A musical interlude

Last night, I was doing my typical Friday night thing of fighting extreme end-of-week exhaustion and staying up late just because I can. (even though we get up early for football, there’s always that psychological Friday feeling that gives you permission to relax).

I’m glad I did because I caught a rather fabulous programme on BBC 2 called Artsnight, which was presented by the excellent Armando Iannucci (I’d be totally lying if I said I’d typed that without checking the spelling). Continue reading


What we’re reading: The Witches by Roald Dahl

GetAttachmentToby has been absolutely itching to read The Witches ever since he picked it out during our last trip to the bookshop.

This was one of my favourite Dahl books when I was younger and so far so good. I remember being pretty frightened by it and one chapter in, my memories of feeling scared are starting to creep back. It’s really clever how Dahl generates the suspense in this tale.

I think there are going to be lots of ducking under the duvet moments for Toby!

We’ve finished! Stig of the Dump

Published in 1963, Stig of the Dump is widely considered to be a children’s classic, and having just finished reading this with Toby, I am more than satisfied that it deserves its classic status.

It’s a relatively simple plot about a boy (Barney) who is staying with his grandmother during the summer holidays and who befriends a cave man he discovers living in a dump at the end of his grandmother’s garden but as with the best literary fiction, the book operates on many levels and taps into multiple themes. Continue reading

Sunday trip to the bookshop

Toby at Waterstones, DunfermlineSometimes it’s a struggle to motivate Toby to get out the house at the weekend, and after five days a week and more than 10 hours a day spent at school and after-school clubs it’s understandable that he just wants to hang out at home. Me too, most of the time – although when the sun is shining and the rays beaming through the window highlight all the dust, I do like to get out and about too.

I was pretty delighted this weekend when Toby suggested that not only did he want to go out but that he also wanted to visit our local bookshop (Waterstones btw, which isn’t bad to have on your doorstop in a small town) to redeem his World Book Day voucher against the purchase of a Horrid Henry book.

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Best children’s books ever?

If you like a list – and I love a list – check out the Telegraph’s compilation of the 100 best children’s book.

It’s like taking a trip through my own childhood as well as the early years of parenting, and there are plenty of new and classic titles on it that I’m itching to try with Toby.

There are many of my own childhood favourites like The Velveteen Rabbit and The BFG, as well as many more recently loved picture books I read with Toby like The Gruffalo and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, which although a bit dated was still really loved in our home. Continue reading

Horrid Henry

We have a new obsession in our household: Horrid Henry

For those of you who don’t know Horrid Henry is the fictional creation of Francesca Simon, star of a series of books and an accompanying TV show.

Horrid Henry was the subject of a World Book Day project, so definitely testament to the success of WBD in generating enthusiasm for reading, in my humble opinion.

Although if you saw the news today and were shocked that someone sent their 11-year-old to school dressed as Christian Grey of 50 Shades fame, you would be forgiven for doubting the merits of the initiative (that was a serious “what were they thinking” moment).

As I mentioned in my previous post there was no dressing up going on in Toby’s school but actual book-related projects which have definitely had the desired effect as he’s been reading non-stop all week. Result.

I even discovered him watching Horrid Henry on YouTube; he usually watches 20-somethings talk about how to play Xbox games so believe me this is serious progress in the literacy stakes!

So thank you World Book Day and Commercial Primary School. Let’s hope the reading enthusiasm continues through the weekend!

World Book Day

World Book Day seems to get bigger every year, and anything that celebrates books, and keeps them being talked about in the media agenda is definitely welcome.

The trend for schools to encourage children to dress up as favourite book characters has become a permanent fixture in the school calendar.

Dressing up is a bit of a political playground minefield, and I’m glad that Toby’s school has requested that children just come to school in casual clothes wearing a letter or a word on their clothing. Something simple that won’t spark competition or one-up-manship, or worse betray social class or education levels.

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