Avatar: The Last Airbender

It was about a year ago when Owen came home one evening having heard about this great cartoon for kids, Avatar. Having checked out the first episode & deeming it suitable viewing (although as the series progresses the level of violence was not so ideal) we settled down to daily episodes as a family (Netflix currently has all 3 series).

Its been a big hit in this household having finished it all the kids are now rewatching favourite episodes. Full of adventure, laughs, and plenty of battles this is a hugely entertaining cartoon series.

  

When not watching it the kids are generally playing games based around the cartoon. Who needs Elsa with her snowflakes when you have the kick-ass Katara doing her waterbending. We also have a few of the comic books which pick up the story after the cartoon finishes. Both kids love pouring over these comics.

   

 

I also painted some avatar nesting dolls, see this – avatar nesting dolls vine

I guess the only thing left to do is get our hands on the sequel – Legend of Korra.

Phoenixfest

We had a fantastic time yesterday at the #phoenixfest. Two of our favourite things, the amazing Story Museum & the fabulous Phoenix comic, collided creating an fun filled, inspiring and relaxing day. Look at all the things on offer. 

There was a great atmosphere during the day. It was even fun standing in line waiting to meet some of the comic book creators and listening to the excited chatter amongst the kids about favourite comics & their creations. (I also learnt of an extra puzzle in the Von Doogan puzzle book). Everyone we met was so friendly and taking the time to chat to Bryn & sign his poster.

  

We started the day up in Story Telling room with the gigantic bed. As on our previous visits to the Story Museum we love the magic they create and the kids loved choosing a dressing gown before entering the room. John Dickinson (writer of the Red Jack story and lots more) was reading some of his fantastical stories & this was Freya’s favourite part of the day. She enjoyed it so much she went back again later on in the day. 

  

Bryn went to a workshop by the creator of everyones favourite villain, Evil Emperor Penguin, Laura Ellen Anderson. He went in looking a little anxious & came our proudly showing his new villainous creation, Sir Dragon-Mare & his Raven Hunter minions, and humming the EEP theme tune.  

 

His current dragon obsession led to a request for a dragon drawing from the genius Etherington Brothers   

  

My highlight was finally getting to go inside the room with the antique printing presses (previously I’ve just peered in through the window like a kid outside a sweet shop). While Owen & Freya had a go at using one of the printing presses I enjoyed soaking in all the printing wonder.

  

  

Another highlight was meeting Paul Duffield who’s book is a lovely addition to our growing comic book collection.

 

 

The day ended with Bryn getting involved some secret shenanigans which involved racing around the museum finding clues, drawing pictures & solving a tricky Von Doogan puzzle to finally become part of the Phoenix Emergency Response Team. What happened after these two entered the room is ‘Top Secret’….I cant say anymore…

  

We all had so much fun & came home feeling a 100% more creative ready to make our own comics.

Thanks to all the organisers & comic book heroes.

   

 

Woozy the Wizard, A Broom to Go Zoom by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Review

  

When Woozy the Wizard needs to replace his broom he finds a ‘shiny new shop’ selling hoovers that zoom. However, when he gets home he finds its a flat pack hoover and looks to his friends for help and finds that sometimes shiny new things don’t always live up to their promise.

This is a great story to read out loud because of its funny rhyming verse. The silly story, fabulous rhymes & bright illustrations also make it perfect for new readers. Within minutes of reading the book aloud Bryn had sneaked off to read it himself. Freya found Woozy’s pet pig hilarious & enjoyed looking at the illustrations in the book.

This is a wonderfully bright & quirky book in tone, language & pictures. I really enjoyed the zany humour in both the text & pictures and we were all left wanting to hear more Woozy Wizard stories

Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case by Miriam Moss and Deborah Allwright

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Review

 

Dr Molly’s Medicine Case is not only a fun read but also sparked an afternoon of imaginative play. Freya was really excited about this book with its beautiful illustrations, flaps,pockets & pull out pieces (which, after many readings, we still haven’t managed to loose). 

Freya loves pulling out the pieces from Molly’s bag & helping the animals feel better, whether its checking the polar bear’s temperature or putting cream on a sore crocs tail. As with Mary Poppins, whatever Molly needs to help her friends is somewhere in her bag, including a few spoonfuls honey (in this case). The book ends with some extra special treats from the bag for Molly & her friends.

This is a lovely book and the flaps & little play pieces are well judged. On the first reading, rather than being distracted by the flaps & rushing to open them Freya was absorbed in the story and waited to open the flaps at the relevant points in the narrative. It was also fun to see her rush off and invent ailments for us all so she could play doctors. 

What’s Your Favourite Animal? By Eric Carle and Friends

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Review

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This book aims to inspire children ‘to create favourite animals drawings & stories of their very own’ which is exactly what Bryn did.

This is a sumptuous book in which 14 picture book artists draw their favourite animals accompanied with some text. As soon as we finished reading the book Bryn was keen to draw one of his favourite animals, the Axolotl a fish that walks.

