Saturday, 19 October 2013

Audio Books - a few not to be missed.

I love reading but I also delight in being read to. My parents read to me in plentitude when I was growing up and they still read to each other habitually now. Dad always reads a certain chapter or two of The Wind in the Willows to my Mum in the days leading up to Christmas, and on a recent holiday at my childhood home, Dad read to us all every day from Arthur Ransome's The Big Six. There is nothing like cosying down together with hot drinks and a shared story. My husband has been reading tirelessly to me from Harry Potter all year. There is something very special and reassuring about being read to that makes you feel important and loved. I am already preparing a crash-blanket of books to share together when we reach the end of the Deathly Hallows.

However, when a near and dear one is not at the ready when you would like to be read to, I have a few excellent recommendations to rave about.

On the whole, I read to myself and I am content with the silent voice in my head to narrate the story I am travelling through. However, SOME books are worth listening to for the sheer appreciation of some excellent accents and tones of voice. I set great store by the tone of a person's voice; when it is warm and rich and expressive it is something to bask in and let it wash over you. It is a treat worth savouring.

The first of my recommendations is 'Framed', by Frank Cottrell Boyce and narrated by Jason Hughes. Now, I love all of Mr F C B's writing, and my favourite of his childrens' novels is still 'Cosmic', but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to 'Framed' during a long car journey a few years ago and still quote bits back to each other. (namely the bit about the painting by numbers looking like a load of chickens had eaten too many Skittles and then come and had a great poo party all over the page. Imagine this is an uppy-downy Welsh accent and you're on the floor...)

Aaannyway, Framed is a very extraordinary adventure set in a very ordinary bit of Wales. The grey, wet, dismal town of Manod lacks a certain liveliness, and for a young boy there is not a lot to do. Until an intriguing situation arises involving the mountain road beyond his house and some unknown men. Add in a world-famous painting and a naughty little sister who is obsessed with committing "the perfect crime" and Manod is boring no longer.

Jason Hughes does a perfect job of telling the story. His tone is relaxed and gently sing-songy and he creates clear distinction between all the characters with subtle changes in the depth and expression in his voice.

And yes, this is a Childrens' book. And?

I love it. My husband loves it. The Vicar's wife loves it (Fact). And even just sitting here typing I've got that luvly welsh accent ringing through my head. Hehe.

My next choice is not just one book. It is the entire series of How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. Yes, there is a movie, and a very fine one at that. But it all began here, in Cressida's books, with her scruffy, ink splotched drawings all over the pages and Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, a young Viking boy, heir to the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans' Tribe.

The great thing about these recordings is the vocal talents of David Tennant. Do I need to say anything else really? Just the fact that you know it's him doing it means you instantly have a clear id-ear (sorry) of what it's going to be like. Jolly amazing, that's what.

The 11th volume has just been released and David's already recorded up to number 9 which is out in 2014 I believe, so that's a good few hours of entertainment for your ears.

Hiccup is an excellent unlikely hero. Small and weedy and not good in combat, Hiccup does not seem like a very promising future chief for a Viking Tribe. But he IS a good person and surely this will help him win through in the end, won't it? Especially with a good friend like Fishlegs who is also rubbish at fighting and more scared than Hiccup is of .. everything really. And Hiccups' trusty little dragon, Toothless. Ahhh, Toothless. If you have seen the film of How to Train Your Dragon then no doubt you will remember the epic flying sequences of Hiccup riding through the skies on enormous black hulk of the 'Dreamworks Toothless', a mighty fine beast with glowing green eyes who can breathe huge bolts of fire?

Well, Cressida's toothless differs slightly. He is smaller than a cat and spends most of his time hiding down Hiccup's tunic. He can talk however, which instantly gives him .. well, a voice. And that voice is excellently delivered by david Tennant. It matches perfectly with the petulant nature of Hiccups' fierce little pet. But despite how aggravating Toothless can be, it's hard not to love the little chap. His occasional displays of affection and concern for Hiccup show us that he really does care, and after all, dragons are selfish beasts who are most interested in themselves and where their next meal is coming from. When Toothless can be convinced that what's helpful for Hiccup is also beneficial for himself, they're a winning team. Mostly. 

The series charts Hiccup's journey from a weedy little boy into a brave warrior, all the time learning about the huge variety of dragons, from tiny the size of a bumblebee to creatures more enormous than a Blue Whale. 

David brings an extra zing to the books that pull you deep into the Island of Beserk and immerse you slap bang in the middle of Hiccups's joys and fears, sorrows and dangers. If you're thinking of listening to these books, do grab a paper copy too - they are full of interesting little scribbles that I wouldn't want to miss.

