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1. Kangaroos and Koalas at the Window!


I have been out of the studio doing illustration workshops most of this week, because it's half term and libraries like to put on family events. 

On Monday I did something a little different to my usual format: Castleford Museum wanted me to decorate a window. It was a tricky project to work out, logistically - I had only 5 hours, I had to work with 2 separate groups of children and the window had to be finished by the end of the day.



I used storytelling to create content and the local area as the theme. I got each group to design a hero or villain (with me drawing at the flipchart) then we spun a story around them. The children illustrated their story as a communal drawing on two huge squares of paper, then I gave them sheets of acetate and coloured permanent markers and they traced the various elements they'd drawn. I then sellotaped all the different bits of the story onto the window, trying to arrange them so that they fitted together, at least vaguely!).

The image above is the first group's story, featuring a poor kangaroo who, because he was really good at doing back-flips, got kidnapped by a travelling circus and brought to Castleford. Luckily his sister came to rescue him. I love the turning circle at the circus (always very handy when you get big animal deliveries!)


The second story, above, revolved around an evil koala, with a plan to blow up all the local banks. I love the detail of Castleford's shops. Can you spot the koala, climbing a tree to mark the position of the banks on a map? The rockets are people fleeing Castleford to take refuge on the moon until the trouble is over.

I was a bit unsure of how it would go, but in the end everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and it was good fun for me to do something a bit different. The children's illustrations are going to stay up on the window in the museum for a several weeks, which is lovely.

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2. My Big Fast Car Book

My Big Fast Car Book
Publisher: Ticktock Books
Genre: Children / Cars
ISBN: 978-1-78325-046-2
Pages: 24
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Do you know the top speed of the fastest car ever made? Or the most popular pace car at NASCAR races? Or the car that won every racing competition it entered in 1965? My Big Fast Car Book details these fun facts and more with large, full-color pictures.

Kids who love playing with cars will find themselves drawn to the real thing, as they imagine driving at top speeds on open roads. Formula One, NASCAR, the Autobahn, or drag racing, kids can live them all through these pictures.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

The most popular


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3. Easy, Last-Minute Costume Ideas For Kids Big and Small.

I came across some great sights for unique, easy costume ideas for kids for Halloween.  The first site Surf Net, has costumes for toddlers and school aged children. using items found around most houses.  Check out their ideas at:

http://www.surfnetkids.com/halloween/homemade-costumes/

 One of my favorite sites for kid-friendly crafts, and holiday decorations as well as costumes is one I’ve mentioned before on this blog: Red Ted Art.  While looking for costume ideas, you might also check out the 20 Apple Crafts, 20 Pumpkin Ideas, and the Bat Crafts as well.  http://www.redtedart.com

 

picnic table costume

picnic table costume

Don’t forget, you can also have your child be his or her favorite Literary Character from a book by taking something unique from each character as the focus. One example would be to paint a lightning bolt on your son’s forehead and give him a pointed hat and he’s good to go as Harry Potter.  A pointed hat, green face paint and a long black scarf that doubles as a cape makes a pretty acceptable witch.  Dress your child in black turtleneck and tights and tie a sash around her middle and she’s an Oreo cookie.   You your imagination and you won’t have to break the bank to be original.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


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4. Ten Thankful Turkeys Book Blast and $50 GC Giveaway

Ten Thankful Turkeys by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: Ten Thankful Turkeys | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Ewa Podleś | Publication Date: October 4, 2014 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 2 to 8 Summary: This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

Kindle version available for only 99 cents from Amazon on October 24 & 25, 2014. Grab your copy now!!

Amazon (Kindle) * Amazon (Paperback)

 

About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse

 Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to   being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends,   but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released books in her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2013/2014. Her husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest closes: November 23, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

MDBR Book Promotion Servicesthe

Copyright © 2014 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.


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5. Pure Joy

I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.

gala

 

She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:

 

 

Priceless.  Pure Joy.

After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.

 


Filed under: Dad stuff

5 Comments on Pure Joy, last added: 10/22/2014
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6. Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Jeremy Norton
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-098261657-4
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Howard B. Wigglebottom is afraid of creatures lurking under his bed, loud noises, dogs, and the first day of school. He decides he can’t face any of them, so he’s never coming out of his room again. But when he meets a young bird who bravely flies for the first time, Howard realizes he doesn’t always have to be afraid. In fact, he can only really be courageous in the face of fear.

