- Tree Spirits Bite the Dust!
I can’t believe it! I discover these tree spirits, capture their image and then they are gone. How sad is that?
- Children’s Books
My “StoryDoor” is a project I’ve been working on for some years. With the support of a web designer who has been extremely patient, I now have a StoryDoor website (www.storydoor.info.de) and a MyStoryDoor instagram.
A Good Story
The world of story telling is magical – often captivating our imagination and even explaining things we don’t understand.
Of course, there are so many children’s books: old and new. As a child we didn’t have many books in our house, but when I became a Mum I soon made up for this. Since the 1990s the market has been flooded with wonderful children’s books.
Here are a few examples of children’s picture books which combine simple mesmerising text and vivid illustrations. In my opinion they really work!
- Ketchup On Your Cornflakes by Nick Sharratt
- The Complete Farmyard Tales: written by Heather Amery and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright (see StoryDoor 2 on www.storydoor.info.de)
- Room on the Broom: written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
- Dirty Bertie by David Roberts
- Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy
Books published by the independent publisher Usborne are an absolute must for your bookshelf. The Usborne Book of Bible Stories and Illistrated Grimm’s fairy Tales to name but 2. Pure quality.
I’ve recently discovered books published by Child’s Play which bring a story alive with their lift-up flap.
I recommend any books illustrated by Michael Terry (E.g. Little Hotchpotch. See StoryDoor 4 www.storydoor.info.de). A visual treat!
Kids love a giggle. For example take “Dirty Bertie”- he does all the things you’re not supposed to do (according to grown-ups anyway!). I know his horrible habit of picking his nose is not to everyone’s taste but kids adore such naughty talk.
Books which make children laugh are an excellent way of grabbing their attention. Such a book is an invaluable tool for parenting – use it to help children learn how to behave (or in Bertie’s case – how NOT to behave!) or simply to impart information.
There are 2 amusing children’s books which prove categorically that Germans do have a sense of humour (contrary to popular British belief!) :
- Welcher Po passt auf diese Klo? by Nele Moost and Michael Schober
- Die Kackwurstfabrik by Marja Baseler and Annemarie van den Brink, illistrated by Tjarko van der Pol (all from The Netherlands)
Unfortunately for those of you who cannot read German these books are, as of yet, not available in English. A real shame.
A Happy Ending?
Sometimes when I read a story “out loud” I struggle if it has a sad or gruesome ending. Probably the most difficult to read are those written by Hans Christian Andersen. Remember “The Little Match Girl” or “The Pied Piper of Hamlin”? I realise there is always a moral to be learnt from these fairy tales but I admit to changing the outcome to avoid tears at the end.
BEWARE! Some traditional Nursery Rhymes which seem so short and sweet, aren’t all that you imagine. The classic “Ring-a-ring a roses” is still sung by young children with enthusiasm – little do they know, that it’s a song about how people died of the plague!
Why not visit my StoryDoor website to see and hear me read my favourite children’s books.
- 2. The Gigantic Turnip
This is based on a Russian fairy tale recorded by Aleksei Tolstoy in the nineteenth century. Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey
This is a delightful story about an old couple who need help to pull an enormous turnip out of their garden. You can read it out loud with gusto to the delight of listening children. Watch their faces as this tale progresses. More and more animals join the “tug of war” with the stubborn vegetable, but will they succeed?
A wonderful story of teamwork and collaboration.
- 3. Pig Gets Lost
Pig Gets Lost
One of the short stories in the series “The Complete Farmyard Tales” by Heather Amery and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright.
I chose this as one of my favourite books not just because of the charming story and wonderful illustrations, but because it became part of our family life. The evening routine for my sons when they were little was: into bed, a bedtime story, a goodnight kiss and then an audio version of the complete works of The Farmyard Tales.
If you get chance to read these short stories, look out for the little yellow duck.There is one hiding on each page.It likes to play hide-and-seek just like Nuts the squirrel.
- High Spirits in the Woods
Whilst I was coming up with the story behind my StoryDoors, I did some illustrations of local trees which I imagined could be tree spirits.
Could this fairy be flitting around in the dark woods? Who knows? Perhaps we should go for a night walk (die Nachtwanderung – this sounds so much better) .
- 1 . Nuts, My Busy Little Squirrel
Let the Games Begin!
Once I had decided to hide my StoryDoors in trees, I had to solve the mystery of who it put them there! That’s when Nuts, the Busy Squirrel came alive.
This is a story of a little red squirrel that scuttles around the winter woods looking for her store of food. Her cache and her favourite bedtime story are hidden behind a little door. I, the storyteller, am amazed how fat my little friend, the busy squirrel, becomes by the end of the book.
You too can get the inside story by visiting www.storydoor.info
Here are a few of my illustrations from my book:
- The Story of My StoryDoor
Once upon a time….
Unbeknown to most of my acquaintances, I have a strange hobby. I hide miniature doors in trees! They are my “StoryDoors”.
How did this all start? I think I first developed a fascination for doors when I stayed in York with a group of my language school customers. I noticed how colourful and individual the front doors of the houses were. I began to take photos, much to the embarrassment of my family. My Aunt and Uncle in Hornsea (east Yorkshire) were particularly obliging when I asked them several times to stop the car whilst out and about.
Initially I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my album of “Door” photos. My collection had meanwhile extended to include German doors, and once you’ve developed an eye for a good door, there is no end to this project! Several years later my “StoryDoor” idea began to take shape.
Seeing the Wood for the Trees
People always say that if trees could talk they would have so much to tell us. Just look at the size of some of our trees and imagine what has happened in their lifetime. I remember sitting one day in my car waiting for my running friends. As always I had parked directly in front of the same tree. A hornbeam, I think. I suddenly spotted an old man’s face in the tree. That got me thinking!
My StoryDoor Mystery
I love a good story. So I thought – why not hide tiny handmade versions of my doors in trees? Perhaps someone would find one and wonder who put it there.
But what should be behind the door? It soon became clear to me. A children’s story.
Hence my motto for my StoryDoors: “A story behind every door”
To be continued……..