Thursday, 2 March 2017

A World Book Day Tail

Ah it is good to be back. So, how've you been? OK enough about you I was just being polite!

Sorry it's been a while since I last shared our stories with you. Having a baby makes thinking difficult not to mention writing.I imagine you have just about coped without me but rest assured we're back. And we're bigger and better than ever. Well one of us is. Matt raced off and turned five and became BIG. The other one of us is progressing much more slowly but is getting used to the new normal now. 

Yup the family dynamic sure has changed since Dot arrived on the scene (not her real name but, given her size, many people refer to her as Little Dot or Tiny Dot, so we'll go with that. She is also our full stop.)


As for the blog, I barely have time to read to Matt at the moment nevermind write about it for you. Unfortunately the boys occasionally have to do stuff without me and one of these occasions is bedtime. I've been ousted out by cluster feeding and a cuddly baby. At a time when I need to connect more with Matt seeing as school has robbed us of the quantity of time we spend together and Dot sometimes steals our quality time we goes days on end without bedtime reading. I know this will pass and we are doing our best but the bedtime stories are what I miss. On the plus side, the times I do get to do bedtime are all the more special now.

Anyhoo, speaking of time, right now, I have some time on my hands due to a sleeping baby and the men folk are out hunting and gathering (cinema trip) so I have chance to catch up with you. I couldn't let World Book Day pass by without comment, could I? Let's make a start and if I can't finish I will just publish this in 2018.

WBD has become a very special occasion in our calendar. The last two years have been about what to read at Matt's nursery so this year we have reached an important milestone. This is something I've dreamed of for years. I have imagined so many different ideas. Oh yes peeps it is Matt's first School Book Day which means I get to dress him up. The possibilities are endless. Ah the optimism. Ah the hope. Argh the boy. All of my ideas proved futile. I am sure you would like an example of this? Behold:

Me: Be Gandalf. We already have the outfit. It shows we are learned readers. I don't have time to be creative.
Matt: But that's Luke Skywalker's cloak now.

For months leading up to this point Matt was going to be Saucepan Man. There will definitely be a blog post soon about Matt's interest in The Magic Faraway Tree but suffice to say he loves this character. I imagined a black top and jeans with silver foil card cutouts of pans and kettles. Easy. Until the day Matt announced he didn't want to do that. We agreed that real pans and kettles would not be comfy.  So we revisited the book shelves. Then he definitely wanted to be the Jolly Postman. Yippee. Another great character from a lovely book. That's what I said out loud. My internal monologue was 'wahoo- easy easy easy'. Or so I thunked. When I came to ebay/amazon/ google it it proved really difficult to get a traditional postie uniform and hat. There are just modern courier costumes or ones with Postman Pat's name emblazoned on them. So I looked again at the book to see how i could cobble it together and it seems the jolly postman is more dated that I initially thought. He wears a shabby blue suit, tie, and yellow shirt. When I explained this to Matt the idea was destroyed- 'I am not wearing a yellow shirt'. OKs. The highbrow literature review continued with my suggestion of Supertato. Seriously wish I hadn't. "Supertato is too fat. You could go as him, Mummy". Matt was lucky I wasn't holding a loaded nappy at the time. 

We reached an impasse until Matt spotted a fab Viking costume on amazon and wanted to dress up in that. We discussed whether he meant How to Train your Dragon or How to be a Viking. The former being a film, the latter being a book he no longer reads. It all got a bit heated as I didn't want him to just find a book to match a costume. I wanted him to find a character he identified with, someone who inspires him, and maybe someone who represents our love of books. He chose...

The Highway Rat 

And, in three words, why did he choose this character? For the claws. Which we are not making. He was also attracted to the role due to the sword although he did tell me that they are not allowed weapons in Reception. Phew. Actually, I think Matt loves that in the end [spoiler alert] the rat ends up working in a cake shop.

So we were in agreement that a declawed and defenceless rat is our first WBD effort.

The rat may not be a good role model but at least it was a child led decision about a great book with a moral tale.So in the end maybe it is the perfect fit. A character that Matt likes from a book he loves and more importantly one that I felt was within my craft remit.You may recall that Matt has dressed as the rat before? No? Well click here. That was an amateurish attempt and now he's five, at school, and the costume will have an audience we need to go harder.

