Sunday, 29 July 2012

Summer Holiday Theme: 3 Olympic Legacy

After seeing the torch run across the bottom of our street and the totally bonkers and wonderful Opening Ceremony featuring Friend's Daughter singing and signing National Anthem! Another Friend being Olympic Dove/Pigeon/Moth thing on Bicycle! (feel the bask of my tenuous reflected glory) we are in full Olympic fever here. It's in our city for real right now! That's pretty darn cool. Especially when you can actually hear the fireworks.

We have tickets for the women's fencing and the Greco-Roman wrestling of all things. We figured we should try and go and see some boy friendly (and mother friendly- tussling men in leotards after all)strangeness that we wouldn't otherwise encounter. We're also going to wander around the Olympic Park another day and go up the weird helterskelter Orbit.

London's Olympic bid was all about the 'legacy'; the chance to inspire sportsmen and women of the future; movingly demonstrated in the lighting of the 'cauldron' by unknown young athletes. And so I have been expecting my two, slight couch potatoes by inclination, to start becoming faster, higher and stronger any day now.

This morning I can announce The Household Legacy began. There was a full staging of the Ben 10 figure Olympics before we were even out of our pyjamas.

As constructed and photographed by Bill:

And here are my two hopes for 2024 waiting on the kerb for the torch eating cake shortly before their mother abandoned them to buy beer in the pub.
How proud we would make Seb Coe.

I know this blog is supposed to be about books. I could now tell you about either some of the Ben 10 books we own or our Olympic London 2012 annual- but I can't say any of them impress me much. I'm a big fan of trash reading but (particularly in the case of Ben 10 'readers') I can't bring myself to recommend these particular examples of trash. The fact that my head is on a continual loop of the Ben 10 theme song in Spanish (Eddie's latest YouTube find) or the Wenlock and Mandeville 'Rainbow' song does not mean I should inflict it on you.

Books will be back- but Olympics may be also. It is quite exciting.

Look Wenlock and Mandeville karoke! (DON'T watch it. DON'T. IT WILL NEVER LEAVE YOUR HEAD.)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer Holiday Themes 2. Puppets

There is a (fairly well known) book here if you hold on for it.

Bill has had a great day at The Little Angel Theatre's 'Cartoon Caper' puppet workshop. As the sun shone the most convincingly we've seen it all year he was down in a basement in a windowless room, getting busy with crepe paper and glue with his best mates and an unlimited supply of biscuits. Perfect happiness.

The Little Angel Theatre would certainly make my top 100 reasons why Living in London with Kids is Good. It's a small gem of a venue, showing consistently excellent puppet shows that transcend the lowest common commercial denominator in both originality of source material and through a certain revelry in darkness. In fact today was the first visit back for one of Bill's friends since he had to be removed in a state of terror from a show at the age of 3. Cool.

Eddie and I went to collect Bill from the Islington Museum at the end of the session in time to view their 'show'. I'd not been to this small museum before and it proved a worthwhile place for a  poke around while we waited; chiefly marked for Eddie by an excellent selection of hats to try.
listening to an account of Islington in the blitz in a tricorn. as you do.

Victorian bride.
And then the final puppet parade. They'd been invited to bring in any favourite book, tv or cartoon character to make into a puppet. The show had an Olympic battle theme; and so we were treated to Miffy versus TinTin and a Moshi Monster in a trampoline showdown and Homer Simpson being trounced by Luke Skywalker in the javelin.

Bill's section was the fencing. Who did he choose to make? Harry Potter of course. Here's the boy wizard fashioned from cup and papier mache.
and here is Harry Potter in action commentating on a fiercely fought bout between Frodo and Lego Ninjago's Kai.
Unexpectedly gripping. His first foray into fan fiction perhaps?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer holiday themes 1. Hair

Well no sooner have we started embracing the rain than it's gone. Tsk. Nothing but glorious sunshine today and forecast all week. sigh. And just in time for the school summer holidays- honestly! *eyes lifted heavenwards, shoulders shrugged in slightly gallic fashion*
There was I HOPING that we'd be imprisoned together for 6 weeks with nothing but an old box of Lego pieces and some broken Ben 10 figures to entertain us but no: it appears we are to be forced out doors to enjoy such nourishments as the local paddling pool, bike rides round the park, picnics in the woods and Olympic Torch Relays.

