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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: games, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 290
1. Ten Minutes of New ‘Cuphead’ Gameplay Footage

"Cuphead" doesn't just look retro-inspired, it's a damn near perfect recreation of classic American cartoons.

0 Comments on Ten Minutes of New ‘Cuphead’ Gameplay Footage as of 11/12/2015 11:40:00 AM
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2. That’s My Hat!

GmpJxo0qWKBxTkAdg-MVuV9TRoBjMxDwSnwjMpH5RwIA pared-down, stylish tale packed with adrenalin and mischief in equal measure about a child’s ability to see possibilities and transform the world around them, That’s My Hat! by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud follows what happens when a hat created by a child is blown away on a gust of wind. Turning the pages takes us on a journey across the city to retrieve the hat, visiting various shops, a zoo and a library along the way. But when the child reaches the top of a skyscraper it looks like disaster will strike – can they use their imagination to save the day?

Although we may have seen the device before in Harold and the Purple Crayon, Anthony Brown’s Bear Hunt and Aaron Becker’s Journey, the idea of a child using a pencil to transform their world, changing something simple into an object of their imagination (in this case starting with a semi-circle being turned into a hat) never grows old. Perhaps this is because the ability to see alternative realities is a very real experience of childhood; we have all turned sticks into stallions ready for galloping, cardboard boxes into boats or stones into pets.

What That’s My Hat! brings afresh to this storytelling mechanism are very clever illustrations. Made of only 10 basic shapes and 5 flat colours, with simple black line embellishments, Boisrobert and Rigaud have created 3-D scenes to explore, with the use of intricate pop-up mechanisms and lots of hidden detail behind the folds and bends of the paper. It’s amazing to see the complexity that can be constructed from very basic building blocks. The magic is captivating and perhaps also empowering for young readers – these illustrations have a child-like achievability about them.

The ending draws the story full circle (literally, if you take note of how it began and what it concludes with), deeply satisfying readers, listeners and observers of all the fine and clever details in this playful book.

Pop-Up Shot 1

Pop-Up Shot 2


Pop-Up Shot 3

That’s My Hat! sent us to one of our favourite crafting materials – a bunch of paint chips (free! lovely thick card! great colours!), and from them we cut out lots of each of the 10 different shapes which appear in That’s My Hat!. For the circles I used a couple of outsized hole punchers and the kids loved the physicality of using them; I love it when the girls enjoy the preparation as much as the intended activity!


It was then time to let loose our imaginations, creating scenes with just the 10 types of shape and a black pen to add detail.



The girls loved looking closely at how the shapes were used in the book, copying some of the ideas for themselves, but also coming up with their own transformations for some of the shapes.


I love the grumpy looking mum and the dancing spider in this spread!


Whilst making stories with our shapes listened to:

  • All These Shapes by The Pop Ups – I can’t imagine a better song to go with a pop-up book about what you can make with shapes!!
  • Parachute by Fishboy
  • All Around My Hat by by Steelye Span

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading That’s My Hat! include:

  • Making your own pop-up cards or books. Tinkerlab has a simple introduction that’s perfect for small hands.
  • A shape matching game – easy to make from a sheet of paper and some building blocks, as Twodaloo shows us.
  • Reading Steven Anthony’s The Queen’s Hat for another story about a flyaway hat, or B.J. Novak’s Book With No Pictures for another book which makes use of varied typefaces to convey meaning.
  • A good old fashioned game of hide and seek! Or a game of “Wamer-Colder” where you’ve hidden a hat and the kids have to find it.

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • A review of I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz, with kids’ art created using fingerprints
  • On becoming curious again – a selection of very clever books that make you look again, including one all about shapes
  • A pop-up art book for older children which we really enjoyed, plus 90+ publicly displayed masterpieces of art which feature in children’s books
  • more

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    4 Comments on That’s My Hat!, last added: 11/2/2015
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    3. Manager of ‘Harry Potter’ video games to head digital skills academy

    Harvey Wheaton – former chief of the ‘Harry Potter‘ video games – is now CEO of a new digital skills academy in Scotland, Codeclan.

    He managed Electronic Arts’ Harry Potter games, has coached software development teams worldwide, and also helped launch SuperMassive Games.

