Exciting guest post…

Today, my blog has been taken over by Dylan… he’s the 10 year old superstar I’m currently tutoring. We’ve been reading, sharing and writing about a book which has culminated in a cracking review written by Dylan.

Purpose: to review
Audience: parents (Dylan’s choice)
Form: online review / blog
Skills: paragraphing, expanded noun phrases, simile, metaphor, semi-colon, conjunctions, relative clauses, brackets and interesting sentence openers


Peggy is a puppy pug by Dylan Griffiths Robinson

Self portrait drawn via our online classroom (although he’s taken a creative licence with the stubble).

Book: “The Pug who wanted to be a Unicorn”
Author / illustrator: Bella Swift
Publisher: Orchard Books
Age range: 9 – 99
Pages: 154
Chapters: 8

Pug rating: 5/5


Suzanne (a shopping addict) buys Peggy because she’s a shopping addict and she thinks Peggy will make her stylish. Trying to play on her own (because Suzanne usually leaves Peggy behind), Peggy stupendously messes up the house. Very, very, very, badly. Like a squished-up, giant-eyed, wrinkly bulldozer smashing through a couch. And a ceiling. And a wall. And an armchair. And a litter tray.

Provoked, Suzanne dumps Peggy at a shelter and walks away. It’s nearly Christmas! Peggy feels indescribably heartbroken. Fortunately, she is fostered by a down-to-earth family with three children: Finn (oldest child), Chloe (middle child) and Ruby (toddler). They plan to keep her over Christmas.

Peggy being comforted by the other shelter dogs (artwork by Dylan)

Peggy is convinced that if she becomes like Sparkalina (a unicorn), they’ll keep her. She fails dramatically… that’s all I’m telling you.

The paw bits

Are you ready for a joke? Well, it’s not really a joke but it’s more a sentence that’s funny. I wish I could complain more (most people know I am a moaner) but it’s just the best book in the world so I’ve only got two complaints. First of all, there are not many pages; there’s only one hundred and (hold up, I’m counting) fifty four pages. I wish it was longer because there’s not enough Peggy-ness. Second of all, the front cover is too glitzy. Parents or guardians might only pick it up for their daughters because it’s overly feminine. The front cover is too cheesy as well but the story isn’t cheesy… it’s a balance between everything-is-perfect-wooooo and serious.

The tail wags

Peggy is as cute as a sleeping kitten, that’s as small as the palm of your hand, in a tiny green dinosaur costume, purring adorably (sorry… I’ve been stuck inside for three months and have a loooooooooooot to say). An example of her cuteness is when Chloe teases Finn about a girl and then Finn throws spaghetti at Chloe but misses; it ends up endearingly on Peggy’s head. She slurps it up like a delightful, little vacuum cleaner.

Awww (artwork by Dylan)

Oh, oh, oh. I was told by my tutor that I have to write about the boring stuff, so here it is… Because there are different age ranges, a lot of people can relate to the characters. There are teenagers, children, toddlers and adulty-adults. Furthermore, the chapter lengths were adequate because they didn’t take too much time at bedtime and are easy for your little turds to read! The illustrations (which are monochrome) do not distract because they blend into the writing; however, they are very detailed and charming. Moreover, you might want to head to the library because there are more adventures with llama bridesmaids and puppy princesses – Bella Swift has written seven more books and four of them include Peggy the pug. Apologies to the wallets of the parents reading this but all are £5.99 each on Amazon or, of course, free from your library.

Kids can learn non-fiction facts from inside fiction. For example, this book deals with dog adoption and dog fostering. Also dogs can be extraordinarily hard work and some people treat them like fashion accessories.  

No spoilers. It’s fine for all year even though it’s Christmas in the book because it doesn’t make a big ado about it being festive. The ending is incredible; I won’t spoil it but it’s heart-warming and that’s all I’m going to say.

Shhh… don’t wake the puppy (artwork by Dylan)


Overall, I thought it was the best book in the world and really compelling. It was so exceptional, I did most of the reading myself! Even Mum was impressed (and that’s normally impossible). Peggy deserves a rating of 5 puggies out of 5.

If you drive satisfaction from books such as “Middle School” by James Patterson or “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney, you will get a buzz from Peggy’s story. Aaaaand, before you go, try the tongue twister – my heading for the blog. After extensive research, Dad was the worst tongue twister in this house.

Entertaining myself (work avoidance?)

This has nowt to do with books, studying, work or libraries. It’s a random one.

We’re sharing the cooking and I’ll readily admit that Helen, my wife, is cooking the most. She and I have been figuring out the shopping orders and meal planning. Connor, the man-child, has been helping out with lunches and has now begun to join in with cooking some of the evening meals.

We’ve been talking, quite openly, about how cooking in different contexts requires versatility and an ability to adapt skills. Connor is an excellent competition and industry chef. If you want something fancy and complicated, he’s your guy. It will take him a long time and he’ll use every tool available in the kitchen, but it’ll be worth it. If you want someone to work as part of a team to deliver multiple covers at the same time for sustained periods, he’s your guy. Since working for Wahaca, and now Zizi’s, his approach to brigade cooking, minimal wastage and preparation is impressive. Both restaurants have an open kitchen and – before the apocalypse started – we loved eating in both and watching him work: controlled, efficient and fast.

But we would also watch him – eating our lovely, discounted food – and comment that he is just not like that at home! When cooking, he’s messy, slow and forgetful. As he’s recently completed a reflective essay for college, we talked about this at length. He and I have decided that context is key and he doesn’t adapt his mentality to suit the situation. For instance, he’ll rush at college because he’s used to working at pace in industry kitchens for fear of the wrath of the Head Chef! At home, he isn’t mindful of equipment use or mess because he’s used to cooking in teams at college and work, the latter with the benefit of a KP. I did point out to him that at Wahaca, the chefs took turns at being the KP and he hated being KP when the other chefs were chaotic… Also, any chefs who were too messy or wasteful during their shift had to do an extra KP stint as punishment! The fact he doesn’t apply that memory to cooking at home is evidence that he finds it hard to adapt his approach and learn from experiences.

Anyway, Helen and Connor cooking across Monday 4th to Wednesday 6th of May led to some disappointing results. I amused myself my writing each of them a Trip-Advisor-style-review… Apparently this is now going to be a new game and we’ll each be reviewing one another’s meals moving forward 😂 I have no doubt I will suffer their revenge!

Date: 04/05/20

Chef: Connor

Dish: chocolate brownies

This is a tried and tested, gluten free recipe by Leon. It uses haricot beans in lieu of flour; whenever Helen and I have cooked the brownies in the past, no one could believe they’re flourless. They’re rich, chocolatey and gooey in all the right places.

Connor’s attempt: chalky, savoury, flat, crumbly, unrecognisable, soul-destroyingly-disappointing. Somehow, he had baked them for 4 hours and they were still undercooked. Indeed, the portion gifted to his best friend was tasted, spat out and unceremoniously binned. Even Connor thought they were dirty. They are currently festering in a tin, uneaten and ignored.

Date: 05/05/20

Chef: Helen

Dish: Pad Thai

A firm favourite, I was excited to have Helen’s famous Pad Thai for dinner. Sigh. There were no nuts, it was super dry, the green beans were very obviously the frozen kind and the beef Quorn pieces were a disaster. It was filling and the cauliflower pakoras served on the side (which I later discovered weren’t gluten free) were delicious. I do hope Helen returns to her older, more reliable recipe.

Date: 06/05/20

Chef: Connor

Dish: tomato soup with mozzarella and fruit toast

The soup was tasty and the chef is handsome… There endeth the positives of this less than mediocre experience.

The soup wasn’t hot enough and all the cheese had coagulated into one rubbery lump of sorrow. Also, I ordered fruit toast (all my gluten free bread is stored in the freezer) but the chef didn’t pay attention and tried to coerce me into eating regular toast. He wasn’t at all professional when I refused. For those of you who don’t know, all gluten free bread is significantly smaller than its normal equivalent, so I requested three slices. The third slice was burnt and I was told the chef would “scrape the black bits off.” I insisted upon a fresh slice so, all-in-all, the chef had used six slices of hard-to-obtain gluten free bread to provide me with the necessary three.

Imagine my horror (given how hungry I was due to the human-error-induced-delay) when I discovered the new slice of toast was, in fact, also burnt! The chef had served it pale side up: an old and nasty trick to mask ineptitude because you are blissfully unaware of the toast’s true nature until you bite into it.

My wife enjoyed her dirty toastie (leftover chilli and cheese) but commented that service was slow. When I complained to the chef, he was unapologetic. We are eating in the same venue tonight – due to limited options – so we hope there’s an improvement.