Welcome back! Today I thought I’d share an activity relating to my book, Jacob Starke Loves the Dark. It is exactly the technique I used when I was producing the illustrations for the book.
Don’t forget, I’d love to see the work you produce! You can email it to email@example.com, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford
This would probably work best if you have some black paper. But you could make your own by painting white paper black.
So what do you have to do?
First step is to create your nocturnal animals like the ones above on a piece of white paper. You can draw and colour your own, or print off the ones I have drawn and colour them in. A printable version is available here
Next, cut out the animals. Handy hint: it’s best to leave a bit of white space around the shape, rather than risk cutting off an ear or a leg!
Arrange them on the black paper to create a nocturnal scene. Once you’re happy with the position, stick them down
Use some light coloured pencils (eg. white, yellow, pale pink, pale blue) to add background details like stars, grass, flowers etc
For a really professional finish, you can use a black crayon to colour in the white edges of your animals to make them blend in more with the background
You might also like to try these extra challenges:
use the same technique to create a picture set in space
write a story or a poem about the picture you have created
I’m going to miss doing my usual school visits and other events over the coming weeks and – potentially – months. So I thought I’d share some of the resources I’ve developed over the years, so that you can try them at home.
I’ll be sharing a few new activities too. Many of them will be based on my books, but others will just be ideas I want to share with you. I hope you find them fun to do with your family. And do, please, share any artwork or writing you create – I’d really love to see it!
You can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, post it on my Peta Rainford’s Facebook page @dogpigeon, or Tweet me @PetaRainford
1: Create a self portrait out of letters!
One of the most popular activities I have done is based on my book Isabella, Rotten Speller, which is set in a world where everything is made out of letters.
Can you create a self portrait made entirely of letters?
There’s a template to download here – but you can just as easily go DIY and start off with a large face-shaped letter, like a U or an O.
Once you’ve practised a few times, you might like to try these extra challenges:
try to use as many different letters as possible
try different ways to create the letters – for example cutting them out of magazines or painting rather than drawing
try to include all the letters of your name, or other words, in the portrait
Can’t believe a whole week has gone by since the inaugural IW Story Festival took place – and I’m still feeling the buzz!
I’m part of the core organising committee – along with Elspeth Giddens, storyteller Sue Bailey, and fellow local author/illustrators Jules Marriner and Debbie Webb, who all worked liked dogs but were determined and positive throughout! We had a vision: to inspire creativity and imagination though stories of all types, in children from the Isle of Wight – particularly from ‘hard to reach’ families – and beyond. We didn’t know if we could pull it off. But we did. With bells on. (l should add: although we were the core team, we couldn’t have done it without the help and support of many other wonderful people.)
Hundreds of children and families poured through the doors of the Riverside Centre in Newport to see authors, illustrators, storytellers, poets, puppetry and theatre. They took part in junk modelling, book making, World Book Day costume making and encounters with bats, bugs and owl poo!
The success of the event was helped, in no small part, by our fabulous headliners: Korky Paul, Nick Sharratt and Sarah McIntyre, who brought in the crowds and were all charming and generous with their time and drawings. Sarah wrote her own blog, which gives a fabulous flavour of the fun of the festival. You can read it here.
My own session – where I read Jacob Starke Loves the Dark and led some nocturnal animal mask making – was great fun and resulted in some fabulous badgers, foxes and owls.
The festival was also the first outing for my new book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes – it was exciting to see it on display in the festival bookshop run by Medina Books. Even more exciting to sell a few copies!
Very excited that my new book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is finally out! You can buy it from my online shop HERE, from Amazon (it’s discounted today!) or ‘all good bookshops’ (to coin a phrase).
So what’s it all about?
Milly May’s paintings are full of blots and smudges. She really WISHES she could do better. Then – hey presto! – her fairy godmother (looking a little bit like the artist, Frida Kahlo) appears and grants her wish. But Milly soon discovers that success isn’t worth having unless it’s earned. Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is a funny, rhyming picture book about art, friendship and perseverance, that says it’s ok to make mistakes.
