Archive for Children

We are moving!

The Christchurch Kids Blog content will be moving to our new Christchurch City Libraries website.  We won’t be using this blog any more but you will still be able to read our posts about children’s books, authors and writing on our new website.  You will also still be able to have your say and let us know what you think.

If there is anything that you would really like to see on our new website for kids please post a comment and let us know.

Comments (2) »

Star Author: Barbara Else – How is The Volume of Possible Endings different from the first two Tales?

This third Tale of Fontania is another stand-alone novel. Some of the characters from the first two come back into it. But the main character, Dorrity, is new. So is the other important character, Metalboy. I like to have new main characters each time because that means there is an interesting (I hope) new story to be told even though it is set in the same fantasy world.

This time, there is another difference too. In The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy the characters left home and went on an adventure. With this third one, I wanted to explore the place the novel started. It’s set mostly in Owl Town on the edges of the Beastly Dark, a great forest in the south-west of Fontania. It seems a fairly ordinary place at first, where life always goes on in the same sort of way. But there is only one child in the whole town. That’s odd. And there is a lot more going on than the child, Dorrity, realises. I wanted to find out what lived in the Beastly Dark.

I also wanted to figure out what King Jasper might have invented next. In The Queen and the Nobody Boy, he has only recently invented message birds. But that is five years before the story of Dorrity and Metalboy. What would Jasper have invented by now?

Though I’d had great fun writing the travel adventure stories of the first two novels, this time it was a change to ‘stay put’ and make the story a different sort of adventure that happens exploring pretty much one place.

Comments off

The Best and Worst Children’s Books of 2014

Cover of the song of the kauriThe end of the year is approaching and that means it’s time to evaluate the best and worst of 2014’s crop of children’s books. Hosted by Christchurch City Libraries, in conjunction with the Canterbury Literacy Association, the Best and Worst Evening is a Christchurch literary tradition. 2013’s event was so popular the event has been moved to the larger venue of Upper Riccarton Library.

Speakers include Bob Docherty (children’s book guru and renowned promoter of reading and literacy for kids), Kirsten Smith (Kaitakawaenga – Ngā Ratonga Māori at Christchurch City Libraries) and a kids-eye-view from Briana.

Our annual Holiday Reading list will also be officially announced on the night. Holiday Reading is a recommended selection of new titles added to Christchurch City Libraries in 2014 and includes picture books, chapter books, young adult and non-fiction titles.

Come along this Wednesday night (19 November) to Upper Riccarton Library, 7pm. Bring a gold coin for refreshments and early Christmas raffles.

Comments off

Star Author: Barbara Else – Where do the ideas for stories come from?

Answer: ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. The first idea for The Volume of Possible Endings came from a fairy tale. It isn’t one of the best known ones, but I’d been interested by it since I was about ten or eleven. It’s a story of a girl who has either six, seven or twenty-one brothers depending on which version of the story it is. A wicked witch changes all the brothers into swans and the spell can only be broken if the girl sews shirts for them all. I remember thinking what a lot of work that would have been – especially if it was twenty-one brothers. She didn’t have a sewing machine, either. It all had to be done with a needle and thread. Yikes. What really grabbed my interest was how much she must have loved her brothers.

But of course, it would have been hard work for me as well to manage twenty-one brothers in a story. I decided that three brothers would be plenty for my story, thanks. And – this isn’t a spoiler – the brothers in this novel don’t get turned into swans. But there is magic involved, and magical wickedness.

Anyway, maybe there’s an idea here that you could use for writing one of your own stories. In fairy stories you never get a lot of information about how the characters feel. They just do things, or things just happen to them. So why not start thinking about why the characters in a fairy story come to do whatever it might be. How do they actually feel? Choose a fairy tale you especially like, say, Red Riding Hood. Why would a mother could send her precious child into a forest all by herself? Does Red Riding Hood really want to go into the forest? Or, think about how the wolf feels. For instance, how long is it since he had a good dinner? Or is he just a greedy-guts? Or a bully and a show-off? Could you tell the story from his point of view? That might be fun.