How to Train Your Dragon
1. How to Train Your Dragon (2003)
2. How to Be a Pirate (2004)
3. How to Speak Dragonese (2005)
4. How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse (2006)
5. How To Twist a Dragon's Tale (2007)
6. A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons (2007)
7. How to Ride a Dragon's Storm (2008)
8. How to Break a Dragon's Heart (2009)
9. How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (2011)
10. How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel (2012)
11. How to Betray a Dragon's Hero (2013)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Children's Bookshow Tour 2013

Catherine Rayner in Newcastle

Catherine Rayner is not only hugely talented as an illustrator and author but, it turns out, as a performer too.
I was priveleged to witness and assist at Catherine's event at The People's Theatre in Newcastle on 1st October.

The children were completely enthralled by Catherine, just as we knew they would be. Catherine had them in the palm of her hand, listening and watching avidly as she shared her stories and illustrations, chatted about herself, asked them questions, and drew in front of their delighted eyes.

As Catherine added water by fingertip to a watercolour pencil drawing of her iconic tiger, Augustus, (who is eventually reunited with his lost smile), a child behind me breathed in awed tones, "Wwwooowww, that is ... M A G I C!  That's just magic!" 

When Catherine enquired whether the children had brought their smiles with them, hundreds of little beaming faces were her signal to proceed. The presentation, from start to finish, was flawless, just like Catherine's picture books. Confident, funny, and full of heart. In full control of the technology, her space on stage, and the audience themselves, Catherine moved, apparently effortlessly, between each story and activity, keeping a chatty tone and a clear voice. When Catherine asked the auditorium full of 5 and 6 yr olds to roar their loudest, the sound was fantastically ear-splitting but the next moment, Catherine signalled them back to silence for the next page of her story. 

During the hour, the kids were invited to make a wide variety of animal sounds from Catherine's picture books, and several were given the chance to draw on stage with Catherine, to create a collaborative picture of Abigail, the giraffe who stars in Catherine's latest picture book, just published this Autumn.  If you can draw a strawberry, you can draw Abigail, according to Catherine's step-by-step instructions.

The book is a true delight; a story that brings a lump to the throat and illustrations that engulf you.  Abigail is a unique giraffe who loves to count. As she draws her friends in to her fun and they learn and play together, we see just how special Abigail is. 

The inspiration spread beyond just the children; a young usher confided afterwards that he was going go home and try out the techniques Catherine had demonstrated. 

Catherine and I then went on to Chillingford Primary school for the first in a succession of workshops in local primary schools. This chirpy class of Year 2s were very excited to see Catherine again so soon, up close and personal. They were a chatty bunch, and Catherine happily answered their many and varying questions before telling several of her picture book stories, with cries from the children of "more" whenever she finished reading one.

The children then watched as Catherine created a picture for them to keep in their classroom, on "posh paper", this time featuring the gorgeous and endearing dragon, Sylvia, of "Sylvia and Bird." 

They then settled themselves at their tables with paper and pastels, to produce their own, unique dragon, complete with a name and choice of food. 

It was a joy to see the children so confident and comfortable with their drawing as a huge array of different colours and shapes of dragons emerged from their fingertips. 
We all waved a grateful goodbye to Catherine as she went on her way to her following workshops over the next couple of days and I hopped on a train back down to deepest Devon. I am not the only one who will treasure that day and who will always be glad I met the lady who gave Augustus his smile, Sylvia her best friend, injected the mischief into Solomon the Crocodile, and made a book big enough for Ernest the Moose. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Beyond Compare: Inspiration vs Intimidation

I thought it might be worth sharing one of my own struggles for any of you out there who might battle with the same issue and wonder if you are the only one. 

Have you ever spent time admiring other peoples artwork, been thoroughly inspired, delighted and enthused, only to come away and suffer a confidence crash? Have you ever felt absolutely rubbish about your own creative ability when comparing it to others' talents?

You are not alone. I have struggled with this many times before. It's not fun, I can tell you. Cue moping, tears, low spirits. However, I have been sorting out my thoughts on it lately, to try and overcome the issue and get a little much needed PERSPECTIVE.

Avoiding looking at other people's excellence is not the solution. It's very valuable to research the market, see what's trending, see how other people tackle things, what materials they use, and so on. Hiding from the brilliance of others is not the way to encourage yourself. 

However, it is necessary to protect yourself from an all-out confidence crash when you've been looking at what other people have produced. 

