Guest Blog Post – Parrot Street Book Club
Go on a literary adventure this summer
Emily Bright and Sarah Campbell run Parrot Street Book Club, an exciting monthly book subscription for primary school-aged kids. They send fantastic chapter books that their subscribers might not otherwise have discovered and which can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls, along with a fun-filled activity pack they’ve produced to accompany each book.
Below they’ve selected 6 fabulous books to enjoy over the holidays that can be followed up with a trip to one of the capital’s brilliant museums. Enjoy!
We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to share our recommendations with you. Pairing a book with a day out is a great way to build the excitement and anticipation for your trip but we also know that encouraging children to think a bit more deeply about what they’ve read, and connect it to their own experiences, is hugely beneficial.
We’ve selected three books that younger children (roughly 5-8 years old) will enjoy, whether you read aloud to them or they go it alone, and three that would be more suitable for older readers (roughly 8-11). We’re specialists in chapter books but having taken a glance at our own picture book collection we’re certain you’d also be able to find numerous books to tie-in with these museum trips if your little ones are still at that stage!
All about Ice Cream
Mint Choc Chip at the Market Cafe (Barrington Stoke) by Jonathan Meres is a beautifully written and illustrated early chapter book for younger readers. Priya’s family run a pet supplies stall in the local market but trouble ensues when a rival stall opens. The relationship between Priya and her grandmother is particularly endearing and they love to eat ice cream together, hence the title.
Why not pair this with a visit to Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World at The British Museum of Food? This summer’s craziest exhibition is billed as a multi-sensory experience and features glow-in-the-dark ice cream, a vanilla flavoured fog and a sub-zero tasting chamber – all very Willy Wonka! A visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Conehenge, their ice cream café.
Until 30th September. Tickets and more information: www.bmof.org
The Day That Aliens (Nearly) Ate Our Brains (Walker Books) by Tom McLaughlin is a laugh-out-loud comedy that sees Freddy and Sal (plus two policemen and the leaders of the free world) face the threat of alien invasion … one that they inadvertently started.
Why not follow this up with a visit to the Science Museum’s Exploring Space gallery? Find out all about the spacecraft that have explored our solar system, what it’s like to travel in space and the amazing feats of engineering that have made it possible.
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD
Free entry. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
Take to the seas!
Horace and Harriet: Take on the Town (OUP) by Clare Elsom is a fun-filled adventure for younger readers featuring Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace, for short), a statue that comes to life and, dissatisfied with his plinth, sets out to find a new home.
From invading the duck pond, to adding cannon and a crow’s nest to a garden shed, it’s clear that Horace is a sea-faring fellow, so why not follow in his footsteps with a trip to the National Maritime Museum? The AHOY! Gallery for under 7s and All Hands Gallery for 6-12-year olds offer hours of interactive fun and adventure for kids of all ages.
National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Free entry. www.rmg.co.uk/national-maritime-museum
Look into space!
For slightly older readers The Matilda Effect (Corgi) by Ellie Irving is a rip-roaring adventure featuring a mad dash across Europe to put right an historic wrong. Matilda is a gutsy young inventor and when she discovers that her grandmother was an astrophysicist who discovered a planet but who’s boss claimed her discovery as his own, she sets out to stop him collecting the Nobel Prize he doesn’t deserve.
The Astronomy Centre and Planetarium at the Royal Observatory offer a chance to marvel at the wonders of the universe, just like Matilda and her grandmother do in the book. Not only can you see one of the biggest telescopes in the world, but you can touch a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. If you visit on a weekend before the end of September there’s also the chance to drop into space science and exploration-themed family workshops run by Observatory Explainers.
Royal Observatory, Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ
Tickets and information: http://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory
The Jewelled Jaguar (Firefly Press) by Sharon Tregenza is a gripping adventure for slightly older readers set on the wild Welsh coast. When a sinkhole opens up and almost swallows Griffin, his mother and their house his life is turned upside down. Could the Jewelled Jaguar, an Aztec sacrificial knife discovered in an underwater shipwreck by Griffin’s mother, be the cause of these strange goings on?
What better place to go to find out more about the amazing Aztecs than the British Museum? Discover exquisite sculptures and mosaics in the Mexico room on the ground floor. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not follow the Museum Explorer: Creatures trail which goes all around the museum and includes a stop at the famous Aztec double-headed serpent.
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Free entry. www.britishmuseum.org
Curious about colours?
And finally, a book that we think adults will enjoy just as much as older primary school readers. The Extraordinary Colours of Auden Dare (Piccadilly Press) by Zillah Bethel is set in a war-torn future where water is scarce and robots are commonplace. Auden has a unique perspective on the world: he only sees the world in black and white. As this mystery adventure unfolds, Auden learns the truth about an extraordinary family secret and the real meaning of friendship.
Colour: The Rainbow Revealed, an interactive, family-friendly exhibition at the Horniman Museum, is all about how colours shape our world. If you visit on a Tuesday or Thursday during the summer holidays you can also try your hand at some free arts and crafts fun, all inspired by the exhibition.
The Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, London, SE23 3PQ
Until 28th October. Tickets and information: www.horniman.ac.uk