Howard decides to face all his fears head-on. With supportive friends and family, he does the very things he fears the most, and finds out that they’re not as terrifying as he thought. And when the first day of school arrives, he’s ready to face it courageously.

Children face many fears as they encounter the world around them. Some fears are healthy, such as those that protect them from harm. But some fears are really just a worry about the unknown, and these only prevent kids from trying something new. Howard is a great role model as he faces his own fears, conquering them in the process.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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7. Third Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest

by Sally Matheny

Climb-a-Tree (but not this one!)
For the past two years, I’ve hosted a Climb-a-Tree contest. It all began after reading a report that 1 out of 3 children have never climbed a tree. Are our children becoming too comfy on the couch? Or is it the parents? 

Maybe it's the fears of all the “what-ifs.” Don’t let worry keep you in a sanitized, cushioned bubble.   

Fun and adventure await you at the base of a tree—not to mention a slew of learning and confidence building opportunities.

I almost decided to forgo the contest this year until a friend’s child approached me and asked about the next tree-climbing contest. We don’t want to disappoint, so here’s the announcement for the third annual Climb-a-Tree contest!


Who: Parent-Supervised Children (ages 5 and up) and Parents

How to Enter:   Easy—send me a photo of your kids in a tree. List their first names only. They’ll be entered into the drawing for a prize.  The winner will be awarded a cool, outdoor toy based on the child’s age.

However, this year, I’m increasing the rewards.

For every teenand adult who is in a photo (in a tree!): Your name will be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. (Because I figure some of you want to get in on the fun, too.)

Deadline: Send me photos via this blog, or post them on my facebook page. All photos are due by 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, October 27, 2014.

If you don’t want to post a photo, but would like to enter the contest, just private message me and I’ll add your name to the drawing.

We’ll announce the winners on this blog on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Here are things to remember:

Be safe!

Avoid this.
Posion Ivy




            









                                                       And this.
Poison Oak












Use good judgement and you won't need this.





Take this challenge at your own risk. Follow the safe Guidelines for Tree Climbing.



Angry Phone Calls





I don’t want any of these.











Or these.


Lawyers


















Having fun outdoors!




This is what we want to see! 










Be adventurous! Get outside and have fun together!





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8. Animals Everywhere!

Animals Everywhere!
Author & Illustrator: Simon Abbott
Publisher: Ticktock Books
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-78325-077-6
Pages: 24
Price: $8.99

Author’s website
Downloadable fun activities – coming soon!
Buy it at Amazon

There are many kinds of habitats, and each supports certain animal populations. Animals Everywhere! is an illustrated guide which provides some interesting information about them.

Habitats such as the rain forest, mountains, desert, and ocean are each presented in a two-page spread. In these pages, various animals that live in the habitat are illustrated in cartoon style, along with fun facts about them.

Kids will be fascinated to learn about the goliath bird-eating spider, which is as big as a pizza, or the male narwhal, which is also called the “unicorn of the sea” because it has a long, spiral tusk. These and other fascinating creatures fill the pages of this fun and colorful book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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9. Inktober Day 16 “Rain, Rain, Rain” #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 16

On Inktober Day 16, it was raining like crazy here in New England. That was the inspiration behind this little piece.

Thanks for stopping by!

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10. Game On! Brain Building Board Games to Make or Fake at Home.

I am thrilled to bring you today’s post from fellow blogger Katey Howes who blogs about literacy, parenthood and writing for kids at: http://www.katiewrites.wordpress.com

Every Monday her blog features a new Raising Readers post to help parents raise kids who love books. Katey is mom to 3 girls and countless manuscripts, all of which vie for her time and attention. She wrote this seated on a kid-sized chair while supervising the painting of wooden treasure chests from the craft store. The dishwasher and clothes washer were running, but there was still a good bit of cinnamon sugar on the floor from cooking streusel muffins with the kids that morning. (My kind of Mom!)