I’ve already had some MARVELLOUS reviews!
“Peta Rainford has achieved another wonderful children’s book in Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes.”
So, let me tell you a bit about my new book, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes, which will be on sale from 20 February 2020 and will be available for pre-order soon. Like lots of my books – but particularly The Niggle – it’s about a fear that all small children (and, indeed, not so small adults) have to face, in this case: the fear of getting things wrong.
At the risk of going all cod psychologist on you, I think this fear of failure can be a particular challenge for the current, X-factor generation of children brought up to expect overnight success and instant gratification. Especially if, as they get older, their every move is scrutinised and commented on on social media.
In my book, our hero Milly May, more than anything, wants to paint beautiful pictures. But she always ends up with blots and smudges. She really WISHES she was a better artist, and then – hey presto! – her fairy godmother appears (looking a little bit like the artist Frida Khalo!) and grants her wish…
Much painting and drawing ensues, but it turns out that achieving success without working for it, can feel like a hollow victory; especially if it loses you friends on the way. So my story is something of a modern morality tale; about the importance of making mistakes and the perils of seeking success at all costs – but hopefully delivered with not too straight a face!
Well, this may be my seventh children’s book, but I have to say that receiving the proof copies gets no less exciting! I have to hold myself back from showing them to random people in the street, and there’s absolutely no chance of escape for friends and family!
I’ll be putting more information about Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes on this website over the course of the next few days, including details of how to pre-order copies. In the meantime, I’m just going to spend some quality time with my proofs…
Just back from a fun four days at the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival. I was so pleased to be asked to take part with my Dark Skies book, Jacob Starke Loves The Dark – not least because I lived on Exmoor between 2000 and 2006, and it was great to have the opportunity to reconnect with the stunning landscape, lovely people and, of course, some very dark skies.
My final session at Lynmouth gave me the opportunity to share my newly-penned Dark Skies Ode to Exmoor National Park – the children, not only joined in the chorus, but drew some wonderful pictures of what they love about the dark.
As long as that’s not completely terrified you, please join me if you can, for stories, poems and crafts about space, nocturnal animals, and all things Dark Skies.
On Saturday 26 October, at 5pm
I will be at Porlock Pavilion and Rec reading Jacob Starke Loves The Dark. There will also be stargazing and a dark walk, crafts and games, hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows. What’s not to like about this free event?
On Monday 28 October from 3.45-5pm
I will be at Minehead Methodist Church Hall, for a story and craft workshop based around Jacob Starke Loves The Dark. Suitable for children up to 10 years. Session 3.45-5pm. Price: £2 per child. (Parents free). Booking recommended as spaces are limited.
On Tuesday 29 October, at 10am
I will be at Lynmouth National Park Centre, reading my book Jacob Starke Loves The Dark and my nocturnal poems, and getting the kids involved in some imaginative nighttime stories too. Free EVENT but booking recommended.
Today I received the best post ever: a whole book of thank you letters from the fantastic Year 1 class at Henham & Ugley Primary School. I visited the school back in June, and the Year 1 class and I bonded big-time over my dark skies book, Jacob Starke Loves The Dark. The children created some wonderful nocturnal pictures, as a starting-point for their own stories.
To hear that you have given a child the ‘best day ever’ or inspired them to become an author, is, to say the least, humbling. Thank you to their lovely teacher, Suzie Espie, for putting the book together – especially as several of the children say they would like to swap her for me! (I’m sure they don’t mean it, Suzie!) It is a very special thank you, and I will treasure it.
The 11-year-old and I decided to record our walk to the beach yesterday with wax crayon rubbings and collages of some of the living things we encountered. It made for a slow walk, but prompted the comment: ‘I would always say yes to a walk if we did this every time.’ Job done!
But it wasn’t all about half-term distraction. I am planning to do similar ‘scapbooking’ with schools later this summer, as a way of exploring the ideas about the importance of darkness in Jacob Starke Loves The Dark. But in the meantime: an idea to keep them occupied over half-term?!