ladyofastolat: (Evil laugh)
In a library this afternoon, I overheard a childminder reading from a non-fiction book to a dinosaur-obsessed child. The bones alone do not tell us what colour the dinosaurs were, she read, but scientists were...

"I know what colour dinosaurs are!" cried the boy. "They were animal coloured." And at this, he settled down with the air of someone who had answered all possible questions, and asked her to turn to the next page.

So now we know.
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
I read a story in a preschool today in which the background to all the pictures had lots of assorted animals and minibeasts (this being the recognised term for them; I've not worked out quite what maxibeasts are, though, though I'll have to find out soon since someone's asked for a box of books on them), so I paused the story on every page to talk about them.

"That's a frog," one child declared. "A girl frog." Everyone nodded in agreement. Now, I only ever see picture books upside-down (it's quite a revelation on the rare times I see one the right way up) but I couldn't really see it myself. Perhaps it was something to do with the big eyes and the fact that the wide mouth was drawn in red.

We moved on. The next page contained a "girl snail." (Its eyes were rimmed with black, perhaps looking a bit like eyelashes? Real Men Don't Have Eyelashes, it seems.) We had a "boy mud pie" ("My grandad's got a book on birds and knows all about mudpies," I was told sternly when I suggested that it might actually be a magpie.) We had a whole host of "boy drag flies" (sic. But I don't think they were.) We even had a "girl lawn mower." (It was slightly anthropomorphised, with sharp pointy teeth. It was also pink.)

I often notice with some guilt that I always default to "he" when talking about animals in stories. ("When little monkey is happy, he claps his hands!" "Oh no! The purple dinosaur is hiding the pineapple now. I wonder why he's doing that?") I do make a conscious effort to refer to half of them as "she", but now they've started telling me off: "It can't be a girl because it's blue", or once, bizarrely, "It can't be a boy because it's smiling."

I do find it strange that even very small children have learnt that the entire world can be divided into "boys" and "girls" and that this division assumes such importance to them. What do they actually understand by it, I wonder? This is, of course, the point at which I should launch into a long, insightful essay on gender and identity in small children, but I think… er… is that the microwave beeping with my soup? Lunch time, I think.

(But it would have been a very insightful essay - positively dazzling - had lunch not intervened.)


Mar. 11th, 2009 11:46 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
"When I grow up," said the 4 year old girl very seriously, "I'm going to be an ice-cream lady and a princess. Then after that I'm going to be a prince."
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
Me: "Who's this tweeting at the door? I wonder who it can be! It's got feathers and it's going 'tweet, tweet, tweet!'

Child: An elephant!

Child: "I got presents from Father Christmas. He's got a silly nose and a beard."

My colleague: "How did he get to your house?"

Child: "On Scalextric."

Idle stuff

Sep. 30th, 2008 12:51 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
One of the stories I regularly read at the moment involves a rather rude monster. At one point in the story, he goes for a drive in his big red car, and sings a merry song along the way. "What song do you want him to sing?" I ask the children. We then sing the chosen song to teach it to the monster, and then the monster sings it in his own inimitable fashion. ("RAAAAH! RAAAGH! REEEEGH! RAAAAH!")

After about a hundred different renditions, the results are as follows:
- c. 50 percent: Twinkle twinkle little star
- c. 35 percent: Baa baa black sheep
- c. 10 percent: Row row row your boat
- c. 5 percent: One-offs - Wheels on the bus, Wind the bobbin up etc.

Today the monster was asked to sing the Mamma Mia soundtrack.

He didn't.

And now for a meaningless and unrelated poll )

Oh, and back to the subject of music: I think it should be illegal for any piece of music to include a siren sound effect. It is very distracting when driving. However, if I was a radio DJ, I would be rather tempted to recruit all my fellow radio DJs, so we all played the song at the same time, placed cameras at busy road junctions, and sat back and watched all the drivers look around anxiously en masse.

