Wilbur’s nine lives

With his lovely new board books about to hit the shops, Winnie the Witch’s lovable cat Wilbur joins us to reflect on his best moments so far in his adventures with Winnie…


They say that cats have nine lives. Well it’s certainly true in my case! I can think of nine nail-biting (or should that be claw-biting?) moments in my life but here I am to tell the tail (sorry, tale)! It must have something to do with being a witch’s cat.

1. I remember the time when I was dozing on Winnie’s Flying Carpet, and the wretched thing whisked me out of the house and took me on a white-knuckle ride, ending up at a fun fair. Though it wasn’t much fun for me! Luckily Winnie came to the rescue. Now I’m always careful about where I cat nap!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

2. Then there was the rather embarrassing moment when I was impaled by a broomstick after a day with Winnie at the Seaside turned into a whale of a time (literally!). Ouch!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

3. And I’ll never forget the incident with Winnie’s New Computer. The shiny new mouse was so tempting but when I pounced on it – ooof! – I disappeared into thin air! If you want my advice, be very careful when it comes to new technology.


Artwork © Korky Paul

4. Cheers of ‘Winnie Flies Again’ greeted us when Winnie took to the skies sporting a new pair of glasses. Now she could steer her broomstick without bumping into things. Before she got her eyes tested, things were rather different, and rather painful for me.


Artwork © Korky Paul

5. Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin was certainly awesome, especially when it turned into a helicopter. What was less amazing was the enormous caterpillar that scared the wits out of me on a giant beanstalk. I think oversized vegetables are overrated!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

6. I’ve always known that Winnie the Witch loves me, so being turned into a multi-coloured moggy and stranded at the top of a tall tree wasn’t my finest hour. But, you’ll be pleased to know, that particular story had a happy ending!


Artwork © Korky Paul

7. Oh yes, on one occasion, an unexpected scaly visitor – Winnie’s Midnight Dragon – chased me onto the roof while his mother set my tail alight. Charming!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

8. There’s a day that I’ll always remember as Winnie’s Dinosaur Day. It started normally enough at the museum but before I knew it I was face to face with a prehistoric beast!


Artwork © Korky Paul

9. And finally, there was the time when I reluctantly joined Winnie in Space – we had broken rockets and naughty space rabbits to contend with . . .

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Artwork © Korky Paul

So you see, being a witch’s cat is never dull. But I love being Winnie’s pet and I wouldn’t swap my owner for the world!

Wilbur’s first concept board books are out in June, and are full of humour and wit!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

Pages from 273508_WILBUR_WORDS_INS_JUN13

Artwork © Korky Paul


For more fun with Winnie the Witch and Wilbur, visit the Winnie the Witch website.

Half term activities for dinosaur-mad children

Kathy Webb, Managing Editor here at OUP Children’s Books, and editor of the fantastic Dinosaur Cove series, shares some dino-tastic diversions for half term!

Kathy WebbIf you’re anything like me, you’ll approach the half term holidays with mixed emotions. If you’re lucky enough to have some time off work, it’s great. Otherwise there’s the usual hunt for holiday playschemes, flexible working hours and willing friends and relatives to get you through the week. But even when you do have some time off to enjoy with your children, there’s then the dilemma of what on earth to do with them to keep them amused for a whole day/week! And preferably something that won’t cost too much money.

Museums are the obvious place to go and I have spent many a happy hour in my local natural history museum looking at the amazing dinosaur skeletons with my dinosaur-mad son. And then there’s the library—where we’d seek out all the dinosaur-based books we could find. So when I started work on the Dinosaur Cove series I knew that these books were going to be a real hit with dinosaur fans everywhere. My son is eleven-years-old now, but I think even at this age I might be able to persuade him to have a go at making his own erupting volcano or, better still, some edible dinosaur poo! So why not unleash some dinosaur-based activities on your children this half term and have some fun with dung!


Activity taken from the new Dinosaur Cove Cretaceous Survival Guide, out now.


New editions of the first three books in the Dinosaur Cove series are also out now, with lovely new covers, and free collector cards and a bookmark inside.

dc 1 to 3

Visit the new Dinosaur Cove website for lots more fun and games to keep the children entertained over half term. They can:

dc website

Phonics explained

In 2012 the government introduced an annual phonics check for all children in England in year 1, which supports the synthetic phonics method of teaching reading in schools.

You may feel unsure about how to approach helping children learn to read using phonics. In this post we’ll be explaining briefly what phonics is, along with some information on the phonics screening check. We hope you find it helpful!

You’ll find lots more information on phonics at www.oxfordowl.co.uk

So what is phonics?


Synthetic phonics is a method used in schools as a way of teaching children how to read.

Children are taught to read letters, or groups of letters, by saying the sound(s) they represent. Children can then start to read words by blending the sounds together from left to right to make a word.

There’s a really useful video on the Oxford Owl website, where phonics expert Ruth Miskin explains what phonics is, along with some top tips on getting started with phonics.

You can listen to the correct way to say the sounds in the Phonics Made Easy section of the Oxford Owl website, as well as how to blend the sounds into words.

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check


The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is taken individually by all children in England in Year 1 (children age 5-6) in June. It is a short, light-touch assessment used by teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in their phonics skills and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.

The handy Phonics Screening Check FAQ guide on the Oxford Owl website, from phonics advisor Laura Sharp, provides lots of information on the check. The most important thing to remember is that it is a check, not a test, and is designed to identify whether a child needs any additional support so that they don’t fall behind.

Phonics support at home

There is a wealth of free support and advice on phonics on the Phonics Made Easy section of the Oxford Owl website.

We also produce a range of useful resources for parents wishing to support their child’s phonics learning at home, based on how children learn at school.

my phonics kit in action

For some fun phonics practice at home, My Phonics Kit is specially developed for 6 year olds. It contains 3 full-colour phonics workbooks, a CD-ROM with interactive eBooks and activities, reward chart, stickers, and leaflet for parents with information about the phonics screening check and features the much-loved Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper characters.

We’ve had lots of great feedback on the kit from parents; here are just a few from Mama Syder, Read it Daddy, and Mad House Family Reviews

 my phonics kit

Complementing My Phonics Kit are My Phonics Flashcards. Young children learn best when they are having fun, and these playing cards help practise phonics skills by reading words and playing games.

my phonics flashcards

We also publish a unique Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary, where words are ordered by initial phonic sound, with subsections to show how the same sounds appear in the middle or at the end of a word. This makes it easy to explain how ‘sun’ and ‘Cinderella’ both start with the ‘s’ sound, and how ‘dance’ has the same ‘s’ sound at the end.

 my phonics dictionary


And don’t forget, you’ll find lots more information on phonics at www.oxfordowl.co.uk

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