Postman’s Knock (Pages: 26, 42, 87, 104, 112)
This story is spaced out over five pages and is done in letter format. Brother and sister Tony and Jenny start being pen pals with another school, they get Bob and Jane respectively. Tony and Jenny live in the country, Tony is musical, while Jenny has ambitions to become a vet. Meanwhile Bob and Jane are actually dating but things aren’t going so well. They are happy when their respective pen-pals invite them away for half-term so they can have a break from each other. Of course they are surprised when the both end up at Tony and Jenny’s house! Everything works out in the end and they all have a good weekend. By the end Tony is writing to Jane and Jenny to Bob.
So its not hard to see where the story is heading with the music lovers ending together and the country lovers together. I do like the letter format, each page has two letters, starting with Tony and Jenny writing to their pen pals. Each letter is written in its own writing style, while still having to be legible. Tony’s letters are the most cursive but aren’t too difficult to read.
Two Sides to Every Story (Pages: 62-63, 98)
Seems to be a similar theme in both text stories (other than the romance element); telling a story from different perspectives. First Aurora tells the reader how she dislikes her name and was never too bothered with boys, preferring the library, that was until Barry joins her school. She is surprised when he asks her out and is nervous on their date at first. But soon they start talking about all sort of topics like literature, history and science. After that they get onto more personal stuff like their shared love of private eye films and banana milkshakes. With things going so well she is surprised when Barry leaves abruptly. Some girls from her class Pam and Penny point out that the new shop Genius was running a competition and the topics that her and Barry talked about meant he was just picking her brains. Aurora then sees Barry hugging another girl and giving her flowers. She still goes to meet him at the cinema the next Monday to confront him, but she doesn’t stick around when she see Pam there too. The next day Pam says Barry didn’t even turn up.
The next page switches to Barry’s side of the story. He liked Aurora from the start and is happy when she agrees to go out with him. When they are about to meet for their date he finds out about the Genius competition. He doesn’t think its romantic to fill out a questionnaire on a date but he thinks the topics are a perfect ice breaker for someone he sees as so smart and confident. He is having a good time when he gets the idea that he can surprise her by entering in the competition, as he is sure he could fill out the questionnaire now. He rushes to get it to the shop on time but then he realises he is still one answer short. As it is about plants he asks a girl working outside a florist. She doesn’t know but she hands him flowers to hold and runs in to ask her boss. Barry is so happy to get the answer, that he hugs her and gives her back her flowers. He is disappointed when Aurora doesn’t turn up to cinema and only Pam is hanging around.
The last part of story is told by Sarah the manager of Genius. She goes to present the prize to Aurora. Pam is happy to hear this as she is sorry for lying to Aurora. Aurora on hearing about the prize rings Mark and the next day when publicity shoot is happening they turn up together looking all loved up.
Check Your Dating Rating (Page: 16)
A series of questions to see how you react to certain dating scenarios such as:
At a barbecue with his family, you’ve realised he isn’t really your type….but you do like his brother. Would you-
a) Do nothing at all about it. Causing family quarrels isn’t your thing. b) Tell your date to shove off and go all out to get his dishy brother. c) Hang on to your date (you might change your mind!) and let his brother know you fancy Him more!
There is no option for d) none of the above!
Mother’s Day Breakfast Set to Make (Pages: 40-41)
A more traditional feature, which is just as it sounds. The breakfast set includes a basket (to fill with flowers) a place mat and napkin holder.
My Friend (Page: 48)
A poem, describing a girl’s friend. The last line is to be read by a mirror as it is revealed the friend is her reflection!
Matching Up (Page: 58)
Again showing more emphasis on romance and dating in these later annuals even in the features. While the first quiz checks your reactions to dates, here the questions aim to find out what you hope your potential boyfriend would do in a situation (not necessarily just in a dating situation).
Cooking With Pauline (Pages: 88-89)
Some recipes from Pauline (a character from M&J). The recipes are for tuna and sweetcorn bake, swiss cauliflower cheese, chocolate seville flan and nut & cherry cookies. I must say they look good and easy to make.
Pepper’s Show Jumping Game (Pages: 126-127)
As I said before this game leads on from the Pepper the Pony strip. It is your typical board game where you have to get to the finish and some squares will move you forward while others move you back. In addition to this some squares will give you faults (such as: foot in water: 4 faults). so the winner is not necessarily who crosses line first but who has least faults.
So this was one of my favourite annuals when I was younger, evidently by the fact that some pages are falling out from too much reading! I have to say it is still a favourite annual now, for many reasons. Firstly the art throughout the book is all high quality. Also as I already mentioned in the post the colouring is very well done and used very effectively used in particular with Angel and Boy of My Dreams. Having seen how some colouring is done in later annuals, I don’t think a good colouring job should be overlooked! But even in the one colour strips the art is still lovely to look at.
The stories themselves are quite entertaining, there are some I really enjoy re-reading (admittedly other stories not so much!). Angel is always good for some drama, but there is also a lot of humour in the book, and I liked the modern nursery rhymes. Also a lot of my favourite characters are still here; Cinderella Jones and Wee Slavey, and like I said before this also has one of my favourite Skeleton Corner stories.
The cover itself really sets the tone for the book being drawn so lovely and as the next annual would move on to photo cover girls, its nice to see. Also of note is there is no photo stories in this book! The two text stories I like, probably cos I’m a sucker for different perspective stories. I also like the written letter style of Postman’s Knock. I think the features were often a weaker point for Mandy annuals (Judy always seemed the more feature heavy and varied). I do miss a puzzle page but still nice small collection here. Maybe again a bit too much romance over all (not just in the stories) but in the 2 quizzes which aim at getting a boyfriend.
It is not without its flaws but there is still a lot to like about this annual and it is still a favourite of mine.