Are your children having a drama-filled summer?

Summer 2019 family-friendly theatre shows in Lincoln

Theatres are traditionally quite quiet during the summer period when mini audience members are often expressing their dramatic sides on location during their family holidays but this year the city’s arts centres still have a few options for those craving a cultural fix.

LoudmouthAt the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) it’s young people themselves that are ensuring theatre-goers will be entertained.  The centre’s resident youth theatre groups, Shout and Loudmouth, are premiering two new plays written, produced and performed by some of Lincoln’s emerging young artists.  The double bill sees Shout Youth Theatre presenting Phases, “a light-hearted play that explores grief and seeing the world through another’s eyes”.  And Loudmouth Youth Theatre’s performance is On a Roll: The Land of Bogmile, a “role play spoof that celebrates friendship and imagination”.
Saturday, July 27th, 7pm, tickets £5.
Visit www.lpac.co.uk

sammark.jpgIt’s celebrity duo Sam and Mark that will be entertaining a youthful audience at Lincoln Drill Hall.  As seen on CBBC’s Big Friday Wind-Up and Copycats, the pair are taking to the road with a brand new live show this summer including a stop-off at the Free School Lane venue.  The BAFTA award-winning duo are promising “an unmissable hour of entertainment jam packed with sketches, jokes and games in a show full of fun and laughs for all the family.
Saturday, August 10th, 2.30pm, tickets £12.50.
Visit www.lincolndrillhall.com

ElmerTheatre2Over on Clasketgate at the New Theatre Royal its even minier audience members that are being catered for with Elmer The Patchwork Elephant Show stomping the boards.  From the creators of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, the production is based on David McKee’s colourful book series that is celebrating its 30th birthday this year.  “A celebration of individuality and the power of laughter”, the show features 21 puppets, is aimed at age 1+ and has a running time of 45 minutes.
Friday, August 23rd, 1.30pm and 3.30pm, tickets £13 (£11).
Visit www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk
The theatre also has a summer programme of family films including titles such as How to Train Your Dragon 2, Mary Poppins Returns and Wreck It Ralph 2. 

ShauntheSheepThe Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham is also featuring family-friendly drama on the silver screen over the summer but with a twist.  The unique setting of the venue means it has teamed up with the leisure centre it’s housed in and is offering  visitors Family Film & Swim deals.  After watching movies such as Mary Poppins Returns, Christopher Robin and Shaun the Sheep Movie, film-goers can then enjoy a swim at the One NK centre swimming pool – perfect for cooling down your mini one’s temperatures during this very hot weather too.
August 3rd, 17th, 31st and September 7th, 10am film/12.30pm swim, tickets – film £3.50/swim £2.50 when booked with film ticket.  £2 discount for a family (4) ticket.
Visit www.terryotooletheatre.org.uk 

An elephant, a Froojamaflip and SuperKitty

Newark Book Festival 2019

Hands up those who had lots of fun at the annual Newark Book Festival last weekend – we certainly did!  And we’ve been heads down with hands busy turning pages ever since re-reading our new addition to the mini’s home library, SuperKitty by Hannah Whitty and Paula Bowles.

With Luke and Daddy at Beavers camp for the weekend it was just us girls that took the bus and train to the Nottinghamshire town to enjoy lots of literary activities.

On Saturday, there was hula hooping, singing, Maisy Mouse meeting and ear-wearing, SuperKitty storytelling, drawing, mask making and face painting.

On Sunday, there was an elephant!  And there was a person made out of fruit and vegetables!  There was painting, octopus crown making, a ball pool, sand pits, a hot air balloon trail, Paddington Bear craft and, of course most important of all, there was ice cream to finish the weekend off with.

As well as a boost to her desire to be able to read all the words herself, Willow also came away from the festival talking excitedly about vegetables thanks to Fred and his friend Froojamaflip.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped us get the pushchair on and off trains and up and down steps in Newark and to all the lovely festival volunteers who helped this very directionally-challenged mummy.

Next year’s festival dates are July 10th-12th, 2020. 

Do you know a mini crocodile fan?