Comments off

Star Author: Barbara Else – Titles

Titles are important, aren’t they? A book need one that makes a reader intrigued as to what the story will be about. But if you’re writing a story, you don’t have to have the title right away. Sometimes the right title will just pop into your head at some stage while you’re working on the piece.

When I was writing the first Tale of Fontania, the title was pretty obvious as soon as I decided to have a sailing ship as a restaurant a sailing ship. ‘The Sailing Restaurant’ wouldn’t have sounded quite right, but The Travelling Restaurant sounded good to me. It’s at least a bit intriguing, to think of how a restaurant would travel about. (And apologies to American readers who spell travelling with only one l – traveling.)

With the second Tale, at first I thought the title would be ‘The Queen and the Elephant Boy.’ That idea soon got tossed aside when I realised it was going to be tricky having an actual elephant in the story. How could my characters have the wild adventures I wanted if they had to take an elephant along? So I made the elephant one that had died and been buried years ago. ‘The Queen and the …something … Boy’. Hmm. I had to choose a good opposite word to queen. Well the boy in the story had been ignored by everyone, treated like a nobody. So there it was: The Queen and the Nobody Boy. Opposite ideas in a title that can catch a reader’s interest.

I had no idea what I would call the third Tale. The novel opens with a boy as the main character in the first chapter. Then chapter two moves to a girl, Dorrity, who is the only child in Owl Town on the edge of the Beastly Dark. The citizens boast that their town is magic-free. But Dorrity discovers a book on her teacher’s table. When she opens it, the title page is blank at first. Then words appear on it – ‘The Volume of Possible Endings.’ Pages continue to turn on their own and stop at a list of five endings headed ‘Dorrity’s Tale.’ Magic most certainly exists in the town! She’s scared and offended at being lied to by grown-ups.

I was still wondering what to call the novel when I thought – ‘Du-uh! There’s a perfectly good title already there in the story – the title of the book in my book!’ Just as the title of the magical book revealed itself to Dorrity, the title revealed itself to me.

If you happen to be struggling to find the right title, have a look at what you’ve already written for your tale. Maybe it is lurking in a paragraph just waiting to be found.

Comments off

BARCALONA 2

Today is Monday and we realise that back in New Zealand  this is the last week of school before the holidays.

Today we went to Park Guell which was designed by Gaudi, who designed the Sagria Familia. This park construction began in 1900.  It was originally constructed as an estate for well-off families in a large property.  It was not until 1922 that it was gifted to the Barcelona city Council and four years later turned into this public park.  It was evident by the number of people visiting today that it is an attraction for visitors from all around the world.

While there four visitors, from South Korea, said Amelia was cute.  I think they asked why she was not in school and where we came from.  We said “Christchurch, New Zealand” and they said “Aahhh, Christchurch, New Zealand”.

Did you realise everywhere in the world attractions have a gift shop that you must exit through – Amelia is very good at saying “You don’t need that”.

Taxi to the older part of Barcelona where we saw momuments to the battle that took place back on 11 September 1714.

For the first time we have had rain today – on and off.  Its not been a problem and the street sellers have had a chance to sell the supply of umbrellas as they quickly got them out for the passing walkers today.

Amelia must have internal radar for ice cream shops.  Chocolate and white chocolate ice cream – seems to cover her face but she is happy!  Very happy as we let her go to a shop called “Happy Pills”.  Can you guess what kind of shop that is for children and adults?  Mainly for children.

After shared Tapas and Paella we went to the Sagrada Familia.  A very famous building In Barcalona.  The brochure actually says “The Church of La Sagrade Familia – a Barcelona landmark and an artistic and spirutal symbol of Catalonia.”  It was good advice to book the tickets on-line before the day and ask the hotel to print them out.

We sat in the Church in silence and reflection and also watched the thousands of people taking photos and some not showing any respect at all.  Who would enter a church with an umbrella up.  Yes it was raining but getting well inside and continuing to walk around with it seemed strange.

