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Award-hungry March 13, 2008

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 8:34 pm

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OK so I’m getting carried away but 2 more voting type affairs – this one for Barefoot Book’s brilliant book The Tear Thief vote here

And this for Babygroe’s Natural Choice Awards (Tatty Bumpkin is as natural as it gets but obviously you can put anything you choose here).


Dates for your diary January 21, 2008

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,Bristol news,storytelling — paulabrown @ 6:40 pm

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  • National Storytelling Week begins – 26 January – in Bristol this has manifested itself as the Bristol Storytelling Festival
  • Shrove Tuesday (Barefoot Book recommendation: Mama Panya’s Pancakes is a great book with a Kenyan pancake recipe!) – 7 Feb
  • Chinese New Year – 7 Feb (recommends Great Race)
  • World Book Day – 6 March
  • St Patrick’s Day – 17 March (Paula recommends Barefoot’s Tales of Old Ireland)
  • Vegetarian Week – 19 May (Barefoot’s Herb The Vegetarian Dragon!)

Synchronicity: Buttons November 7, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,storytelling — paulabrown @ 10:24 am


I love it when you think of something then there seem to be a series of serendipitous (oh hark at me with my long words!) events on the same topic. So here’s my latest one.

I met a friend, fellow Barefoot Books lover and semi-professional storyteller for a drink and she was telling me that she was going to be doing the story of the Blue Coat in assembly the next day – a Jewish story from The Story Tree by Hugh Lupton, a Barefoot anthology of 7 gorgeously illustrated stories with an amazing audio CD read by Hugh (well-known storyteller). The Blue Coat is about a mother who makes her son a blue coat and he loves it, runs and skips and jumps and plays in it but when it wears out she makes a waistcoat, a button and a series of increasingly small items from it, I won’t spoil the ending if you don’t know it (though you can buy the book here of course!).

The next day I went to see Hugh Lupton at the Bath Children’s Literature festival and of all the stories he could have done, he did this story. Well I Googled stories about buttons when I got home as I felt a bit of an affinity with that button and found a storyteller who used buttons as a way to get ideas for stories – by asking children which, of a pot of vintage and usual buttons, they liked and why and if they reminded the children of anything.

I planned to use my friend’s idea of having a piece of blue card cut in the shape of a coat and actually cut the card during the story so I set about ebaying vintage buttons for the story prompt idea and a big blue button for that part of the Blue Coat story. I ordered buttons from a woman who I then got virtually friendly with who loved the idea of the use of the buttons, had a 5 year old and set about investigating my Barefoot Books site.

The next day my friend emailed me to see if I wanted to take our kids to the theatre to see… The War of the Buttons, an old story about a school where children were involved in gang fighting etc.

And visiting the school office I was reminded that our school secretary is called… Mrs Button.


How much do you tell your kids? September 24, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 9:25 pm

So we went to the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature at the weekend, mostly to see some Barefoot Books authors in action – Clare Beaton’s illustration all in fabrics (which you got to try), renditions of the catchy new Port Side Pirates and One City, Two Brothers, the tale about Jerusalem.

One storyteller started with the opening gambit ‘what stories do you tell your children and what should you not tell them’ and invited us to think about what you withhold and why. I have long believed that children can cope with more than we imagine but only if given to them in the right way. Research shows that images from TV are absorbed by the frontal lobes of the brain and the brain doesn’t have time to vet or screen them. Images from storytelling can be ignored by children if they can’t deal with them.

The fact that the storyteller then went on to tell a graphic and gruesome tale about a child-eating teacher illustrates when you should curb your tendencies to tell more disturbing stories but it did make me think about how we explain death, birth, divorce, work and poverty to name a few…

As Gabe is coming up to 5 he is starting to ask a few questions about these things. Explaining why we both work part time to be with them was tricky and I heard him telling a friend the other day that his parents don’t earn much and are poor! It didn’t really bother me and better than saying we’re rich I suppose! Anyway, how much do you tell your children about those tricky topics? Do you come at it straight, no sugar coating (as many people I know do) or does the stork bring babies and are dead bunnies really ‘sleeping’?


Children’s Music – a review September 21, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:30 pm

My son has just started school and, having tendencies towards the the slightly neurotic, perfectionist alpha-mum type, at the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘what don’t they cover at school that I need to do at home?’. Apart from letting the boys run like dogs, it seems to be music. Apparently there’s not a lot of room for music in the curriculum which seems a darn shame. So I started to dig out my children’s music.

Now let me explain, I’m no chintzy nursery rhyme freak, I am talking decent children’s music. The Wiggles may have stolen the limelight but if you look hard enough there’s some brilliant independent music around.

