Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Tag: children

Children’s Book Review: The World According To August, One Good Friend.

Book Information: 40 pages, Age 6+. Written by Sandra L. Westendorf, illustrations by Tracy Rand. Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

The story is based on a real boy, who has autism, and the trials and tribulations he faces at school, and particularly when he is asked to present a science project to his class. Like all of us he faces obstacles, craves friendship, and seeks to find acceptance from those around him. His story is told here, in a way that is accessible to children. Continue reading

Children’s Book Review: Mikolay and Julia Meet the Fairies.


BOOK Information: 38 pages, Age: 4+. Written by Magda Olchawska, illustrations by Joanna Gniady. For a free download of the ebook, click here.

Mikolay is a boy who, like a young Harry Potter, can do magic, but isn’t supposed to when he is out of school. Always driven to find an adventure, as he plays with his friend Julia he is irresistibly drawn by the voices in the wardrobe. Reluctantly Julia agrees to investigate, and inside they find fairies, who are hiding in there from a monster which is destroying everything in their homeland. There is no way they can ask their Moms, the witches, to help, so using a crystal ball they travel to the fairies’ homeland to try to get rid of the monster.

Once there they find the monster is a machine, driven by humans, set on destroying the forest for the resources they find there. There is only one choice, Mikolay will have to attempt some advanced magic to banish the humans, protect the fairies and the forest. Will he succeed? Will they get home safely? Will they be eaten by the guard dogs? I recommend reading this charming little adventure to find out…

I often feel the best reviewers of children’s books are children, so I decided to read this to my four-year old son to see what he made of it. Not long after the story started so did the questions. What are fairies wings like? Is Mikolay’s school like mine? Are fairies animals? Where do crystal balls come from? What do witches do? Why are the fairies in the wardrobe (before the story explains)?

These were just a few of the questions he asked, which tells me one thing… the story grabbed him, and held his interest to the end. The story flies from one imagining to the next quite quickly, and his imagination took flight along with it.

I wondered before reading if the story was a little old for him, and he didn’t respond to the environmental message it contained, but the characters, events and places really came alive for him. This was also helped by the colourful and stylised pictures, which he really liked, constantly asking to turn the page to see the next one.

"'I love fairies so much. I would so love to touch one,' whispered Julia in excitement when she saw that inside the wardrobe lots of fairies were hiding. 'You can touch me. But please do not touch my wings, they are very fragile,' replied one fairy. 'I’m Farina, the fairy queen,' she introduced herself."


"'Julia, Mikolay, look!' screamed Farina pointing her finger towards the lake from where a group of people with huge dogs emerged."

I think if my son was a little older then the ecological message central to the book, and the ‘Find Out’ family activity suggestions at the end would have got him thinking. As a bedtime story though, it thoroughly engaged him, and he wanted to read it again. My son approves, and a higher recommendation I cannot think of.


NOTE: All images and quotations were included with the kind permission of the author, Magda Olchawska, and remain © Copyright of Mayan Books, 2010.

The Life, and Death, of Snot.

Snot, bogey, luge, luger, buger; its aliases are many, but even in its brief life there can be found the hands of fate, pathos, and drama.

This is my first attempt at poetry in, well, decades. It is written in a style vaguely reminiscent of Roald Dahl. It isn’t pleasant, and I’m not sure if it’s even good, but for whatever it is worth this poem is mine, even if it takes courage to own.

I believe you have had sufficient warning, please proceed at your own risk, as no responsibility will be accepted for any distress, emotional or mental, that is caused by the reading of this piece. Comments, and critique, are welcome. For your delectation: I hope you enjoy:-

Continue reading

Which is more deadly? Medicine or legalism?

In what is an obviously blatant simplification it seems to me that medicines can be divided into three types:

1) Vital but venomous: basically the stuff really isn’t good for you but you have to take it to prevent something worse happening, like death, for example. I have to admire the courage of all those choosing to undergo the necessary ordeal of chemotherapy. The side effects can be horrendous.

2) Standard pharmaceuticals: the things that are fine as long as you read the label like most headache pills, and creams for that itch you don’t want to tell anyone about. They are potentially dangerous, but basically have only minor side effects if used carefully.

3) The stuff that is about as deadly as a cheeseburger. Let’s face it, if you eat enough cheeseburgers then you could conceivably die from either choking, or a heart attack caused by the build up of cholesterol. My point is that you have to eat a lot of cheeseburgers to achieve any level of lethality.

So, how is this relevant to anything? I took my son to nursery today and I had to sign a medical consent form for a common cough medicine that’s got honey, glycerol, and liquid sugar (sucrose ) in it. That’s it. I will have to sign the same form, giving the same information, every single day it will benefit him to take it. How long do the regulations say he is permitted to take it? Three days, before I have to take him to see a doctor. My boy has a cough. He’s four. Children get coughs. There is no phlegm, fever, or anything indicating he isn’t going to make a perfectly normal recovery. His cough is likely to last five to six days. So that’s several days where the nursery staff are not allowed to give him anything to make him more comfortable and help him to regain lost sleep at nap time, until he has seen a doctor. So why not just take him to a doctor?  The doctor has patients who are really ill, and a limited number of appointments. Also, our son gets miserable and really really bored waiting for his allotted appointment time for about an hour. At least at nursery he has toys and other children to distract him from his symptoms. So, we either leave him in nursery with his cough (before I get flamed by irate parents, of course we bring him home when he is properly ill or suffering, poor mite), or we waste a doctor’s time, who will just tell him to take the same medicine anyway, and bore my son, literally, to tears.

So that was irritating. Just don’t get me onto the time when our boy went to nursery fit and well in the morning, then got such a high temperature that the nursery staff phoned me saying he was very upset, and advised I drive him to hospital. His temperature had been getting progressively worse for an hour before they called me. I asked whether they could give him something to bring it down. According to the regulations you have to sign a medical consent form. Even when his temperature is so high you are saying I should take him to A&E? Can you give him something now to help him, and I’ll sign the consent form when I get there in half an hour? According to the regulations you have to sign a medical consent form. We are not allowed to give him anything until after you have signed. So for an hour and a half he was given nothing to help with either his distress, or his rising temperature. The incident today with the cough mixture is irritating. That got me angry. (He turned out to be fine after a few days of TLC at home).

Rambling? Yes, but my point is this. I don’t blame the nursery staff who are all very diligent and caring. I do blame our over protective, agoraphobia inducing legal system which prevents teachers, parents, and carers responding to the specific, and individual needs of the vulnerable for fear of getting sued. Some things are quintessentially British. We still have cricket, tennis, cream teas, curries, and our weather, but we’re losing our good, old fashioned, British common sense.

Has any one had a similar experience? Any views or opinions? Please feel free to share them below.

N.B. Note on allergies: As our son had taken the medicines on several prior occasions with no ill effects, it seemed unlikely his head was suddenly going to explode. The only things he seems allergic to are raw eggs, some sun creams, and wearing long trousers and a jumper when it’s cold outside.