You can often find Katey discussing children’s literature, song parodies and household disasters on twitter @kateywrites or on Facebook at her author page: http://www.facebook.com/kateywrites

Here’s Katey:

My hall closet, originally intended for coats, is absolutely stuffed with boxes of board games and puzzles. I have a hard time resisting a new game – especially one that tricks my kids into using their brains. Unfortunately, it seems like these games get more expensive every time I turn around. Just today I came across a boxed set of card games that promise to help preschoolers with their letter skills:    Alphabet Zoop Card Game

From what I understand, this box contains 2 sets of 26 letter cards, a joker, and instructions for alphabet-themed versions of traditional games. For $19.95.
ABC Go Fish? Great idea!
$20 worth of great? No way.
Index cards and markers great? Oh, yes.

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of great, educational games you can make at home for a lot less money and just as much fun.

Don’t Say It retails for $16.95 and can be best described as Taboo for kids. Each card has a key word at the top. The goal is for the player to read that word silently, then describe the word in such a way that other players can guess what it is. The challenge? The player describing the word cannot say the other words on the card. For example, a player may need to get others to say “PIG,” but without using “sty” “bacon” “ham” or “mud.”    Don't Say It Game

Want to make it yourself? Index cards or card stock, a list of vocabulary words and your imagination are all you need. To level the challenge for kids of different ages, you can make your own rules: perhaps kindergarteners can’t use the 1st word on the list, but can use the others.

Want to leave the hard part up to someone else? Lucky for you Teach Speech 365 made a fabulous version of this game and sells the printables for $5.50 at Teachers Pay Teachers.   http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/product/Dont-Say-It-Describing-Dash-461132        Teach Speech 365 graphic

Zingo is the name given to a variety of products that help practice literacy skills like letter recognition, sight word reading, and simple spelling. The games come with a dispenser that pops out cards when you push the handle. Players then try to match the card to their playing card. The first to fill their card Bingo-style wins.
I love these games – and kids do, too. But buying a new one for each level of learning is an expensive proposition – since each dispenser and card set are a slightly different size from the others. I recommend skipping the bells and whistles and simply creating your own BINGO cards using the parts of speech your child is currently working on. http://www.BingoBaker.com   makes it quick and easy to create printable templates.

Scrabble Junior claims to make the classic game easy and fun for kids – and does so by providing you with a game board pre-printed with words for kids to fill in. For older kids, the back side of the board is more like a traditional Scrabble board, so it grows with kids. If you don’t already have Scrabble around the house, this may be worth the $13 it retails for at Toys R Us. If you already own Scrabble, think instead of making cards with words from your child’s classroom list. Draw tiles from the handy bag and see who can fill in their cards first!
Scrabble also sells a game called Alphabet Scoop with a fun twist. All the tiles are placed in a bowl. Each player has 1-3 cards with words on them. They take turns scooping out tiles with a spoon and trying to fill in their word cards with matching tiles. Fill in a word and yell out “Yummy!” to win. Again – seems pretty easy to make a version of this at home and customize it to your children’s reading levels!

Kids Charades from Family Fun retails for $19.95 at Barnes and Noble and other retailers. It is a great way to get reluctant readers to get in on the action, as they draw a card, read it to themselves, and then act it out for the group. Once again, with a little ingenuity, a kitchen timer and a stack of scrap paper you can make this at home in a flash – and tailor it to your children’s interests and reading levels. You could even put favorite book titles or characters into the mix!    Kids Charades picture
My kids – and my daughter’s Daisy troop – totally love the game Hedbanz – at least, when we make it ourselves. I have yet to cave and buy the boxed game that sells for $15-$20. Here’s how it works:
Players draw a card and do NOT look at it. Instead they stick it to their forehead, facing out, so that the other players can see/read it. Use elastic headbands worn sweat-band style around the forehead to hold the card in place. (Or, if you’re short on supplies, just write your clues on post-its and smack ‘em on the kids’ heads!)                hedbanz
Players then take turns asking questions like “Am I an animal?” “Do I have four legs?” and the like until they guess who they are. The player to guess first OR the player to guess the most cards by the time a timer runs out is the winner. Make this game easier for beginning readers by using pictures with words. Make it harder by eliminating the pictures. Have kids studying together? How about making it fun by putting glossary terms on their heads? “Am I metamorphic rock?” “Am I magma?” “Am I George Washington Carver?” The possibilities are endless.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there with ideas for games you can make at home for less. I’d love for you to share them in the comments. And if you’re looking for more games that grow brains, check out Board Games That Build Readers and Board Games That Build (Bigger) Readers on Kateywrites.    KathrynHeadshots-45

I wish I’d thought of some of these great ideas to use when my kids were small.  They are great for classroom use as well, since we teachers are on a tight budget. Thanks for a fabulous post Katey!