A few days after finding out Willow will be in Ladybird class in September we found out that Luke will be in Crocodiles when he moves up a year.  So now I have added green paint to our craft shop haul of all things red and black.

CrocodilesPegsWhen considering crafting crocodiles my first thoughts are to start collecting egg boxes but, for Kerry from Blissful Domestication, it’s wooden pegs, green pipe cleaners and googly eyes that make her shopping list in order to make her Peg and Pipe Cleaner Crocodiles – and the peg’s action make the completed reptiles eminently snappable!

Having bought several new ladybird books for Willow, Luke was quick to insist he should also receive some appropriate new reading material.  We already had I Love Crocodiles: First facts and pictures by Steve Parker and Steve Roberts as well as stories such as Open Very Carefully: A book with bite by Nick Bromley and Nicola O’Byrne and Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis.  We’ve had Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile recommended to us several times and the titles we’ve chosen to add CrocodilesDentistto our home library so far are Could a Crocodile Play Basketball? and other questions by Aleksei Bitskoff and Camilla de la Bedoyere and The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino.

Another title featuring the scaly creature that Jane from Hodge Podge Days recommends is The Crocodile and the Dentist by Taro Gomi.  Describing it as “a lovely, easy to read story with lots of repetition” Jane found it “full of simple humour and empathy” as both titular characters learn to be brave and face their fears.

CrocodilesSealifeFor Rainy Day Mum’s Cerys it’s all about finding more life-sized versions of the animal, whether it be wooden sculptures in Rendlesham Forest when on Scavenger Hunts with Toddlers or similarly tame ones that provide a safe photo opportunity at Colchester Zoo (World Animal Day Blog Hop).  But the highlight of their visit to Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary saw her son finally came face to face with one of the centre’s three very alive crocodiles, “luckily through a sheet of glass”.

What is your favourite fact about the many-toothed creature?  Let us know in the comments below.

Crafts and activities for your little ladybirds

It’s that time of year again when we already start to think about the start of the new academic year that September will bring with it even before we’ve had the chance to start the July that will say goodbye to this one.  It will be a big one in the Malpi household as Willow will be joining her older brother at school for the first time and she’s just found out that she will be in the ladybird class.  Cue all things red and black spotted being celebrated in our house and who better to ask for suggestions around the coccinellidae subject than fellow bloggers…?

The striking colours and pattern of the most well known of their species lends itself eminently to craft projects – add red and black paint to a few children’s craft box staples such as paper plates, toilet paper tubes and eggboxes and the greenfly in your back garden will soon be thinking the leaves are greener on the other side of the fence.

LadybirdInspirationEditAngela, who writes at The Inspiration Edit, and Wendy, from Daisies and Pie, just use card and LadybirdPaperLooppaper for their creations.  Angela includes a downloadable template as part of her Easy Preschool Ladybug Craft and Wendy includes a quick video demonstration of her Paper Loop Ladybug Craft.

ladybirdnumbersAnother blogger offering a free printable as part of their suggested activity is Louise from Messy Little Monster.  Download her printable number leaves, add 10 red bottle tops and a black sharpie pen and you can recreate her Learn to Count Ladybird Craft and send your children on a number hunt.   And, if your messy monster is too mini to take part in the hunt quite yet, you could try out Louise’s Ladybird Baby Footprint Keepsake instead.

LadybirdPlateBlissful Domestication’s Kerry shows us How to Make a Paper Plate Ladybird utilising a split pin and Being Mrs C’s Penny’s How to make a simple paper plate ladybird which uses the back of the plate for its domed effect was inspired by a re-reading of Lucy Ladybird by Sharon King-Chai.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hadn’t heard of King-Chai’s story of a ladybird in search of her spots before but have now ordered one along with another book I’ve come across thanks to writing this post – Tales from Nature: Ladybird.  Laura, of Laura’s Lovely Blog, reviews it in her Beautiful Board Book for Babies article where she praises it for showing “how ladybirds camouflage from birds and how it hatches its eggs… It’s great for young children and babies with the colourful, bold and engaging pages.”