I'm not sure what will happen to my blogging whilst I'm on Full Time Active Mother Tour of Service but I suspect it will get less regular and less bookish. However I'll try to give you a snapshot of our day's activity with a book recommendation to accompany it where possible.
Theme of the day today is Hair. It's important to start the holiday with the removal of shag so it has time to grow back and look as disreputable as possible  before the new term begins again.
Before shots:

Bill is looking particularly impressed at being asked to demonstrate his wonky mother-cut fringe isn't he? No matter- he is about to be Transformed by the scissors of an expert.

Both my children used to holler and flinch on the hairdresser's chair. There was no particular secret to this phase passing beyond taking them to a rather chichi specialist children's hairdressers where in exchange for a substantial fee they are bribed with a table of action figures, sweets and books. If the same problem besets you however you could do worse than trying to get hold of a copy of 'Need a Trim Jim' by Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (out of print- curses-but still easily tracked in libraries and second hand). I love all their 'Jim' books; 'Pass the Jam Jim' most of all but this would run a close second.
Jim doesn't want to get his blonde thatch cropped despite crashing into walls and finding it hard to get his spaghetti in his mouth. He's worried it's going to hurt. Will the benefits of being able to see again outweigh the trauma of facing the scissors? I think we know the answer. Great rhymes and exuberant illustrations make a trip to the hairdressers FUN.
And here are my once-shaggy Jims after their trip:
Bill looking completely different now obviously. hmmm. I can see I'm going to be attacking him with the paper scissors again soon.
at least his fringe is a bit straighter.
so that was worth £15 then.

Right that's the scintillating haircut post done to be only out-scintillated by the inevitable shoe shopping  post to come... But I think I can promise More Exciting Excitements tomorrow.

'Need a Trim Jim' written by Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, pub. Red Fox if you can find it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Doodle Cook

So what do you get for a boy who loves to cook and read but hates to draw or paint?

Hervé Tullet's 'Doodle Cook' that's what.

Remember these sculptures from the Pop-up festival?
Hervé Tullet did them in collaboration with local school children. They were sooo priddy.

I wish I'd discovered his GENIUS drawing books for my boys earlier in their non-drawing careers. Bill is now out of his non-drawing and painting phase and Really Quite Into It but he was held back for years through I think, impatience at his own lack of ability and a streak of perfectionism. For years he would only draw monsters not people; after all it didn't matter if monsters went a bit wrong looking.

Eddie will not even draw shonky monsters without inappropriately severe maternal pressure. His non-drawing stance is almost a religious vow. In a week where all the little girls in his class are coming in daily with elaborate thank you cards adorned with smiling princesses, unicorns, flowers and the like, I have had to bribe him with substantial quantities of chocolate to get him to even put a line on a piece of paper.

And yet...and yet...he DOES love to cook, so I fair leaped upon 'Doodle Cook' when I saw it. Would the temptation to make Zigzag Soup or Crayon Tartare provide a breakthrough?

Oh it's a faberoonie book. Each page offers instructions to make a different dish faced by a generous sized empty plate. Follow the step by step recipe and you too can produce your own perfect Hervé abstract. It's fairly specific in its demands which some may disapprove of, but for my frozen-in-the-spotlight-of-a bare-piece-of-paper child specific is GOOD. Eddie loves a list of instructions; that's his home turf. (his laminated 'shoe reminder card': 1. undo straps, 2. pull out tongue to make space, 3. put in foot and push heel down 4. do up straps and repeat with other foot revolutionised our school run earlier in the year).

It would be too much to say that he's learned to embrace the pen and crayon as yet but together we've 'cooked' a couple of pages in a relaxed and happy way which is a massive step forward. I, and more importantly he, begin to see a future that might involve artwork that isn't exclusively orange crayon on orange paper.

And I'm sure his teachers will love a slice of 'triangle cake' to eat whilst they admire the stack of perfect princesses...

'Doodle Cook' Hervé Tullet, pub. Phaidon isbn 978-0-7148-6070-1

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

How to eat fried worms

Another reason to love the rain! A boon to the humble but extremely useful worm. There was I must admit, a rather depressing news article yesterday about what the weather has been doing to local wildlife. It's not been good news for fledgling birds or baby bats or butterflies and bees at all alas. BUT worms are amongst the weather winners, as well as- hurray!- the slugs and snails (including the new encroaching Spanish Super Slug able to lay 4 times as many eggs as the weedy indigenous English sort apparently).

Shouting hurray for slugs is pushing me to the max but I'm trying: The walk to school has been enlivened by playing dodge the moving gastropod and examining the innards of exploded ones that others didn't dodge. A friend counted 50 slugs on the go on her own 750 metre journey. Impressive. Plus I get the always delightful company of Bill for longer as he now refuses to take his separate short cut through a tunnel where slugs gather in great huddles on the wall 'in case they get me'.