6 Comments on Game On! Brain Building Board Games to Make or Fake at Home., last added: 10/20/2014
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11. My International Book Tour!



Okay, I admit that's bigging it up a wee bit. It was international, in that I was visiting International Schools and it was in Spain not the UK, so that's international, right? And it was all about promoting and signing squillions (again, almost true) of my books... 


Anyway, it seems like ages ago, as I've been so busy since I got back, but in fact I only flew back about 12 days ago. I didn't want to come home and you can see why:


It was all arranged by the lovely Gary, from Bookbox International. He set me up with nine different schools across Barcelona and Valencia. Every day, he would pick me up at my hotel and drive me and a car-load of picture books to a school, where I would do storytellings, talks or workshops, then finish up with book signing.

Mostly it was little ones, the target audience for the books (so best from the signing point of view), but occasionally I worked with older ones. Here's a pic Gary took of me giving a lecture:


It was very like working in English schools, although the level of English spoken varied, so I had to speak slowly (yes, I know, not really my forte). My 'act' is very visual though, lots of acting the story out as well as drawing, so that helped. The children were generally less good as sitting quietly too, so there were some classes where I really earned my fee!!

One school had pets, so I did some sketching in the lunch break. The Y1 kids in the playground loved it (most the quotes are theirs):


It was a very long day though. For most of the time I was staying in Sitges, about half an hour from Barcelona, which as you can see is totally gorgeous and eminently sketchable:


...but that meant we were driving into Barcelona each morning, through appalling rush-hour traffic, so we had to leave every day at 7am (ugg) - too early even for breakfast! Then, because the Spanish have a siesta in the middle of the day, school often didn't finish until 4.30 - 5.00. By the time I done my signing, then we had driven home, it was usually around 6.30pm.


I didn't mind, I enjoyed myself and I always have oodles of energy when I am somewhere new. I had a lovely room in Sitges. This was the view from my MASSIVE balcony:


Each night when I got back from the school I would quickly shower then would walk into the old town at the other end of the bay, with my sketchbook of course, and have a couple of beers at a bar:


Sometimes people would spot me drawing and I would get chatting for a bit, which is nice when you're on your own, then I would quickly walk back to the hotel for a Spanish-style late dinner at about 10pm, then quickly to bed (usually feeling like a beached whale, full of all that dinner!) 


We moved onto Valencia after the weekend, which was slightly disappointing by comparison, as we were staying and working in the suburbs, so I never got to see the pretty bit at all. Never mind, I still had fun days with Gary at the schools, then he took me out to dinner each night. We struggled sometimes for restaurants in our area and one night, in somewhere very 'local', I ordered what I thought was tapas calamari (because it only cost 4 Euros) and I got this:


I did manage to eat most of it and it was delicious!

I will tell you more about my adventures at the weekend in Sitges later, as all sorts of stuff happened and I am running out of space and time here. In the meantime, here the sketch I did as I was leaving: 



See you next time!

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12. Inktober Day 13 : Meteor #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 13

A falling star last night sparked this piece. I look to nature many times when trying to find inspiration.

Micron Pigma Brush pen black
Graphite pencil Papermate Sharpwriter #2
Micron 05 pen black

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13. Easy-Peasy Zucchini Pancakes + Recipe Give-Away

I don’t know about you, but this year’s mild summer and fall produced a bumper crop of veggies in our garden. Especially zucchini.  If you are still picking this versatile vegetable, or are just looking for a new way to get your children to eat more veggies, this recipe will do it.  It’s so simple and DELICIOUS. Even reluctant eaters should give it a try.

Zucchini Pancakes

1. Wash a medium size zucchini and pat it dry.  SHRED into a large bowl. You should have about 2 Cups.

2.  Add the following: 3 T. flour (or biscuit mix), 1/3 C grated Parmesan Cheese, a sprinkling of onion powder and a dash of salt.

3. Beat an egg and add to the mixture, stirring until all the mix is wet.   zucchini 1

4.  Put 1T oil in a skillet or on a griddle, spreading it around to coat the pan.

5. Pour spoonfuls of the zucchini mix onto the hot skillet and spread out into a thin layer.  Cook until browned and then flip.

