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Eoin Colfer Virtually Live

Today, at 2pm Eoin Colfer will be reading from the last ever Artemis Fowl book live, I assume, from Puffin HQ. You need to register before you can watch and you can do that on their website here.

Oh, and here’s Eoin himself telling you what you need to do and talking about farts and wind and tummy trouble. Of course.


{Reading moment of the week}

My train journey home last Saturday after the Pop-Up Festival and meeting up with lovely, lovely children’s book peeps! A new copy of Mollie Makes (which I bought and have only ever bought purely for the gorgeous pictures – I am no way good enough at crafty things to tackle any of the ideas in there), and this rather fabulous package for Milo from the equally fabulous Clara Vulliamy.

Milo couldn’t wait until after breakfast to open his package.

The package turned out to be bunny ears!

We didn’t need the hairclips, but Milo is rather liking them at the moment so here they are on my happy bunny! This is his best smile. He’s not very good at smiling for the camera!

The lovely Anne-Marie over on Child-Led Chaos is hosting a Friday linky today called Friday Pick{ture book}. Simply, it’s a  linky for your favourite picture book (or app) review or book-themed activity of the week, old posts are welcome so be sure to check it out as there’ll be lots of book related goodness.

Moomin tent envy

I think winning this would absolutely make up for us missing the moomin events at the Pop-Up Festival last Sunday. I don’t know why I am posting this Guardian comp on here as I don’t want any of you to enter or win. But hey, I’m a generous type.

So here you go moomin lovers. Your opportunity to win a moomin adventure tent from the utterly fabulous Field Candy who make camping look brilliant.

Enter if you must.

Pop-up Festival of Children’s Stories or Milo vs the fountain

This year’s Pop-Up Festival of Children’s Stories was in a very different location (just behind King’s Cross station) to last year’s which took place in the very lovely Coram’s Fields. For us this felt a much more urban and in a way, more “pop-up” experience than last year. Both Milo’s dad and I used to work around here many, many years ago and the development work going on is quite remarkable – it looks very different, just King’s Cross train station itself is a massive improvement.

It’s always surprising to find such interesting spaces that you never knew existed in London and the Central St Martins building and Granary Square didn’t disappoint. And while there weren’t the playgrounds that Coram’s Field have and which proved a happy distraction between events last year, there was a fountain. A rather fabulous fountain. A rather fabulous, enromous fountain that it proved very, very difficult to drag my three year old boy away from.

In retrospect, we should really have gone on the Sunday. There was a lot more for Milo to see and do on the Sunday and, while we had a great time on the Saturday, it did feel a bit more geared to older children (something which is often lacking in book festivals so no bad thing at all).

But we did have fun, and I got to browse the book store and Milo had a terrific time and great food to eat… here’s what we got up to:

As soon as we got there, Milo was transfixed by the YMM (Young Music Makers) band. He does love live music does this boy, as did the other kids there who were all up and dancing with and without their parents. I’ve got to say this again say about the location… it is a truly uplifting experience coming round the corner of a building sight surrounded by builders and grey and dust and dirt (we walked the old way round by accident) to hear a jazz version of I Want to Break Free, being played by a big brass band in what seems like the middle of nowhere until you investigate further.

It’s The Beat Goes On by Buddy Rich that Milo’s been singing the most since the festival.

Then we had a lot of fun running around and trying not to destroy Herve Tullet’s pop-up scultures.

There were quesadillas, ice cream, a story from a storyteller, listening to the screams coming from Marcus Sedgewick’s theatrical version of Thw Swordhand is Singing (Milo seemed to enjoy the idea that there were people inside a big black box terrified!), a peek inside The Comics Big Top of Awesome.

I’d have loved to have stayed a while in The Comics Big Top of Awesome, even just to have admired Sarah MacIntyre’s hat for a bit longer, but Milo was insistent on checking out that fountain again.

And a little more (this is when I gave up all hope of keeping him partially dry or making it to an actual event):

Afterwards, we headed to the Southbank where Milo and his dad had great fun in the rainbow beach and buying a tasty dinner from the market stalls and I had a superlative time heading back across the river to meet up with some super lovely fellow children’s lit bloggers and Twittery types, and Clara Vulliamy (of being an author and illustrator fame!). All in all, for someone who loves children’s books and chatting about children’s books this was pretty much the best day ever!