Now I’m really no musician (despite my grandmother being a well-known organist for Welsh Male Voice choirs) but I could wax lyrical about this. An educational musician – Phil Davis – I know and author of the ‘Beat It’ series talks about beat competency (the ability to keep a rhythm, learned from hearing music with a strong beat and singing themselves) is one of the strongest indicators of future academic performance. I’m not educator so I couldn’t comment but since music and maths are so closely linked, I’m hedging my bets and playing Drum and Base really loud before school… No seriously but let me walk you through my kid’s music collection:

  • Tatty Bumpkin– OK so I’m bound to say this as it’s the class I teach but really, lots of songs related to animals in different tempos, some drumming tracks to march/ play instruments along to, songs for jumping, relaxing, doing yoga to, snuggling with your mummy and all so adult-proof you could hear them several hundred times or more and still be as happy as a clam!
  • Johnny Cash’s Children’s album – apparently very good…
  • Charlie and Lola’s Favourite and Best Music Record
  • Barefoot Books with music CDs – many of the books come with music CDs so you can hum along to Animal Boogie (down in the jungle, come if you dare, what can you see shaking here and there…). Magic Train Ride – folksy number, Port Side Pirates sea shanty, Farmyard Jamboree Chilean folk song…
  • Putumayo Kid’s Range – world music around themes especially for kids – World Playground, Animal Playground, Asian Dreamland, Caribbean Playground etc tc
  • Look around for independent artists – I found a great American one called James K with a great song about the seasons called ‘The Sun Comes up’, we also have a local musician with a CD called Music Fun with Play It
  • Jack Johnson wrote the music for Curious George – the movie, it’s amazing, absolutely gorgeous for adults as well as kids
  • ‘No’ by They Might Be Giants – these guys do kids concerts – at first they were put off by the fact that the preschoolers wandered about picking fluff off the floor during the performances! Quite American in feel but hilarious and ‘Where do they make balloons’ is a favourite… along with ‘Don’t Cross the Road in the Middle of the Street’
  • School Building by Lympsham Preschool Fundraising team – a CD a friend produced to raise money for a school bulding for their preschool. Donated by artists around the world, it’s great and available on Amazon…
  • Don’t forget you can (legally of course) download tracks from ITunes and the like for all your favourite films like Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz etc
  • Singalong Songs with Names – bizarre CD my step-mother-in-law bought in a shopping mall stand which has famous nursery rhymes sung with your child’s name littered throughout!
  • Hello Children Everywhere – cracking tripe (on second thoughts, make that ‘triple’) album with lots of old classics like The Runaway Train, Grandpa We Love You etc
  • Music to Watch Girls By – not technically for children but which child doesn’t enjoy ‘Magic Moments’ or ‘Fly Me To the Moon’??

Please let me know which kid’s CDs you like!



Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,parenting articles,the kids — paulabrown @ 8:54 pm

So I’ve been and got myself in the paper (secretly I think I’m a bit addicted to local low celebrity status now!). I did an International Peace Day Tatty Bumpkin session (and celebration of the new title One City, Two Brothers) in Bristol Central Library, not the best session ever as the children were young and prone to picking fluff off the floor but hey, I got my 15 minutes of fame and of course highlighted the ever-present need for peace…

Had a small tiff with DH today, realised it was International Peace Day and that I was a bit of a hypocrite for promoting it then having said tiff, felt guilty, got over it, now slurping wine with DH and pretending I know how Friday nights really feel to most of the population (self-employed work-from-home mothers have little idea other than cake stall day at school = Friday).

Incidentally school going really really well for DS#1 who has just started Reception and said dreamily on second day ‘I love school Mummy’. I love school too (until all that bosom growing started) so can’t blame him, wouldn’t mind being there myself some days.


Peace August 9, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,Bristol news,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:58 pm


So the next thing I’m working on is Peace Day – International Peace Day is Sept 21st and another Barefoot Books stallholder and I are organising a peace tree. Basically we are sending leaf-shaped card in various greens to many Bristol schools for them to decorate and write messages on, forming their own peace tree. We’re going to have another one at the central library which NCT, Rainbows etc groups can decorate and a storytelling / children’s (Tatty Bumpkin) yoga session with a peace theme to match.

It coincides with the release of One City, Two Brothers, mentioned before in another post. I have a competition – visit www.mybarefootbooks.com/PaulaBrown to find out which King the two brothers have to stand before – answers on an email (paulabrown@mybarefootbooks.com), correct ones picked at random on 1st Sept and will win 4 tickets to see Chris Smith’s workshop in Bath at the Children’s Literature Festival (the first festival of its kind ever, so go support it! www.bathkidslitfest.co.uk).