Review: Jim Reaper: Saving Granny Maggot by Rachel Delahaye

saving granny maggotAs a proud mum of a ferocious reader, I’m always looking for a great children’s books. There’s only one problem. My child, does not like reading about fairies or unicorns, instead she likes the dark stuff! As a huge fan of TV programmes such as Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, my daughter loves reading books along the same vein – basically anything that hints at being frightening without scaring the bejesus out of her!

So when I heard about the Jim Reaper series, about a boy who is the son of the Grim Reaper, I knew it was going to be right up her street.  who has made his father’s hit list. Although the premise may sound scary, it’s carried out in a tremendously funny and madcap way, which had my daughter rolling around on her bed giggling!

Jim makes a lovable hero that your child will adore rooting for and even his Grim Reaper Dad is not a bad chap – he’s just a man trying to do his job! Written for children between 7 & 9, I’d highly recommend Jim Reaper: Saving Granny Maggot as a brilliant fast paced adventure story, perfect for children who are intrigued by the dark side!

You can buy a copy of Jim Reaper: Saving Granny Maggot on Amazon.

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a copy of Jim Reaper: Saving Granny Maggot for the purpose of this review, however all views are my own.

Guest Post: Mr Peek, Getting Silly – How to grow your children’s love of poetry

I love reading with my children. Watching them get lost inside a land filled only with words and their own amazing imagination, is just magical. Recently we’ve been exploring poetry too with Bits & Bobs: Mr Peek’s Poetry Fun Time, a book filled with gloriously silly rhymes that have my girls giggling like crazy before bedtime and pleading for just one more poem. My girls were instant fans, but how can parents encourage reluctant poetry readers to dive in?

I asked kid’s poet Mr Peek for his advice on how we can all grow our children’s love of poetry…

Mr PeekThere are many ways to encourage children to enjoy things, equally, there are many ways to put them off something for life. Reciting Shakespearean sonnets or The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam to a three-year-old might give them a sense of the glorious beauty of language, but it’s probably not the best way to plant in their minds the seed of poetic appreciation.

On the other hand, give them a poem in which the word ‘Loo’ appears, rhymed with ‘Poo’ and, without a doubt, you’ve got a winner. So the first thing you have to do when encouraging your child’s poetic appreciation is to shrug off your serious ‘parent cloak’ for a while and don a more fun and outlandish outfit. Yes, silliness is the order of the day so don’t be afraid to read or think up some crazy, kooky rhymes. Kids love to hear poems where adults act childishly, for example, teachers putting their knickers on their heads! Moments like this are bound to bring a smile to children’s faces and allow them to gradually enjoy poetry through a sense of innocent, anarchic fun.

Of course I’m sure you’ve all sat down and read the wonderful Julia Donaldson books with your child but how to encourage their own creativity with words? One way to start is to allow your child to finish the rhymes as they appear in the books you know well. So you read the book as normal and then allow them to say the last word…

“…I had an Anaconda he was a great big snake I loved all of the noises Anaconda used to make, He used to bang his tail, it sounded like a drum, But when I took him to my school he bit the teacher’s…” (This is where your child shouts ‘THUMB’ or perhaps something else!)

Now it’s time to let them think up their own rhymes. I often play rhyming games at bedtime with my children. It’s simple enough; we find a word e.g. ‘floor’ and then everyone has to think up as many words that rhyme with the word ‘floor’ as they can. Then try it with ‘sink’, ‘towel’, ‘head’ and, god forbid, ‘blue’!

Although it might sound strange, drawing can also be a key to enhancing children’s fun with words. So when I mention a monster to the children in my workshops, I’ll ask them to describe what it looks like, how many arms it has, how many eyes etc. And once they’ve described the monster it’s a natural step to ask them to draw if for me. Then Hey Presto! They’re off!

Another idea that I have found encourages creativity is to get your children to make their own little booklet. I often have children at workshops presenting me with little booklets they’ve made of poems and illustrations that they’ve written drawn and stapled together themselves. These are the Julia Donaldson’s and Michael Rosen’s of the future.

Once your child is used to thinking about rhyming, you can ask them to think up a simple four-line poem for a card e.g. Mother’s or Father’s day, a Christmas card for a teacher, a thank you card illustrated and written for a special friend. Encourage them to write about anything you feel they might enjoy and then display their work in a prominent place so they can see that there is a final result and it isn’t just shoved in a draw and forgotten about. Praise their creativity and endeavour and they will quickly start volunteering to make cards and poems themselves.

No matter how you get children to enjoy poetry and creativity remember that it should also be fun for you. The more fun you are having yourself the more fun you will give to them. There’s nothing worse than someone doing something they obviously can’t stand doing. Engagement and inspiration are primeval powers and if you’re having fun, your children will instinctively feel it and long to join in and have fun as well. When the children are writing something, why not write something yourself? Maybe even something fun that tickles your sense of humour. Then, perhaps when it’s late at night, try writing a poem about something that’s been troubling you or worrying you and see how much better getting things off your chest makes you feel.

Poetry isn’t all about monsters and poos and loos but these things can be the gateway to a child’s imagination and can open up a world that will be valued and appreciated by them for the rest of their lives.
 

To order Bits & Bobs: Mr Peek’s Poetry Fun Time for £5 or to find out more about Mr Peek’s Poetry workshops visit: http://www.mrpeekspoetryplace.co.uk 

Review: Funbox, Superheroes Show

super_centre_image1-730x453While I’d love to be all cool and pretend to be indifferent, I cannot lie – I am a huge Funbox fan. I love them because they are keeping all the traditional songs and silliness alive for my two girls. I love them because, when I tell my kids that we’re spending the afternoon in their company, they light up like little Christmas trees. But mostly I love Funbox because they are just really, really brilliant at what they do.

So it’s fair to say that we were all a little bit excited as we made our way to see their Superheroes show in Dundee’s Whitehall Theatre. When we arrived to a theatre packed with little superheroes, my little Supergirl and slightly bigger Animalgirl, were more than ready for the laughter and fun to commence. And it certainly did! As usual, the show included some new and very catchy tunes, some old classics like The Quartermasters Show and Little Bunny Fou Fou as well as lots and lots of laughs including a hilarious and slightly awkward incident when Kevin and Bonzo met for the first time!

As always the gang came offstage after the gig, ready to greet their fans. They are always so generous with their time posing for photographs and chatting with the kids, adding to the excitement of the day. As I watched my two girls cuddling Anya and giggling along with Gary and Kevin, I just knew that meeting the gang, was something that they’d always remember. Funbox have helped to create a special memory for my kids that will last a lifetime. And because of that, I’ll love them forever.

Find out more about Funbox and their current Scottish tour on their website: www.funbox.co.uk

Horrible Histories: Incredible Invaders – Theatre Review

Horrible Histories - Birmingham Stage CompanyWhen it comes to TV, there aren’t many programmes that all four of us enjoy, but the one programme I can always guarantee will entertain my three year old and seven year old, at the same time, is Horrible Histories. The fact that that my husband and I absolutely love it too is an added bonus! Filled with catchy songs and gruesomely horrid historical facts, it’s the one show I can let the kids watch without feeling guilty! So when we heard that the Horrible Histories theatre show, Incredible Invaders, was coming to Edinburgh Playhouse, we were all very excited to check it out.

Written by Terry Dreary, the bestselling author that penned the original Horrible Histories book series, Incredible Invaders tells the story of the UK. Lead character Mavis, played by Hannah Boyce, is a Briton who is desperately trying to avoid a life of slavery at the hands of dastardly interlopers. On her journey through time, Mavis meets everyone from the rotten Romans, the smashing Saxons to the vicious Vikings and finds how their invasions shaped the Britain, we know and love today.

In classic Horrible Histories style, Incredible Invaders is a fantastic mixture of history and hilarity. The small and extremely talented cast, from Birmingham Stage Company, had the audience on the edge of our seats throughout and we spent the hour and a half show, howling with laughter and joining in! The second half, which featured 3D special effects, had the whole audience screaming and ducking as bloody heads and rabid dogs came flying our way, which only added to the great excitement.

We had a splendidly horrid time at this wickedly funny and gruesomely educational show and would highly recommend it.

Horrible Histories is currently touring the UK with their two shows Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders. Please visit: Barmy Britain for more information.

Theatre Review: Little Red and the Wolf at the Dundee Rep

Little Red newStepping into the Dundee Rep to see Little Red and the Wolf was like stepping into a fairy tale. The theatre had been completely transformed into a magical wood, where mischief and mayhem lurked around every corner. Doing away with the theatre’s traditional seating, the action all takes place on set. Perched on our plastic chairs and floor cushions, we were so very close to the action, that we felt completely immersed in the experience the whole time.

Sitting waiting for the show to begin we were greeted by the cast who were mingling amongst the audience. Meeting Granny Island from Katie Morag (Annie Louise Ross), who plays the part of Little Red’s Granny, was a particularly special moment for my two girls who were rendered speechless for the first time I can ever remember. But also seeing the rest of the cast including the beautiful Little Red (Marli Siu) and the very charming wolf Lyka (Cristian Ortega) up close, was also very lovely.

When the play began, it was clear that this was going to be a very special production indeed. Filled with laughs, suspense and plenty of scary moments, Little Red and the Wolf had the whole audience on the edge of their seat.

Superbly acted, the concept of Little Red and the Wolf is very clever, completely turning the traditional fairy tale on its head. Watching the production I experienced the whole range of emotions. One minute I was rooting for characters and the next I was jumping out of my seat. During one particularly touching scene I may or may not have shed a tiny little tear or ten. As the mother of two girls, I was particularly pleased to see a feisty and very clever Little Red, who makes a fantastic role model for children everywhere.

My girls too absolutely loved it too and were completely mesmerised throughout, being so close made them feel like they had really been part of something very special. On leaving one wanted to become a wolf and the other an actress – so I think I can safely say the production made a big impact. All in all Little Red and the Wolf is an absolutely spellbinding production, which is not to be missed. Little Red and the Wolf runs at the Dundee Rep until the 9th of April.

To find out more and book tickets, visit the Dundee Rep’s website: www.dundeerep.co.uk