From the opening story; "Brown Bear In A Brown Chair" by Irina Hale, to the final tale, which is a retelling by Vivian French of "The Nutcracker", the book is charming. Emma Chichester Clark is the ideal illustrator for a collection of stories about dolls and toys that come to life. Reception and Year 1 classes should acquire copies.
Orchard Crunchies' excellent Twice Upon A Time series presents - in a single novel - pairs of variations on folk-tales with similar themes. Two brilliant recent titles are Bad Boys and Naughty Girls and Runaway Cakes andSkipping Pots by Rose Impey (pound;3.50 each).
The first combines two warning stories about boys and girls who don't do as they are told. A boy who won't go to school is bundled into a sack by a witch, and a wee lassie who will not go to bed is terrified when a fairy is snatched from the grate by a giant hand. In the second book, Impey enlivens two stories about runaway cakes with various rhymes.
Dorling Kindersley's new "Classic Readers" multi-level reading programme includes Rosalind Kerven's retelling of Aladdin and Other Tales from the Arabian Knights. It is designed for level three readers to read alone. The final pages stress the Arabic background of stories "told aloud in market-places in the heart of Islamic towns". pound;3.99 each.