    Holyrood reports on Wheaton’s enthusiasm for CodeClan and the values it stands for:

    “CodeClan embodies everything that I care about – technology, education, start-ups and Scotland – so I am delighted to be joining the team,” he said.

    “Just now, the digital sector in Scotland is experiencing unprecedented growth, with the emergence of international brands like Skyscanner and FanDuel and ambitious start-ups launching every week. But if we don’t do something to bridge the digital skills gap in Scotland soon then the extraordinary growth we are seeing will be under threat.

    “CodeClan offers practical help, a real solution to this problem, and it is a privilege to be part of this exciting venture.”

    Wheaton will be launching CodeClan next month in Edinburgh. Join us in congratulating him on his new venture!

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    4. Minecraft Name Generator

    Minecraft)What’s Your Minecraft Name?

    We know you guys looove Minecraft. (The last Ink Splot 26 Minecraft blog post got almost 500 Comments!) But since we’re living in the real world, and not a Minecraft world, we figured it would be fun to create a Minecraft name generator to give you an alternate reality Minecraft name.

    Don’t worry if you’re new to our name generators. It’s as easy as putting a block down. Find the first initial of your first name in the list below. That word is your Minecraft first name. Then find the month of your birthday. That word is your Minecraft last name. For example, my name begins with an R and my birthday is in July, so my Minecraft name is Poisonous Potato Creeper. 

    • A – Lava
    • B – Andesite
    • C – Emerald
    • D – Bedrock
    • E – Granite
    • F – Magma
    • G – Obsidian
    • H – Spider Eye
    • I – Gunpowder
    • J – Diamond
    • K – Stone
    • L – Gold
    • M – Iron Ore
    • N – Redstone
    • O – Glowstone
    • P – Coal
    • Q – Sugar Cane
    • R – Poisonous Potato
    • S – Slimeball
    • T – Puffer Fish
    • U – Jack O’Lantern
    • V – White Jellyfish
    • W – Golden Carrot
    • X – Raw Pork
    • Y – Cobblestone
    • Z – Giant Mushroom
    • JANUARY – Zombie
    • FEBRUARY – Skeleton
    • MARCH – Ender Dragon
    • APRIL – Torch
    • MAY – Pick-axe
    • JUNE – Bottomless Pit
    • JULY – Creeper
    • AUGUST – Portal
    • SEPTEMBER – Villager
    • OCTOBER – Monster
    • NOVEMBER – Furnace
    • DECEMBER – Dungeon

    Let us know your Minecraft name in the Comments below!

    - Ratha (a.k.a. Poisonous Potato Creeper)

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    5. SPONSORED POST Kart Kingdom

    Kart KingdomThis blog post is sponsored by PBS Kids.

    Come one, come all to KART KINGDOM!

    There’s an exciting new world of adventure and fun waiting to be explored! In Kart Kingdom, the new game from PBS KIDS, you can create your own character and build your very own kart. Once you start playing, you can begin to unlock new worlds, gadgets, and prizes! Meet new friends and explore the world together. kart kingdomIf you’re lucky, you might run into some of your favorite PBS KIDS characters like Team Wild Kratts and Odd Squad!

    Play for FREE on pbskids.org and start your quest today!

    Here’s what our kart looks like. Tell us about yours!

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    6. Play by the book – the board game!

    Playing by the book is all about bringing books to life off the page and into our every day lives and so when I discovered that there was a board game call Play by the Book, my eyes opened wide and I went off to find out more. Billed as an “action-packed game that gets children talking and learning about literature!” it sounded like it might be right up my street – not just for home use, but also with my kids’ book group at the local public library.


    It’s designed so that players can discuss any fiction book (or simply a given chapter if you want to keep things simpler), and it can also be used for films. Players travel around the game board (by rolling a die) with the simple aim of reaching “The End” first. Before each roll of the die, the player in question must answer a question about the chosen book. Questions are set at two levels; their content is basically the same, but written in a different way making it easier or more challenging to give an answer.


    If a player lands on an illustrated square after having rolled a die and answered a question, they are given an additional task; they have to perform an action based on the book. This might involve singing, acting out a scene, drawing a character or speaking like someone from the book. It gets players up and active, and provides plenty of opportunity for laughter in my experience!


    In addition to questions about the set book, there are “wild cards”, shuffled in amongst the pack. These are broader questions, with a focus more on different types of genre, linked to the illustrations to be found on the board game itself.


