Author event may inspire children to write

Dan Walker Book Signing PosterBilled as “amazing, action packed stories,” you can find out more about from the author of Desert Thieves and Sky Thieves himself when Dan Walker visits a Lincoln bookshop on Saturday (October 14th, 2017).

Aimed at ages 9-12, the swashbuckling adventure series includes flying galleons, floating islands and long lost treasure.

And Walker is looking forward to his appearance at the High Street branch of Waterstones from 11am to 2pm just as much as any of his young fans are.

“As a children’s writer, events are super-exciting,” the Nottingham writer explains.

“Writing stories is something children do at school, so the understand the process well.  It is not an abstract thing for them.  So when they meet someone who does it for a living – someone who can give them tips and tricks, talk about structure and characters – it’s really interesting.

“In terms of reading as a hobby, kids are always fascinated by the inspiration for characters, events, settings, everything!  I also get a lot of feedback from children who had given up on their writing, but were inspired by meeting an author to get back on it again.”

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Author Dan Walker

And it’s not just the children who might find the event inspirational as Walker finds meeting his young readers very beneficial too.

“For a writer, events are great because it means you get to speak to your readers, ” he says.  Writing is a solitary job, and sometimes you get so buried in the details of a story that you lose touch with why you’re putting words on the paper.

“When you go out to an event, and meet readers, it reminds you of the end-point of your story.  You remember who you’re writing for, and the joy it hopefully brings.

“Practically, it gives you a little boost, so that next time you sit down at the computer you’re ready and raring to go.  From a craft perspective, it’s also good to know which bits of your books kids particularly enjoyed, and which bits they didn’t.

“Feedback is good in every station of life; writing is no different.”

Find out more at: www.waterstones.com

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On the trail of the Lincoln Knights (part three)

We took advantage of a rare dry day recently to finally finish the Lincoln Knights Trail that celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln and the sealing of the Charter of the Forest.

You can, of course, complete the quest to find the 36 sculptures across the city centre in one go but then you probably won’t have had a run around The Lawn’s play park, stopped for a lesson in a Victorian schoolroom and got lost around the University’s building works along the way and your legs are probably a lot longer than the minis are.

The third installment of our hunt for the guardians on horseback saw us finally take in knight number one as we took to Lincoln’s uphill streets with Willow often leading the way calling “knight, where are you?”

This day’s selection included Luke’s favourite – 07 The Battle of Lincoln Knight – as he has always been drawn to white horses.  And also Daddy Malpi’s favourite – 10 Lincoln City Knight.

Having found all the green shields hidden on the knights and completed the key to reveal the phrase and find the answer to the quest we finished at the Lincoln Visitor Information Centre where the minis were awarded their certificates and badges and we claimed the discount on the children’s book 1217 The Battle of Lincoln book.  It might be aimed at children older than ours and we had planned to put it to one side for when they are a bit bigger but Willow was determined to do her own reading of it for us at bedtime that night.

Just because we know we’ve seen them all now hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm much and, as well as stopping for another photo each time we pass a full size one, they’re also very keen to point out the half-sized education knights designed by local children from 42 primary, secondary and special schools and the mini ones in numerous shop windows around the city.

And, on another day, we also had the chance to stop by the Knights’ Central Pop-up Shop and Activity Centre in the Cornhill to indulge in some themed colouring and crafting, making woven shields.

It’s been lovely to see so many other people of all ages taking part in the trail too whenever we’ve been in town (which makes the couple of incidences of vandalism particularly sad) and we’ll miss their colourful presence after they are auctioned off for charity.

They’ll be on their separate plinths until September 3rd so you’ve still got plenty of time to conquer Steep Hill or take them in in sections like us.  If your summer holidays are already spoken for however you also have the opportunity to take them in in one fell swoop at Lincoln Castle at The Reunion from Wednesday, September 20th to Wednesday, September 27th.

Find out more here: www.knightstrail.com

The BFG, Mr Men and a gecko’s echo…

Newark Book Festival 2017

Formerly known as Books in the Castle, this year’s Newark Book Festival (July 15th and 16th) was rebranded, revamped and a resounding success.

With a last minute change to the mini ones weekend schedule we headed to Newark on Saturday instead of Sunday as planned and, with many of the events already sold out, we were very glad there were also street theatre acts to enjoy and drop-in workshops to join in too.