LadybirdPosterOne book my minis are definitely familiar with, however, is Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard and so are Crafts on Sea‘s Kate’s children.  Her posts include a What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday Paper Plate Craft that includes a secret message hidden under her wings and a What the Ladybird Heard Wanted Poster.  Younger siblings can also create their own minibeast makes using Kate’s (cotton bud) Q-Tip Ladybird Craft for Toddlers.

In Our Spring Activities, The Queen of Collage’s Helena tells us “We’ve recreated the farm that the ladybird in What the Ladybird Heard lived on, viewed the Bad Tempered Ladybird on Youtube which would be great to introduce time”.

LadybirdReelIf Donaldson’s quiet hero captures your mini readers’ imaginations then check out Jenny’s reviews of the sequels on her blog The Gingerbread HouseWhat the Ladybird Heard Next sees crafty robbers Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len out of jail and heading back to the farm with another cunning plan to cause trouble and What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday finds the thieves in London planning to steal a monkey from the zoo and use it to pinch the Queen’s crown.  Jenny also uses some painted ladybird and bee stone counters in her How to make a simple cable reel blackboard noughts and crosses game.

LadybirdGemFor more rock painting inspiration take a look at Gem’s Painting Rocks and Pebbles on Childsplay ABC which also includes bumble bees and her son’s smiley faces.

Gem also pointed me towards the lovely A guide to British ladybirds – in pictures article by Beatrice Sayers in 2013 on the Guardian website.  “The UK Ladybird Survey has found 26 species that are readily recognisable as ladybirds.  Here are some of the common ones, the colourful ones – and alien invaders”.

Ladybird12

If all of those ideas aren’t enough to keep us going over the summer holidays and fill her bridger scrapbook then we might head over to read Rainy Day Mum’s suggestions.  Cerys’s Ladybird Crafts and Activities include buttons, egg boxes and fingerpainting as part of projects making sun catchers and pegs and she even outlines What to plant to encourage ladybugs to make sure your little ones have real examples of the beetles to compare their creations to.

LadybirdFlowerPotPerhaps you could even start some of the plants off in an appropriately attired flower pot as Jane from Hodge Podge Days has designed in Crafts: Make Your Own Ladybird Flower Pot.

What a lovely way to finish #30DaysWild too!

New books provide readers with wormholes to the final frontier

Titles celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing are perfect choices to inspire future astronauts

July 20th, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Whether you were alive or not in 1969 to see the first broadcast of that one small step, watching the black and white footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot where no man had gone before is still likely to be one that has had a lasting impact on any subsequent viewer.

(Just to clarify I’m not quite old enough to remember the original, only the reruns, despite my children’s belief I was alive in “the olden days”).

Field Trip to the MoonCelebrating the anniversary gives the opportunity for a new generation to be inspired by the final frontier and I was delighted when my six-year-old’s choice of new book was Field Trip to the Moon by Jeanne Willis and John Hare (Macmillan Children’s Books, £6.99).

Can you imagine a class outing to the moon?  What would happen if you went with a teacher whose head counting skills didn’t match up to the task and you got stranded in outer space?  Exploration, creativity and making friends are at the heart of this sweet story that fortunately is set in a time where it isn’t too difficult to make the 384,400 km return trip to Earth’s natural satellite to pick up a young straggler.

There are plenty of other titles that have been published to mark the historic date too and I asked two Lincoln book sellers to pick their current favourites for younger readers.

Gill Hart’s (Lindum Books, Bailgate, Lincoln) recommendations revolve around the satellite that revolves around us…

MoonLandingMoon Landing (Campbell Books, £5.99) is a lovely board book for the littlest astronomers in Campbell’s First explorers series. Blast off in the rocket, moon walk across the surface and splash down back to Earth with the Apollo 11 astronauts as they made history in 1969.  Each scene has chunky push, pull and slide mechanisms perfect for little hands with fun facts about the Moon Landing.