    There are a few finer details you can add to the game to make it more complex, but this gives you the basic idea: it’s a game of luck when it comes to rolling the die, but along the way there are lots of opportunities for discussion, arguing, debating and (in various ways) playing out the book.

    Having played it quite a few times now what I really like about this board game is that it works for different ages / different abilities, even when playing at the same time, thanks to the different question levels. It is also more active than some traditional board games because players at some point are likely to have to get out of the seats and sing/act or draw. I think this extra level of physical activity is great, though some players who are a little more reserved may take a bit more encouragement to take part in these activities; I’ve found it has worked quite well if the game is played in teams, with two people for each counter.

    The instructions say that players should all be discussing the same book / chapter / film, and this certainly works well. I have, however, used the game where players have each chosen their own book to discuss and this too has worked well. It’s been an interesting way for players to try to persuade other children to try the book they are talking about. The game has also been a good way of pooling knowledge when we’ve played it where each player has had a different book by the same author.

    Play by the book would be a great addition to any classroom, especially for the 8-12 year old crowd. It also offers something a little bit different for book groups to do, as well as working well as a family game (the dramatic elements have worked best for me at home, where everyone is more relaxed about being a bit silly and less concerned about ‘making a fool’ of themselves).

    Play by the book retails at £21.54 and is available online here: http://www.learningresources.co.uk/product/play-by-the-book.do

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this board game from its distributors. Just to be clear: Despite its name I’m in no way affiliated to it.

    If you enjoyed this post, you might also find this post of mine about book-themed board games interesting. I also recently made my own literature based board game – to explore science fiction with kid. If you want to know more about board games inspired by literature, this research article by Britta Stockmann and Jens Janke has lots of good leads.

    If you’d like to receive all my posts from this blog please sign up by inputting your email address in the box below:

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    0 Comments on Play by the book – the board game! as of 1/1/1900
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    7. What Type of Gamer Are You?

    Game on!Gaming Personality Quiz

    Want to know what kind of STACKS gamer you are? Take our quiz and find out.

    1. Your favorite thing to do in the summer when you are bored is . . . 
    a. Pick up a branch, turn it into a sword, and find an adventure!
    b. Grab a pencil, and relax while completing a few challenging puzzles like word games or Sudoku.
    c. Doodle in last semester’s old notebook pages while listening to music.
    d. Grab a basketball and shoot a few hoops with friends.

    2. My favorite game console is . . . 
    a. Xbox One or PS4.
    b. Nintendo 3DS XL.
    c. I don’t have a favorite.
    d. Wii.

    3. You’re in the middle of playing your favorite game when your mom makes you stop to have dinner with the family. Your thoughts are . . . 
    a. “Aw man! I don’t want to stop but I guess I can use a break to plot out my next few moves and come up with a strategy.”
    b. “I don’t mind taking a break. This game isn’t going anywhere so I’ll just finish it when I get back.”
    c. *Growling noise* “Wow, was that my stomach? You never realize how much time goes by when you’re having fun.”
    d. “Finally! I’m starving!”

    4. If you could become a magical creature, which one would you choose?
    a. A fierce, fire-breathing dragon who protects a mountain of gold.
    b. A wise unicorn who is humble and gentle.
    c. An elf who can build anything.
    d. A mermaid who is a natural born swimmer, swift and agile.

    5. Which element do you relate to the most?
    a. Fire.
    b. Wind.
    c. Water.
    d. Earth.

    6. When playing a RPG (role-playing game) game you have never played before . . . 
    a. you play it until you master it so you can beat all your friends.
    b. you first look for secrets online to see how you can complete the game faster.
    c. you create your character to make it look like an awesome hero, and then worry about the actual game later.
    d. you don’t know what’s going on but you are  going to smash all the buttons and hope it gets you somewhere.

    7. Which character do you relate to the most?
    a. Harry Potter.
    b. Sherlock Holmes.
    c. Captain Underpants.
    d. Abby from Whatever After.

    If you picked . . . 

    Mostly A’s, you are a quest gamer!
    You love being an adventure hero and you thirst for the excitement through role-playing video games that allow you to gain skills, find treasure or loot, and level up. Some games you’ll enjoy include Keys to the Kingdom, Deltora, and The Secrets of Droon.