Bryn recognised a few of the illustrators from their pictures such as Lucy Cousins, Jon Klassen with the most recognisable being Eric Carle. His favourite however was a guest appearance from Bad Kitty in Nick Bruel’s illustrations.

I thought the book was a great showcase for some amazing picture book artists and we are looking forward to discovering their books. It also provided a simple activity for Bryn who found the it a great source of inspiration.

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The Clockwork Dragon by Jonathan Emmett and Elys Dolan

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Review

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An exciting tale of a boy & girl outwitting the ‘ferocious, man-eating dragon’, Flamethrottle. Max is able to put his inventive plans into action by teaming up with Lizzie from the armourer’s workshop to create a formidable adversary. With two dragon obsessed children this book was an instant hit & they were both captivated by the tale.

It was good to have a story featuring a boy & girl working together – a positive role model for my two. The highlights of the book, however, were the illustrations brimming with humour, including dragon graffiti. The slow reveal of the titular clockwork dragon added great excitement to the story and like everyone else in the town, we too wanted a little clockwork dragon of our own.

Guardian How To Draw Series

We enjoy the How To Draw Series in the Guardian & below are the attempts of a 3yr old, a 7yr old & someone much much much older. 

How to draw a dog in space by Mini Grey   

How to draw a puffin by Thomas Docherty

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How to draw… a monster in underpants! By Ben Cort
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How to make… a paper dragon by Lydia Monks
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How to draw… a viking by Cressida Cowell
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How to draw… a silly unicorn by Sarah McIntyre
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How to draw… something wickedly weird by Chris Mould
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How to draw… a love monster! By Rachel Bright
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How to draw… a footballer by Dave Cousins
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How to draw… a mouse by Petr Horacek
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How to draw… a knight by Alex T Smith
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National Library Day

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It’s National Library day tomorrow and I have blogged previously here & here exactly how important libraries are to me and my family.

Here are this years library highlights;

Borrowed 526 books

As always we are very grateful for the family activities the library organises & in particular the Sunday afternoon Book Magic sessions. They are always a hit with the children who love listening to stories followed by a craft activity.

It was another successful summer reading challenge for Bryn who zipped through 6 books & enjoyed collecting the goodies supplied. This year there was a medal ceremony at the library & was heartwarming seeing so many children proudly waiting for their medals.

Seeing Bryn get caught up in series of books was a real delight. He discovered the How to Train Your dragons series by Cressida Cowell and worked his way through the series using the library reservation system. There were times however when he had to wait a little while for the next book but he was happy to re-read the books while waiting.

He is also making much more use of non fiction section to get to books about the topics he is working on at school. The whole family is a lot more knowledgable about Space, planets & stars then we were before.

Recently Bryn was issued with a new library card at school as part of the excellent library card for every child scheme.

I became addicted to the Agatha Raisin books by M.C Beaton this year. The library was able to feed this addiction even when I was away from home via their ebook service.

I was also smitten with Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell’s The Sleeper & the Spindle, so much so we now have our own copy in order that I could return the library copy.

This year I have been very impressed with the children’s picture book stock. We have borrowed some real gems and has been a great source for new discoveries for my list of Libraries & Librarians in picture books

A photo of a recent haul of books from the library

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I have also been taking the opportunity the library provides of recommending books for the collection and was pleased to see the addition of the fab Hilda series by Luke Pearson.

We also supported Library A-Z (do checkout this great project) project and received a beautifully illustrated book highlighting all the wonderful work libraries do & the services they offer. A great celebration of libraries.

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Depressingly there are continued cuts across the national public library service which I think makes for a poorer society. While we still have a library service we shall continue our weekly trips helping us grow, learn & expand our horizons.

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Review

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Louise is an artist and consumed by her passion she strives to create her masterpiece. Brimming with enthusiasm and pride she covers the house with her art. Following in her footsteps is her little brother, keen to be just like his big sister. By the end of the book we understand why “Louise Loves Art”

This is a sweet & fun story. While Louise takes centre stage its her brothers antics unfolding behind her which raised lots of smiles. For Freya, however, it was the cat in the story which provided the most chuckles, especially when she spotted it joining in with drawing.

We enjoyed this book which celebrates a couple of our favourite things too, drawing & siblings.

Rainbow Magic Books

This weekend saw the plague of the Rainbow Magic fairy books hit the house. Freya spotted the books on a trip to the library on Friday & instantly grabbed a couple to take home. She cradled them all the way home & they stayed by her side the whole day.
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We read her a couple of the books & while I am none to keen on the goblins ‘boys’ being naughty while the fairies ‘girls’ being nice (based on the few we’ve read) and the formulaic nature of the series she is really enjoying them.

So on Saturday we went & borrowed a few more. Bryn keen to join in the craze borrowed a couple to read too.

Both are enjoying the books at the moment & I guess its good to have some variety. I may however have to re-introduce some Pippi Longstocking for some balance & for my sanity.
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