On arriving in the Nottinghamshire town, we located the festival’s stall in the market place and were just in time to enjoy a performance by The Smallest Theatre in the World.

The humorous take on Hound of the Baskervilles (in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication) involved audience participation and hijinks that captivated Willow who got especially excited whenever a character popped up on top of the theatre’s roof.

NBF3We then took time to listen to Doctor Rhyme reading us a poem describing the problems of trying to write a poem when your tin of alphabetti spaghetti turns out to be spaghetti hoops and requested a poem to be written in celebration of Luke starting school this year.

A quick chase of the BFG around the market place, who we were quite happy to wave at but not quite brave enough to high five, and a short stop to refuel and then we set off to join in the Make and Create: Mr Men session at Millgate Community Centre.

Cardboard templates, scrunched up newspaper, kitchen roll liners, tissue paper coloured squares, facial features and accessory add ons plus some liberally applied glue and sticky tape and Luke had his own Mr Tickle and Willow a Mr Man all of her own creation.

The Roger Hargreaves characters are staple reading in the minis’ library and it was a well thought out craft that the smallest of hands could join with, that could be similarly recreated at home with a rummage through your recycling and which it wasn’t too difficult to get a recognisable finished artwork from.

There was more even crafting to be done afterwards as we headed to Newark Library where there was also dancing and stories to listen to as children’s author Lucy Rowland introduced young readers to her titles The Birthday Invitation and Gecko’s Echo alongside the library launching its Summer Reading Challenge.  Luke was suitably impressed, requesting to buy a copy of Gecko’s Echo to take home with us which he was able to watch the author sign for him and his sisters.

Before it was time to go back to the car we stopped to explore Newark Library’s lovely children’s area with it’s inventive seating and bookshelves that are also tunnels, it’s play kitchen and dolls’ house.  Willow had clearly got the message that books are good as she helped herself to a huge pile of different titles to have mini excerpts read to her from.

And, back at home, bedtime reading requests involved several renditions of Gecko’s Echo (and who wouldn’t appreciate a story featuring a strong mother?) with a couple of the Mr Men stories to follow.

I used to love attending literary festivals before I had children and, whilst it may be in a slightly different way, it can be even more fun with them.  Definitely one for the diary for 2018, hopefully with a little more planning involved too.

#30DaysWild Day 30 – Tattershall bats

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_30We were going to go camping this weekend but the adverse weather forecast earlier in the week made us decide it was not the right time for Faith’s first foray into canvas living.

It has, of course, mainly been a lovely day after all and the weekend looks set to be the same but it did mean we had an extra “Daddy Day” today anyway and we decided to head to Tattershall Castle for the afternoon instead.

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The 15th century red brick castle is a National Trust property in the village near Sleaford in Lincolnshire and – as well as lots of steps! – it has lovely grounds whose moats add to the diversity of wildlife that makes its home there.

And there’s also a great sandpit behind the tower where, not only can you make your own more temporary battlement bedecked buildings, but you can also have lots of fun burying your brother.

 

The minis were also keen to explore Holy Trinity Collegiate Church on the way back to the car park and we were rewarded with discovering how proud its parishioners are that their place of worship also provides a home to 900+ bats.

 

The “largest bat colony in any inhabited building in the country” has even inspired a children’s book, Tatty Bat – “a beautiful tale of adventure, friendship and Christianity”.

Perhaps we will order a copy ready to read during #30DaysWild 2018!

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Newark Book Festival 2017

NBF logoThe biggest ever Newark Book Festival promises to transform the Nottinghamshire town into a land of adventure and heroes during the event’s weekend of July 15th and 16th.

Back for its third year, more than 100 authors, artists, entertainers, wordsmiths and street performers will take part in ticketed panel discussions, live music, book markets, children’s storytelling, family activities and literary talks on everything from crime writing to bear hunts to the BFG and Sherlock Holmes to Steampunk in various venues across Newark.

gecko echo cover (2)Sara Bullimore, artistic director for Newark Book Festival, said: “We’re so excited to be building the festival with a new feel, brand and working with more venues to bring a bigger festival to Newark. Our programme is full of fantastic fictional tales and amazing true stories from some of the UK’s finest writers; showcasing their talent, stimulating debate and inspiring the next generation of writers.

wally-wizard (2)“We chose this year’s theme, Adventures and Heroes, to celebrate Visit England’s Year of Literary Heroes, as well as Nottinghamshire’s incredible writers.  There’ll be something for book lovers of all ages, from children’s writers and comedy theatre groups to best-selling novelists and the finest local writing talent.”