MoonstruckMoonstruck! Poems About Our Moon edited by Roger Stevens (Otter-Barry, £6.99) features new poems about the moon from well-known and up-and-coming poets combined with classic poems with a moon theme.  This inspirational and beautifully illustrated anthology includes poets Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, Valerie Bloom, Mandy Coe, Grace Nichols, Liz Brownlee, James Carter, Jay Hulme, Tony Mitton, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Rachel Rooney, as well as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emily Bronte.

NeilArmstrongLifeThe Extraordinary Life of Neil Armstrong by Martin Howard (Puffin, £6.99) – One little boy who loved the idea of flying became the first person to set foot on the moon.  From his childhood playing with model planes to becoming one of the most famous astronauts of all time, discover the incredible story of Neil Armstrong’s life in this beautifully illustrated book, complete with narrative biography, facts and timelines.

SpaceRaceBlast off on a journey through space exploration history, from the Apollo Moon landings to mind-boggling plans for living on Mars, with The Space Race, The Journey to the Moon and Beyond by Sarah Cruddas  (Dorling Kindersley, £16.99).  How did we land on the Moon? What will the space jobs of the future look like? And why did we send a car to space? Sarah Cruddas brings to life the hidden stories behind the most famous space missions, before taking the reader on a journey through our space future. This children’s book includes a foreword by NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission. It also includes fascinating insights from Sarah’s interviews with real-life astronauts including Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan and Virgin Galactic Test Pilot Kelly Latimer.

And, indeed, humans have only extended their reach into the galaxy due to the individuals involved and the titles Deborah Holland (Waterstone’s, High Street, Lincoln) has chosen provide perfect role models for those dreaming of walking an astral path when they grow up…

GalaxyHerOwnA Galaxy of Her Own – Amazing Stories of Women in Space by Libby Jackson (Penguin, £16.99) goes from the origins of space travel to space in the future. It’s also one of my favourite non-fiction books for children (and adults).  The influence and number of women involved in space travel is greater than you think and largely their contribution has gone under the radar.  This book reveals those individuals, shining a light on them and reinforces that knowledge that no dreams are impossible.  Each individual listed has a written biography on one page with an illustration of them on the opposite. Every illustration done by graduates or students of London College of Communication. Just incredible.  A forever book for 9 years old to 109.

HowtobeAstronautHow to Be an Astronaut (and other jobs) by Dr Sheila Kanani & Sol Linero (Nosy Crow, £7.99) combines great illustrations with information laid out in a simple format that makes it really accessible to younger children, perfect when it is recommended for ages 5 to 8 years old.  What is really clever is how interactive it is with more than 100 stickers, a press-out rocket and fold out space scenes.  This is a winner with my 7 year old.

StephenHawkingStephen Hawking by Isabel Sanchez Vegara & Matt Hunt (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, £9.99) – Though not strictly the moon or space, I could not not include at least one of the Little People, Big Dreams series.  Stephen Hawking may not have travelled in space but he was the most famous cosmologist of all time, studying astronomy and the universe, how could I not?  This biography, as with many in the series (which includes David Bowie, Ada Lovelace and Rosa Parks to name a few), is stylishly illustrated yet quirky.  With its age appropriate and simple content this makes it accessible to children as young as 5 or 6 years old.

PlanetraiumPlanetarium curated by Chris Wormell and Raman Prinja (Templar Publishing, £20) is a great addition to the Welcome to the Museum series.  You essentially get an exhibition in a large format book. Amazing for a budding stargazer or potential intergalactic traveler.  Explore the wonders of space from your armchair. Ages 9+.

WheresMrAstronautWhere’s Mr Astronaut by Ingela P Arrhenius (Nosy Crow, £6.99).  Love these lift-the-felt flap board books as they are ingenious in design and very funny too. This one is no different. A fabulous introduction to space for any 0 to 2 year old. Bold and colourful illustrations.  Perfect for the very young.

Do you love a tale of intergalactic adventure that you’d recommend to other readers?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Something for readers of all ages

Newark Book Festival 2019

NBF1This July the Newark Book Festival is once again set to captivate young readers with a whole host of family-friendly fun.  Alongside its numerous adults’ events, the programme includes children’s panel talks, writing and craft workshops, storytellers and street theatre, as its organisers explain…

Between July 12th and 14th, this year’s festival theme of Home and Away will be brought to life with tales from Newark and beyond, circus and carnival themed entertainment at Newark Castle and seaside fun, Paddington Bear crafts and the Greatest Show in the centre of the town.