    Mostly B’s, you are a puzzle gamer!
    You’re a fast thinker and you love solving problems. Your mind is your greatest weapon and you use it effortlessly to win contests and get ahead. Some challenging games you’ll enjoy include Lawless, UFiles Maze Rescue, and Keys to the Kingdom Puzzles.

    Mostly C’s, you are a creative gamer!
    You love to build, draw, and create things. You don’t need a preset adventure or storyline to set your pace because you are capable of imagining your own adventure. To help the creative juices flow, try these games: Main Street Scrapbooking, Captain Underpants Comic Builder, and How to Draw Ook and Gluk.

    Mostly D’s, you are an arcade gamer!
    When playing your favorite games, your reflexes are your greatest advantage. You are fast and prefer to avoid complex, problem-solving tasks. You prefer to play with characters with much physical ability and strength. Some arcade games we think you might enjoy are Dodge-a-Rama, Snowboard Challenge, and Game Changers Football.

    Tada! Now that you know what kind of gamer you are, Let us know your results, try out a few of the game suggestions and shoot some feedback below. May the games be always with you!

    - Sandy, STACKS Staffer

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    8. #708 – National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by Nat. Geo Society & Nat. Geo Kids Magazine

    National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016
    National Geographic Society & National Geographic Kids Magazine
    National Geographic Society        5/12/2015
    352 pages         Age 8—12

    “This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.” [publisher]

    National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016—Wow, where do I start? Color blasts out from every page. The photography is as spectacular as National Geographic photography has always been—brilliant, intimately detailed, knock-you-off-your-feet fantabulous. Divided into ten sections, the Kids Almanac 2016 begins with a section on interesting things happening in 2016, and then it explores the usual topics of history, culture, science, geography, nature, and animals. The almanac also includes a section on green technology and its effect on Earth, and a section about exploration and survival. Most likely, a favorite for kids will be the section on games. Actually, the Kids Almanac 2016 contains a game throughout the entire 350 pages. In each chapter is a clue. Find all ten clues and you can open up digital extras.

    dino mythsIn reading the Kids Almanac 2016, I think National Geographic has covered all the subjects kids will find interesting and all those they need to know about. Adults can get a lot out of this almanac as well. There is a tremendous amount of information in this relatively small book. I loved the animal topics, of which there are many. Kids interested in dinosaurs will find a prehistoric timeline, nine “Bet you didn’t know” facts, and myths. Each section ends with a quiz on that section’s subject. When you cannot get to a place, or want to know what is happening in different places around the world, the Kids Almanac 2016 is a tremendous aid. Kids can also dig a little deeper in subjects they love and learn about subjects they never thought about or thought were dull. There is not one tedious word or picture in the Kids Almanac 2016. Here are a few subjects I found to be amazing:

    “Secrets of the Blue Holes”
    Animal photography and how to get the shot.
    “The Wonders of Nature: the Oceans”

    Worlds Wackiest Houses”

    “Worlds Wackiest Houses”

    “16 Cool Facts about Coral Reefs”
    The jokes and comics in Fun and Games
    Orangutan to the Rescue (Survival Story)”

    What would a National Geographic book be without its gorgeous maps? The Kids Almanac 2016 has plenty of maps and flags. I think the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is a must read, if not a must have, for kids, especially middle graders who will learn a lot without realizing they are learning. The Kids Almanac 2016 is fun, exciting, and interesting. The pages are colorful, the photographs and images extremely detailed, and the subject matter is diverse.

    volcanosThough kids are just now beginning to enjoy their summer school breaks, the Kids Almanac 2016 will keep them reading through the summer, which will help kids during their next school year, make them more informed about their world. Parents concerned about the books their kids read will have not one worry about this almanac. Every word, every subject, and every article is kid-friendly. The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is an interesting read that will keep kids hooked long past summer vacation.

    NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2016. Text and images copyright © 2015 by National Geographic Society. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society in partnership with National Geographic Kids Magazine, Washington DC.

    Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

    Kids! Join the National Geographic Kids Book Club HERE!
    Teachers and Librarians can find additional information at: http://www.ngchildrensbooks.org
    National Geographic Educational site is HERE.

