It was one of these days, when the World Wide Net trapped me. Swinging from one lane to another, exploring, discovering new webpages, mainly blogs full of amusing or sad stories. Time was passing, but (as usual for a French who loves “vivre l’instant present”) I didn’t notice it. And then, all of a sudden, I saw some great illustrations. Well designed, clear lines with awesome humor. I loved it from the first page. And the title: Cornichons et Compagnie – Pickles and other stories. How lovely! I don’t have to mention that I have a voracious appetite and I read almost the entire blog.
A few months later, I was lucky enough to meet the person behind these great illustrations: Léone! A mid-twenty something creative girl living in Switzerland, teaching art in French and loving Britain where she lived and worked a few years ago. In the heat of Lyon, in front of us two huge salads, that was it: we talked about “God and the world” (“Über Gott und die Welt sprechen,” like the Germans say), we “put the world to rights” (“refaire le monde,” like the French say)… And two hours later a creative and exciting collaboration was born: Leone will draw the illustrations for the book “Bringing Up Children between Cultures”.
It’s amazing that sometimes it’s more than useful to get lost in the World Wide Web. I am so glad that I discovered Leone and glad that we can work together between England, France and Switzerland.
The book project is on its way. It’s getting serious – how exciting!
Don’t forget to follow the adventure on @oxfrognews and especially with #FamBtwCultures.
In the heart of the vibrant centre on Cowley Road – which is by the way the best place where you can find charity shops next to one another (ok, second best if you take Headington into account)– there is a good old Oxfam charity shop. A lovely meeting with the shop manager Nikoletsa (on the picture with Francesca, volunteer [left]) offered some interesting details about giving a second life to toys, children’s’ books and clothes!
There is no hazard! In 1943 when Oxfam’s adventure began the aim was to support the Greek population during World War II “when the shopmanager where I worked as a volunteer told me this, it became very special to me, I couldn’t imagine to work for any other charity…” tells Nikoletsa, who is herself Greek. She loves working here and underlines that she never looks at her watch whilst she is managing her volunteer-team and the Cowley Road shop.
A spot for second hand children’s stuff
Mother herself, Nikoletsa admits “I try to keep the children’s area stocked up and encourage to donate things. I know how important it is to find affordable things which are also in good quality. And for us at Oxfam we always remember that one or two pounds maybe seem to be not much here, but are hugely important in countries we support, like for example South Soudan.” Continue Reading
What do a spoon, an action toy and a biscuit have in common? If you have no clue, ask your children. I’m pretty sure they will point you in the right direction. Behind the egg that wants to fly, a little mouse that becomes a detective and a never-ending friendship between a spoon and a dish there is one woman: Mini Grey. Acclaimed Oxford-based children’s book author.
Once you’ve opened her books, you just want to embrace every page and discover one after the other – her style is exceptional, between comic-strips, collages and drawings she lays out a world into which you plunge and never want to get out.
My favourite one? To be completed honest with you, I devoured them all with pleasure – and sadness that they all find an end. Perhaps that’s why I’m particularly in love with her last book (published in March 2014) Hermelin, the Detective Mouse. Indeed, the last pages awoke in me the secret hopes that this adventure might continue. As French I like the “British” atmosphere in the Offley street (which actually looks a lot like our street in Oxford) with all these cute neighbours that have lost something dear to them. I was (and still am) “sous charme” by our little Hermelin Mouse. He assumed the role of the detective for everyone. During the last pages my fingers got clammy: How would the people react towards a mouse as guardian angel?
I cannot hide it, I strongly recommend to you to offer Hermelin, the Detective Mouse to your child – or to yourself if you are still in love with your childhood. And if you can’t get enough, what about Three by the sea, which is my second in the top three list, just before Traction Man is here (picture cover below).
But now it’s time, not only to talk about me, but to let Mini Grey talk about herself and her passion: writing and illustrating books for children.
The Children’s Library in central Oxford is a lovely place to go to with your kids. It’s situated at the first floor of Oxford’s Central Library (Westgate, OX1 1DJ).
Whether you plan library-trip or you make a break during a busy shopping morning – the Children’s Library is a good and usually calm place to pop into.
For the Under 5s: There is a specific room for babies and toddlers. A very cosy and bright place with giant cushions and little chairs, it offers plenty of books in all sizes!
Activities: The library team organises a range of attractive events, especially during holiday-times (craft activities, story-times…), and one takes place twice a week: Rhymetime! Whether your baby is just a few months old or your toddler wants to discover everything -Rhymetime is an excellent short activity (30 minutes). Continue Reading
Reading is one of my favourite activities. I love the retreat to a calm and warm place with a good book to embark on a trip to another world.
Reading with children is often not as silent and secret – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is less fun. It’s just different.
Remember the stars in their eyes when you read for the fourth time the same story. Or their giggly laugh when you imitate voices ands sounds or better still when the tiniest fell asleep in your arms during story time.
Here are some of my actual favourite books to share with your children… Continue Reading