We will go out tonight for our final meal here in Barcelona as we fly to Greece in the morning.

Exciting another place to visit.

Note:  Yesterday was walking and visiting the sites closer to our hotel.  So many people, so much history and a lesson for Amelia on cost benefit analysis. She understands now the concept.

Julie, David and Amelia

Comments off

LONDON catch up blog

We were lucky to spend 4 nights in London and during the day we took the tube to get

around places in London.

The London Eye was a great place to be able to see all the significant landmarks

in London.  We also had an introduction to the art of queuing.  Interesting to see that

some people from other countries didn’t think that they needed to stand in line like everyone

else.

David worked a number of years ago in Convent Garden area so we went back

to see where he worked,.and found it was all boarded up.

Before we left we were happy to help a busker, the Mighty Gareth, form a crowd and to

entertain us with his routine.  A few coins for his hat were well earned.

Seeing Buckingham Palace and the Beefeater Guards was very special.

Thousands of people waited with us, then we walked up The Mall.

The guards and the horses that came around the square were very regal.

A visit to the tower of London and seeing the Crown Jewels another highlight.

Amelia will always remember her 11th birthday.

Where do you think we went with a writer in the family?

Yes Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  Matt our guide was a character, and gave

Amelia a few jibes in good fun.  We learnt some interesting information.

Enjoying our travels.

Julie, David and Amelia

Comments off

BARCELONA

“Sleep is the best meditation”  Dalai Lama – that is what we found on a little card on our pillows when we arrived at our hotel in Barcelona.

No sign of gangs of pick-pockets at the train station.   Lots of warnings to be very careful and consider security

of money and other valuables.  Even being told to report thefts to the police for insurance purposes as you

won’t get them back.

After settling in we went looking for the swimming pool.  Very disappointed as it is so tiny – about the size of

two double beds..  Then it was time to search  for lunch/dinner.

Getting with the Barcelona atmosphere we sat outside in the outdoor dining area on  Rambla  Catalunya  and dined.

Paella, garlic mushbrooms, pesto ravoli.  Such beautiful food.

We will enjoy our stay in Barcelona.

Comments off

PARIS 2

Bonjour, & merci.
We are again back in the hotel room with sore legs.
.
Yesterday, was the Louvre. In the queue early and then raced to see Mona Lisa before the hordes. Only about 20 in front of her when we got there. I hate to think what it was like when the Japanese & American tour groups arrived – we saw them heading there later.  Extremely impressive building.  I took so many photos my camera battery died and I felt lost.
We did the old Greek, Roman & Egyptian stuff which was our interest – way to much to look at, you would need several days.  Then on to Notre Dame then eventually to the metro station.
Today a bit slower start to the day and on the metro to experience the  real Paris. No one smiles – feeling sad!
Into the Pompidou Centre, visited a few shops, Amelia tried on some sneakers, looked at t-shirts – didn’t buy anything other than lunch.  For the first time a nice waiter asked us where we were from.  Coconut ice cream is very nice – Amelia thinks chocolate is the best
Sitting outside the French Cafe – Amelia and I watched the people of Paris and the tourists go by.  We all thought that Paris would have a high standard of dress.  As you can gather we saw it all.  It was very nice taking time out to do what you do in Paris – eat, drink and watch the people go past.
Packed, as in the morning we will be off to Barcelona by train.
Early start – departing 6.30am.
Note:  I plan to do a catch up post on London – as it will be good to keep a record.  Each day we do so much, that this will be a great place to look back at.
Julie, David and Amelia

Comments (1) »

Paris

My goodness, we are making the most of our time and we are already in Paris.

We arrived yesterday coming from London on the Eurostar. A great experience going under  the English Channel and through France to Paris.  It was good we had someone to meet us at the train station.

Speaking French is a challenge to us!!

