Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Author Profile - Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen
Image Source:
Michael Rosen is an author of every sort of children's book - picture, poetry, fiction/non-fiction. He writes for newspapers and magazines and performs his poetry. You hear him on the radio often, and he presents BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth which explores the 'world of words' and the ways in which we use them; interviewing authors, scholars, celebrity and others to get their take on the subject.

Rosen has appeared in children's educational TV and contributes poetry and curriculum related activities. I credit Rosen the most in introducing my son and daughter to poetry in particular. My children and their session sharing friends enjoyed his fun and imaginative approaches to teaching English during the Home Ed years, so I was interested to I hear that the author has recently been appointed Professor of Children's Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London in which he helps to run a MA in Children's Literature course. 

Rosen's verse rolls nicely,his chosen words are often uncomplicated and he uses repetition like no one else. He conveys so much by saying very little. Simple words can encapsulate the whole of the poem. Sometimes lines often contain one short word  

'so' the style is very free it does not demand attention, but children like it, they immediately get it. Rosen was the Children's Laureate in 2007.

His prose has that same appeal, the comedy is fast and witty. Published last month is a children's novel entitled Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed. it's about Malcolm, his mum, and Uncle Gobb who is homework mad! Illustrated by Neal Layton this book is a wonderful pairing of talents and not the first for Bloomsbury.

WIN a copy of the book Uncle Gobb and the Dread Shed written by Michael Rosen with illustrations by Neal Layton 

To Enter: leave a sentence or two expressing what your view on homework is in the form of comment on this blog post at the bottom of this post.

 (if you are unable to action then please email your comment across to

Terms and conditions are: 

Competition is open to UK residents only and entrants must be over 18

Only one entry per person

The Competition will run from Wednesday 01 July 2015 at Midday GMT until Friday 10 July 2015 at Midnight GMT 

Entries received after the closing date will not be considered

The draw will be random

The participant must agree to part of any reasonable promotional activity surrounding the competition

It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure their entry meets with entry requirements and is submitted online successfully

The winner will be announced on this, the competition blog post 

The winner will be required to provide additional information such as a name and address

If we are unable to contact the winner within 14 days of the closing date, then we will reserve the right to select a new winner

The prize is a hardcover copy of Uncle Gobb by Michael Rosen published by Bloomsbury Children's Books

The competition winner will not be able to exchange the prize for a cash alternative, or any other reserves the right to exclude from the competition any entry that does not meet criteria, and also to change, suspend or terminate the promotion and entry period at any time. Disqualification of participants will be carried out if, for any reason, the promotion cannot be carried out fairly or if they suspect any person is manipulating entries or results, or who has acted unethically in any other way.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Children in Art - PLAY

my pencil drawing sketch of the original painting 'Baby at Play' by Thomas Eakins

from my own Babies for all Season's book project - illustration by Debra Hall

Poohsticks by famed illustrator E.H Shepard the original sketch

Ring Around The Rosy - 8x10 archival watercolor print by Tracy Lizotte


Wembley Dreams' by artist, Trevor Mitchell as it currently appears on a Ravensburger Puzzle
painting by Debra Hall

illustration by Debra Hall

Friday, 22 May 2015

Project 9 - 3D Profile Faces

figure 1
figure 2
figure 3

You Will Need:

Modelling Lincoln board
Pastels - Jumbo Oil Pastels in black, white and grey shades
Fixative Spray
Face Mask (when spraying)
Cutting Board and craft knife (adult use)

What to Do:

On the card draw a full face of your own design, including neck and shoulders ensuring the bottom has a nice long, straight base to it. Cut it out. Colour in and shade the skin tones and hair with an assortment of pastels shades of grey, black and white, blending across the forehead, down the nose and the cheeks and neck with the fingers. Define facial features, hair and neckline areas with the tip of a black pastel. Adults to make a single, centre-line cut/incision from the bottom to the chin as shown in figure 1

As figure 2 demonstrates, using the first head as a pattern, repeat the process. This time drawing a side profile imagining how the person would look at side view, so ensuring that the size matches that of the first head, and that facial features, with eye glasses and hair fringe, or hat (if applicable), length of nose and shape of chin falling in line with the front facing model, remember to include the neck and side turned shoulder and a straight edged run along the bottom. Cut it out, and colour in with the pastels. Ensure that you enrol your adult once again to make a one long, single cut/incision down from the centre top of the head downwards to where the chin roughly appears.

