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Rhymes for Annie Rose is a beautiful book of simple, easy to understand poems for young children writtenby Shirley Hughes’ as if for her character, baby Annie Rose.

Annie Rose is the younger sister of the classic character, Alfie, created by Hughes decades ago, but who is still popular with children today.

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An Evening at Alfie’s is a prose story book about what happens to Alfie and Annie Rose when mum and dad go out for dinner and a baby sitter comes round to look after them. Alfie gets a more exciting evening than he planned when a burst water pipe means that it starts raining on the landing.

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I cannot resist books by Shirley Hughes.  It is not the writing I love, although I do like her easy to understand, simple stories about what life is really like for little children. It is her illustrations which set my pulse racing and which have such a strong emotional pull for me.

Alfie and Annie Rose were already well established as characters when I was a child and I grew up with their stories as a staple of my daily life.  Looking at them then used to make me feel warm, and safe, and understood. Looking at them now takes me right back to my childhood, and reading the stories is an incredibly nostalgic experience for me.

The picture that particularly stands out for me is one where Annie Rose and Alfie make a shop under a bush in the garden, which is something my brother and I used to do as children. I am so fond of that picture I would love to have it framed.

You would think that children would no longer relate to the Alfie stories and pictures, as they do show a life that is more reminiscent of the world I grew up in, with milk men and paper boys and old fashioned fires in the living room, than the world of today.  Not that Shirley Hughes has ever stopped writing and illustrating books, and is still going strong in her nineties.  Nevertheless, the stories and the pictures are rather old fashioned, but as with all true children’s classics this does not really seem to matter.

The stories fascinate children because Hughes’ shows both an eye and an ear for what small children are interested in. She has the perfect ability to capture the excitements and ups and downs of the daily life of a child, what makes them happy, what makes them sad, and what keeps them interested.

These books are perfect for early years and pre school children from about the age of two to five.  They are just as popular for boys as for girls and they are particularly popular with me.

You can find out more about Alfie here on his own website.

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