I’m resisting the urge to do this post in rhyme, but I’m no Julia Donaldson so I’ll spare you. We were recently asked to try out the new Gruffalo: Games mobile app for ios developed by Magic Light Pictures. We are huge, HUGE Gruffalo fans in this house (as you may have noticed from Nate’s birthday pictures) and are starting to let the kids use my phone to play games. They are 2 and 4, so apps are pretty much used only as toddler tantrum diffusers when we’re out in public. We’re about to head out on a transatlantic trip and Texas-sized road trip so we have been looking to build up our app arsenal to help keep the kids entertained along the way. The offer to review this game couldn’t be better. And I’m happy to report Nate loves the game and it is going to be perfect for the trip!
The game is just as lovely as you would expect from the world of the Gruffalo and has the same magical musical score as the Gruffalo films (Magic Light Pictures produced that too) and the beautiful Axel Sheffler illustrations that make the Gruffalo so charming. Gruffalo: Games is designed for 3-7 year olds and comes with 6 different games (3-in-a-Row, Nut Catch, Snap, Jigsaw, Marching Bugs, Match Me) The games are timed with increasing difficulty, so there definitely appears to be room for older kids to enjoy the games. Nate found the jigsaw a bit difficult but absolutely loved the snap and 3-in-a-row games. We’ve been trying to play these games in real life with little joy. The benefit of the app is that my little stinker can’t cheat! Plus, you get to play against the Gruffalo, which is way more fun than mom! I can definitely see Nate stealing my phone for hours on the flight with this game. If you want to read more about how the game developed and how it fits into the larger Gruffalo universe, check out this article in the Guardian.
And now (drumroll, please) I’m super excited to announce a special contest for my readers! Fans of the Gruffalo and The Dare Project can win a fantastic prize pack including a 15th Anniversary edition of The Gruffalo book, DVD, plush toy and of course the app (a £25 value) All you have to do is leave a comment bellow with your favourite character from the book. Are you a mouse or a Gruffalo or a wild card like the snake? The competition closes October 10.
If you can’t wait to see if you’re the winner, you can download Gruffalo: Games from the App Store here.
UPDATE: I’ll be travelling during the duration of this competition. If you’ve never commented before, I’ll have to approve it (which may be slightly delayed depending on wifi) If you’re not sure about your entry, email me at email@example.com.
This is Nate, my little artist…and little poser! He isn’t really painting here, just pretending that the back of the chair is his easel. I didn’t even tell him to do this! I found these cute Miffy smocks at our local newsagent for €2 and asked if I could take a picture of him. He then hammed it us and posed for about 20 frames. I didn’t even know that he knew how painters worked! He has been acting things out and using his imagination so much more recently. I’m trying so hard to not impose personality traits on the kids (see last week’s post) but I really think Nate has an artist’s soul. He’s incredibly attuned to people’s emotions, observant, empathetic, creative and completely emotional and irrational at times. Maybe that’s just what being a toddler is all about and as we grow up we learn to subvert our creative, expressive self. I hope he always has his spark. And if he is a little artist in the making, he earns enough money to buy mommy a nice house someday!
Last weekend we attended the Mountains to Sea Picture Book Picnic. It was our second year and we totally plan on making this an annual event. This year it was held outside the new library, the Lexicon. It’s a pretty incredible building and I can’t wait to have wander inside once it’s open to the public. The book festival brings amazing authors to Dun Laoghaire and it’s really cool that children’s events are part of the programming. One thing I love about living here is that there are so many great initiatives to get kids up close and personal with their favourite authors, illustrators and characters.
This year’s line up for the picnic was great. Yasmeen Ismail who read her new book Specs for Rex. She was brilliant, really personable and adorable and I can’t wait to get her books for the boys. Rex is a little lion who learns to love his new specs after initially being embarrassed by them. He learns a lesson in a few pages that it’s taken over 20 years for me to learn. It’s inevitable that our kids’ will need glasses with Chris and I as handsomely bespectacled parents, and when they do I’m glad we’ll have this book to help make it seem super awesome. Yasmeen’s illustration style is right up my street. It’s sweet, funny, slightly imperfect and full of the energy of childhood. That’s the best part of these events, discovering new authors and illustrators to make storytime even more fun.
David Melling, the creator of Hugless Douglas (a very popular bear around our house) was also there to share a little history of his creation. Douglas was inspired by his son’s hugs, how wonderful is that! They may not always appreciate it, but kids of children’s books authors have to be the luckiest kids. The draw-along sessions were really fun. I love seeing how easy it is to be creative as I’m usually guilty of over thinking things. Nate loved it to. He’s still very much an abstract artist, but he’s starting to connect the dots (literally).
As you can see, Nate totally nailed it (with a little help from Chris).
And then something very exciting happened. We got a special surprise…
Hugless Douglas showed up to give Alex (and occasionally other children) hugs. I’ve never seen anything so adorable. He was just in love with this big, kind bear. I apologise on his behalf to any other kids that got turfed out, but all he wanted to do was squeeze Douglas’s tummy. Can you blame him, who doesn’t love a good bear hug?
We’ve been thinking a lot about Alex and how we parent him versus how we parented Nate at the same stage. He has been going through a bit of a rough stage with us lately (he is 2 after all) and somehow Chris and I feel like we have forgotten all of the important stuff we read about in books while Nate was just a baby (you know, when you think you’re really busy but actually you do have time to read about parenting techniques). We seem to have forgotten that he is younger than Nate and in a different developmental stage. We’ve been focused on his acting out and very physical nature without embracing his quiet moments. After all, children are just as complex as adults and can’t be painted with a broad stroke. He’s not the bold one, he’s not the crazy one, he’s just Alex and we love him. Here he is having a little read to himself and correctly identifying most of the words in the book. I easily overlook these moments because I think, great he’s happy doing something so I can get something else done. But what I need to do is sit down with him and praise him for being a sweet, clever and kind boy.
It has been far too long since I’ve posted a recipe. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, but every time I’d go to shoot it someone (ahem, Chris) would eat the chocolate! This is a really easy and quick way to make chocolate pudding that is somewhat healthy. It’s lovely right away, but is even better if you let it set in the fridge for a few hours. It’s incredibly rich, so serve it with fresh berries to lighten it up. I’ve used full fat milk and sugar here, but if you wanted to make it even healthier you could use soy or almond milk and a sugar substitute. The best thing about this desert it that it counts towards your five-a-day!
What you need:
- 100g dark chocolate
- 1 ripe avocado
- 50-75g sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
- 150g milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Melt the chocolate, milk and sugar together over a low heat (or use a double boiler to be sure it doesn’t burn). Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon until combined. Place the avocado and chocolate sauce into a food processor and blitz until completely combined. This may take a few minutes and you want to make sure you don’t have any big green lumps in it. Carefully pour into ramekins or small bowls and let set in the fridge for a couple of hours. You can eat it right away, although it won’t be as firm and will have a slightly green taste from the avocados. This goes away as it sets. Serve with fresh berries and enjoy!