Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Week boosts imagination

The words “wash your face properly or your moustache won't stay on at school” were not something I thought I'd say to my seven-year-old.

But, as I secured the fake mo to his upper lip and adjusted his beard so he could talk and breathe, I have to admit the kid looked pretty cool.

It's Children's Book Week (belatedly – it was officially last week, but our school spread out the celebrations) and the preps, ones and twos held a parade this morning to show off their literary costumes. Spiderman, Superman and Batman were popular – and Harry Potter's polyjuice potion had a good run. Other kids dressed up as Star Wars characters, princesses fairy and human, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Dorothy, Little Red Riding Hood, and Saucepan Man from Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree. Four of the teachers donned costumes as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks was conspicuously absent for most of the parade, creating suspicion that the bears had, in fact, caught and eaten her.

The inspiration for my little viking's
Book Week costume.
My little bearded man? He wasn't Dumbledore or a dwarf. He was a viking – but not from How to Train Your Dragon – he stepped straight out of the rollicking tale Dragon Stew, written by Steve Smallman and illustrated by Lee Wildish.

This book has not been adapted as a major motion picture or television series; but it's a favourite in our family. One of my son's first gifts from his grandparents, it's a rhyming, rhythmic tale of five bored vikings who go out hiking, looking for adventure... then decide to hunt down a dragon and make stew. And the line 'Oh, me bum!' is a bit of pushing-the-boundaries fun that my son knows he can get away with.

At the parade, there were a few murmurings among parents about whether or not movie characters were in the spirit of the parade, but what does it matter? The kids had a blast, looked fantastic, and made an effort. The important thing is they used their imaginations, came dressed as characters from stories they loved, and had a chance to be creative. It doesn't matter if the character is from a comic, graphic novel, book-to-movie adaptation, or movie-to-book crossover; anything that engages kids creatively and invites them to look at the world from a different perspective can only be a good thing.

Our viking made a pointy dragon-poking thing (well, he 'supervised'), and had strict instructions it was only for poking real dragons – not kids, even those dressed as dragons – but that lasted less than a minute and he was soon locked in a pointy dragon-poking thing versus wand battle his mate Harry Potter.

As I left, after being handed a somewhat soggy fake moustache, I knew he'd come home full of stories about the reading party, book-based games, and which Harry had the most powerful wand – in a completely innocent, seven-year-old way – and full of imaginative ideas.

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