Winners! Winners! (Pages: 28-29)
- Writer: Maureen Hartley
Friends Lyndsey and Caroline both enter competitions for week long courses and both win. Lyndsey wins free sport instructions and Caroline wins make-up and beauty care course, but both girls would prefer each other’s course, so they decide to swap and pretend to be the other person for the week. When Caroline shows up at sport centre she is surprised to see Lyndsey’s crush Lee is also attending. She grows close to Lee, which makes her feel guilty and she puts off telling her friend. When a photographer is scheduled to visit the class, Caroline skips the day so Lyndsey doesn’t find out. Later that day she goes to Lyndsey’s house to confess everything but finds Lee there looking for her and being quite confused! Then Lyndsey introduces Caroline to Mike a boy she met through her course and seeing them together, Caroline knows she hasn’t anything to worry about, so she explains to Lee who she really is. It is a fun story, nicely paced.
Best Friends! (Pages: 90-91)
- Writer: Maureen Hartley
Best friends, Emma and Michelle, are upset to find they are going to different secondary schools – Michelle to Nettlefield and Emma to Belshaw. Emma soon settles into her new school, making friends and joining clubs, but she still makes time for Michelle at the weekends. Michelle has harder time, and her parents had put in an appeal for her to change schools. Still when ever Emma’s new Belshaw friends put down Nettlefield she felt she had to defend it. She also begin to get scared that Emma would abandon her, so she started playing tricks to make the Belshaw girls look like trouble. Then one day, Michelle overhears Emma talking to the Belshaw girls, the girls say nasty things about her and Emma says that she knows Michelle lies but she is waiting for her to get new friends before she dumps her. Michelle is upset and doesn’t want to see any of them again but she has unexpected surprise when she goes home as her mother tells her, her transfer to Belshaw has been approved and she starts Monday!
The photo used here, I have definitely seen elsewhere, which isn’t surprising that DCT would reuse photos, though I can’t remember what it was used for I’m sure the context was completely different. Again nicely paced story.
On the Cards! (Pages: 5-11)
Amy and Ben have a fight and break up. A few days later Amy regrets it and thinks about sending a Christmas car as a peace offering. Then a girl Deanne says she saw Ben with another girl, so she doesn’t send it, though she still hopes for card from Ben, when nothing arrives she tries and push away her disappointment. When she goes to recycle the old Christmas cards at the youth centre, she is surprised to run into Ben doing the same thing. Ben gives her a card he never sent, it seems Deanne was trying to keep them apart as she told Ben that Amy liked someone else. With that cleared up they get back together and now Amy is sure it will be a happy New Year after all.
Decisions, Decisions (Pages: 45-50)
Wendy is always complaining to her mates about her boyfriend Matthew and telling them she is going to dump him but then never follow through. Her friends get tired of this, and next time Wendy brings it up, they call her out on the games she is playing, saying one thing but doing another. Then the decision is taken out of her hands and Matthew dumps her. Wendy is upset and misses him, she realises she just liked being the centre of her friend’s attention and was never serious about dumping Matthew. She goes to talk to him and it turns out he had overheard her conversation the previous day. She apologises and confesses all and is happy that he (and her friends) give her a second chance.
What’s New? (Pages: 75-78)
- Writer: Maureen Hartley
Steph decides to make a list of new year’s resolutions, including keeping her room tidy and not biting her nails. Her sister Gina makes fun of her for this and their mother tells them they make a resolution not to fight with each other. Steph bets Gina a cd she can’t go as long as her without picking a fight. Although Steph starts off well with her resolutions, she finds they are tough to keep particularly not fighting with her sister! Eventually they do end up having an argument, and even mother is relieved as having them so quiet was too unusual! Steph decides some good things like not biting her nails she will stick to but rips up the rest of her list.
Foul Play! (Pages: 122-125)
This has the same girl that was in the previous photo story “Decisions, Decision” and again the plot revolves around a boy. This time Julie is delighted when a boy she has liked for a long time, Simon asks her out. Then she discovers he was only interested in her so he can get a tryout on the football team her dad couches. When he doesn’t get picked for the team he dumps her. Julie’s best friend cheers her up though and they go to check out the team anyway.
In general photo stories don’t hold a lot of interest to me, but I do like that all these have put effort in the layout and not just having white space between borders, such as the snowflakes used in “What’s New?”
There’s a nice variety of features, activities and articles, here. Inside the front and back covers are 2 different games. The first; Wannabe! (Pages: 2-3) is a simple 100 square grid, with star squares which you have to follow instructions on. Get to square 100 if you want to become a star and win the game. The game on the back pages is Winter Winner! (Pages: 126-127) is a sking game again you are trying to get to last square first, it has a few extra rules like if you land on snowflake you get to roll again but land on a woolly hat and miss a turn. I think it’s fun to have these type of board games in the annuals although I can’t think of any time when I actually had anyone to try them out with!
There is also the classic puzzles sections throughout the book; World Wide! (Pages: 36) is based on places/landmarks, Star-Tastic! (Pages: 54-55) are puzzles based on celebrities/ pop culture, Horse Sense (Page: 98) has horse puzzles and horse facts, which ties in with the horse article before it and finally just a general collection of Puzzles! Puzzles! Puzzles! (Pages: 104-105).
Other regular features in these books of course appear here such as; a quiz, in this case it’s Party Popper or Party Pooper? (Pages: 112-113), to discover if you are the life of the party or not! There is also the Animal Pin-Up (Pages: 12, 51, 94, 121), and horoscopes All Stars! (Pages: 30, 44, 82, 106). Not always appearing but recipes were still a popular item, here it’s simple chocolate treats in Mmm…Chocolate! (Pages: 92-93).
There are several factual articles, with photographs and involving readers. In Ready, Teddy, Go! (Pages: 80-81), a reader is taken to The Bear Room in Luton, it is mostly photos with captions. Hobby Horses? (Pages: 95-97) has more text and again it is two young girls that show us what is involved in horse riding. Then there are two features that focus on fashion and beauty; Funky! (Pages: 18-20) is a hairstyle guide, showing five different hairstyles that girls can try. Party Girls/ Sparkle (Pages: 64-66), 2 girls get a sparkly makeover for christmas party and we are also given sparkly accessories ideas such as nail polish and purses.
Nice annual, I do find with later annuals as I didn’t read them first when I was younger, they of course don’t have the same nostalgia feel (even if there are a lot of familiar characters). There are a lot of Chrstmas themed stories here, I wonder if this became more common in later annuals, for marketing purposes? Some story highlights for me are Space Cadet, Lost in the Snow and Girls Talking. It is also very colourful,which can work well, but as I noted (Selfish Sarah) some art may have been better in black and white (or maybe just different colouring). There are some good features,like I mentioned a lot of standard things you’d expect to see, but still fun.