Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605

Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed.  Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Continue reading

Egyptian Historical Fiction 5+

Write what should never be forgotten.

— Isabel Allende

Understanding the past is fundamental to who we are in the present and the kind of society we seek to build into the future. Historical fiction is one way we can help our children to inhabit the past, Continue reading

Children’s Fiction for the Holidays 6+

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

— J.K.Rowling

I have fond memories of arriving at my grandparent’s in Spain each summer, and my grandmother had thoughtfully chosen books from their bookshelves and put them on my bedside table for me to enjoy during my stay. Continue reading

An Evening with Katherine Rundell

Last week I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Lucy Mangan and Katherine Rundell at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Both are authors, bookworms and passionate about children’s literature – so it was a stimulating and inspiring evening.

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Summer Picture Books

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?!  Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! Continue reading

Victorian Historical Fiction 6+

As promised in last week’s post on World War II Historical Fiction, I’ve put a list together of literature set during the Victorian times that my daughter has pulled off our bookshelves. Continue reading

WWII Historical Fiction 6+

The evacuees were to sleep in the big attic room with dark beams overhead.  It was chilly and had no electric light or carpets but there was a nice woody smell.  A curtain hung down the middle.  Joyce, Patsy and Winnie were together on one side and Lenny was alone on the other.

The Lion and the Unicorn, Shirley Hughes

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An Afternoon with Michael Morpurgo

Just before Easter we got to hear Michael Morpurgo live in conversation with Nicolette Jones at the Sheldonian as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Morpurgo is one of my son’s favourite authors and was speaking on his birthday, so it was an ideal birthday outing.  The conversation covered topics from the personal to the political and engaged all ages.  

However there were three things that he emphasised as being key for today’s children: Continue reading

Spring Picture Books

A Light Exists in Spring

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

— Emily Dickinson

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