One of the most dangerous temptations in life is the automatic comparison between yourself and others. Other people's houses, other people's kids, jobs, cars, body, talents ... the list goes on.

When you see how talented someone else is, are you able to freely admire them or their work without feeling you don't measure up? If so, I salute you. Keep up the good work!


If you want to draw, write, compose or sing like someone else ... IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!
Just as you cannot morph into someone else's body, you also cannot adopt someone else's talent. It is theirs and it cannot be cloned. You can either waste precious minutes, hours, days of your life wishing things were different and feeling rubbish, or you can accept the fact that you will never be able to replicate what someone else can do. 

But, (and it's a good but), you CAN get on with the stuff you can do. Appreciate that no-one can replicate you either, and that you have an opportunity that no-one else has. If you want to be better at something, that's fine: learn, try, experiment, make mistakes. But keep going. Work on the feedback you get and let it spur you on. Do not waste your energy moping about how amazing other people are. Enjoy how brilliant they are, AND enjoy how brilliant YOU are. You are not them, and never will be. Which is why the world is such a rich and beautiful place. There is no room in the market for two Quentin Blakes, or thirty Alex T Smiths. But there is room for someone fresh, someone unique.

Be bold. Be you. You are beyond compare.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Book Review: Oliver and the Sea Wigs

by Philip Reeve& Illustrated by Sarah McIntyrepublished by O.U.P

This is one of those books that get me in a bit of a dither. It is so epic-ly beauoooootiful that I feel there should be something I can DO about it ....Yell at passers-by, put up posters .... write a blog post. 

It is an exceedingly jolly little story, and I've enjoyed travelling through it, meeting a shortsighted mermaid, a moving island named Cliff, a grumpy albatross and some very cheeky monkeys, but ... THE PICTURES!!! 

I melt. 

The delight is that until I picked up this book I was not aware of the illustrator's existence. But she may just have soared to the top of my favourites list. Now that I look her up, I see she has been very prolific, creating wonders like 'You Can't Eat a Princess.' All her books are brilliant but imagine 'brilliant' and then add, like, a thousand boxes of maltesers. This book has hit the mark. The palette, the tones, the page layouts, the perspective, the light and shade, the cute shapes and strong lines. 

My eyes are having the equivalent of a big bubble bath and a cup of tea, that's how happy they are that my fingers have brought them this treat. 

Philip Reeve has written such excellence as the magnifincent Predator Cities series which kicks off with Mortal Engines, and the gentler Larklight series, (do check out his awesome site) but this is a sweet departure for him; a fun, unthreatening story for emerging readers, plastered with pictures on most pages. 

This is one of those books which is a joy in every little cell of its being; printed and bound into such an edible little package, with a lustred hard cover, bright, thick, crisp white pages, clear, smart text and THE PICTURES!!!! 

There is a map. Top marks. 

And even the dedication page is illustrated. Smiles. 

I like this book. Go and look at a copy or miss out on one of the best bookish treats of the year so far. Thank you. 

Want to see more? Explore Sarah's website and Blog.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Tales from a school librarian

Well it's that lovely time of year when the leaves turn rusty and drop from their trees and make us feel the need to stock up on pencils, polish our leather boots and turn to a fresh page on a new notebook. As children step into the next school year, I am proud to present my dear friend Claire Nichols, who is an all round super, creative lady as well as a School Librarian. 

Claire dressed as Slinki Malinki for a reading
of said book at Culmstock Primary school. 

Having met and begun our friendship in a library, Claire and I share a lot of loves. A love of books, of creativity, of epic tea-drinking, cats, knitting, jam-making, and oh, so much lovely stuff.

We definitely share a love of encouraging young people to become happy readers and I wanted to hear more about that from the perspective of someone working within a school, in contrast to my work within a town library and community. 

It's so fascinating to hear about such
 brilliant work that going on, unbeknownst to many, but valued by a host of little people. 

Claire, can you give us an insight to your role in local primary school libraries?

At the moment I am lucky enough to work in three small rural village school libraries in Devon. I am also helping a new free school in London start a brand new school library. As well as creating displays, looking after the stock and helping children choose new books, I am a super enthusiastic reader so I tend to try and read as many books as I can so I can recommend them. There is nothing quite like someone talking about a book they have read!

I am particularly passionate about dyslexia friendly resources, encouraging and nurturing reluctant readers, particularly but not exclusively boys. We have developed a really good selection of hi-low books ( lots of engaging pictures and less challenging text), dyslexia friendly texts ( cream paper and double spaced) graphic novels and non fiction resources. 