    Learn more about National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 HERE.
    Check out the National Geographic Society website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
    Find other National Geographic books at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/books
    Learn more about the National Geographic Kids Magazine at the website: http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

    Kids Almanac 2015 
    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

    Review section word count = 496

    nat geo kids almanac 2016

    Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: and animals, culture, fun, games, geography, going green, history, liss instructive information, maps, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016, National Geographic Kids Magazine, National Geographic Society, nature, science

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    9. Popular Mobile Game ‘Cut the Rope Heads to Bigscreen

    Scheduled for arrival in late 2016, Zeptolab's CG-feature film explores Om Nom's origin story.

    0 Comments on Popular Mobile Game ‘Cut the Rope Heads to Bigscreen as of 6/9/2015 7:36:00 PM
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    10. Making a game out of science fiction for 8-12 year olds


    Once a month I lead a book group for 8-12 year olds at our local public library and our most recent session was about science fiction books. It was one of the most enjoyable sessions we’ve had, so I thought I’d share what we did.

    My first challenge was to come up with a list of science fiction which 8-12 year olds might enjoy. This wasn’t such an easy task, but in the end my book list read like this:

  • Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic
  • Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon
  • A range of Dr Who books
  • Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time – both the original and the graphic novel (adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson)
  • SF Said’s Phoenix
  • Various Star Wars spin off books
  • Philip Reeve Sarah McIntyre’s Cakes in Space
  • Nicholas Fisk’s Star Stormers and Space Hostages
  • Jen Reese’s Above world
  • John Christopher’s The Tripods
  • Paul Magrs’ Lost on Mars
  • Mark Haddon’s BOOM!
  • Andrew Norriss’ Aquila
  • Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Sophia McDougall’s Mars Evacuees
  • Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell’s Fortunately The Milk
  • Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl comics
  • James Turner’s Star Cat
  • Mini Grey’s Space Dog
  • Jon Scieszka’s Frank Einstein novels
  • sfbooks2

    Several people helped me come up with this list (thank you!), but I’d like to give a special shout out to author SF Said who was tremendously helpful in making suggestions about books I might like to consider.

    I knew that most of the kids in my group hadn’t read any science fiction at all (though most had seen either some Dr Who episodes or the Star Wars films), and so first we had a discussion about what we mean when we talk about science fiction in relation to books. The definition we came up with was:

    Fiction which typically focuses on:

  • either science or technology
  • life in space, on other planets or aliens
  • and whilst there is often some sort of fantasy element, the fantasy is potentially believable (through technological advances, for example), and therefore distinct from fantasy with dragons and spells.
  • As the aim of the session was to get the kids exposed to a wide variety of SF, and to choose at find at least one SF book which they thought looked interesting enough to read, I wanted to expose them to lots of different books in the short time we had. And so I came up with a board game which the group played in teams.

    All the books on my list above, plus some space-themed poetry and space non-fiction books were placed in the centre of our table, and each team was give a game template, a dice and a lego spaceman or alien as their counter.


    The aim of the game was for each team to get to the end of the board game (set out a little like snakes and ladders ie with the possibility of having to move forward and backwards on the board), collecting as many (glow in the dark) stars as possible along the way. Teams won stars by correctly answering questions associated with the numbered star they landed on each time they rolled the dice.

    All the questions were about the books in the centre of the table, and so to find the answers, the kids had to do a lot of browsing. Some questions were very simple (“Who is the author of X”), some involved a value judgment (“Choose three words to describe the illustrations in Y”) and some required more in-depth browsing inside books (eg “Which book opens with the lines XYX” or “Which book is set in X”). When each team had found the answer to a given question they came and gave me the answer, and if it was correct (or simply reasonably thoughtful in the case of value judgments), the team got a star and returned to roll the dice for their next question.

    The game was over when every team had reached the end point on the board, and the winning team was that which had collected the most stars. The victors each won a Mars bar (you get the space connection?) and the book of their choice from a small selection I brought with me from my past review pile.

    Once winnings had been distributed we went round the group and everyone had to pick up one book which had caught their eye, and comment on what it was about the book that they liked the look of.

