Monday, 4 May 2020

'write something you would love to read'

Books and other stuff fuse together in this online offering from author Anna James and her YouTube channel A Case for Books. James, a writer and arts journalist, is running a lively series of what I call 'digital author visits' under the umbrella of The Bookwanderers Club.

I have to admit I'm late to the party as I only just discovered her channel but what a little gem it's already proven to be for E and me during lockdown.  We tuned in yesterday to watch James' interview with SF Said, author of Varjak Paw, The Outlaw Varjak Paw and Phonenix. E has read both Varjak books and remains a firm fan of the adventures of this ninja cat.

If you're concerned that an online interview between two adults may be a hard sell then I totally get that and encourage you to persist. E was not overly enthusiastic when I logged on to the episode but I managed to ignore the protests and soon he started to engage. This is no real surprise given how positive and generous SF is when talking about his books and the writing process.  It can take him seven years (or more) to write a book and he is quick to point out that all the writing you do counts and that every draft counts whether you are published or not.  Given that I'm continually trying to impress upon E that making notes and drafts is all a valuable part of the process this was music to my ears.

I think what really hooked E was SF describing how seeing the movie Star Wars inspired him to write. I don't think that either of us was expecting that to be the case and it was refreshing to hear someone authentically making the link between books and movies. It's all about stories is it not? What hooked me was his advice to write something that you would love to read. As ever, it was rewarding to be reminded of the people behind the books we enjoy.

I encourage you to check out this digital series with your chapter book reader.  It features an impressive range of authors and if you can't join live you can still screen the episodes for free. Also, keep a look out for Anna James' books (I'm getting acquainted now), and I encourage you to add these fantastic stories by SF Said to your shelf if you haven't done so already. 

Sunday, 12 April 2020

The Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward

I'm revising an older blog post in honour of Easter 2020. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is an Easter classic and worthy of reading every year and not just at Easter. This was one of my all time favorite books as a child but a straw poll of friends and peers reveals that it's a little known title, especially in the UK. I think it's time we change that! 

Originally published in 1939, this little book tells the story of a very brave mother bunny who just happens to be a fine feminist heroine. Despite her age, gender and circumstances, Mother Cottontail earns the noble and prestigious honor to take up a place as one of THE five Easter bunnies.  And she does this while still maintaining a happy home with twenty one young bunnies who all learn how important it is to pitch in and do their bit.  It's no wonder that I keep finding new things to like about this book!

'Wise, and kind, and swift' are the traits that every chosen Easter bunny must exhibit and Mother Cottontail does so in spades. These are important life living qualities to talk about with your little reader. It's a meaningful story with gloriously nostalgic illustrations and it's found a permanent place in our home. Have a read of this title even if it's just for your own pleasure.  I think you'll find it time well spent. Here's to Easter lock down style.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Covid Times

Well hello! Many moons ago I wrote this blog each week.  Then I decided to do an MA. Then life kind of got in the way. Then the world turned completely upside down a few weeks/months ago and here I am. Welcome back everybody.

I thought I'd kick things off with a little activity to celebrate the '& other stuff' portion of the blog.  This is one of my go to activities for rainy days with grumpy kids and I think works well in our current normal. And shock horror... it's not about books.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

something you love
something purple

You'll need to hand over a device that your child can use to take digital photos. The idea is to create a list of ideas that they'll respond to by taking an image. You can give them a list or just call out the questions to them. I've included some of my favourites here but feel free to chop and change and add your own touch. Please do share any images in the comments or on social media!

Take a photo of:

  • something the colour (name any colour)
  • something you love
  • something an adult has to help you use
  • something boring
  • something that makes you happy
  • something that makes you feel excited
  • something that makes you feel a bit sad
  • something you'd like to share with a friend
  • something that won't last long
  • something that will last forever
  • something you like to eat all the time
  • something you've never eaten before (but is edible)
  • something you can't do during lock down
  • something you can do during lock down
  • something you are proud of
  • something that makes you feel safe
  • something you don't understand
  • something you've never noticed before
  • something you look at every day