We look for the items on the menu with words in English and know they will be friendly and understand our requests.  This was our first full day in Paris and we went on an organised bus trip. We had to go on the Metro and lucky for us we had someone help us buy our tickets yesterday.  So with a bus load of people we visited the Eiffel Tower and also a Seine River Cruise.

Wonderful trip and amazing transfer of knowledge of the  important parts of Paris.

We have plans for a visit to the Louvre tomorrow.

Watching French television is ffrustrating – can’t understand it at all.

You might have guessed that Amelia has struggled to do the blog as at the end of the day she is wiiped out  – lots of walking and seeing as much as we can.  Therefore, I will attempt to blog when I get a chance as we have some amazing experiences to have.  Internet is not at its best so hopefully more soon.

Comments off

Derek Landy talks about The Dying of the Light

Check out these videos of Derek Landy talking about the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, The Dying of the Light.  Derek Landy is coming to Christchurch on Thursday 2 October and you can meet him.  Read our post about Derek’s tour to find out all about it.

Comments off

Meet Derek Landy in Christchurch this October

We’re excited to announce that Derek Landy, the author of the brilliant Skulduggery Pleasant series, is coming to Christchurch on Thursday 2 October.  Derek is coming to promote the release of the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, The Dying of the Light, at the Riccarton Primary School hall at 5:30pm on Thursday 2 October.  Not only will you have the chance to get your books signed, you can also hear him talk about his books and ask him your burning questions.  There will also be the chance to win some awesome prizes for those who come dressed as their favourite Skulduggery character.

In the lead up to Derek’s visit we’ll be featuring some videos of Derek talking about the ending of the series. You’ll also have the chance to win a copy of Armageddon Outta Here, the new Skulduggery Pleasant short story collection.

For details about the event and to get tickets check out the poster below.

 Derek Landy poster

Comments off

Meet our September Star Author – Mary McCallum

Our super September Star Author is Mary McCallum.  As well as an author Mary has worked as a creative writing tutor, a bookseller, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter.  Mary’s first children’s book, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish was published earlier this year.

Thanks for joining us Mary!  We look forward to hearing all about your book and your writing.

Comments (4) »

Get set for super (duper) perigee moon!

Guess what? This year, there will be not one, not two, but three perigee supermoons. The first happened in April. The next is due early morning Monday 11 August, and the third will happen in November.

Which begs the question, what is a perigee moon, and why on earth did I end up with one in my book about Tilly Angelica, The Night of the Perigee Moon?

A perigee moon is when the moon is at its closest point to us here on earth. A supermoon is when the full moon and perigee happen together. Because it’s so close, and it’s the full moon, it looks amazing. Big, golden and HUGE. You can read more about supermoons here.

And a perigee moon ended up in my book because I happened to go stand on my back doorstep one night and saw one staring back at me. I was so taken with it that it ended up in my story.

That’s how I find my stories come together. I settle on a central idea, and then all sorts of other funny everyday events and happenings end up bossing their way in too.

When I started writing my book, I had no idea that a supermoon would end up being central to the story. That’s one of the things I love about writing – it’s an unfolding surprise, with moons, stars and all sorts of other enchantments wrapped up in it.

Now, go check out that moon!

Comments (5) »

How to become an author – start writing!

Hi, Juliet here – star author for August. Writing that sends a shiver down my spine, because:

  • skip back five months ago – I wasn’t an author
  • skip back four years ago – I wasn’t an author, although I had started writing stories
  • skip back five years ago – I wasn’t an author, or a writer … although I *loved* to read (and I secretly, desperately wanted to write).

But I was too scared.

And distracted.

Plus I was convinced I wouldn’t be any good if I tried it anyway.

So it’s probably no surprise that my heroine Tilly and me share a similarity or two. Tilly starts off at the beginning of my first published book Night of the Perigee Moon petrified she’ll inherit some bizarre-o magical talent on her thirteenth birthday – she doesn’t want to turn into a weirdo.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying I’ve always been afraid of being overtaken by some strange, magical talent. Rather, what Tilly and I do have in common is getting distracted by the wrong things.