6. Serve hot.  These pancakes make a great side dish and are reminiscent of potato pancakes.

Variations:  Try using grated beets or carrots for a sweeter tasting pancake.  Or mix half zucchini and half carrot.  You can also add 2 T of minced onion to the mix instead of the onion powder.

What do you think?  Is this recipe a winner?

Recipe Card Give-Away: If you’d like a set of the FOUR recipes found in my MG novel WHEELS OF CHANGE, leave a comment or your favorite zucchini recipe. I’ll put everyone’s name in a hat and choose TWO winners.  You have until 10-31 to post your comments.  zucchini pancakes


4 Comments on Easy-Peasy Zucchini Pancakes + Recipe Give-Away, last added: 10/13/2014
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14. More Free Apps: Part 2

On Monday I featured some new iPhone Apps for kids.  Today I have three free ones to download onto you Android device.

1. HAY DAY: A building game in a happy country town filled with positive, colorful things and lots of fun for young kids.

2. KIDS DOODLE – COLOR AND DRAW: Your kids will love this drawing app thanks to its colorful options and ability to play back their drawings in a video montage.

3. BUBBLE POPPING FOR BABIES: A very simple game for your baby or toddler. Various forms of ocean life trapped in bubbles are released when baby touches them.  Great for building eye-hand co-ordination.

What are your kids’ favorite Apps?


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15. Sketch-Day at Huddersfield Grammar


It made a nice change for me on Wednesday, to do a school visit where I was not only working with Y10 Art GCSE students, but where the day revolved around sketchbooks, rather than illustration workshops. I had a very keen group of about 10 girls and, along with their lovely art teacher Mrs Davis, we embarked on a SketchCrawl around the school. 



I showed them some of the work I had done in Brazil and Sitges, to get them in the mood. They got just as excited as me about the concertina format I've got so into lately and Mrs Davis is quite keen to create some with them. I was also able to show them a couple of sketches I had done on my journey there (immediately above and below), which went down really well.


Mrs Davis had bought each girl a new A4 sketchbook and a 0.5 fine-liner so, armed with these and some black brush-pens, we headed out. It was a bit chilly. I was well wrapped in anticipation, but many of the girls were coatless and one or two hadn't even put on their woolly tights. Brrrrr.... They were very good though and set-to without any serious complaint. 


Huddersfield Grammar School is a bit different. They are about to open a new-build extension, which is rather lovely, but the main section of the school was built in the 1860s, when they knew how to make things truly sketchable. We were spoilt for choice: the gorgeous stone windows, the decorated pillars, the Gothic porch, the stained glass...


We each managed two sketches before break. The girls were really up for it and did some really strong stuff. Above are a couple. Remember: this is straight in with black pen, no pencils, no rubbers. I drew alongside them, just offering little bits of input where they seemed to need it.

After break we took pity on them and headed indoors, first into the library, originally built as a rather fancy Billiard Room extension, in 1893, and then in the hallway with its oak staircase with torchere statuettes on the newel posts, Art Nouveau windows and a bank of beautifully decorated, brass light switches, which took several people's fancy.


I did a few quick drawings (the 'sorry's below were because we were sitting on the stairs just outside the staff room and teachers kept needing to get past), but I spent more time going round offering tips and guidance this time. It all seemed to go really well and everyone worked really hard. I love the carefully drawn grain above.


We had a late lunch and then headed back to the art room to finish off with something a little different. As everyone was so taken with my train portraits and the Drink-and-Draw series from Brazil, Mrs Davis decided we would attempt something similar. We all sat round a long table and I started them off with a 5 minute contour drawing. They found that quite hard, so we made it worse, by asking them next to do blind-contour drawings! There was a lot of giggling at the results, but it's a great warm-up exercise and creates some strong line-work. This was my contour drawing:


Then we handed out watercolour pencils - just 3 colours each: a dark blue or purple, an orange and a lighter blue. It's a great idea to limit your palette with watercolour pencil sketching and I wanted to demonstrate how it's so much more important to stay true to tonal values than colour: mad colours are fine, as long as the tones are right, but the reverse isn't true.