Here are a few other people who’ve written (probably more interesting) write-ups of the Pop-Up Festival:

Be sure to check out the Pop-Up Festival fb page for tons of fab pictures of the weekend
James Mayhew’s Promenade of the Pop Up Picture Pavillion
Sarah McIntyre’s write-up of the events and beyond in the fabulous Comics Big Top of Awesome
Neil Cameron’s write-up from the Comics Big Top of Awesome
The lovely Damyanti’s blog post of her day out at Pop-Up in pictures

Festival fun : The Sun Rises on Moon Lane

A fabulous new festival that begins today! For those of you who live in London this is such a brilliant opportunity to get up close and personal with a whole host of authors and illustrators, all in the gorgeous children’s bookshop Tales on Moon Lane, Herne Hill.

I would absolutely love to take Milo there tomorrow for the 2pm character parade with Maisy, The Gruffalo, Where’s Wally and Aliens in Underpants but unfortunately he’s quite poorly so I don’t think he’ll be well enough. I’m hoping to pop along myself tonight for their picture book evening provided my little man’s feeling okay. There’s so much more though to do and see, for all age-groups of children, so be sure to check out the festival site.

And, to get you in the festival mood, why not check out Melanie’s blog post from John Boyne over on Library Mice – John Boyne will be appearing at the festival on Wednesday 4th July at 6pm.  Or head over to Playing by the Book to win a hamper of fantastic picture books inspired by the Tales on Moon Lane festival.

Bookish Bites : Jubilee and birthday jelly!

Well, well… what have you all been up to recently? We’re all recovering from a stinker of a summer cold so things have been a little quiet of late. We’ve also had a rather fabulous holiday to Norway which was wonderful. We left shortly after the Jubilee celebrations in London and while there’s always the energy  for a little flag waving and jubulant Jubilee celebrations, amidst the sneezing and packing there wasn’t quite enough time to post this homage to the wobbly jubilee jelly we made.

Milo and I needed a book with some Royalty in to help inspire us around the Jubilee celebrations and we chose The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble by Angela Mitchell and illustrated by Sarah Horne (Maverick Books).

“‘I won’t wobble, I won’t wobble and that’s my final word!’ screamed the jelly.” 

As many of you know I work with Maverick on their social media. They are a small, independent children’s picture book publisher and the quality of their publishing keeps on getting better. The four books they’ve published this year are testament to that. The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble by Angela Mitchell and illustrated by Sarah Horne is a really fun book to read aloud with your child.

It’s Princess Lolly’s 89th birthday and she’s demanding her rather marvellous, bright red jelly that she has every year. Unfortunately, this particularly grumpy jelly refuses to wobble. No amount of poking it with a walking stick, melting it and shouting can get this very stubborn jelly to wobble. Luckily, the youngest guest at the party has a bright idea ready to save the day.

Milo has really enjoyed reading this. As I said earlier, it’s a great read aloud book with plenty of opportunities to do some daft voices. It worked well for our Jubilee celebrations introducing him to the idea of Princesses and Royalty – something we don’t discuss much in this house (divided opinions) and as he doesn’t watch TV yet he’s not experienced any Disney Kings, Queens and the like! The story itself is great at giving subtle power to the child with the littlest guest calmly and quietly solving the problem while all the grown-ups around him panic and make things worse. Sarah Horne’s illustrations are brilliant too. Bright, colourful, witty and silly – ideal for a three year old boy! You can read Sarah’s blog here and check out her site and other work here.

So, on with the make. We’re vegetarian so can’t use your normal gelatin based products to make jelly with so we opted for vege gel. I’ve used this before but with very little success so I decided to keep things very, very simple.

We chose to make a pint of orange jelly to pour into little moulds. Now, vege gel recommend that if you’re using an acidic liquid you should use two sachets of powder to form your jelly, so this is what we did:

3/4 pint of orange juice
1/4 pint of water
Two tablespoons of white caster sugar (you may want to use more)
Two sachets of vege-gel

It’s pretty easy from there. Simply add caster sugar to the orange juice and water mix then sprinkle two sachets of vege-gel over the mix and stir very well. Milo enjoyed the vigorous stirring a lot!