I’ve known for the longest time that I wanted to be a writer – since I was eight or nine – but I got distracted by the idea that this was impossible.

Writing stories was hard.

Hardly anyone gets published.

What if I didn’t have the imagination for it, anyway?

Still, whenever I sat down and read a book – Margaret Mahy in particular, whose writing I adore – I’d feel the whisper and pull of all those beautiful words. And this insistent tap on my shoulder. This voice saying I want to do that. I want to be that.

Just like Tilly, I had to work out that you’ve got to push past the distractions, and that when you do, you can transform yourself into anything you want to be. Even, it turns out, into a published author.

So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been feeling an itch or a tap on your shoulder to do or try something, but you’ve been ignoring it – try a Tilly on for size, and push past the distractions. Turn around and give that itch or nudge a good shove back.

It’s amazing where it can lead.

Talk more soon 🙂

 

Comments off

How fast the world can change

This is my last post on the Christchurch Kids blog. Thanks so much for hosting me – I’ve had lots of fun putting together my thoughts and pictures. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have writing them!

No one in Christchurch needs to be told how the world around them can change within minutes.

1. Sumner library The Press

But for some reason, we assume ancient ruins fall to bits really slowly. Sometimes that’s true, but often it happens much faster. The Parthenon, perched on the Acropolis in Athens, was incredibly well-built. It looked like this for over 2000 years.

2. Parthenon replica Wikipedia

Then the Turks conquered Greece. In 1687 the Venetians attacked the Turks, and the Turks stored their ammunition inside the Parthenon. When the Venetians shelled the Acropolis, a cannon ball hit the magazine and the whole temple blew up.

3. The Parthenon explosion httpict.debevec.org

Since then, the Parthenon has looked suitably ruined, but not because of the ravages of time.

4. The Parthenon today httpwelshmattsmith.blogspot.co.nz

Here’s another example – the great hall at Mykenai, where Atreus pardoned his murderous brother Thyestes in Chapter 11 of Murder at Mykenai. This is what it looks like today. You can still see the round pillar bases and the central hearth.

5. Mykenai great hall today  Cath photo

Compare it to this artist’s impression of King Nestor’s great hall at Pylos. Compare the four pillars and the central hearth with the previous photo. Atreus’s hall would have been every bit as glamourous.

6. Nestor's great hall reconstruction Piet de Jong

The palace of Mykenai burnt down in about 1200 BC, because of a massive earthquake like Christchurch’s. In one night it went from being a fabulous building to a pile of ashes. Nestor’s palace was destroyed around the same time, through enemy invasion.

War and earthquakes have ruined much of what people built in ancient times. But we tend to assume the land has stayed the same. Geology measures change in millions of years, right?

Yes and no.

In 1991, 12-14 million cubic metres of rock and ice fell of the top of Mt Cook/Aoraki. Our highest mountain is now 10 metres lower than it was, the rockfall probably triggered by an earthquake. This kind of event is more common than we realise. Often it’s big, catastrophic events that shape our countryside.

7. Mt Cook Aoraki rockfall Bob McKerrow blog

Here’s something similar that happened in Greece. In my last blog, I mentioned I was staying in a fishing village. It’s called Korfos and it’s one of the few good harbours on a mountainous coastline. I was searching for the ancient Mykenaian port nearby, because I’m planning an enemy invasion on this coast for my next book.

I assumed the port would be on Korfos harbour. Instead I found it way over the hills overlooking a funny little headland. That’s it on the right of the picture, with Korfos on the left.

8. Korfos harbour area Google Earth

I was really puzzled till I found out that, in the Late Bronze Age, Korfos harbour was a swamp. About a hundred years after the ancient Mykenaian port was built, an earthquake lowered the swamp into the sea and turned it into a harbour. And part of the Mykenaian port disappeared into the sea too, like the lost city of Atlantis, taking its own harbour with it.