Pirate Pete HB cover (2)Mini readers may want to look out for Wally the Wizard on his Magic Ship of Stories, Words and Pictures and Make and Create Mr Men workshops and the launch of the library’s Summer Reading Challenge on the first day of the festival.

And on the Sunday, they can take part in The Festival’s Famous Adventures, celebrating 75 years’ of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, at Newark Castle alongside face painting, treasure hunts and the inimitable Admirable Admirals, as well as enjoying a Pirate Pete storytime at the town hall and time to meet Doctor Rhyme in the Market Place.

Tickets are on sale now from the Newark Palace Theatre Box Office, call 01636 655755.

For a full programme and to find out more visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk

#30DaysWild Day 27 – I’m Not Cute!

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_27Tonight’s storytime was I’m Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen.

Baby owl takes a walk through the forest and encounters other woodland animals who all think he’s cute and fluffy.

ImNotCuteBaby owl disagrees.  Vehemently.  He thinks he’s a “huge and scary hunting machine”.  But when his mum agrees with him, he suddenly remembers he is cute too.  Fortunately his mum knows he’s both.

This is one of my favourite books at the moment because it epitomises my two year old (tired temper tantrums and all) – she may be little but she is fierce, unless she’s a little bit tired and just needs a cuddle instead.

Our other favourite stories featuring owls include Wow Said The Owl, Owl Babies and Oliver’s Wood.

 

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#30DaysWild Day 17 – The sun has got its hat on!

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_17I’m going to say it.  After all of last year’s #30DaysWild and the beginning of this one spent moaning about the rain… oh, my isn’t it too hot!

Turns out whatever my mixed nationality background, I’m very British when it comes to the weather.

Today was the first time I’ve taken part in Photo an Hour, posting on Twitter (#photoanhour) each hour to document our day.

Our day was originally planned to be very full of arranged activities, perfect for jumping in on the hashtag party for the first time I thought, and it at least started out that way as we made it to ballet class first thing in the morning.

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10am – finished ballet class –

We then headed to another inside activity, this time popping into Lincoln Inspired at The Collection in Lincoln.  At the Magical World of Fingley crafting table, Luke was helped to make a monster and Willow an owl before she had the opportunity to meet pixie Astori and Dodl the bear. And mummy learnt about the Fingley’s themed restaurant in Barton that’s definitely gone on our “to visit” list.

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11am – Willow meets Astoria and Dodl from @FingleyWorld at today’s @LincolnInspired in @collectionusher #photoanhour

Refreshments were had:

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Noon – it was yummy (too hungry to take the photo at the start)

And then we finally headed outside to enjoy the weather and continue with the Lincoln Knights trail, ticking off another four on the list.

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1pm – more spotting

It was after this and the following walk back to the car park that the heat started to take its toll.  Several Malpi members were in need of a nap (although only three were able to take the opportunity) and, instead of heading to one of the Jo Cox Great Get Togethers and a school fair, we simply crash landed at Grandmum’s.

 

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2pm – storytime –

Story time with an Old MacDonald’s Farm finger puppet book provided a short cool down five minutes but as soon as the mini ones were refuelled:

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3pm – summery refreshments –

they certainly weren’t going to be satisfied with sitting down for the rest of the day so, whilst mummy continued to feed an understandably extra thirsty Faith, daddy got dragged outside again, this time for a water pistol fight:

 

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4pm – in the great battle of grandmum’s back garden, water pistols were the weapon of choice, Daddy may have lost.

Grandmum’s back garden, including the former pond, also provided an excellent environment for hide and seek.

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5pm – hide and seek –

As well as pretty purple/pink flowers:

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Whilst the front garden was reserved for daddy to chase little monsters:

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6pm – chasing monsters –

And then, when finally exhausted again, it was time to get back into the car.

 

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7pm – home time –

The day may not have gone quite to plan but we were still able to enjoy a wild time without melting temperatures prompting too many mini meltdowns.30DAYSWILD_ID2 lightgreen

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