I confess I used to feel the same way about worms. Which just might have something to do with the lasting psychological scars inflicted by my big brothers who used to build worm traps and lure me to fall into them. Meanies. But I am stronger now and it I like to think that reading 'How to Eat Fried Worms' by Thomas Rockwell some time in the early 80s in Cambridge Central Library formed part of my personal Recovery Programme.

The book is an American classic of course; prescribed reading in some 'middle' schools and banned in (worm hugging presumably) others or so I hear. First published in 1973 it's the story of 10 year old Billy's quest to eat 15 worms in 15 days to win a bet. Each worm gets its own chapter billing and its own different despatch; whether within a fried cheese sandwich, smothered in ketchup or peanut butter or just downed straight from the soil, oyster-style. This is a great read for fans of condiments.

And thirty years or so after his mother Bill gobbled it down too with much sniggering appreciation.

It's just a shame there's no slug recipes inside...Spanish Slug Paella perhaps?

'"What have you got for lunch?" asked Tom.
Billy looked embarrassed.
"Worm-and-egg on rye."
"Heck," said Tom. "Why can't you ever bring something somebody else likes, so you can trade?"
Billy frowned. He opened his lunch bag.
"I don't know. I just can't stop. I don't dare tell my mother. I even like the taste now." He scratched his head. "Do you think there's something the doctors don't know? Do you think I could be the first person who's ever been hooked on worms?"'
'How to eat fried worms' by Thomas Rockwell, pub. Orchard books, isbn 978-1-84362-206-2

Friday, 13 July 2012

In the Forest

Still looking for more rain-enthusing suggestions? How about a lovely little pop-up book about the rain forest?
Hey- maybe we can grow our OWN rain forest with this summer deluge! 
For the first time this year a mini-flock of about 5 green parakeets have taken up residence in next door's plum tree. They are obviously the first comers in what's going to become a mass move-in of poison dart frogs, sloths, monkeys and even toucans! Eddie will be delighted. Bill will also enjoy swinging on the vines and I will be released from any further worries about weeding or slug attack; enjoying the bounty of tropical fruit trees rather than the occasional handful of wizened and mildewed blackcurrants.

Whilst we wait for the canopy to grow (about 6 weeks or so I'm guessing?) we can continue to enjoy 'In the forest' by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud; the team also responsible for the wordlessly charming 'Popville'.

Pretty, pretty prettiness with an ecological conscience; the book opens with a beautiful representation of a flourishing rain forest complete with parrots, toucans, a hiding sloth and various other little brown animals and figures. As you turn the pages of the book however, the influence of digger wielding, deforesting man starts to eat away at the pop-up vista until all that is left is one solitary tree to which the hopeful sloth still clings.

Hope, seeds and rain spring eternal thankfully. At the end of the book you get to pull a little tab and make new shoots appear and in the final spread a magnificent forest has grown once more. It's a simple conceit and a well worn message but so refreshingly presented it's irresistible. There's a 'Where's Wally' element in addition to the pop up glories in spotting all the hiding tiny creatures. I like to be able to play while I'm being educated and so, unsurprisingly enough, do my children.

When did pop-up books get so cool? I am linking this post to Child Led Chaos's Friday Pick blog hop whose own post this Friday 13th is funnily enough about Jan Pienkowski's 'Haunted House'; about the only pop-up book I do remember from childhood. I never had my own copy and always felt slightly cross about having to play with other people's already broken ones. Ah, it's so nice to be a grown up and get to play with a whole new generation of clever paper engineering first.

'In the Forest' by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud, story by Sophie Strady, pub.Tate isbn 978-1-84976-071-3

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Rain, Rain come again! (All Join In)

You know how I was going on and on in a dreary fashion about it raining a lot two months? Well guess what. IT'S STILL BLOOMIN' RAINING.(I realise this doesn't count as news to everyone who shares this island with me but it's worth reiterating to those in sunnier places). There was a report in the paper yesterday about the cancellation of a concert in Hyde Park due to the 'total emulsification of the surface'. I have no idea what that means but it sounds pretty Armageddon-ish. The Olympic Torch must be burning through unprecedented amounts of paraffin to keep alight on its journey through constant drizzle interrupted by torrential downpours.