Claire and hew two boys dressed as
Pippi Longstocking, a Wizard and Tintin.
Reading should be fun so I encourage reading for pleasure and provide a good selection of puzzle books, mazes, comics, Where's Wally and picture books suitable for children just starting school up to those just ready to leave! Plus we are building up audio book libraries and a listening station so that children can borrow CDs of stories and listen to them even if they find reading hard.

During the day I work with small groups of children, reading a couple of chapters of an appropriate, and often funny or exciting story. We then talk about the book, discuss the characters and what we liked about them, what might happen next, whether we like the illustrations and the style. For the younger ages this can also have a spin off activity so for example this week we were reading "Fantastic Mr Fox" which is a funny story by Roald Dahl, the activity was to design a wanted poster for the thieving Mr Fox.  Older groups have read "The wreck of the Zanzibar" by Michael Morpurgo and then found out about the Isles of Scilly, sea life and limpets!

I also work closely with the teachers, helping to suggest books that might tie in with topics and helping to locate those books. And liaise with the library service to add to the stock and exchange the books three times a term.

I suppose in essence I am trying to share my love of reading, the magic of loosing yourself in a book and being transported somewhere else. I love it!

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

As a child, I absolutely loved Enid Blyton's Famous Five. One holiday in Wales, when I was poorly and in bed for a week I was allowed to read my Mum's red clothbound hardback copy of "Five go to Billycock Hill". I wanted to be out there solving mysteries, building camps, but particularly I wanted to be Anne, boiling the kettle and keeping house! I also loved the "Milly Molly Mandy books" and as a little girl, at bedtime, I used to be read the Blackberry farm series. "Lucy Mouse keeps a secret" by Jane Pilgrim was my absolute favourite!

It is wonderful to be able to share these books with my own children. I think the illustrations in each of those books were a particular attraction. I was very disappointed to have been given a 1980s reprint of the Famous Five to find that they had all been updated into contemporary clothing. I know they have been reissued with the original illustrations again which made me happy indeed.

I've always adored Milly Molly Mandy too. What's the most interesting book you've read in the last year?

Hmm... Well as an adult book I recently read "The Help" as part of book club and absolutely loved it. It was a really engaging story, written about a recent time when attitudes and experiences of middle class America were so very different to now. It tells the story of the civil rights movement and changing attitudes to colour from the viewpoint of "the help" the black women who bring up white children but are not allowed to share toilets with their employers. The book is told with a number of voices, challenging and fascinating. 

In terms of children's books I think it would be "Varjak Paw" by S F Said. A fast paced story about a Mesopotamian Blue kitten who has always lived in a house on the hill. After being told about "The Way" ( a secret martial art movement for cats) by his grandfather, he has to survive in the city using The Way while dodging cat gangs, dogs and trying to find out about the vanishings... Super stuff :) 

How do you enthuse kids about reading if they are reluctant or struggling?

Generally children who don't like reading haven't found the right book yet! I tend to chat to them about what they like, what they don't, what they last read and what their perfect book would look like. If they are struggling to read then I would point them in the direction of some excellent graphic novels like "Boffin Boy" by David Orme. If reading is all too much then we might take the pressure off a bit and try something silly and funny like "Shampoozel" by Lawrence Anholt, or a good bit of "Viking Vik" by Shoo Rayner or a some non-fiction on a subject that interests them. I remind them that actually it should be fun to read and that if you've tried to slog through two chapters and are still not enjoying the book, come back and we'll try something else.

What do you feel public libraries could do to encourage their local schools with literacy and spurring kids on to enjoy reading more?

Ooh well, I know a really super librarian who comes into local schools and works with the children to raise awareness of the summer reading schemes, more like that would be fantastic! I think advertising the public library would be really good, via social media and also through building links with the schools. Most have a newsletter and putting in information about services available to younger readers could only help. Making reading fun is the key really, and having knowledgeable, friendly, approachable librarians, who take time to talk to the young borrowers is invaluable. Remembering the children's names and saying "hello" could make a much bigger difference than you would believe!

I am passionate about libraries, school libraries, public libraries, big small, urban or rural. I have fond memories of being taken to libraries, buying badges and sitting among the stacks of books and just reading. They were quiet stuffy places, with stern shhushing librarians. But they contained a wonderful resource, free access to knowledge and I think that as a society we loose that at our peril. Regardless of the rise of ipads, electronic media and social networking, there is something very special about curling up with a real, actual, good book. Learning how to share books with our children and giving them the opportunity to borrow books from all genres helps us all in the longer term. I would be deeply saddened if the libraries in our primary and secondary schools, the public libraries at the centre of our villages and towns, and the book corners in nurseries are forfeited due to money saving, because that really is a false economy in the long term.

