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The Gypsy Caravan by Beatrix Potter

2016, first published 1929  

This story was first published in America and was actually written for an American child of the writer’s acquaintance.  

It is a little difficult to define the reader here. The book has a fat spine, the language is quite sophisticated, the text is blocked and in an adult font, though in this edition the print is quite large. The adventures of the animals are complex.  This all suggests a fluent reader. However, the anthropomorphic animals rather suggest a younger reader. There are also several illustrations – both full colour ones as in Beatrix Potter’s other books and smaller line drawings within the text. Might this indeed be a story that a teacher or parent could read to a younger child?

There are several references to Potter’s farming life in the Lake District: the Herdwick sheep, Mistress Heelis (Potter married the solicitor William Heelis in1913) and such slightly altered place names as Pool Bridge (Pooley Bridge). Potter provided a glossary of terms and the publisher provided a few more. However, the texts are so well written that one understands their meaning when one meets them within the texts. 

This particular edition also provides a short biography of Potter, a suggestion as to how she came to write the story, some questions for the young reader, instructions on how to make a mouse out of pompoms and some tips for the young writer.       


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Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales

2017, fluent reader, Key Stage 2, ages 9-11, upper primary
Here are some familiar fairy stories though the titles may fool you: Rapunzel becomes The Tower and the Bird, Rumpelstiltskin becomesStraw into Gold, and Cinderella is Roses Around the Palace. We are also offered some rather interesting details about some well-known stories. The mayor of the town with the rats tells us how the children who replaced the lost ones were much more amenable than the ones who were piped away. A young girl has a sliver of the looking-glass that once belonged to a wicked queen.Whilst the girl has chickenpox her grandmother tells her Snow White’s story. It is true she assures her granddaughter. How does she know? Because she is Snow White. Hansel and Gretel tell the story of what they did in their holidays.
There is perhaps an assumption that the reader will be familiar with the original stories. Certainly they are amusing and not just for the young reader.Adults can enjoy them too. 
This is quite a …