With a wide selection of both ticketed and free events, there is something for everyone to see and do.

The children’s programme includes a schools’ event featuring young adult (YA) fiction award-winning and bestselling authors, Kim Slater, Sara Barnard and Paula Rawsthorne.

On Sunday 14th July, there is also a chance to meet the authors of some of this year’s biggest new fiction titles for ages 9 to 12 in the Magic, A Malamander and Mystery event. Thomas Taylor, illustrator of the first ever cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, talks about his stunning new novel Malamander. He is joined by Michelle Harrison, author of beautiful new spell-binding story, A Pinch of Magic, and Newark Book Festival favourite, Elly Griffiths, who has released her first children’s book, A Girl Called Justice.

In 2018, the minis enjoyed mask making, story stone crafting and
fairy house hunting as part of the Newark Book Festival.

Interactive fun happening across the Festival weekend aiming to get young readers and artists inspired includes a promenade theatre performance of Robin Hood and the Monk and Fairy Tales for under-fives at St Mary Magdalene Church, poetry workshops with Troy Jenkinson, Chitra Soundar and celebrity children’s author, potty poet and illustrator, Chris White.

At Newark Library, the festival and the creators of Super Kitty will be helping to launch this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and there will also be the chance to meet Maisy Mouse and see the Festival’s Helen Cresswell Exhibition.

The market place and town hall will be alive with activity all weekend with street theatre performances from Adambara and Zhim, Frroojamaflip and Fred and Angie Mack Hula Street Show.  On the Newark Book Festival market stall, visitors will be able to find information about events and pick up for free this year’s special festival postcard produced by illustrator Mark Chambers.

In 2019, the Festival is also introducing its first ever Primary School programme, matching authors Gareth Baker, Chris White, James Nicol, Ian Douglas, Wilf Morgan, Daniel Henshaw, Frances Stickley and Thomas Taylor with schools across Newark for a day of writing and art workshops, readings and inspiring a love of books and reading.

For the full programme of events visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk or pick up the festival brochure from venues across Newark and beyond including the theatre, festival venues, coffee shops and libraries.  To book tickets call Newark Palace Theatre on 01636 655755 or visit www.palacenewarktickets.com.  Stay up to date with the latest festival news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Stepping into the page of a book in time for tea

The sad news of the passing of author and illustrator Judith Kerr this week will have many readers, young and old, mourning her loss.

Well loved for titles such as the Mog series and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, it’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea that’s a particular favourite in our house.

A celebration of the hungry orange and black visitor took us to National Trust property Gunby Hall, near Spilsby, at the end of last month just in time to enjoy the Seven Stories touring exhibition.

Firstly we toured the country house searching for striped residents bearing letters – clues to the answer to a question that would win the completed trail holder a sticker.

Then we headed into the room of the exhibition itself and straight into Sophie and her mummy’s kitchen.  The huge tiger was already sat at the table and the minis soon set about fixing him an appropriately large afternoon tea as well as trying on some stripes themselves.

A slightly smaller tiger was purchased from the shop on the way back to the car.  Fortunately daddy bought some biscuits too as obviously our tiger got a bit hungry on the way home and Willow needed to keep him sated with an extra portion of the chocolatey treats.

TT10

Is the exhibition coming to a National Trust house near you?  Find out at www.sevenstories.org.uk

A stage adaptation of the book is being performed at the:
New Theatre Royal in Lincoln on June 22nd and 23rd
Skegness Embassy Theatre on June 30th and July 1st
Grimsby Auditorium on October 2nd and 3rd
For other tour dates click here.

The Tiger’s 50th birthday may have been last year but there are lots of other children’s classics that are celebrating big anniversaries this year too – The Gruffalo is 20 years old, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is turning 50 years old and Elmer and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt were published 30 years ago.