I did a quick demo of how to use water: quickly and boldly, once the sketching is done. It's a technique that takes a bit of getting used to, but I think some of them were quite surprised at the strength of their results and amazed at how well the crazy colours actually worked.


At the end of the day, I was slightly early for my train and reckoned I had about 20 minutes sketching time. There are some lovely buildings around the station, so I stood in the entrance and drew the sketch below. I just got it finished in time but, as I headed inside for my platform, I discovered my watch was slow and the train was about to leave! I made it by a whisker.


below are sketches I did on the way home of course. The lady opposite was very obliging and dozed in about as many up-the-nose poses as was humanly possible:


Thank you to Mrs Davis for inviting me to be part of your project and to all the girls for your hard work and enthusiasm. I believe that some of the sketches we did are going to be made into a colouring book of the school - it would be great to see a copy of that!

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16. Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe

Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe
Author: Tim J. Myers
Illustrator: Macky Pamintuan
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4027-7798-1
Pages: 40
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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How do you handle the dirty dinosaurs in the city? You send them to the Dino Wash Deluxe. They’ll be scrubbed and polished until they’re squeaky clean. Working there is a dream job, unless you’re a bit scared of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

As the dinosaurs come in, each is handled in his own special way. Even T. Rex! And if the employees play their cards right, they might even get taken for a ride.

Down at the Dino Wash Deluxe introduces kids to several dinosaurs, and even includes a glossary at the end of the story. As they each bathe, various unique characteristics are described, bring these prehistoric creatures to life. Science and story rolled into one book, this is a fun read for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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17. What are they Missing?

Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

Red_sunrise

Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

 

This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

Mood rings

Awkwardly short gym shorts

Rotary phones without speed dial

Disco

Hair parted in the middle with wings

Bell bottoms

Car windows with cranks

Vinyl records

Ice cream trucks

Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

 

I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

 

 

Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Filed under: Dad stuff

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18. What are they Missing?

Running under a beautiful sunrise recently, I recalled a fond memory of my oldest daughter. When she was pint-sized, we figured out that she had never seen a sunrise. I know that sounds impossible, but our property lies in a valley where trees filter the sun until it is mid-morning and by then, the spectacular colors of dawn have faded away.

To remedy this, I woke her very early and the two of us went to the top of our street with lawn chairs to watch the sun peek over the horizon. It took three attempts to get a masterpiece. I remember seeing her tired, little face come alive in awe of the burst of reds and purples in the sky.

Red_sunrise

Don’t you love watching someone enjoy beauty, nature, or art for the first time?

 

This got me wondering, “What else have my kids missed?”

I know there are plenty of great movies my kids have never seen because I am not allowed to suggest films since The Great Jumanji Debacle of 2005. I built that one up to my family when they were far too young and I totally forgot some extremely spooky scenes. My third child didn’t sleep for weeks and still has nightmares about monkey boys attacking her.

Being a child of the 70’s, I have tried to share some good music with them. While I love AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen and KISS, my kids weren’t fond of ringing hell’s bells and didn’t seem to want to rock and roll all night.

There were other good things from the seventies, though? I could share something else.

Mood rings

Awkwardly short gym shorts

Rotary phones without speed dial

Disco

Hair parted in the middle with wings

Bell bottoms

Car windows with cranks

Vinyl records

Ice cream trucks

Black & White TV’s with 3 channels

 

I made a mental list of these things. Although each brings back some fond memories for me, most of them have been improved upon. My kids are experiencing better versions, which made my list no less nostalgic for me, but not full of things they are poorer for missing. Frustrated with my inability to come up with much, I settled on one thing that every child needs to experience and mine had missed – until now.

Mooning! They had never been mooned. Well, they hadn’t until I thought of it. I spent the better part of the rest of that Saturday surprising them all over the house. Full moons, partial moons, waning crescents. I got them over and over. I doubt my celestial display was as majestic as the sunrise my eldest enjoyed. They giggled at first, but soon tired of it, locked their doors, and left me alone to come up with something else to share. All I could think of was streaking, but felt like my wife would be vehemently opposed to that one.

So I think we are going to put the 70’s to rest around here and let my children’s vision recover. After all the mooning, number three is having Jumanji-like nightmares again.