And, also: Songs that start "see the little..." and involve nosey-woseys and little feet are evil. They put claws into your brain and won't let go. *glares at the culprit*
ladyofastolat: (Default)
In light of various discussions last week, I thought I'd scan in the map of regional distribution of truce terms from The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959) and the map showing the name of the standard chasing game, taken from Children's Games in Street and Playground (1969), both by Iona and Peter Opie.

Maps )


Nov. 16th, 2007 08:46 am
ladyofastolat: (Misty Glastonbury)
We hardly ever get frost here on the island. When I was in a pre-school yesterday, all the children were lined up in awe in the playground, looking at their first ever frost. "Is it snow?" one little girl asked. "Is it Christmas now?" Today the frost is even heavier, and everything is white. I love crisp cold winter days, and today I've got a day off work (I'm working tomorrow), so have plenty of time to appreciate it...

And today our boiler has stopped working. No heating, and no hot water. *whimpers*

EDIT (9.38 a.m.): Okay. Apparently "ooh, I doubt we can get an engineer out to you until Monday" actually means "we've suddenly realised we have an engineer on your town right now, and he'll be here in two minutes." Once I'd got over the "aaagh! Must get dressed!" little panic, it was all very nice, and we now have heat again.

EDIT 2: I should add that it was pointed out to us during one Wightfrag, by... agh. Can't remember his official LJ pseudonym... someone that our boiler's pressure was down almost at zero. We called in some chap who did fancy things with noisy machines, charged us lots of money, but didn't leave the pressure gauge looking much different. Today's chap pointed out that the boiler had no pressure, gave me a simple ten second lesson in what to do about this, trotted from radiator to radiator to make sure that the lack of pressure didn't indicate a serious problem, and then charged us far less, having equipped us with the skills to prevent future call-outs.
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
Overheard in a library, which had noisy workmen outside digging up the road.

Girl no. 1: I wish someone would stop them making that noise.
Girl no. 2: I'll get my Daddy to shoot them.
Girl no. 1: Has your Daddy got a gun? A real gun?
Girl no. 2: Yes. He uses it to shoot pheasants.
Girl no. 1: Does he shoot little girls?
Girl no. 2: No. Only pheasants.
Girl no. 1: (not convinced) Does he shoot little girls? Does he shoot people?
Girl no. 2: No. (she looks suddenly doubtful.) No. I don't think he does. He... He's got a special gun. You put bullets into it, then you push this pink... button thing. Bullets come out. They're special bullets that can only hurt pheasants. They can't shoot little girls.
Girl no. 1: Some people shoot people
Girl no. 2: Daddy doesn't. He's got a special gun.
Girl no. 1: Is it magic?

Later on, Girl no. 2 told me that her Mummy had gone out to move the car, because "if she doesn't she'll have to pay 30 quid. 30 quid is a lot. Two thirty quids is a hundred quid and you can get anything for a hundred quid."
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Small boy: Where do you live?
Me: Cowes
Boy: Do you go on the train ferry? It's cool! It's this ferry with a train underneath it, making it go. It goes pschow! pschow! pschow! (This being my attempt to reproduce that gun sound that small boys make. Big boys and grown-ups, of course, have grown out of this entirely. And, no, I don't know why the "train" made gun sounds, but it did. It definitely wasn't "choo choo choo")
Me: Er... sometimes. (I refrain from telling him it's actually a chain ferry. From now on, I plan to envisage Thomas the Tank Engine heroically carrying the ferry over the Medina every time I go on it.)
Boy: Do you know what week it is? It's Cowes Week. I went yesterday. I watched boats racing. It was cool! They all had cannons on. They were trying to shoot each other. Like pirates.
Me: (silence)

Maybe I've been missing something after all. I'd always dismissed Cowes Week as uninteresting, having no interest in standing in a ten deep crowd of drunken people, watching distant yachts do unintelligable things, while music I don't like blares through the speakers. But if they've got guns on...