9. Lost city of Atlantis lukzenth via Photobucket

There’s lots more I could write about. The lake in The Bow has vanished. The town round Tiryns fortress is buried under 10 metres of flood debris. The Narrows, where Laertes’s ships held the evil king Thyestes at bay, is the gap between two tectonic plates that are moving apart … the list goes on.

If you want to know more, you can email me on cath@catherinemayoauthor.com  or visit my website www.catherinemayoauthor.com.

Comments off

Especially for you: OverDrive Kids!

OverDrive for KidsLet me introduce OverDrive for Kids. You can download fiction and nonfiction eBooks and eAudiobooks. They are free, and new material is added all the time.

We have everything from beautiful picture books to chapter books that can be chosen for your reading level. If you love Geronimo Stilton, Harry Potter or Daisy Meadows then we have something for you. We cover everything from magical ponies to big trucks and everything in-between.

Have a play today and remind your parents that these sort of books don’t get lost, gather fines or break! They are also great for road trips, school holidays and rainy days!

Some of the cool titles are below…..

{C7AD79A8-9138-4A2A-8C1B-A33D7E5ABDE0}Img400 {86925B2A-C3EC-43C8-9214-F849F685B243}Img400 {B5EAA73F-CC56-4C8A-8B04-D7C9A77A4C03}Img400 {878C49AA-C08C-4CD2-977D-FE6634D38220}Img400

{BE007683-D491-4E29-B840-073F3BE9A1B7}Img400 {531A2A94-BB4F-40FF-9448-7BAF8D46EB6E}Img400 {BA323592-5BA7-4E80-9D31-7B72755CD522}Img400 {1A311647-256E-4E55-ABEA-AE6C04BB5C3F}Img400

Comments off

Same but Different

Same but different

When I arrived in Greece at the end of May, I expected some things to be different but other things to be much the way they are back here.

Different:            Ruined temples
Everyone speaks Greek
The street signs look weird
They drive on the other side of the road

1. Athens street sign

The same:           Jeans and tee shirts
Motorbikes and cars (lots of motorbikes)
Coca cola
Cell phones

But then I got some real surprises. Like thunderstorms.

I love thunderstorms. When I was a kid, I’d stand on the dirt road outside our cottage on Waiheke, with the rain pelting down and the mud squishing up between my toes. After each flash, I’d count the seconds till the thunder came – BANG!-rumble-BOOM-BOOM-bump-thud-grumble-mumble. Then silence for ages, apart from the splish of the rain in the puddles.

In Greece last month, I was chased through the hills by a thunderstorm as I searched for an ancient road to Mykenai. I stopped the car and got out to watch. I soon realised this was different to any thunderstorm I’d ever experienced.

2. Thunderstorm over Limnes

For a start, I couldn’t see any lightning. But for the 15 minutes I stood there, the thunder never stopped. It groaned and muttered and growled away without a break, as if the sky god Zeus and his wife Hera were having an argument, with both of them insisting on having the last word.

And then there were the seagulls.

NZ seagulls drift through the air crying gkeee gkeee, when they’re not strutting about screaming Kaar Kaar Kaar at each other. That’s what all gulls do, right?

3.  NZ seagulls

Wrong. After I’d finished searching for my ancient road, I returned to the fishing village where I was staying. By now I was hungry, so I walked along the waterfront to a taverna. As I sat there, I heard a mewing sound. I looked about for the cat – Greek tavernas always have at least one cat and often about six.

5. Cat in a Greek taverna

But there was no cat to be seen.

After a while I realised the noise was coming from the seagulls sitting out on the water – you can see them as white dots out beyond the fishing boat. Close up they look just like NZ gulls.

4. Greek fishing boat and seagulls

Then I remembered reading some English story or poem, years and years ago, which talked about the “mewing of gulls”. The phrase had passed me by – it was so unlike anything I’d heard gulls do and I put it down to poetic fancy (ie: silliness).

This morning I decided to look up the Oxford Dictionary and there it was: “mew n. the characteristic cry of a cat, gull etc.” In fact, in England, another word for “seagull” is “sea mew” or just plain “mew”.  So European gulls are not the same as ours after all.

