself inadvertently linked to a very average young boy named Joe. Joe has an overly precious cousin, called Ethan, who is better suited to the city than the bush. Ethan is spoilt, highly germaphobic, asthmatic, snobbish, cowardly, and definitely not a risk taker. He does, however, feel able to give Gogo Maya CPR, and manages to suck in what is left of her magical powers. The witch’s leopard familiar, Salih, for some unfathomable reason, chooses him in order to telepathically communicate the witch’s needs. Throw in the very bizarre Tokeloshe tribe, some possibly helpful crocodiles, a few hyenas, a host of African children and lashings of magic, and the book has you wanting to read on.
The opening chapter of this book grabbed me instantly. I also love books about Africa, and this one did not disappoint. I felt absolutely filled with the sound and smells of the continent just reading it. The evocative settings make it quite clear the author knows the terrain well. The plot is very imaginative and highly original and the characters are well-drawn and credible.  I would definitely read this book again and am giving it 5 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 11 years and over)

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone   
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.22 and in Paperback $7.50

Kiwi in Cat City is about a little girl called Amy, her brother James and their cat Kiwi.  After waking one night and seeing Kiwi leap out of the window, Amy rouses James to go with her to follow Kiwi to see where she goes and what she does at night.
Kiwi, who spots them tailing her, turns around and addresses them in their own human speak and subsequently invites them along on her nocturnal journey. After getting over the shock of hearing their cat talking to them, both children decide to do just that and tag along. Then, an even more surprising thing happens as they both turn onto cats themselves.
This book is beautifully written, with a great poetic prologue, and heaps of action, intrigue and fun. Ms. Johnstone’s vivid imagination does her a great deal of credit. I am also assuming, by the not entirely complete ending, that another book will be following soon, which I will look forward to reading as well.  5 stars for Kiwi in Cat City!
(This book would be best suited to ages 10 years and over)

A Tale of Four Birds and Their Quest for Food and Happiness by Gramps Doodlebug    
Available from Amazon Kindle $1.22

Four hungry birds set out together in search of food. Though of different species, their combined voices garner a lot of attention. No-one, however, rewards them with the food they are singing for. On their rounds they visit the house of a rich man who, although he has no suitable food to give them, offers them directions to find a man with a straw hat who will provide for them. Their next port of call is the house of a poor man, with a straw hat, who turns out not to be the one they are seeking, and who has nothing to offer them either. At this point one of the birds leaves the quartet thinking he will do better by himself. The others travel on. At different points two others go their separate ways leaving the last bird to carry on the mission alone.
The simple, beautiful illustrations drew me to this book and the story reminded of some of those I had read as a child. The descriptions of the birds and their voices are quite charming, and I am sure will enthral many a bird-loving child. There are both facts and lessons to be learnt here, all of which are meaningful and easy to understand. I give A Tale of Four Birds 4 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 5 years and over)

***

All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor - A Children's Book by Amelia E Curzon - Banner

Welcome to this week’s children’s book reviews.  I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them.

Book of the Week: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Published on Amazon:  Hardcover  $12.40   Paperback  $6.99  Audio $13.26  Board book  $6.99                     

I couldn’t resist buying Room on the Broom having already read another book by the same creators, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – namely The Gruffalo, and I had high expectations.  I was not disappointed. Nor was the smallest member of the family (aged almost 2) for whom it was intended. This book is simply adorable.

Room on the Broom Book CoverMy Review of Room on the Broom

A kind old witch with a purry cat loses her hat, her bow and her wand to the wind.  As they both go in search of these items, various different animals find them first – a dog with brown spots, a very green bird and an extremely fastidious frog – all of whom want to know if there is room on the broom for an animal like them.  The amiable, though  far from stereotypical, witch smiles and makes room for them one by one, until the broom bends beneath their weight.  Things begin to look bleak as the broom falls to the ground. At this point the animals are given the chance to be heroes.  As a reward for their actions, the witch ‘magics up’ a spectacular new broom to accommodate all their individual needs.

The illustrations are superb. The expressions on the animal’s faces are priceless and the first-rate rhyming prose was such a pleasure to read aloud.  It is a really fun book about friendship and team work, and, although this is a story about a witch, I don’t think it needs to be limited to Halloween only – it is more of an anytime-of-the-year book. I can highly recommend this for children aged 2 to 8. Without doubt, a five star treasure to keep for years to come!

Fing – A Modern Fairy Tale by Papa G   
Published on Amazon:  Kindle $1.24  Paperback $3.99

This is a terrific story about six-year old Ulrich Von Strudel, a determined little boy born without knees.  And, as if that were not enough, he has just been told his parents have been eaten by pygmies and his very mean great-aunt, Mrs Lipstick, is on her way to collect him from boarding school and look after him. When the evil Mrs Lipstick takes Ulrich home, she banishes him to the distant and inhospitable attic.  Mrs Lipstick not only dislikes little boys, she is also totally aware that if anything happens to Ulrich, she will inherit the entire Von Strudel family estate. All she has to do is find a way to “accident” Ulrich and all will be hers. But, unbeknown to the evil great-aunt, Ulrich finds a sock-loving, one-eyed monster in the closet, who soon becomes his only friend, and who encourages him to heed his mother’s advice – “If you stay positive, things will always get better.”
This is a book which can be read in one sitting or, since it is chaptered, can be read as a bedtime story a bit at a time. Either way, it is filled with humour, touched with sadness and a little bit scary in parts. Children will love it! The writing is excellent and the black and white drawings are extremely good. Recommended age 6 years plus.  I give Fing 5 stars!

I’ll Follow the Moon by Stephanie Lisa Tara 
Published on Amazon:  Kindle $3.09   Paperback $12.95

The illustrations first drew me to this book – they are delightful!  Although, with the exception of the line which is repeated on every page, I did find the rhyming a little hard to read since it didn’t entirely flow. I have read some of the reviews which argue the point that this tale is far from factual in terms of the beginning of life as a turtle. Although I have to agree with this, it is worth bearing in mind that this will probably be read to very small children who won’t be too worried about the minor details. It is just a charming story about a baby turtle hatching and vowing to find its mummy, which I am sure both parents and children (possibly 2 – 6) will find very appealing. This book deserves a solid 4 stars.

The Adventures of Loafy Lion and Friends by Richard Bullivant 
Available on Amazon : Kindle $1.24

Loafy Lion is so named because of his supposed idleness, and the fact that “He never went out to hunt… ever!” This eventually prompts the pride to lose respect for him and ask him to leave.  This he does with heavy heart and wanders off into the distance. Then Loafy sees a friend in trouble. In fact, he is not lazy at all, just a bit deaf with perfect eyesight – all a bit topsy-turvy for a lion. As it also happens, Loafy is not into eating other animals, most of them are his friends. And when friends are in trouble – you just have to get up and do something about it.
This is the best short story I have read for a long time.  The characters are comical and it would have been great to see some images of them. The story itself is well-written and very funny, though a little too short for a book.  More than one adventure in the same book would have done more for me. Nevertheless, Loafy Lion is really enjoyable, and teaches children a bit about animals on the Continent (not country as the author would have us believe) of Africa.  There are also a couple of lessons in there too. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of illustrations, which I thought would work very well here.  But, all in all, this is a great read and well deserving of 4 good stars. It would be suited to 5 years and upwards.

All reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.