 

 

Photo credit: “Red sunrise”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Filed under: Dad stuff

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19. Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons

Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Susan F. Cornelison
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9826165-5-0
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

When Joey joins Howard’s class, the peaceful atmosphere is suddenly disrupted. Joey does things differently, not sitting still, sharing, or waiting his turn. And when Joey brings chameleons to school and they get loose, Howard feels bad for Joey and tries to help him.

Joey doesn’t know how to fit in, since he doesn’t have good social skills. Howard is patient with him, as they both decide that it would be good if Joey learned from the chameleons to blend in with others. By the end of the school year, Joey is no longer a social outcast.

Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons teaches kids the importance of following social cues, in an effort to fit into groups. However, as the last picture suggests, maintaining one’s unique personality is still encouraged, and kids aren’t told to conform to the point they lose themselves in the group. A discussion guide is also provided for further classroom conversation.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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20. Spooky Sticker Activity Book

Spooky Sticker Activity Book

Illustrator: Simon Abbott
Publisher: Ticktock Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-78325-185-8
Pages: 64
Price: $8.99

Illustrator’s website
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Halloween is coming, and it’s time to have some fun! The Spooky Sticker Activity Book will keep kids busy until October 31st. There are puzzles to solve, pictures to color and draw, and lots of reusable stickers to attach to the illustrations inside. Nothing too scary for young children – all the ghouls are smiling and friendly.

This enjoyable activity book would be a great addition to any child’s Halloween celebration.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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21. Sing Along Construction Song

Sing Along Construction Song - Cover

We really enjoyed this tale about various construction vehicles and the job they do.  Each vehicle describes their function and then happily sings a song set to the tune of “London Bridge” about their work.  At the end they all sing together about how they work as a team to get the job done.  Great message for young children about having a positive attitude and teamwork.  You can purchase this ebook for $2.99 at Amazon or get it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited which is a new subscription service by Amazon to read up to ten books at a time for a monthly fee of $9.99.  They are currently offering free 30-day trials if you want to check it out.  As always all of our children’s books are available in the Kindle Unlimited program as well.

**We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**


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22. Shark Baby

Shark Baby
Author: Ann Downer
Illustrator: Shennen Bersani
Publisher: Sylvan Dell
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-60718-6342
Pages: 32
Price: $9.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Shark baby is snug in his egg case, tied to a strand of kelp, wondering what’s outside. But when a storm hits, the rough ocean waves break the case loose, tearing it slightly. Shark baby can now see where he is and who he is encountering as he drifts about. But now he has a new question – what kind of shark is he?

Shark Baby introduces children to the life cycle of a shark and shows them a variety of shark species. A discussion guide with questions is also provided for classroom use. This book would be a great resource for science lessons.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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23. Keep Your Kids Entertained: Free Apps Part 1.

Whether you’re planning a fall road trip or have a long wait at the doctor or dentist, you can keep your children busy with these new FREE apps to download onto your APPLE iPhone.

1. MY HORSE: If you don’t have room in your apt. or backyard for a real horse, get your child a virtual one to love and care for.

2. SPONGE BOB DINER DASH: This game allows the player to help serve customers at the Krusty Krab and make sure they all have a good time.

3. MY LITTLE PONY – FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC:  Help My Little Pony and friends rebuild the town to restore it to sparkling magic.

4. PBS KIDS VIDEO: Numerous PBS apps feature a large inventory of video clips from popular TV shows.  For multiple age groups.

Tune in on Friday for more free apps for ANDROID devices.


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24. Inktober 5 #inktober #inktober2014

Inktober 5

It is raining leaves! – Micron Pigma Brush Pen Black & Graphite pencil

 

Autumn leaves are falling to the ground here in Western Massachusetts. The fall colors are becoming more and more vibrant. As I walked on campus yesterday, I noticed the leaves coming down, just like rain. Beautiful!

I purchased a black Micron brand Pigma Brush pen. I really loved the feel of it. It is my first time using a brush pen for inking. I love the loose line it allows yet still with the control of a pen. I will be using it again!

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25. Ready to Play: Peter Carnavas bears all on ‘Oliver and George’

Peter Carnavas is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, some of his titles including The Children Who Loved Books, Last Tree in the City, The Great Expedition, The Boy on the Page, The Important Things and Jonathan!.   Peter’s books consistently provide both children and adults with heartwarming, humorous and thought-provoking experiences that leave a […]

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