Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Books, play & vintage animation

Last week we took a trip to Paris to visit E's cousin and her family. We had several cold but clear days to explore new parts of the city and our visit began with a session at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the biggest science museum in Europe. We could have spent the whole day here it was so big, but instead we spent just one morning in the young children's section. E was in hog heaven with this building site set up. He couldn't get enough of the working crane, conveyor belt and loading ramp. We could do with something like this here in London! 

Next stop was the first of several independent book stores.  Though I do not read French, I can enjoy picture books in any language and we warmed ourselves amongst the shelves of two great shops. I picked up the book Avions et fusees (aircraft and rockets) for his friend's 4th birthday present and a copy of Paris: A Three Dimensional Expanding City Skyline for E.

My favorite book store had rows of steps alongside big crates of books in the children's section.  It was an inviting space that doubled for author events and was an all around  inspired experience. E and his cousin had a few blissfully quiet moments looking through books on their own. 

Our last stop was a screening of vintage 1960's Chinese animation. Though it was dubbed in French and neither E nor I could understand (I hold my hands up here), the beauty of the cut out shapes and music was universal. It reminded me of how much E can absorb from just looking at the pictures in a book. The story told by the illustrations is not to be underestimated! 

We hope to see his young cousin again soon and in case you wondered, yes, we did manage to see the Eiffel Tower as well. Until next time - Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Lui & Illustrated by Bei Lynn

I had to sneak this one out of E's room tonight.  He's always very curious as to why I'm taking his books away to read on my own, and I could see this discussion becoming an easy and unwanted bedtime distraction. 

Gus, the Dinosaur Bus is a find from the US this past summer.  I originally thought it was a vintage book which is a compliment to the award winning illustrator Bei Lynn. It was actually published in 2013 though it hasn't made much noise here in the UK from what I've seen. This is a shame because it's a sweet story with cool illustrations and E's really taken to it.

Gus is a massive dinosaur who lives in the city (think Clifford the Big Red Dog). He acts as a school bus for all the local children, and it all goes swimmingly until Gus accidentally knocks down a few houses, power lines and bridges.

Under pressure from the police, the school principal has no choice but to relieve Gus of his duties.  Luckily, by happy accident Gus soon finds another role at the school, which has him and the children happy again.  Like I said, it's a sweet story pulled along by funky childlike illustrations with a wonderfully effective range of colours ... just my sort of book. Gus, the Dinosaur Bus is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Gorilla live! & London International Animation Festival

Recently it was half term at E's nursery and as a treat we went to the Polka Theatre to see a theatre adaptation of Anthony Browne's book Gorilla. Regular readers of the blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Anthony Browne. It was actually his endorsement of this particular production that prompted me to book tickets, and I think at the outset I was more excited than E. Not for long though as he quickly rallied and sat still and quiet for a full 45 minutes to experience the magic of Gorilla live!
This is a clever and quietly beautiful production that makes the most of its set design and carefully chosen props, music and puppets to bring Browne's book to life.  Gorilla is the story of a little girl named Hannah who absolutely loves Gorillas.  Hannah spends most of her time drawing, reading and thinking about gorillas.  The remainder of her time is spent trying to get her busy father's attention.  The night before her birthday she has a magical adventure (dream or not, you decide) with a gorilla who takes her to the zoo, the cinema and a cafe where she feasts on a bountiful collection of sweet treats. When Hannah awakes it's her birthday and she's over the moon to discover that she has another magical day in store... only this time it's with her Dad. 

The Choir Tour
Our second half term outing was to the London International Animation Festival. I don't know a great deal about animation, nor do I often seek it out, but everyone in my household thoroughly enjoyed the screening we went to.  So much so that E is borderline 'bereft' that he can only watch a very brief clip of his favorite short from the day, The Choir Tour (Edmunds Jansons).

The Mole at Sea
The kids' screening session was incredibly well programmed and other favorites of ours included The Mole at the Sea (Anna Kadykova) and Rising Hope (Milen Vitanov). And for UK readers it's not too late to catch these animation shorts. Check this listing for screening schedules at local cinemas. 

And if you're local to London then you may wish to check out the next threatre production in our cultural itinerary: White at London's Southbank.