Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Book Review - Timmy Failure A Cat Stole My Pants




A Cat Stole My Pants - 

Review is by Jack D from Derbyshire 📘
Aged 11 years

Timmy Failure, A Cat Stole My Pants, is a book written by Stephan Pastis. Timmy, a boy with his mother on a honeymoon, although he has found ZERO evidence that his mother and her "husband" Doorman Dave even got married in the first place. (He fell asleep during the wedding). The boy, who believes he works for a made-up company he calls Failure Inc, of which he says is the best detective company in the world. Though this is proved to be fake as some of the supposed "crimes" aren't real. For example, Timmy attempted to arrest a CHICKEN for pecking him on the foot. 'When I am attacked by a bird of prey. It's not a bird of prey says Larry. It’s a chicken'. 
Timmy is proved to be a terrible detective, especially at the beginning, where he doesn't even bother to look for his pants and immediately blames the cat.
My Opinion
In my opinion, I have really enjoyed reading this book. I love the type of book it is, a lot of words with some pictures. Much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Although, the book is great, it rarely changes the subject, making the story drag in a way. This makes it slight boring as there is never a twist in it
I would give this book 4 stars. Like previously mentioned, I loved it but it gets boring after a while. If there is ever a Timmy Failure a cat stole my pants 2, it would be great if there were twists and turns in it
All Characters
Every single character in Timmy Failure has unique personality. Every single person in the book is here: Timmy, Timmy's mother, Doorman Dave, Emilio, Larry, Billy, Largo, the little who was being eaten by Butterflies, Rollo and Corrina.
Any Possible Improvements
Like I've said, the story gets a bit boring because there are no twists. I feel like it is straight all the way through, nothing more. If this book were to get edited, it would be great if there were more twists and turns in it 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

School Sports Day

School Sports Day, an annual event, which, along with the end of year school trip, is a break in the school calendar which does ease the 'limping to the finishing line' that pupils and personnel are experiencing right now. 

By now, teachers are short tempered; impatient. Children tired and fractious. Everyone 'chomping at the bit' to arrive at the start of the summer recess. 

In recent weeks the lighter mornings haven’t made it any easier for people, set in their long day routines, to rise with the alarm. Cars have carved out their own sets of tracks in the tarmac from home-to-school; school-to-home. 

In our home ed years I'd completely 'given up to ghost' by June's end of expecting any kind of engagement from my children in formal learning sessions. For us, accessing the great outdoors started early: park and picnics, beach combing, outside visits (even in the rain). Sports too. Yes, the children did lots of sport. We managed to access sports very well and my children were witness to the competitiveness of others when growing up. 

Competitive behavior, between parents, and between children themselves, was rife. It was the same in my own schooldays. Sports day was the only time I remember seeing my Mum on the side lines at junior school. I wonder if she'd have bothered if she wasn't so sure I'd win?
J (with Nursery teacher Mrs Davey) is first to step up to the challenge

I shouldn't really speak so out of turn because when my son J was a pre-schooler (see above), and being the older child in his group, meant he was always so much taller/stronger than the other nursery children so he would to be running out front on his own, in a race, and then he'd stop and wait for the others to catch up. He didn't really get it! 

And later, as a five year old, the only summer J had spent registered in a school, I coaxed out loud for him not to faff with the rules of the obstacle course, encouraging him instead just to cheat and to simply leg it to the line. I felt many eyes boring into my back that day I can tell you. I blush with embarrassment at the thought of it. Ho hum! 

Involvement in sport, either as a participant or observer, can bring out the best and the worse in people. Which is why I like the comedy in this jigsaw puzzle by Ravensburger called School Sports Day:

  • On this school's podium every one's a winner. Headmistress is seen awarding the second and third placings with a gold
    medal as well as the first. Man explaining to the PE teacher in the forefront that 'We're all winners here, old son. The new headmistress doesn't approve of competitive sports'

  • Brian's mum is fretting about Brian using hard balls as weapons

  • A mother, bold as brass, boasts to another parent that her daughter is better at running than hers
  • Spectators in the 'parents enclosure' shout from the side lines. And over on the far side a man is upset at the egg and spoon race winner, saying he views it as unfair that she won because she gets private tuition!
  • One of the child's sack in the sack race has a designer label

  • A year 5 pupil bounces too hard on a space hopper

Would you like the chance to win a new copy of School Sports Day 500 pieces?