That first paragraph marks a transition point in this blog and in The Little Wooden Horse household. For we are going to moan No More. We are taking positive action and making a decision to choose rain. To embrace it. To LOVE it (we have booked a summer holiday in Cornwall-we have no choice really)...and we invite you to join us and re-calibrate your gloom settings to 'Hurray it's wet again!'.

Bill was the pioneer. This weekend, in the face of the monsoon style buckets dropping out of the sky once more he went running round and round in circles in the garden getting as soaked as he possibly could. He's been hardened off by the amount of time he's spent reciting 'The Jumblies' recently; great stalwarts in the face of Weather they are.

It made him very happy, and culminated in a good session of making rain angels on the sodden ground.

It got me looking for more positive takes on rain within our bookshelves and it wasn't that easy . There was Shirley Hughes' lovely (of course) 'Alfie Weather' but they end up indoors escaping from the wet stuff there.
We've got Geraldine McCaughrean's amazing Ark diary; 'Not the End of the World' but that seems premature (just) and it's not exactly a cheery read.

Tove Jansson's 'Moominsummer Madness' is probably a better example of how to enjoy a good flood. I wouldn't mind relocating to a floating theatre for a summer season; and those genuinely planning out-door productions at the moment should be studying it as a 'how to' guide (if in doubt float your audience on upside-down umbrellas).

But for today I am going to offer you one of my favourite poems from one of my favourite books;  Nice Weather for Ducks  from 'All Join In' by Quentin Blake:

'..We don't care if it's raining
and the sky is murky black-
We're joining in the Duck Song

It's truly impossible to feel anything other than Purest Joy reading this book and looking at Quentin Blake's pictures. Come on Clouds! Bring it on!

I need more though in case the lip begins to wobble in weeks to come? Suggestions please...

All Join In' by Quentin Blake, pub.Red Fox isbn 0-09-996470-8 -but you've got it already right? It's an ESSENTIAL for life. Should be on that government poverty line necessary list thingy along with the beer allowance.

Monday, 9 July 2012

This is the Way to the Moon

Another of the books that followed me home from the Nobrow shop and well timed because Zoe is hosting a space themed round up at Playing by the Book today. Hop on over if you need Space book tip offs- there's a great selection already building up (and I can't wait for the mini make-your-own book spin offs that will follow...)

M. Sasek's 'This is the Way to the Moon' was originally published as 'This is Cape Canaveral' back in 1963 and thus rather before anyone had actually found the way to the moon. This edition has been sympathetically expanded for a reissue since Sasek's death with additional illustrations by  Jessie Hartland which include an Apollo 11 footnote; enabling the slightly 'sexier' new title. I can see why they've done it but it barely seems necessary. The book reads as a charming period piece as it stands and it's not like bringing in the lunar landing makes it any more contemporary.

A friend remarked this weekend that the notion of going to the moon will seem as anachronistic to his kids as ocean liner travel and wind up wristwatches. I have to say its felt that way to me for most of my life anyway. This book, with its beautiful, intimate reproductions of 1960s newly space crazy America stands as a hymn to that bygone age.
M.Sasek's produced a series of travel guides for children throughout the 1960s and it's a great glory that they are currently being reissued. I have to say that whilst the London and New York ones have charm a'plenty there is an added layer of poignancy to this one somehow. With the last shuttle recently retired and (thankfully) the ending of the Cold War I suspect that Cape Canaveral may feel even more different to the 2012 visitor than four decades of change in London. Sasek's book is scattered with faithful versions of the proud signs that littered Canaveral. I like the grocery store with its motto 'Thru these portals walk the greatest missilemen in the world'.  Sasek's even handed commentary on the missile culture of Canaveral is a masterpiece of gentle but respectful eyebrow raised understatement. The model nuclear warheads display is reproduced with the heading 'A leaflet says:"The display lends itself especially well to family photography"'.

If this is all sounding more like a curiosity for the adult reader than an engrossing read for a child I suspect that might slightly be the case. On the other hand there is much detail beautifully expressed for any burgeoning space/bomb history nerd and a nice precis of the history of (US) space flight of the early 60s. Above all, as with all Sasek's books, it's a great combination of clear, non-patronising text and detailed whilst still idiosyncratic drawing all given space to breathe in an enticingly big and breezy lay out. Bill and Eddie have so far passed it over, but one of these days one of them will get their nose stuck in and drink it down appreciatively I'm sure. In the mean time I have it all to myself.

Space as our past rather than as our future.

