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In my last blog post I might have mentioned once or twice how excited I was to be being given the opportunity to review some of Barrington Stoke’s catalogue of books, picked and published specially to support children with reading difficulties.

The first book out of the parcel they sent me this weekend happened to be Frank Cottrell Boyce’s book: ‘Desirable’.

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I was utterly overjoyed, as Cottrell Boyce is one of my favourite authors. I have read all his books to my children as they’ve grown, sometimes more than once, and the children love them as much as I do.  We love his books so much that the phrase: ‘It’sChinayouidiot’ from Cosmic has now become a family saying.

You cannot imagine my glee at receiving Desirable.

It did not disappoint.

Desirable is an early book by Cottrell Boyce that has been out of print for some time until this rather splendid reissue by Barrington Stoke. I’m very happy it has been reissued, and particularly happy that this new edition is of such high quality.

As I mentioned in my last post, Barrington Stoke specialise in dyslexia friendly publications and this book has the usual high quality production values and attention to detail you would expect from them.  The font is clean, sans serif, well spaced and a good size. There is plenty of blank space on the page and not too many lines of text cluttering up every page either.

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The chapters are entirely achievable for the age range the book is tailored to (aged 8 and up) and clearly marked so the child can easily see for themselves how far they have to go and achieve attainable targets.  The pages are a thick, cream paper which are beautiful to handle and easier for dyslexic children to read than black text on white paper.

There are good illustrations by Cate James and the book is squarer and smaller than an average novel, making it easier for small hands to hold. The gold cover is very appealing and I love books with flaps at the front and back covers you can use as book marks, and this has them.

Desirable is the story of George. George is a geek who dreams of being popular, particularly with the girls. He and his friend Tiny also dream of Warhammer, their favourite past time, becoming cool. It looks like neither of these things are going to pass and George’s birthday is an utter washout, with only his parents and grandfather actually turning up for it.

All seems lost until Grandad gives George a bottle of aftershave for his birthday. It is aftershave that has a surprising effect on a lot of people, not least George.

This is a gentle, funny story with real heart and in microcosm ticks all the boxes that makes me love Cottrell Boyce’s other, full sized novels. It is suitable for boys and girls aged eight and up.

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