Winner is Crystal from Wales (who entered via Twitter)

The free draw is open to UK residents only
Entrants must be 18 or over
Only one entry per person per day over the 3-day duration
To enter the free prize draw entrants can enter one of three ways: 1. can leave a general comment at Not Compulsory 2. Tweet/Retweet the competition tweet using the hashtag #schoolsports 3. Like the PAGE at TSS on Facebook Please note this competition will also appear on the host’s social media outlets for the course of the competition running period 
The competition will run from 14.00 hrs Wednesday 28 June 2017 and will close at midnight on Friday 30 June 2017
Entries will not be accepted after this closing date
One winner One prize
The prize is a new copy of the Ravensburger Jigsaw Puzzle School Sports Day (500 pieces)
The prize draw will random
Participants must agree to be part of winner mentions here at Not Compulsory and on other platforms
Please note that the competition is not connected to Twitter or Facebook, or endorsed by these platforms. The competition and is operated independently
It is the responsibility of entrants to ensure their entry meets with entry requirements and is submitted online successfully 
The winner will be required to provide information such as full name and confirm a UK postal address

It will not be possible to transfer or replace this prize for any othe

Monday, 26 June 2017

OPINION PIECE - Children's Picture Book KING OF THE SKY

'Clever story with much political connotation. A refreshing approach to composition and story meaning' Opinion piece by reviewer, Debra Hall

Author: Nicola Davies 
Illustrated by: Laura Carlin 
Publisher: Walker Books 
Edition: Hardback Original 
Publication: 04 April 2017 
ISBN 9781406348613 
RRP Price: £12.99


Endorsed by Amnesty International this story is of a young migrant boy starting a new life in a ex mining community in Wales. The boy is homesick for Italy and his life there, yet he finds a new friend in Mr Evans. They soon find they enjoy a shared interest which helps both the man and the boy in getting to grips with their difficult situations 


Now I'm not saying that target audience of a child under nine years wouldn't have the emotional maturity to twin this story with news reports they might see, or hear, of citizens from EU countries feeling less valued as residents, here in the UK., by a faction of members from British society who appear
to be at ease to openly express that view.
And, I believe perceptive young readers will link and feel empathy, not only for the little boy character in the story because he feels pushed out, but for friends and acquaintances they might know. Those who come from abroad and who feel, to some degree, under the cosh living in this country right now.  

There is also comfort in the story lines for any little being who doesn't feel like he or she belongs in a place.

But you know I think there is also a message here for Brits of the older generation too. The grandparent bedtime reader who voted for Brexit because of the immigration issue perhaps? Oh yes, grandpa or grandma will enjoy those references made to a post industrial Britain in this story. A story about a nostalgic, pre- technological age they knew and experienced first hand. Grandpa or grandma will replace the deliberately scant, undefined illustrations of compromised landscapes with their own mind's eye visual - viewed through their rose-coloured reading glasses. 
Grandpa and grandma will appreciate the musings of the pigeon fancier because for them it'll demonstrate a simpler, more low tech time. A time, in their view, when everything was better!

The adults will appreciate all these elements more than the flexible, judging free mind of the young recipient. Grandpa or grandma will understand the words and phrases like: mutton (sheep meat), coal dust (the cause of Mr Evans lung disease); racing pigeons (hobbyist activity) ; railwayman (as a job title), whereas the grandchild will require explanation in the first instance. 

But will simply reading this story out loud change opinions? Course not. This, however, is a story that is deep and meaningful, and more deep and meaningful than first meets the eye.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

An interview with Debi McCormack of Boxcitement

As my readers will know, I like to champion the creative and artistic talents of others at Not Compulsory. 
Debi McCormack of Boxcitement (UK subscription box)

Today I share a short interview held with Debi McCormack (pictured above). Debi is the Creative Director at Boxcitement, the UK subscription box. 
With a background in Graphic Design Debi uses those well honed skills everyday, but she also happens to be a clever maker with a wonderful creative eye for things. Debi (and her partner, Sean) work hard at bridging creativity with the business world in an effort to 'earn their crust'. Debi describes her job as being a perfect one for her. 
Debi makes, sources, as well as 'buys in' bespoke pieces for a themed gift buying subscription service. Items are generally a mix of stationery, jewellery, craft items, home accessories, greetings card and gift wrap items.
Design by Debi McCormack

In the Q & A below Debi talks of the creative process involved in designing exclusive stationery, jewellery and gifts for each monthly subscription box release
Is it hard to come up with different design themes on a monthly basis?
As a designer I have always been used to drawing inspiration from the strangest of places and I carry a notepad everywhere for when an idea pops up! A colour combination, shop display or headline in a newspaper can be enough to get an idea started – for example I came up with our Wild West theme after seeing a picture of a cactus I liked in a cafe! The hardest part is knowing how to bring a theme to life once we have the overall concept with the products that we create.
Do you prefer creating stationery or jewellery?
Both! I enjoy the hands-on element of handcrafting jewellery, and there is something very satisfying about making something from scratch using a pair of pliers, though we make far too many now for me to be able to create every single item – I have a small team of makers to help once the design has been finalised. With the stationery, I love creating illustrations and then sending them off to a printer and waiting for everything to come back. Of course I am very nervous seeing my designs come to life as I can’t help but get personally involved; but when customers say they love what they receive it makes all the hard work worth it!
What is the most challenging aspect of the business?
The longer we have been creating boxes, the more I realise that you simply can’t please everyone all of the time. Our boxes are so different from one another that someone who loves one month may not like the next one so much. However, I think creating surprises is better than being predictable or repeating ideas, though there is an element of trust involved for customers to purchase a box from us without knowing what is inside. That is why we post pictures of our previous boxes on our website – and we also share sneak peeks every month across social media so you can get a bit of an idea about what is coming!
What’s next?
We’d love to be able to invest in our own equipment and learn new crafting techniques so that we’re always coming up with fresh ideas. Needlefelting, clay sculpting and laser cutting are all on the list!
The following images demonstrate Debi McCormack's designs and presentation. These are four items from a previous Boxcitement box from March this year called 'Out of this World'.