Sometimes it’s the big, obvious things that take you by surprise. But it’s just as much fun when some small unpredictable thing happens. It makes you look at everything in a fresh way, even the things that are the same.

Comments off

Stranger and Stranger

A few weeks ago I was wandering through a Greek olive grove, searching for a 3300 year old city (as you do). The first thing I came across was a herd of goats.  Soon after that I came across the goatherd, and when I asked him – in my very bad Greek – about the ancient city, he beckoned to me and set off through the trees.

Goatherd

I decided he must be leading me to some spectacular ruins, but instead we ended up at his camp, an untidy clearing with a rickety tin shed, some goatskins over a pole, a very friendly dog and her two young pups. By now I was starting to wonder what was going on.

Goatherd's camp

I soon found out. The goatherd produced a battered saucepan into which he poured some white liquid from a 20 litre plastic container. When he handed it to me, I knew I had no choice but to drink. It was fresh goats’ milk and it was absolutely delicious. This from a man who had almost nothing – by our standards. But because I was a stranger, he wanted to give me something.

What I’d just experienced was a Greek tradition called xenia that goes back thousands of years. In Ancient Greece, kindness to strangers was a sacred duty. The sharing of food and shelter bound people together almost like family. In Homer’s Iliad, the Greek hero Diomedes and his enemy Glaucus, a Trojan ally, stop fighting and swap armour because they find out their ancestors were guest friends.

Diomedes and Glaucus

And early on in my new book The Bow, Odysseus and Diomedes know they can trust each other for the same reason.

My Family and Other Animals book coverIf you’ve read Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals – surely one of the greatest (and funniest) books ever written – you’ll remember how Durrell was plied with food and wine by the peasants he met .Tourism is eroding this deeply embedded tradition, but you can still find amazing generosity in Greece if you travel off the beaten track – as I did.

These days, we’re increasingly careful around strangers.  A famous Dame Edna Everage quote goes: “My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet. She’s now in a maximum security twilight home.”

Dame Edna Everage

I think my goatherd would have agreed with Edna’s mum.

Comments off

Okay, it’s school holidays. Now what? Get crafty!

Cover of Paper Scissors GlueIt’s school holidays and the weather is doubtful. What should you do after you have done your homework and tidied your room? One possibility is to borrow a stack of DVDs from the library and spend the day curled up in front of the TV.

A better solution to the “what can I do?” question is to borrow some craft books from the library and get creative. Check out our arts and crafts for kids page.

Paper scissors glue has fun craft ideas for younger children aged 3-10. Great ideas for busy fingers and the best part is, most of the materials needed to complete a project can be found at home. I really enjoy papier mâché. Old newspapers could be recycled here. The Chinese dragon would be fun to take outside on a windy day. The origami whales could live on my blue tablecloth.

Cover of The Lonely Sock ClubMaybe you found odd socks in you sock drawer – why not make a sock monkey? Or if you have found my lost glove, you could make a glove monster. There are lots of cool things you can do with your odd socks and it is likely that everything you need will be at home somewhere.

For those of you who like sewing, we have an excellent selection of books that will help you make toys, gifts and fashion accessories.

Simple softies for the whole family has toys that older children (and adults) can make. Most of the toys are made from felt and all of them are hand sewn. I quite like the anti-spy Christmas tree and the cat-face cushion. If I were to make a dinosaur toy from floral material, would I end up with a flowersaur?

Cover of Simple SoftiesSo the weather is awful and you really don’t wan’t to visit the library. Go online with your library card and Password/PIN and check out World Book Online Craft Corner. Lots of crafts for all ages and abilities. Crafts that can be completed in a few minutes and crafts that take all day. Crafts that are free (or almost free) to make. Crafts that cost several dollars. Crafts for boys and crafts for girls.

So, are you game?
Are you game to turn your kitchen table into a craft space?
For a day?

Comments (1) »

%d bloggers like this: