Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson

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Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: Cactus Annie has a rough first day at school, but then discovers that she can do anything if she believes in herself. A charming tale, with great illustrations.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2010
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0340981412

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It's Cactus Annie's first day at cowgirl school, but she really struggles to fit in. Her teacher encourages her to believe in herself, but Annie's having a hard time doing that, especially as there are scary rat rustlers on the loose. When the cows go missing, Annie is secretly pleased, as it means she won't have to do any cowgirl things, but she's soon faced with an opportunity to prove herself.

Cactus Annie is a sweet tale, with plenty of enjoyable elements. The tough time at school theme is handled lightly, and with the focus on cowgirl school, rather than school in general. Any young 'uns just starting school and struggling a little will be able to draw parallels, but it won't sow any unwanted seeds in the minds of others. The moral of believing in yourself is handled equally lightly - it's there, but isn't hammered home. It's a little predictable - as are all such books of this ilk - but not unpleasantly so. If you want to treat it as a light-hearted cowgirl adventure, that's perfectly possible. If you want to use it to boost the confidence of someone new at school, that's there too.

I really liked Melanie Williamson's illustrations - they have a fresh and engaging style that draws you in. The tricycle-riding rat rustlers are particularly amusing characters, and the cheese-o-matic machine is great fun. She really lets her hair down, and every page is a delight to pore over, with plenty of action going on in the background. Annie herself is a sweet kid, who'll strike a chord with all young girls and boys.

The writing is bubbly and enticing, with an amusing Western twang throughout. The vocabulary is suitable for those starting school, but even if they're a little younger, it's still perfectly appropriate, and they won't feel left out. It's all good fun, and a fine addition to any bookshelf. Warmly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Well, hooooweedawg, if it's cowgirls you want, lasso yersel' a copy of Desert Rose by Alison Jackson and Keith Graves. Egg by Alex T Smith has a similarly fresh illustrative style to Melanie Williamson's work. For school-based fun, check out Vile - A Cautionary Tale For Little Monsters by Mark Robinson and Sarah Horne, The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts and The Witch's Children Go to School by Ursula Jones and Russell Ayto.

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Buy Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cactus Annie by Melanie Williamson at


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