Room on the Broom, Julia Donaldson’s tale of helpful friends, has long been my favourite of The Gruffalo author’s excellent rhyming canon – I could even do a fairly accurate rendition at one point.
So, when Willow and I arrived for October’s storytime at Lindum Books in Lincoln’s Bailgate, I was delighted to discover that the witch and her cat were to be the focus of the morning’s event.
Led by Rhubarb Theatre’s Kirsty Mead, this brand of storytelling uses the original text as a launchpad for its own dramatic interpretation with the emphasis heavily on interaction.
With a musical introduction to the session including doing the Hocus Pocus (think “Hokey Cokey” with a magical twist), Kirsty had her young audience searching pumpkin clues, trying on a range of hats (Willow donned gnome/Santa headgear), playing with scarves and practicing their wand skills before inviting them to “Come Fly With Me” as she zoomed around the shop on her broom (much to all the following children’s delight including Willow) making full use of the book shop’s limited floor space.
After everyone banded together to help scare away the dragon we headed up the store’s stairs to take part in a craft activity that included using a glue stick – currently one of Willow’s favourite activities.
Hopefully we’ll be able to fly up the hill again soon to share another tale brought to life in such an entertaining fashion.
Storytime at Lindum Books takes place monthly and the next event is on Tuesday, November 8th. Booking is essential. Call 01522 262374.
“Monty LOVES inventing, BUT things don’t always work…”
Claire Freedman and Ben Cort’s characterful tale Monstersaurus (Simon and Schuster, £5.99) has long been a favourite in our house so when I saw there was a stage show adaptation by Big Wooden Horse and it was coming to Terry O’Toole Theatre it was definitely a date to go into the diary and The Mini Malpi were delighted to be a guest of the North Hykeham theatre for the 3pm show on Saturday.
With a set that was bedecked with everything a young inventor could want – magnifying glass, specimen bottles, a bubble machine, instruction books and, of course, an inventing machine – it was interesting to see how the theatre company would adapt and expand on its fun source material.
Lively puppets, energetic songs and dances (in case you’re wondering, Monstersaurus rhymes with chorus) and disgusting ingredients supplied by some audience participation saw us introduced to Monty’s mum, an expanded timeline, a language all “swampy, green and wobbly” Bogablob’s own, a comprehensive back story covering Dust Monster’s origins (but not the title character’s due to a “sensitive family history”), a diamond geezer version of the main monster that’s sure to have changed a few parental storytime renditions following the show and a glimpse into the best friends’ future travel adventures.
I was in proud, smug-mummy mode to start with as my four-year -old son chose to sit on his own on the front benches the theatre put out for children’s shows for the first time. He’s not great at sitting still but the show had him riveted, if not to the actual seat, to a defined space around it.
And it was lovely to be able to watch from above his very physical reactions to what was happening on stage, bouncing up and down with excitement along with Monty’s enthusiasm, laughing at and pointing to things that caught his attention, turning round on one occasion to highlight to us his enjoyment and concentration (“Luke-y watching”) and jumping to the floor behind the bench and back over as each monster was explosively introduced (note to self: must move the sofas away from the wall so there’s space to hide behind them when he’s old enough to be introduced to Doctor Who!)
Advertised for age 3+, my 22-month-old daughter was also fully engaged with the show, joining in the clapping at all appropriate times, both as applause and along with the beat of the songs.
Of course, as with all smug-mummy moments, they only last for a certain length of time. But this time, my son’s quickly unravelling behaviour was for the sweetest of reasons – and quite an appropriate one too. “Monty cheered, I’VE MADE A FRIEND… A MEGA MONSTER ONE!” near the end of the bookand Luke too found a friend in the (very non-monstrous) five-year-old he was sat next to and whose family member we were sat near to as well.
It’s so lovely how children can just make friends so instantly and, whilst not necessarily obvious at first glance, they were still very focused on events unfolding on the stage, adorably copying the actions of Monty and Monstersaurus between them as they flew off on an adventure. But, as the new friends’ enjoyment and reenactments became increasingly spirited, we were also quite relieved when the actors took their final bows and we were all able to leave on a high with no calming intervention required (just).
With the book’s final line reading “What fun did they get up to? YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE…” all we need now is Claire Freedman to pen the sequel and hope that Big Wooden Horse would bring their further adventures to life on stage too as we’d certainly be doing our “Saturday dance” and booking seats (along with the space around them!)
Something as exciting as the washing-up? To take a bath? Clean down your cupboards?
When Turned On Its Head looked at a sponge, they saw the inspiration for their latest participatory dance show for mini ones.
The company’s purpose is “to engage audiences and their families in a journey of discovery and imagination” and yellow, blue and pink sponges, along with a few plastic flexi buckets, provided the squashy launch pads into dream-like worlds where flying, dancing, raining sponges, tall bendy legs, alien creatures and squishy, spinning haute couture were essential elements to the young audience’s experience at the Lincoln Drill Hall today.