'This is the way to the Moon' by M. Sasek,pub.Universe, isbn 978-0-7893-1842-8

Friday, 6 July 2012

High Times and Rise and Fall

A couple of appointments with a couple of hours between them in the cooler quarters of town on Wednesday gave me an opportunity to pay a visit to the Nobrow Shop; a pilgrimage I'd been meaning to make for a while.

Nobrow is a small independent publisher of original graphic illustration and art comics of unparalleled gorgeousness that I have been acquiring a quiet addiction to over the last year (see my earlier reviews of 'Hilda and the Midnight Giant' and 'The Wolf's Whistle'). I knew that entering the shop would expose me to the possibility of spending large sums of money and I was right. On top of their own titles they sell a carefully chosen selection of some of the most beautiful and seductively designed children's books around. I wanted to buy their entire stock but managed to exert the same sort of control I exercise at a dessert trolley and limit myself to four choices. All will be making appearances here I'm sure. But as we're bigging up the Nobrow, today I'll draw your attention to their in-house wordless concertina books.

A few months ago we acquired the first of these:
 'Rise and Fall' by Micah Lidberg is a slim looking volume that opens out a full 136cm to illustrate the entire chronology of the dinosaur era on one side and the rise of the mammal on the other. There are as I say, no words; this is not a fact-spewer for an animal nerd but it is. just. beautiful.
We have a bare white mantelpiece halfway up our stairs which was once officially The Least Exciting Vista in the house.
No longer. 'Rise and Fall' turned out to fit the space perfectly and gets rotated on a daily or so basis to make Eddie's already slow progress up the stairs to bathtime become even slower. I am also capable of being distracted by some new detail within as I carry up laundry or go to fetch something. This may mean I have to come back downstairs in order to try and re-remember what it was I was going up the stairs to do. You could call that an irritation but I'll spin it as Art as Fitness Aid.

And now we also have their newest concertina book; 'High Times' by Golden Cosmos. Similarly beautiful, but concerning machines rather than animals this time; the subject is the history of aviation, beginning with Icarus and ending with the flight to the Moon. This one is also wrapped in a folder which does have a potted history for those desperate for factual context.

When Bill was a baby and learnt to point, the first things he chose to point at were the tiniest specks of aircraft way up in the sky. I can remember being heavily pregnant with Eddie and taking an 18 month old Bill on his first trip to the RAF Hendon air museum and thinking 'I wonder how many more rainy Sundays of the next few years will be spent in this way'. The answer predictably enough 6 years later is too many but in a household where 3 out of 4 resident would disagree with that analysis 'High Times' has been well received.

And when aircraft look this pretty I'm happy to give them their turn in the shelf spotlight. I may need to buy the 'Swan Lake' concertina book too however to redress the balance...
Our rotating display

'Rise and Fall' by Micah Lidberg, pub. Nobrow and 'High Times- a history of aviation' by Golden Cosmos, pub. Nobrow both available mail order from their main site if you don't want to risk stepping into their shop.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

EXCLUSIVE: The Fearsome Beastie bites back

Hot on the heels of our first blog interviewee, we are delighted to welcome our second and third today in the persons of Friendly Author Giles Paley-Phillips and his very own Fearsome Beastie; aka 'Beastie'.

The book 'The Fearsome Beastie' has proved a popular addition to Eddie's bedbook tower over the last month. Graphically (but not too graphically) illustrated by Gabriele Antonini, it is a cautionary tale about why you shouldn't believe everything a monster tells you, and the importance of keeping your axe-wielding grandma close at hand at all times (definitely a paeon to the benefits of inter-generational living).

We wanted to get the inside story on how Beastie's tale came to be told and how his monstering career has progressed since his perfidy has been outed. We are, after all, seekers of the purest journalistic truth for you dear readers.
A preliminary risk assessment of our house suggested that some basic precautions should be taken. I therefore took care to order in a Nice Piece of (organic) Child Haunch from the butchers in case Beastie started slavering during the interview and I hid the Fellow Reviewers in the cupboard under the stairs.
Giles required nothing more than a cup of tea and a custard cream thankfully.