    The session went with a blast (no pun intended, but I’m happy to keep it in 😉 ). I think it worked so well because:

  • There was a (team) competitive element – this meant the game got quite loud and physical, with lots of books being picked up and discussions going on
  • The kids won stuff – everyone went home with some glow in the dark stars, in addition to the victors’ winnings
  • The kids had a period of pretty intensely browsing books they might not otherwise have picked up, and everyone went away with a new discovery (the most popular books were the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time, Space Cat, Space Dog, Phoenix, Mars Evacuees and Lost on Mars)
  • If you’d like to try the game out you can download a copy of this board game here (pdf) but you’ll need to create your own set of questions to go with whichever books you’re using in your session. You’ll see on the board that there are time warps (they look like tornadoes), a teleporter, and two tardises (tardi?) – if kids landed on these they had the choice to go forwards or backwards along the board, and pretty soon they realised that it was actually beneficial to move back wherever possible as this gave the team the chance to win more stars.

    Next month’s bookgroup meeting is actually all about celebrating our first birthday, so if you’ve any suggestions for great book-themed party games to play, I’d really love to hear about them!

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    If you liked this post you might enjoy two past posts of mine: 7 ways to set up and run a children’s book group or Book Bingo!.

    0 Comments on Making a game out of science fiction for 8-12 year olds as of 6/7/2015 10:46:00 AM
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    11. Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!

    spacedogcoverOut in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?

    It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.


    Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?

    Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.

    Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.


    Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.


    Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.


    Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.


    Using this fantastic tutorial from one of my favourite library blogs as a starting point, we created spaceships using paperplates, plastic cups and stickers. Where Pop Goes the Page used toilet cardboard rolls, we used yoghurt pots instead, and aliens were replaced by Space Dog and other astonauts cut out from print-offs of these drawing pages created by Mini Grey.


    We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.


    Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.


    Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…

    Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:



    We used origami hat tutorials to come up with these millinery masterpieces, including this army cap and samurai helmet with plenty more hat ideas here.

    Whilst making our spaceships and competition-winning hats we listened to:

  • The bilingual song Los Planetas by Nathalia
  • Cheese Please by Chris Stapleton – essential listening for any cheese lover :-)
  • Sputniks and Mutniks by Ray Anderson & The Home Folks. I discovered this thanks to this interesting NPR article, Sputniks in Space.

    Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:

  • Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
  • Playing with your food. Mini is just so inventive when it comes to playing with food, but if you want even more ideas, you could take a look at Carl Warner’s A World of Food or The Art of Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli. Both of these books are massive hits with my kids.
  • Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
  • Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.

    2 Comments on Space Dog by Mini Grey: Out of this world playfulness!, last added: 5/7/2015
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    12. SPONSORED POST Star Banks Adventure

    T-Rowe-PriceSponsored Post Star Banks Adventure

    Mysterious planets, an alien mentor, and a robot shopkeeper—sounds like the ingredients to an amazing sci-fi story, right? It’s also the foundation for a new swipe-and-match game called Star Banks Adventure!

    Check out the game trailer.

    Like all great games, Star Banks Adventure is packed with choices for you to make. But every choice has a consequence, so be careful! You’ll need to partner with Odal, an alien guide, to stop Overlord Zek, the evil mastermind bent on causing financial chaos. Use different Star Banks to collect coins and build space devices to save the galaxy from financial chaos. I can’t wait to see what comes next! Click here to check it out.

    Accompanied by spacey music and a story line that unfolds as you go, Star Banks Adventure is a blast!

    This free game was created by T. Rowe Price as part of their Money Confident Kids Program, which focuses on helping kids better understand money. It can be played online or on mobile devices through iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.

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    13. ‘Steven Universe’ RPG Game Is Out

    What power-ups will Steven Universe bust-out of his trusty cheeseburger backpack?

    0 Comments on ‘Steven Universe’ RPG Game Is Out as of 4/5/2015 12:23:00 AM
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    14. What Would Garrison Griswold Do?

    BookScavenger3d(This post is cross-posted from EMU's Debuts)

    I've been in the midst of making promotional plans for Book Scavenger. I've sought out advice from other authors on what they recommend and don't recommend for your debut book, and the only bit of advice that everyone seems to agree on is this: The best thing you can do to promote your first book is write your next book.

    Okay, cool, I'm doing that! I have two more books scheduled to come out in 2016 and 2017, and I'm currently working on both simultaneously. One is in the outline/first draft stage, and the other is nearing the end of its second revision. (I feel like those last two sentences make me sound very organized in my writing process. I am not. I wrote "working on two books simultaneously" but really it feels more like spinning in circles while juggling cats.)