The Highway Rat outfit was easy to put together with the help of a pair of Jake and the Neverland Pirates trousers, a cape, hat, and mask. Oh and I also cut up the dad's tuxedo shirt. Don't worry- he isn't going anywhere swish for a looong time! I am very proud of the no-sew-but-oh-so-perfect tail which consists of ballet tights scaled with rubber bands and stuffed with plastic bags. Even the dad was impressed. Maybe I could be a Pinterest Mummy afterall.

So here he is. Matt in his first WBD costume:

I am chuffed with our efforts but most of all I am proud of Matt. He chose to take the rat book to school when they were asked to take their favourite books in. And, when asked, why he chose that book he said he liked it because it was funny. He also said that he had a discussion with his friend about how the rat got on top of his horse because the horse is big and the rat only has little legs. I love that these two 5 year olds sat discussing this. I am filled with joy that he was able to choose a character from a familiar book and identify what he likes about the story. He is making informed literary decisions and is able to construct a review of a book. The boy is engaging with the process because of a genuine respect for the day and ingrained love of books. This is big. This is happy. I feel my chickens have come home to roost. Let's hope the rat doesn't devour them.

But hang on I hear you cry there are two small people in your house now. So, how do you dress the world's cutest baby on WBD? The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a bit obvs. She would make a lovely Gruffalo's Child but all babies dressed in teddy fur tend to remind me of Bo Selecta. Jake the nephew extraordinaire suggested Sunny Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events. A great shout and such a cool character but being a baby is already Dot's day job. And that is when it struck me. Don't go young go old. So...

May I present you with one of my favourite book characters...Miss Marple.

OK, so Miss Marple doesn't have a haemangioma and Dot didn't take to knitting as well as I'd hoped so we do lack props but she still makes a great old lady. I think it is the lack of teeth. 

Dressing them up has been tremendous fun but of course it is only part of WBD for us. It shouldn't be just about who is wearing what. Let's reflect on the real meaning of World Book Day. For me it is about discovering and rediscovering books together. It is the chance to touchbase with your child. Through discussions on characters and stories Matt and I were able to use the book shelves to find common ground, return to secret worlds, and talk of familiar folk. WBD is a celebration of the relationship we create between our children and books but also a timely reminder of how books can forge connections between us and the little people.

With this in mind I wanted to start a WBD tradition beyond dressing up. I wanted us to use the day to revisit old books and indulge in new ones. So I purchased a book I knew we would both enjoy. The return of Zog or Zog and The Flying Doctors as it is officially titled got me very excited last year but I was a bit too disoriented to get around to buying it. This seemed like a good occasion. I had planned to give it to Matt on the day itself but the parcel arrived and I am weak, people. Also the parcel arrived at the perfect time. Matt and Dad had returned from their cinema trip and Dot was asleep  again (yep she does that. Don't be a hater- I deserve one like this as Matt did not sleep for four years.) Matt was excited about the surprise and I was thrilled that the 'books are not presents' phase has finally receded. I tentatively suggested we sit and read it together- expecting a brutal rejection as he was watching EvanTube. But the boy- he say yes. We actually snuggled on the sofa in the daytime and read this book. Matt really enjoyed it. The story itself is like any Julia Donaldson's in that it is a new take on something that seems classic. It didn't go in the direction I had hoped as it remains with the princess rather than Zog. It is still a good addition to the book shelf especially if you loved Zog. I really enjoyed the actual reading together- being unimpeded by the baby or school or cooking or Lego or bedtime. In the turning of those pages we got something back. It gave me a glimmer of hope that life can be normal again. The reconnection was just what we needed. Matt must have felt the same as he cuddled up and praised the book exclaiming that it was his most favourite book ever. Then he piped up with 'next year can I go as Zog?' Sure son, how hard can a huge dragon costume be? On second thoughts, maybe it could double up as Smaug in the future. Argh and now we are back to obsessing about dressing up again!

This WBD has reaffirmed the importance of pursuing reading with Matt. It has given us chance to think about our books, what we read, when we read, and what stories we are creating ourselves. Our lives are changing rapidly and here is Matt making decisions about books, reading words, and thinking about characters.  We really are at a new reading place. It is exciting to think where we can go with this. But most of all, this day has reminded me that he may be growing ohsofast and that most of the day my hands are full of a whole other human bean but if you can make time for a book you can stop life speeding by. These are the moments to hold onto. Therefore my World Book Day resolution (I'm sure it's a thing, isn't it?) is to create more reading time beyond school books and Lego construction books. I intend to grab the opportunities to read with Matt whenever they arise to anchor us and give us both what we need. 

But, right now, I need to figure out how to walk to school with a two foot pink tail.

Happy World Book Day.