Note: this box also included an Alien keyring, and a set of notecards which we've not photographed. More information about Debi and the subscription boxes visit her own blog here

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Top Children's Picture Book Picks This Spring

Reblogging a recent post by Walker Books: April showers bring our top five picture book picks! Add some sunshine to your children's bookshelves with a forgetful mole, a hungry... for more of this Click on over Picture Book Party: Top picture book picks

Then perhaps return here to Not Compulsory to enter the competition to Win a copy of 'Mrs Mole I'm Home'., an endearing tale about Morris Mole who couldn't find his glasses.


The free draw is open to UK residents only
Entrants must be 18 or over Only one entry per person
To enter the free prize draw entrants can leave a general
comment at Not Compulsory Please note this competition will also appear on the
host’s social media outlets for the course of the competition running
The competition will run from noon on Wednesday 26 April 2017
and will close at midnight on Friday 28 April 2017
Entries will not be accepted after this closing date
One winner One prize
The prize is a new copy of the Paperback children’s
picture book story called Mrs Mole, I’m Home!
The prize draw will random
Participants must agree to be part of winner mentions here
at Not Compulsory and on other platforms
Please note that the competition is not connected
to Twitter or Facebook and is operated independently
It is the responsibility of entrants to ensure their entry
meets with entry requirements and is submitted online successfully 
The winner will be required to provide information such as a names and confirm a UK address
It will not be possible to transfer or replace this prize
for any other 

This title is also available to buy http://amzn.to/2q91D0J

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Book Feature - Field Guide to Knitted Birds

Publisher: Search Press
Edition: BC Paperback
Publication: 23 March 2017
ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782215394
Size: 210x277 mm
Pages: 176
RRP Price:£14.99

I quite like bird themes appearing in handmade craft items. I have my own pieces about the house. A knitted Hen; a yellow Chick and a felted Blue Tit, and, pinned to my noticeboard in the office, a Paper bird with sequins and real feathers. I also own a Textile Print Bird that hangs in the sticks inside a vase as a decoration along with the Blue Tit. And sitting on my kitchen shelf is a velveteen Budgerigar (shop brought)... my friend said she liked them when she first visited, but she also said her husband would absolutely hate such things in their home. Thinking about it I bet he would find them quite vulgar!

However, I'm not crestfallen (pardon the pun). We, that's my craft group ladies and I, are appreciative of such novelties. And we have been intending to knit birds for a while. I have an unfinished birdie in my knitting bag still, which I intended to complete when we get round to doing this as a joint activity and I can share my enthusiasm with them.

Nevertheless, I don't think I'll be able to make myself heard above the clamour when the ladies see the 'Field Guide to Knitted Birds' book. The content is something else when it comes to little 3D bird knits.

The book's authors (project designers) Arne and Carlos, said on Instagram that the books are flying off the shelves!
A post shared by ARNE & CARLOS (@arnecarlos) on

I, for one, can vouch how hard it is to make and attach legs and clawed feet to a knitted feathered friend, so the first video I am sharing shows how the famous knitting duo have designed prosthetic-like leg and feet skeletons to attach


The second video demonstrates how to add a beak to your knitted bird

This third video gives tips on how to decorate

All that is presented in the videos is detailed in the book in which there are clear instructions, helpful diagrams and full-colour photographs. The book is a beautifully presented, and have 40 of the 'tweetest' little craft works ever! 

"A field guide to knitted birds" is available in Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, German, French and English. 

I'm going to acquire some Schachenmayr yarns and get knitting. I'll add pics when I have them. 


Update 27 May 2017

We made birds in our recent craft session, not with the Schachenmayr wool in the end, but with some lovely yarns and scraps of this and that that we had already.

Firstly, Meet what J describes as being her wingless Christmas Pudding bird. He is male and she's still work to do on him she says

then later with wings added...

then meet Praynelope by your's truly. A girl's name but probably a male don't you think? As he's very flamboyant...though a bit intimidating ☺  

Bird Number 3 was completed super speedily by S in the 3 hour session. Look at the little hat! 

should be one more contribution to follow