    But still, even if everyone agrees the best thing you can do is write the next book, I can't do nothing for my debut. If for no other reason than I'm excited about it! I want people to hear about it. So many people have had a hand in shaping the book--early readers and critique partners, teachers, my agent, my editor, the art director, production editor, copyeditor . . . And the illustrations! Sarah Watt's work is so freakin' cool and takes the book to a whole other level. The book that will be in bookstores and libraries has been a team effort, and I'm proud of it. Even if readers hate it, I want Book Scavenger to have a fighting chance of surviving in the retail world, and that won't happen if readers don't hear about it in the first place.

    So I wanted to do something fun to celebrate Book Scavenger and spread the word about its existence. What to do, what to do? That's where Garrison Griswold comes in.

    Illustration by Sarah Watts
    Garrison Griswold is a central character in Book Scavenger. He's this larger than life, eccentric book publisher who's a huge game and puzzle fanatic. He thrives on thinking up elaborate games and making them happen--something that has earned him the reputation of being "the Willy Wonka of book publishing." A reputation, by the way, that he loves to play up. Book Scavenger is one of his game creations. It's a website and a real world book hunting game where players hide used books in public places and then upload clues to the website for other book scavengers to solve in order to seek out the books. (Kind of a mashup of Book CrossingGeocaching, and Little Free Libraries, with a dash of influence from video games I played as a kid.)

    I wanted to do something in the spirit of Garrison Griswold, but I couldn't go all out Garrison Griswold because that guy has resources that I do not. (He rented out the San Francisco Giants stadium in order to break the Guinness World Record for largest group Bingo game, for example. I can't do that.)

    But I did come up with something that's big, by my standards at least, and fortunately my publisher was on board. I hope it will be fun and will make Mr. Griswold proud. I'll be putting this plan into action on Wednesday and will update here with the info, but for now here's a teaser video (which offers a clue--something I know Mr. G would approve of):

    0 Comments on What Would Garrison Griswold Do? as of 2/16/2015 11:55:00 PM
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    15. Math Monday -- Patterns

    It's Math Monday! Join Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for the Math Monday link up!

    Today I'd like to share one of my favorite brain games. It's a game that, now that I think about it, reinforces many of the Standards for Mathematical Practice.* I think I'll teach it at indoor recess today!

    It's the game SET

    I have 4-6 decks of SET cards, but I was thrilled to find SET dice on sale at United Art and Education this past weekend.

    You can play one free game per day online here, or you can play a multiplayer game in realtime here. There is also SET for iPhone and iPad.

    In the game of SET, players must find combinations of color, shape, shading, or number that are either all alike in some way, or all different in some way. On the game board above, you can see that I made a SET with all purple, all solid, all three, all diamonds. I also made a set with all the same color (purple) and shading (solid), but all different number and shape. I have a set with all the same shading and shape, but all different color and number, and another with all the same number, shape and shading, but all different colors.

    It's a great game. If you haven't played it yet (or recently)...what's stopping you?!?!

    *CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
    CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2 Reason abstractly...
    CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
    CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP6 Attend to precision.
    CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP7 Look for and make use of (patterns and) structure.

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    16. Possibly my best idea ever

    I struck a deal with the kids: for every new app or game I buy them, they must each memorize a poem. So far, so fabulous. Huck, my little iPad junkie, is shaping up to be a regular minstrel by the time he’s twenty. :)

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    17. An Excellent History of Graphics in Videogames

    "Pixel Pioneers: A Brief History of Graphics" is a 5-part documentary by Stuart Brown about the evolution of graphics in videogames.

    0 Comments on An Excellent History of Graphics in Videogames as of 11/28/2014 2:38:00 PM
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    18. First Look: Doug TenNapel’s Stop Motion Game Armikrog

    This is the gameplay trailer for Armikrog, the stop motion animated game by Doug TenNapel and Pencil Test Studios.

    0 Comments on First Look: Doug TenNapel’s Stop Motion Game Armikrog as of 11/14/2014 9:47:00 PM
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    19. Hello Kitty Crochet

    Hello Kitty CrochetHello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurimi Patterns for Sanrio Friends

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    20. Guess the Book Emoji--And Win!