Then pour your liquid into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Once the mix is ready pour into your moulds and pop straight into the fridge to cool quickly. We left ours in the fridge for an hour or two before turning out.

I popped some little sugarpaste Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble eyes onto the jelly which seemed to please the little person (though they did slide off pretty quickly!).

But, and most importantly, did the jelly wobble? Well, we poked and prodded it and added some ice-cream (quickly eaten) to make it shiver and no, it didn’t wobble. Well, not really. Not in the way normal gelatin based jelly does. The whole thing wobbled as an entirety but not a shiver wobble which is the kind Princess Lolly was after too.

Milo’s verdict (in a haughty voice): “This jelly doesn’t wobble!” He ate it despite its lack of wobbliness.

It was father’s day and my dad’s birthday a short while ago and while we were still in Norway so we couldn’t celebrate either events at home until last weekend, but the jelly  got me thinking. My dad has always loved fruit jellies, jelly babies and the like and well, being a bit difficult to buy for, I thought it would be fun to make him something daft for father’s day. And so, presenting, our “celebration of the fruit jelly, jelly.”

I used the same quantities as described above but made one large mould… this made for much more successful wobbling of the jelly. Here are the fruit jelly connoisseurs discussing their favourite colours and flavours.

And, where there’s jelly, there’s trifle. bottom layer – vanilla sponge, then jelly, then custard, then jam, then whipped cream and a fruit jelly on the top. Milo didn’t make it past the whipped cream. He’d spotted Graddad’s birthday victoria sponge and wanted a slice of that instead. He didn’t make it all the way through that either. Too much for one little boy!


And so, The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble inspired two jelly outings. Hurrah!

As I work for Maverick which is rather lovely as they’re a very nice publishing company, I was sent my copy of The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble gratis for review. But, as always, all views are mine and Milo’s. You can keep up to date with The Royal Scoop over on the Maverick Books blog. And if you fancy getting yourself a signed copy of The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble you could always pop along to one of Angela’s many readings and events over summer. 

Festival fun : Pop-up Children’s Festival of Stories

Whoopee, it’s that time of year again… time for the Pop-up Children’s Festival of Stories. They’re in their second year now and have moved from the lovely location of Coram’s Fields last year, to Kings Cross. We’re hoping to go along on the Saturday (though Sunday’s line-up looks really, really good – but I think we’re busy then) and are looking forward to seeing the Herve Tullet’s Pop-Up Play Sculptures (big fans of Press Here in this house!) and most definitely The Comics Big Top of Awesome. Milo already has an original Sarah McIntyre hanging on his wall and is a big fan of You Can’t Scare a Princess so this is a great opportunity to have a nosy at some of her more comic based work.

We visited last year and you read all about our fantastic day of fun right here. It really is worth popping along. Brilliant day / weekend out.

{reading moment of the week}

My mum is making her way through a big collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books with Milo whenever he’s over at their house. He’s loving them and also finding that it gives him a great excuse to shout “Pooh” a lot. And whenever I tell him not to, I get told “I’m not talking about poo poo, I’m talking about Winnie-the-Pooh.” There’s not a lot you can say to that.

{reading moment of the week}

I won, I won! This was a couple of weeks ago actually, but since we all had some sort of horrific cold thing last week and so I’m catching up a bit and being a touch slow in sharing. I entered a lovely competition on the gorgeous Cupcakes for Clara blog, and then I went and won it! I so rarely win anything that this absolutely made my day!

A package full of wonderful Clara and Colin and snail goodies. They’ve delighted me and the little boy of the household too. If you’ve never been over to Cupcakes for Clara, then I absolutely suggest that you pop there immediately while making sure you have a little spending money for Laura’s etsy shop as you’re definitely going to be wanting to purchase a few things.

{Reading moment of the week}

This is a Milo one. As of Wednesday he became a big cousin to our gorgeous niece. None of us can wait to give her some snuggles but Milo’s apparently looking forward to “cuddling her on my lap and reading her a story. Probably the moomins, maybe, I think.”

I’d love to know what favourite books you like give as gifts to newborns are. I’ve got some spending to do! Yay!

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