Actually, I'm not blood-thirsty. I used to leave the room when my Dad was watching motor racing, since I couldn't bear to watch a sport that could injure people badly. I don't think that adding real guns would actually make me more likely to watch any sport. Pretend laser guns would be fun, though. Hmm... Thinking now of ways sport could be made more appealing to me - are you listening, marketing people? "Capture the Wicket," with laser guns. "Pub crawl golf", when a bar is set up at each hole and you have an extra drink for every extra shot you take. Football done while in character as LARPing characters - and in costume, too. Hmm...
ladyofastolat: (Boo)
Me: "And this dinosaur is sooo mucky he's got a frog on this head! Have you got a frog on your head?"
Little boy (proudly): "No, I've got nits!"

Though I don't think this quite beats the moment a few years ago that went a bit like this:
Me: "Who's that tweeting at the door? Shall we open it and see? What do you think it is? It goes tweet, tweet, tweet. Yes! That's right! It's a bird!"
Little boy: "My Daddy shoots birds."
ladyofastolat: (Library lady)
From a website of children's work done in libraries:

What will librarians be like in 2150?
- Dead
- They will all be really old and not able to walk
- Robots (this is a very popular answer)
- There will be a hotel next to the library. The librarians will do the night-time entertainment for people in the hotel
- They will wear purple skirts and peach blouses
- They will all be skating around on rollerblades
- They will be like giant jelly babies. When they get hungry, they will eat each other, but they will grow back later
- They will have 7 arms (to carry the books)
- Big, hairy and scary

Well, lunch time is almost over, so back to my training course (which, as you can guess, is on how to use this subscription-only website for children's book reviews and creative writing.)

EDIT (and irrelevant): GRRM fans who aren't members of the relevant GRRM communities might be interested to see this. No, it is not news of the new book, so don't get your hopes up...
ladyofastolat: (Happy Hocky)
Child (aged 8): "Doctor Who was really good. It had a werewolf in it. Look. I'll show you what a werewolf looks like." (Child does some acting, snarling around the library.) "I didn't like last week's episode, though. It was racist." (Child pauses for a moment.) "What does racist mean?"

I explain what "racist" means.

Child: "Well, then, it wasn't racist. It was sexist." (Child pauses for a moment.) "What does sexist mean?"

I explain what "sexist" means.

Child: "Well, then, it wasn't sexist either. But it wasn't as good as the werewolf. The werewolf was cool."
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I saw a new children's book today, called "Pirates and Smugglers." "Plus web links and further reading; career paths and places to visit", it said on the cover.

I was most disappointed to open it up and discover that it did not tell me what A-Levels I had to do if I wanted to become a pirate captain, sailing on the seven seas. (GCSE in Timber Shivering, anyone?)

Also, I was given a story today, written by a girl who uses one of our libraries. I was delighted to discover that it did indeed start, "It was a dark and stormy night." On the said night, a girl is going out to meet her best friend in "the malodorous room of terror" in a local castle, while a murderer is at large in the area. Possibly not a good idea, then...

I fully intend to use the lovely phrase "malodorous room of terror" in daily conversation from now on, though I have to admit that I can't think of too many appropriate contexts for it.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
This conversation took place between two 8 year old boys, who were busy working on their space related craft activity at a storytime this morning

Why English people can't live on Mars, but Italians can )

Why famous people have silly names )

God, and the Titanic family )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I sat in today on an author's talk to a group of 8 and 9 year olds. There were two exchanges that particularly amused me.

A child's view of Doctor Who )

What every successful writer needs to have )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
This is suppose to be a reply to a comment on the previous post, but it’s too long to post there, so here it is. It’s the sad tale of Hercules the Handyman, a hero struggling to find a place in the modern world. I wrote it in 45 minutes in a (rare) lunch break, so I can make no promises about its quality.

Read more... )


ladyofastolat: (Default)

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