Thank you Claire, it's lovely to hear all about your work and your thoughts. And of course, to share evidence of your excellent talent in dressing -up. A fab way to bring books to life for kids!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Flat Stanley Project:

Mini-me Swap with Cobourg Public Library in Ontario, Canada.

I love post, especially when it has come a really long way.

So, to savour the joy, I let our kids at the library open our exciting parcel from Canada at our craft session last week.

It comprised of a selection of handmade, personalised Flat Stanleys created by a group of children from Cobourg Public Library in Ontario, along with a host of leaflets and brochures about their community and attractions.

Rhonda from the library in Cobourg was running this project during the school holidays and had got in touch with Devon Libraries to invite a library to swap Flat Stanleys with them. Without a moment of hestation I said, "yes please and thank you very much" and thus began an overseas odyssey.
We ran our own craft session in early September, for our kids to return the favour. Our kids had such fun opening this well-travelled package of delights, especially as each "Stanley" was packaged in its own handmade envelope, meaning each child was able to unveil a unique Stanley and show it to the group.

With the aim to make their Stanleys look as much like themselves as possible, we provided an array of hair-coloured tones of wool and plenty of coloured paper and pens.

While the children cut and glued, coloured and embellished, I read to them from the original Flat Stanley adventure. We loved how its old-fashioned phrases and Americanisms, with a totally different 'mailbox' from ours in the pictures, and Stanley's mum shouting "Shame!" to tell of one of the policemen who thought she was a bit "cuckoo" for dangling her son from a piece of string down through a drain cover.

As each child finished their Stanley they made an envelope for it and waved it goodbye. Some of them included a little note to share what they love most about their home town, (hopefully some of them included the library!)
Then we used Google to see exactly where Ontario is, and zoomed in on Cobourg, which is on the northern shore of Lake Ontario and has a beautiful marina. Turns out there are some not-too-tiny lakes around there.

We also used Google Street View to go right down onto the pavement outside the C. Gordon King Centre where the library is based.

The kids looked at the brochures in turn and one little boy was thrilled to find out the kids in Canada has already gone back to school when he had a week left of holiday.

The Canadian Stanleys are now happily residing in our library, supporting an array of stories about Flat Stanley. 

Our own Stanleys will hopefully be arriving in Cobourg very soon, along with lots of information about the Hayridge Centre, Cullompton and wider Devon, as well as some library goodies, such as stickers, boomarks, pens, mugmats, and colouring sheets.

Rhonda and I are planning to stay in touch and I definitely want to explore Canada one day.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

'New Glory' for Cullompton High St.

A hearty welcome to Amy and Kerry, who have, this fine summer's day, opened a brand new gift shop in the middle of the high street. It is beautiful and filled with enticing objects for the home, and great gift ideas. There's a lovely mixture of old and new, furniture, crockery, hangings, frames and all sorts of pretty little things.

This is just what our town has been wishing for, and what I personally have been waiting for ever since before I moved here 5 years ago.

It's nice to be able to browse for presents from the comfort of your own high street, instead of always having to go elsewhere. There'll always be that birthday that you somehow didn't plan for, and need to find something quickly. With New Glory, and La Bella, which now stocks a lovely range of homely gifts, we now have a choice on our doorstep. 

Cullompton is a dear, sweet town whose reputation has had to battle and compete with other towns and villages for recognition and appreciation. But I love our town. Apart from having a really wonderful community and being surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, we have so much to offer, from the Hayridge Centre and Library, to excellent Health Centres and Community Centre, several charity shops, a whole heap of hairdressers, a greengrocer, butcher, bakery, and more.

And the bar was raised early this year with the emergence of the excellent Bakehouse cafe in the Bullring. With its successful opening and lasting appeal, suddenly, the people of Cullompton have realised that our town deserves such a gem and more of equal calibre. We have all been anticipating the knock-on effect this bravery and quality would bring.

It seems that a new season has begun, where local people want to invest in our high street, and make it something to be proud of, for ourselves and for our visitors. It seems that everywhere you turn there's scaffolding there, hammering here, fresh paint and busy workmen giving our shop fronts and interiors a bit of TLC. The hopeless high street of a year ago is gone, hopefully forever, making way for a fresh new generation of shops and businesses. 