    By Julie Daines

    Ladies and Gents, I think it's high time for some fun and games. How about a nice round of Guess the Emoji?

    Each emoji below is a clue to a book title. They are all works of literature ranging from middle grade to adult, classic to modern. Remember to think outside the box.

    Here they are:











    Leave your answers in the comments. You have until Friday midnight to enter, I'll post the answers and the winner on Saturday, September 27.

    Good luck!

    And since I happen to have a stack of extra books lying around, anyone who makes a guess will be entered into a random drawing to win a book of their choice. If you guess them all right, you will be entered twice. Yippee!

    The choices are (And just for clarification, these have nothing to do with the emojis.):

    0 Comments on Guess the Book Emoji--And Win! as of 9/22/2014 12:03:00 PM
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    21. Halloween Book Challenge

    Happy HalloweenJoin Us for a Month-Long Reading Challenge!

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    22. Playpublik Krakow

    Ellan and I went to run a cardboard maze building workshop at Playpublik Krakow. The festival was awesome, we met so many lovely people, played games, marvelled at things... and Krakow itself was very cosy indeed. I ate more dumplings than anyone could believe.

    Rules for Secret City - the main game we ended up playing in this maze. It was a quieter, gentler maze than usual, somehow. more of a castle than a burrow or an ocean.

    Ellan, building

    The Mighty Hamster (or The Funny Beaver, as it came to be known somehow)

    Treasure changing hands

    I loved the giant hopscotch games that appeared in town (by Agustina Woodgate)

    All the organisers and designers. WHEE

    I'm so glad we got invited to do this, and I hope we will build many more mazes and fill them with people next year!

    All these photos are copyright Playpublik, here's the whole album

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    23. Escape from Netherworld—Twiggy the dwarf

    Escape From Netherworld jacket

    Escape From Netherworld jacket

    Hey, gang! Sorry for the interruption in posts—I spent most of last week in New York City visiting art directors, editors and creative directors. Now I’m back and I want to show you something I worked on this summer.

    Here is jacket art for Escape from Netherworld—it’s about a group of role-playing gamers who are somehow transformed into their characters and transported into an alternate realm: Netherworld.

    My pal, the extraordinarily talented Gina Datres, is the book’s designer and she called me in to illustrate the jacket. After some discussion and rough sketches back & forth we hit on the idea of 3 individual images of the gamers going through their transformation. For the 2 guys, I drew the gamers in pencil but fully rendered their characters in paint. I work with watercolor (gouache), so I traced some of the drawing with a wax candle. Since watercolor won’t stick to wax, you can see the drawing of the gamer ‘through’ the painting of the character. Piper, the elf-girl, doesn’t change in size enough to make that idea work so I made her hair a magical element that swirls around her as it grows.

    If you’d like to buy a copy of Escape from Netherworld just click here.

    Author: David Kuklis
    Designer: Gina Datres
    Illustrator: John Manders
    Editor: Nan Newell
    Published and Printed by:
    Word Association Publishers, Tarentum, PA 15084
    ISBN: 978 1 59571 994 2
    Available for purchase:
    wordassociation.com   —   1 800 827 7903

    Let’s start with Twiggy the dwarf. As usual, here are the rough sketches, tight sketches, color studies and final paintings.

    rough sketch of group tight group sketch—rejected Twiggy alone Vince transforms into Twiggy color study final image

    2 Comments on Escape from Netherworld—Twiggy the dwarf, last added: 10/27/2014
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    24. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein | Book Review

    In Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, author Chris Grabenstein cleverly captures reader’s imaginations by combining the suspense of a thrilling game with the majestic nostalgia of great libraries, librarians, books and authors of past and present.

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    25. Halloween Book Challenge Bonus

    Happy HalloweenHave you been participating in the Halloween Book Challenge? Every week, we read a different book. Today is Halloween so we have a BONUS challenge for you! It’s a Halloween Party Spell-It-Out Challenge.

    Here’s how the bonus challenge works. Think of all the books you read this month for the Halloween Book Challenge. Then think of the perfect Halloween party item (drinks, candy, decorations, etc.) and spell it out using the first letter of words in your book titles.

    G - 
    The Graveyard Book

    U - Captain Underpants

    M - Midnight Howl

    Leave yours in the Comments. Have a super-fun and safe Halloween!


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