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Hang on to your buns and your biscuits! Here comes THE HIGHWAY RAT, a loveable baddie who will steal your food – and your heart. The brand-new picture book from the creators of THE GRUFFALO is out now.

What the Nanny Saw

Greetings from Mumsnet Towers,

Where we've reassembled after the summer's to-ings and fro-ings and first on our autumn timetable is a Q&A with biographer-par-excellence Peter Ackroyd.

We have two signed hardback copies of Foundation, the first volume of his six-party history of England, and two pairs of tickets for a talk with Peter at London's Southbank Centre on 8 Sept to give away. Just post a question by midnight today (Thurs 1 Sept) to be in with a chance of winning. 

We've also got the next batch of Pearson Learning, focusing on your child's early years - friendships, play and development, supporting early writing skills, introducing numbers, the EYFS, plus two animated stories.

And if you missed our satisfying summer webchat with Slummy Mummy columnist and author Fiona Neill, read the edited version and enjoy a hefty chunk of her new novel, What the Nanny Saw, for free.

Now for this week's parenting news...

Childcare costs 'pricing parents out of work': Rising childcare costs, combined with higher living costs and static or falling incomes, means many working parents are finding they're better off not working - especially if they currently work part-time. So says insurance company Aviva, after surveying 6,000 parents for its Family Finance Report. According to the report, 32,000 women have left the workforce since last year because their income was "eroded by the associated costs of working". (Guardian, 31.08.11)

Abortion counselling rowThe government has said it will now advise MPs to vote against a proposal by backbench Tory MP Nadine Dorries to strip charities and doctors of their exclusive responsibility for pre-abortion counselling. Dorries' proposal has been criticised by many, including Clare Gerada, head of the Royal College of GPs, for attempting to sideline abortion charities such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes International, and potentially reversing advances in abortion services over the past 25 years. (Guardian 01.09.11; join the discussion on Talk)

Do you have a child age eight or above? Talk to us about your children and alcohol and you could win a £250 high street voucher.

Other stories in brief

Blobo

The week on Talk

Quote of the week

oldenoughtowearpurple helps design the perfect house for teenagers: "Underfloor heating EVERYWHERE, ideally wet-system, then when they throw their wet towels on the floor they still dry beautifully."

Blog of the week

Domestic Science: Helen's a physicist who blogs about science, cake and watching sunsets in her new home, Australia.
"It occurred to me just before I jumped on the plane that I had a golden opportunity to dispel an old science myth that water spirals down the sink in different directions depending on what hemisphere (North or South) you live in. But actually you don't need to go to a different hemisphere to convince yourself. You can do it at home - all you need is a sink with taps at opposite sides of the bowl and some oats to sprinkle on to convince yourself which way things are flowing..."
Enjoy more juicy blogs on our Bloggers Network.

Competitions

Check out the great prizes in our September competitions. Here's what you could win:

JellyFingers

Recipe of the week

Easy one-pot chicken casserole: "Scrumptious" and "really tasty and easy" are MNetters' comments on YumYumMummy's recipe. A great standby for back-to-school weekday evening meals.

You can review this recipe here - or why not upload one of your own?

That's all for now. We're off to play hunt the book bag.
Love, MNHQ

Tell us about the cost of sending your children back to school - there are lots of House of Fraser vouchers up for grabs.

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