“Children are like sponges. They absorb all your strength and leave you limp, but give them a squeeze and you get everything back”
The Mini Malpi watched and joined in the afternoon performance of the show that’s set to a 1970s soundtrack and “is about all things spongy: a child’s ability to soak things up like a sponge, a nice piece of cake or the squashy, squishy texture that fascinates children and adults alike”.
The babies to four year olds, as well as their accompanying adults, were captivated by the show’s sensory wonderment, giggling from the outset and needing little encouragement to join in. Particular highlights for my mini ones were to fill a bucket up with sponges and tip them over your head, going for a well-cushioned spinning flight in a bucket, building towers of sponge to knock down and generally being able to throw the springy absorbers around under disco lights with gleeful reckless abandon.
Big smiles and eager exploration confirmed a delightful time was had by all at the arts centre, and, of course, we have many sponges at home too which we may never look at quite the same again…
“Part of a worldwide campaign and celebration of culture by, for and with the whole community,” Lincoln Fun Palace Weekend is taking place in and around the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd.
The “free, community event with arts and science activities” is “ideal for families, children and young people” and there’s certainly a wide range of activities on offer.
The Malpi household is a little bit keen on Halloween.
With mummy and daddy’s wedding taking place on October 31st some years back, their zeal for the ghoulish date definitely seems to have been passed on to the next generation if the recent excited giggling in the supermarket’s seasonal aisle followed by the enthusiastic trying on of masks and insistence on trying out the novelty decorations was anything to go by.
Fortunately we’re not the only ones who like dressing up at this time of year and here are just some of the events you and your mini monsters can take part in this year. Some need advance booking so be sure to click on the links to check the details.
Lincolnshire – the county of big skies, the eponymous sausage, home of the Red Arrows and a varied landscape that encompasses city, town, village and hamlet, coast and countryside and an Area of Outstanding Beauty – it’s no wonder it has its own annual celebratory day.
Lincolnshire Day (#LincolnshireDay) is celebrated every year on October 1st, the anniversary of the Lincolnshire Rising, a revolt by Catholics against the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII in 1536.
And tonight it was the subject of the weekly Twitter hashtag hour #LincsHour and there was no shortage of events planned for the day available for TheMiniMalpi to retweet.
The Lincolnshire Echo’s list of 16 things to do this Lincolnshire Day includes a walk through the Wolds, a book signing at Lindum Books in Bailgate, Lincoln, a festival of food and music at Swallowbeck Methodist Church and the launch of a new display at Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre sharing RAF Cranwell’s history as a training school.
Healing Manor Hotel near Grimsby is holding an evening of Lincolnshire dishes in its Portman Restaurant and in Grantham celebrations will be equally delicious with the Teaspoon Tea Company offering free samples of its “Grantham tea” and the town’s market hosting a Sausage Saturday event.
Visit Lincoln manager Emma Tatlow tweeted a link to Molly’s Guide’s Celebrate your inner Yellowbelly list which features a special Lincolnshire Day Artists’ Market, in Castle Square, Lincoln, a Select Lincolnshire Food Festival in St Marks Shopping Centre, Lincoln and a Wolds Art Festival in Market Rasen.
And Visit Lincoln’s own website page Lincolnshire Day 2016 also includes the Lincoln Book Festival’s Local History Afternoon, the Lincoln Ghost Bus Tour, Age UK’s Lincolnshire Lunch celebration of both Older People’s Day and Lincolnshire Day in one go at their Park Street branch in Lincoln, New Theatre Royal Lincoln’s Lincolnshire Day ticket offer and (on Sunday 2nd) the first Lincoln Half Marathon.
Taking place from September 21st to 25th, Gravity Fields is a festival celebrating Sir Isaac Newton and it has entertainment in spades – “for big kids and little”.
South Kesteven Council’s Stephanie Foster picks the highlights of the festival’s offerings for mini scientists, “This five-day festival has more than 120 events, including a brilliant Bubbles and Balloons show for four-year-olds upwards from those clever people at Science Made Simple. They have two separate shows with giant bubbles and whizzing balloons on Saturday, first in the morning at Stamford Arts Centre and then a 3pm event in Grantham Guildhall.
“If your kids have never seen a hedgehog or an owl up close, Gravity Fields can thrill them thanks to naturalist Sasha Norris in her Living With Wildlife show on Saturday morning.
“There is enchanting storytelling in the Family Science Day from Mara Menzies on the tale of Isaac Newton and the apple, part of a brilliant hands-on day of discovery for families with demos and table-top activities and cool tech.
“Light, technology and dance combine in another thrilling show for people big and small alike in Body of Light (For Little Ones!). There are several shows on Friday and Saturday.”
With all this and much more – including a show called Dr Death and the Medi-Evil Medicine Show which would be a must see for us if our minis were less mini (it’s for age 7+) – there’s sure to be something to appeal to any little (or big) Newtons, Einsteins or Curies in your house.