Polly: Beastie, where did you and Giles first meet? You seem to have allowed him fairly open access to some of the darker secrets of your modus operandi. Was this an authorised biography and are you worried it may backfire given the state of High Alert all axe wielding grandmothers have now been placed on?
Beastie: He totally stitched me up! I had no idea he was going to write about my eating habits in such detail. He has totally twisted the truth, I mean do I look like the sort of Beastie that would eat children? (don't answer that)
(Beastie tucks into steak heartily at this point and demands salt and pepper)

Polly: Bill has a Lego storm trooper, a beyblade, 6 assorted bricks and a dismantled marble run, Eddie has a ball of blu tac covered in fluff and I have an overdue library book. What's under your beds?
Beastie: Bones mostly...but they aren't mine I swear! Not really sure how they got there actually, must have been the previous any ketchup?
Giles: Urmmm, quite a lot of stuff, chrimbo decorations, suitcases, unused picture frames, a ten pin bowling ball with no finger holes!
(no room for any more monsters then- phew)

Polly: (whilst Beastie is gnawing and distracted- soft voice) Can you recommend a good Beastie stew recipe? What ingredients should we be stocking up on Delia-like in the event of a Beastie visitation? (at the end of the book- Grandma comes up trumps again with Beastie carcass)
Giles: I don't do Delia, her timings are always off, more of a Jamie Oliver fan, so lets just say, with that in mind, that my Beastie stew will definitely feature garlic, chilli, fennel seed and lashings and lashings of olive oil, cause Jools loves it!!
(sounds DELICIOUS)

Polly: What projects next for both of you? More collaborations or is it time to part ways?
Beastie: I have recently started a support group to help Beasties around the world affected by prejudice from the elderly!
Giles: I have a new picture book out in September called 'Tamara Small and the Monsters' Ball' and then another out next May called 'Things you never knew about Dinosaurs'.
Polly: A busy time for both! We look forward to the next books and thank you.

At this time Beastie started muttering about 'pudding' and sniffing round the cupboard so it was time to bring things to a swift conclusion. I apologise to Giles for the slightly brutal way I bundled him out the door; the children were starting to moan gently.

'The Fearsome Beastie' written by Giles Paley-Phillips and illustrated by Gabriele Antonini is published by Maverick, isbn 978-1-84886-066-7. I thank them for sending a review copy and for Giles for sparing his time for the interview. Our views are our own.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Pop-Up festival and cake

This weekend my Fellow Reviewers went on a road trip/pilgrimage-to-eat-cake at Grandma and Grandad's house. There was much fevered speculation about exactly what types of cake would be on offer before they went. As it turns out the answer was pretty much ALL types of cake, presented below for your own delectation (I'm assuming you're as interested in the answer as I was).

'AND there were ham sandwiches and buns' sighed Eddie with huge satisfaction, on his return. I had to let out his trousers a button this morning. Mary Plain would approve.

 I did some cake eating of my own in their absence; meeting up with some most honoured and honourable names in the world of UK children's book bloggers to enjoy a strawberry tart and a gossip about the penchant of slugs for secret night time library forays and the joys of French stationery.

I also, undaunted by not having my children with me, (that's the kind of kid's book nerd I am) took myself along to the utterly wonderful Pop-Up children's book festival at Kings Cross. Hurray for the calibre of treats on offer there and hurray for the immense amount of work, thought, love and to be frank- FUNDING that had gone into making books, comics and stories a truly exciting day out.
James Mayhew, Clara Vulliamy and Vanessa Stone's Picture Pavillion was a beaut of a thing; full of industrious small people creating inspired fun. I didn't take a photo of the baby who was joyfully working with pastels on the recreation of Van Gogh's starry night below but it was a lovely sight to pocket away.

a huge piece of paper lined the floor which got covered with friends for Muffin and Martha
I may not have had my children with me but I did bump into several friends' children there and got to hear all about World Wise Storytellers, including Usifu from Sierra Leone who encouraged all to contemplate whether it was better to be a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean when the water of life get's hot. Think on.

I also got to hear about Discover's Cultural Olympiad project;
12 new stories by some of the best authors in town accompanied by an interactive illustration from some of the best illustrators in town are being published online weekly over the summer. They can be downloaded as pdf's and used as a springboard for creative writing projects which will then also be published in an online gallery. More FREE brilliance; aren't we all the luckiest eggs?- don't miss them.

The whole festival was decorated in the jolliest way by Herve Tullet's interactive sculptures.

I didn't go to the festival completely alone of course. Knowing a Rousseau-esque display was planned I took Eddie's toucan hat along to keep me company and enjoy a grand day out. He immediately made a new friend and found a new perch. It was extremely hard dragging him back home at the end of the day and I can only apologise for the number of fruit he pilfered...
Because we went on the Sunday we missed the Phoenix-powered Comic tent experience of the Saturday which sounds a complete blast. Bill would be furious if he knew. Still he got to have his cake and eat it. 
And so did I.