You can set the artwork by using the fixative spray. Set your two model components on some old sheets of newspaper, and, while wearing a face mask and keeping your arms outstretched, spray evenly, keeping the spray away from the eyes when you do so. Leave a few minutes to dry.

figure 3 shows the model assembled, use the incisions made in each component as a way of slotting it together. You may have to tweak the length of one or both of the cuts to arrive at a the best positioning and standing that can be achieved.

Achieving the classical, statuesque look works really well on these models. The one above should be Michelangelo's David, but someone once said they thought it was the Queen! I found this stupendous design of Julius Caesar (figure 4) by my son, done in one of our art sessions during his Roman obsessive phase, sadly not a pic of the whole model but you can get an idea of a subject from it.

figure 4

the images below are taken from a family session I once led at the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery in Coventry, where a young participant did her own take of a modern girl in colour

Pretty cool, all in all, don't you think!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Book Review - PLAY by Dr Amanda Gummer

Play – by Dr Amanda Gummer

ISBN 978-0-091-95514-4

(published May 2015 by Vermilion)

RRP £10.99

Eight chapters – each based on age appropriateness
Final Words
Appendix – including Nursery Rhyme verses


Author and psychologist, Dr Amanda Gummer (the author) goes some way in setting the tone for the rest of the book


This is child health and development handbook for parental referencing, and what it is that makes it so is the content of each chapter being headed and led by the age appropriateness of a child: 0-2 months2-6 months,
 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, 2-3 years, 3-4 years, 4 years and upwards. Information is largely on milestone marking, and recognising the mental, physical, social and emotional needs of the child and interacting with, and being observational of, the stages of their development. Stimulation of the senses with objects, and toys, playing games, is a high feature. There is also some acknowledgement of the parent having to consider their own well being at times when it can be tough going. The kind of familiar, stresses and anxieties (from both sides) which can arise are mentioned, not feeding problems or medical considerations particularly (it is not that kind of health book), but things like sleep deprivation and problems arising from an interrupted routine. Tips given to handle these for the best 


The author is perceptive and knowledgeable as to how play 'comes-into-play', from the very beginnings of a young life through to school starting age. Tablets, online gaming, smart phones, games and hand-held consoles, and TV are really only mentioned under a sub-title called ‘balancing your child’s ‘Play Diet’, and this section is simply about how to limit a child’s technology focused play; rather than examining play when it comes in this form and of how and in which ways it can be facilitated to help a child to reach a greater potential. This is a book which very much takes a traditional look at linking play, adult/child and group interacting, and bonding exercises to aid children in their development. The main content it is not condescending or matter of fact and it is full of the kind of tip giving advice that a parent may well be seeking at any time in the early years of their child’s life


The first chapter is very good as it can answer the nitty gritty kind of trouble shooting questions that a search engine result may not throw up for you. This book does not really bring much to the table for the parent or parental figure who regularly engages in activities with their child in respect of their learning and development, and information is not that in depth on the subject of children requiring more specialist considerations. Yet, for anyone who seeks a little bit of inspiration and thought injection about what to do with their young children at home and when out and about, and who may need help with identifying the reasons behind their child’s moods or behaviour, or help in interpreting their child’s responses sometimes, there is plenty of intuitive comment made in a structured way that you will find helpful

Paperback 154 Pages. Sub-headings fall under the topic of each chapter. Each chapter’s end has a recap in the form of a ‘fun things to do with your child’ list, which, if you’ve read the book, can act as a quick reminder of an activity that had been outlined, this taking away the need to refer to, or locate the information each time, in the body of the text. The book also becomes a diary and there is note paper space, so the book could become a treasured keepsake and a memory evoker in year's to come, not a new idea but rather nice and the book is not too bulky for storing. There is a resource/contact list at the back of the book

Some b/w comic book style illustrations.


The tone is very much the voice of a health expert rather than that of an educational theologian. This is an advice giving class, not a masterclass, as the approach taken is not academic or in any way exploratory. For me, to channel education and development through creativity and play is my passion. Being somewhat conversant with the writings of Friedrich Fröbel and his theory writing centred on the tiny baby and its huge and forever growing capabilities, and the instinctive striving one has to achieve self awareness, and the huge leap of change in the total being which happens when the ability to stand upright is achieved. Of John Holt and his publications including How Children Fail and How Children Learn where he explores autonomous style teachings, and those of Rudolf Steiner where the importance of nature and the arts in child's play and in education, and Maria Montessori, of course, and her techniques and use of natural materials etc in educating children, well, compared to all of that; this book, for me, is not that enlightening. That comment made, I can conclude however, that I firmly believe if I'd had possession of this book when a new mother, back in 1993, being before the internet it has to be said, but before the benefit of my hindsight too, I think this book would have been something I’d refer to often for its advice giving qualities