Cullompton is a special place and it's up to us as shoppers to support local businesses and have faith that there are even better things to come. I know I'll be sticking around to see it happen.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Last Post at Creepy House: Spooky Spider Crispy Cakes

Well, it's been an absolutely amazing week talking to you all here at Creepy House, but it's time for someone else to introduce themselves on Monday and for me to say goodbye. I'll still be here to answer your comments and questions til the end of Sunday so keep it coming! I'll leave you with a few last book recommendations and something yummy to make. These are super easy, rather creepy, and completely yummy, so we're sharing the recipe here for you all to try. We've been making them in our cafe  workshops here in Cullompton, Devon.

Is your library doing anything crafty this week? Let us know what you've been making!

Don't forget to explore the rest of the Creepy House website for games, a competition, and interesting videos.  Have you tried "Charlottes' Web" by E.B.White, "Spider Stampede" in the S.W.I.T.C.H series by Ali Sparkes, "The Very Busy Spider" by Eric Carle, or "Aaaarrgghh, Spider!" by Lydia Monks, which is a lot of fun. See what you think and let us know!

100g chocolate - dark or milk.
60g butter
3 table spoons golden syrup
90g Rice Krispies
Small marshmallows for eyes
Shoe-lace sweets for legs and mouth
Black icing (from a tube if possible.)

1) Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, stirring each time.
2) Add the butter, making sure it melts.
3) Add the syrup and then the Rice Krispies, mix well.
4) Make into balls and put into cake cases.
5) Using a little black icing, attach 8 legs and marshmallow eyes.

TIP: Allow to cool slightly at step 5 to make the balls easier to form.  


Day 5 in Creepy House - Robot Workshop

Have you ever heard of a book called "Welcome to your Awesome Robot" by Viviane Schwarz?

Well, it is BRILLIANT and FUN and CREATIVE and SUPER CLEVER and guides you through how to make your own robot to wear and activate. 

Here at Cullompton library this morning we have been very busy cutting, sticking, taping, planning, drawing, imagining, yelling, giggling and Robot-ing. 

We had an excellent crowd of kids from age 3 to age 14, and each one of them ended up with their own unique robot. We had robots to help with housework, robots that do your homework for you, robots to test cupcakes, robots that dance, robots that jump, robots whose heads are on hinges, robots who have laser eyes, and so many more.  
We had saved heaps of lids, pots, plastic bottletops, cardboard tubes and cartons to use as buttons, knobs, dials, levers, and shutes. We had a mountain of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes so the kids had fun selecting their Base Unit to fit over their heads and bodies. Some boxes were big enough to use for the whole robot.  

Kids made armholes and assorted eyeholes - two small holes/ a single cyclops hole/ a long slit or full facial. 

They also added small containers inside to collect coins/food through flap and attached tubes for disposal shutes. One cheeky chap had a coin slot for doing chores! Once they go home they might even add temporary attachments like torches and kitchen tongs! 

It's such fun deciding on stop/start buttons, speed dials, status displays and warnings. Your robot can be made just how you want it! 

I highly recommend the book because it is so clever and has some excellent tips and advice, as well as a lot of inspiration. If you make your own robot, remember to be very careful with scissors and ask an adult for help wit the fiddly bits. And get creative! 

If you would like to read about robots, why not give some of these a try?

Robot Dog by Mark Oliver
No-Bot, the Robot with No Bottom by Sue Hendra
Harry and the Robots by Ian Whybrow
Usborne Stories of Robots
The Heartless Robots by Simon Bartram
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey and Martin Ontiveros
Astrosaurs- the Robot Raiders by Steve Cole
Norby the Mixed-up Robot by Janet and Isaac Asimov
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Operation Robot Storm ()Mythical 9th Division series) by Alex Milway
Dangerous Games: Robot Invasion by various authors
or even the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, for older kids and teens. That's got one enormous machine! 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Day 4 in Creepy House: Stinky Stickers!

Pheeeooowww! How pongy are these Creepy House stickers! 

For those of you who have already earned some of your stickers you'll know just how strongly-smelling the first set of stickers is. But I encourage you - the stickers get less and less disgusting as you progress through Creepy House, and the last one is quite pleasant. 

But it got me thinking, some smells are absolutely yucky. 

And some are definitely delightful.

But others, it's a matter of opinion. 

What are your favourite and worst smells?

I think a few of my favourites would be bacon frying, freshly cut grass, and my apple shampoo. My worst would definitely be the cats' litter tray!