Your reading for January, from Susan Keefe

High Heels and Beetle Crushers

by Jackie Skingley
Jackie Skingley, the author of this fascinating memoir begins by taking her readers back to her earliest recollections, bitter sweet childhood memories of Christmas 1944 in Reigate, Surrey. 
Immediately, through her vivid descriptive writing I was catapulted back through the decades to wartime Britain. I could almost imagine being her, a small frightened child, hearing the air raid sirens going off and huddling in the damp, musky shelter with her heavily pregnant mother, and her Nanny Rose.
For those of us who were lucky enough not to have been alive during the war, these memories are priceless reminders of a bygone era, a time which should not be forgotten and a generation who bravely endured so much so that we could live in freedom and peace. Yes you can still see some of the old aircraft fly, and there are films about the wars but nothing can compare to the memories written by those who lived through those years, listening with dread to the droning of the German bombers as they flew overhead along Bomb Alley, towards London, and the sound of the bombs dropping, never knowing if they would be safe, or what carnage the enemy would leave in their wake.
The price of peace was appalling, and shaped the future of the author and her family, as it did for so many people. Life went on, and the incredible community spirit of those post war years are brought wonderfully to life throughout these pages. These were times when families and friends were truly there for each other, the local bobby knew everyone and mums were to be found in the kitchen making jam and cooking Victoria sandwiches. However, most families have some secrets and the author bravely reveals those too.
I read with interest of her convent education by strict nuns, and with envy of her life as a young woman at a time where young ladies wore taffeta dresses, gloves, and beaded bags, and of course had to adhere to strict etiquette codes.
Despite being very popular, at a time when most girls wanted to settle down, marry and have a family, the author wanted more, she had a deep desire to serve her country.
Accepted into the WRAC, she completed her training and began an interesting and eventful military career both at home and abroad, in which strong friendships are formed and love is lost and found.
A powerful coming-of–age story, this memoir gives the reader a real insight into post war Britain, and the spirit of its people. This strong spirit is typified in the author, as her reader discovers within these pages as she overcomes adversity, and defiantly stands resolute and true to herself, and those she loves.
I Believe: It Is Easy to Be Kind and Good to One Another and to Animals, Just Like Baxter, the Magnificent Dog
by Suzanne Mondoux

I Believe: It Is Easy to Be Kind and Good to One Another and to Animals, Just Like Baxter, the Magnificent Dog

Baxter is a beautiful black and white Pointer mix who loves to play, however he is nervous of smaller dogs, and he doesn’t know why.

This day it’s snowing and Baxter and his friends are having fun chasing around in the snow, when Carlo and Teddy the horses arrive in the field.

Baxter goes over to say hello, but then he discovers that they have with them a little Pug. She’s called Lulu, and wants to be friendly, but Baxter just ignores her. Carlo and Teddy explain that they have brought Lulu with them and that in their pouches are two of her puppies, Bessie and Tulip.

I Believe: It Is Easy to Be Kind and Good to One Another and to Animals, Just Like Baxter, the Magnificent DogWhen they get the puppies out, to everyone’s surprise they are so small! So small in fact that when danger strikes it takes a big dog like Baxter to save them, which he does without thinking. Their mum is so grateful that she gives him a big hugs of thanks.

Suddenly, the incident reminds Baxter of a terrible event which happed in the past and is the reason why he is nervous of smaller dogs. He relays the tale, and the other animals listen on. At the end Lulu comforts him by saying that he is a big and happy dog and that what happened was an accident. However, she then explains that accident or not, he is still responsible for his actions, and that it’s important to say sorry, and so Baxter does…

There are some lovely pictures to colour in in this story, but also it is interactive as for the next thirty days, Baxter invites you to write one thing you have said or done which you know has caused hurt, or made a person, or an animal cry. It can be something you did not mean to do, just like Baxter’s accident. However the important thing is to take responsibility, and like Baxter, right the wrong doing. In writing these down, you will understand the mistakes you have made, learn from them, and become a better person.

Taking responsibility for your mistakes is something which is very hard to do sometimes, and in this sensitive children’s book the author explains gently that whatever we do in life, if we do it, it is our responsibility and we must own up to it. Highly recommended as a wonderful life lesson story.

Available from Amazon

I Believe: I Can Learn Something New, Just Like Cody, the Best Dog Swimmer

by Suzanne Mondoux

I Believe: I Can Learn Something New, Just Like Cody, the Best Dog SwimmerIn this wonderful interactive children’s book, the two horses Carlo and Teddy are yet again on their adventures, this time they arrive at the sea. There they meet a very friendly tiny grey dog called Cody, he just loves to play in the waves and swim.

He asks Carlo and Teddy to swim with him, but the horses have to admit that they don’t know how. Undaunted, Cody offers to teach them, and he also explains the 6 very important rules of safety when swimming.

Under Cody’s tuition the horses are soon having a wonderful time, and swimming confidently. Afterwards they are happy to be invited to Cody’s home for dinner. Whilst they are there the new friends discuss all the wonderful things they would like to learn to do, and decide to make lists of what they are, and what they will have to do to achieve them.

Throughout the preceding pages there are lots of pictures to colour in, and now the book becomes even more interactive when the author encourages her reader to write down for 30 days the things which interest them, and also the steps they need to take to make the learning possible. Being an animal lover and advocate Suzanne Mondoux then goes on to invite her readers to also find the name of an animal who lives in the sea, find out about it, and then draw a picture of it too.

My granddaughter and I are really enjoying this ‘I Believe’ series. Natalie loves colouring the books in and the excitement of dreaming of things she would like to do, and I love the messages they convey, and their ability to encourage self-confidence.

Available from Amazon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *