Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Love is in the air

A Valentine's special today at Baby Book Club, with a lively bunch of kids who decided to geographically spread the love in every corner of the library, rather than keep it confined to our circle of bean bags…
Still, we spread our arms and hopped and jumped like Little  Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, and there was some lovely inter-baby cuddles.
Our craft this week involved fine-motor skills and one of our favourite things: gluing! The room got very quiet again as we plastered our paper with stickpritt, considered where to place heart shapes of various colours and sizes, and carefully peeled star stickers off our sheets.
The result was a brilliant bunch of bunnies (sorry, hares) to say 'I love you' this Valentine's season.

As promised, here are the links to the songs and videos!

Barney! (I had to, really)

All You Need is Love by the Beatles

Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder

Beautiful Boy by John Lennon

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Ciné Book Club... And... Action!

We've embarked on a new adventure, in the comfort of our own home, over the last little while. Who knows how long it will last, but for the moment the participants are keen and hungry for more.
We have set up our own Ciné Book Club, which means that we read books and then watch the movie/cartoon adaptation and we compare.
We started off with two albums of Tintin, as the 7-year-old is obsessed with Captain Haddock (saying she can see something of herself in the hot-tempered, linguistically inventive old sea-farer would be perhaps a bit unfair; perhaps not). We read together (me doing the reading) and separately (the 7yo reading the pictures, the 10yo reading everything) The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure, both in French, as Ciné Book Club is a secret, cunning ploy to inject more French into our daily lives.
After watching the now-classic cartoons (in French, then), we had a chat about what was the same and what was different. The first episode was deemed very faithful to the original, with no glaring omissions. Red Rackham's Treasure, however, had skipped some apparently capital bits, in particular the scene where the fake descendants of the infamous pirate crowd Captain Haddock's doorstep and the scene ends in glorious slapstick mayhem involving the Thom(p)sons and a lot of swearing. Greatly missed by our young club members!
Another difference, in both cartoons, was that Snowy didn't speak! But we agreed that we could understand what the dog 'said' thanks to his movements and various doggy sounds.
We then talked about voices and music, and what they added, if anything. They loved the series' opening credits, although the 10yo found the images moving inside the comic panels a bit dizzying. It didn't help that they showed Tintin jumping off a high-speed train… But they enjoyed recognising bits from other books (they have read a few at this stage) and were keen to find out more about what wasn't familiar.

I ordered The Crab With the Golden Claws (in French) from the library straight away.
With this inspiration in stock, we moved on to the 'making' stage of our club (let's be honest, I'm making this up as we go along; there's no such things as actual 'stages'!). I had a vague idea that I would ask them to imagine their own treasure to place in Rackham's chest. They could draw it or make a list. Once the pencils were out, however, each went their own separate but parallel ways. We ended up with one treasure chest, a number of Tintins, Haddocks and Snowys, on their own or in situ, drawn from the books or from memory.
The short of it is, we had a ball! We'll see what we give the Ciné Book Club treatment to next. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Follow the Leader

A VERY high-energy Baby Book Club session today! We were reading a French book (those babies are pretty amazing, oui?) about a blue bear who just stands on the page, looking straight at the reader and inviting them to 'do like me': open your eyes, touch your nose, stick your tongue out…
The babies were very happy to follow the bear's lead and improvise in all sorts of directions, especially when it came to blowing kisses and making silly sounds with our puffed up cheeks. (Extra brownie points to the grown-ups who bravely joined in!)
The book ends with a big flap that needs lifting, and behind the flap… a mirror! Each little one was delighted to see that they too were included in the book. That's not something you see every day!

We continued on with our own game of Follow the Leader, jumping up and down, bending over and, following one of the babies' example, falling flat on our faces (on a bean bag!).
We added a few charades to the mix and things got even livelier. All the while, the youngest members of the audience were plied with mirrors and spent some fascinating minutes looking at the smiling kid in front of them.

As promised, here are the links to the songs and videos!
Funny Babies Doing Exercises Compilation: 

Charades | Kids Play | HiHo Kids: 

"Babies Discovering Mirrors for the First Time Compilation" || CFS:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Baby Book Club: Yummy Yucky!

 Welcome Baby Book Clubbers from far and near! This week, we read Leslie Patricelli's Yummy Yucky and had a ball. I rank Leslie's books very highly in my personal library of awesomeness and Yummy Yucky is an enduring favourite both at home and baby book clubs. The pictures are both funny and very relatable, and they are terrific conversation starters: about food, about taste, about likes and dislikes, about trying out new things… and avoiding other kinds of experiments (dog poo anyone?).
We had a lively reading, followed by a root around a bag full of pretend food and our activity for the day. The kids were given various pictures and had to decide whether they were of 'yummy' or 'yucky' things. There were no set answers, so everyone was free to decide they didn't like bananas… or loved bugs! To finish off, we took out some supermarket catalogues and let the babies look for more things to include in their chart. Again, plenty of interesting conversations arose and some kids discovered the inimitable joy of cutting with scissors.

Well done and thanks all!
As promised, here are the links to the songs and videos:

I Like Pie, I Like Cake by the Four Clefs: 

Food, Glorious Food - Oliver! By the Young People's Theater:

Laura Linney - Please can I keep it? 

The animated version of the Ravenous Beast

Check out this video about the Edible Book Festival:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Looking back

What a pleasure it was to be Writer in Residence for Meath County Libraries with Creative Ireland!
The proof is in the vid!

Well done and a massive thank you to all who took part in the Poetry Treasure Hunts, Book Club sessions, creative writing workshops and especially to the two classes who made my Mondays such fun out in Dunsany and Enfield. You rock!
Librarians, teachers and other helpers, a big 'merci' too. This was a team effort and so worth it!
Until next time…

Saturday, June 23, 2018


As part of Cruinniú na nÓg, over the last few weeks, Margaret Anne Suggs and myself have been running a series of writing and art workshops with children from Fourth Class in Inchicore. The result is 37 bespoke encyclopaedias written and illustrated by the kids all about the topic they are experts in: themselves.
Here is a wee video about the project: Ourselvesopedia!

#HEYDAYDublin #Inchicore @dublinsconnects @dublincitycouncil @creativeirl

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Baby Book Club is the Best

I've said it approximately 50 million times and a half, but really Baby Book Club rocks. We had this year's final session in Crumlin today and what a party that was!
We read (appropriately enough) Zeki Loves Baby Club, which I accidentally called 'Baby Book Club' throughout the reading. We sang in several languages. We delivered Awesome Baby Book Clubber certs. We ate cake.

This year, the babies and their grown-ups were game for every challenge I threw at them: outdoor scavenger hunts! messy play! football! yoga! The group survived chicken pox! snow! hurricanes!

To everyone who attended the sessions this year, to Liz and Jane who were such stars for running things smoothly, and to David who set it up in the first place, a massive thank you. It has been a pleasure and an honour seeing all the wee people grow and get more comfortable around books.

And now, for your delight, Baby Book Club in moving pictures.
Are you sitting comfortably?