Having two small children means I have been immersed in the world of Julia Donaldson for some time now. Her and Axel Scheffler have produced some of the best children’s books around and a night rarely goes by without a Julia Donaldson book being included in the bedtime story selection. The big classic, as far as Donaldson and Scheffler books go, is The Gruffalo. What I like is that it really is a classic, some books get called classics and when you read them they are not as good as stated or have become dated. The Gruffalo is as good now as when it was written in 1999. The sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child written in 2004, is equally a masterpiece of rhyming and imagination. The success of the Gruffalo has gone from strength to strength with TV animations, activity books, plays, woodland trails and a, soon to be released, cook book. Whilst these are great they do sometimes appear to be cash ins. My son has some of these Gruffalo extras including a pair of Gruffalo wellies and Gruffalo shorts. Most recently we have learnt about the Gruffalo song and have been singing that in the car. Now whilst these are great (my son knows the words to the story and can join in with the rhymes when he sees something with a Gruffalo on) what I would really like to see is Donaldson and Scheffler reunited to create a new Gruffalo story. Their last book was in 2014 so they are still working together. I understand that we do not want Gruffalo stories churned out one after the other as they lose the magic after a while but this year is the 15th anniversary of the original and one more book would be nice, it does not even need to follow the pattern of walking through the woods like the other two books do. In terms of content we have had a book about the Gruffalo and one about his child. Anatomy and biology dictate that he must have had a partner to have child with so maybe the next book could be The Gruffalo’s Wife. It could be about them getting ready to get married like The Scarecrow’s Wedding or could be the Gruffalo and his child looking for their wife/mum in the deep dark wood and coming across the fox, the owl and the snake, maybe they could find the Gruffalo’s Wife having a tea party with the big bad mouse. Just some silly thoughts there. Anyway, I for one would be very excited by another book in the Gruffalo series (also it would have a lot marketing potential so would not be a bad thing for Donaldson and Scheffler, although I doubt they need more exposure, they are pretty big in children’s literature as it is). Here’s hoping we see the Gruffalo in a new adventure soon.
In previous posts I have talked about using different apps for writing so I can write on my phone and tablet. All of these have involved uploading files to cloud storage then downloading them on a different device or copying the text and emailing it to myself. I got a little fed up of this, even though it only takes a few extra minutes. Now I have given myself over to Google Docs and use the app on my phone and tablet. I can still pick up a device and write on it without having to turn on my computer, however now I do not need to think about uploading as the content is saved automatically and can be access from any computer or device. I could even forget my phone and tablet and be at a friend’s house, ask to use their computer or device and log into Google and access my files. It is such a brilliant system, I have written so much more recently by just using Google Docs. Even better, with Drive you get Google Sheets as well so I can use a spreadsheet to keep a list of character/location descriptions or the order of events. I do not know why I did not think of this before. I have all the tools I would in any other word processor as well. It is amazing how much further I am through stories than I would be without using Google Docs. It is simple, it is free. More recently I have been writing in sections, rather than moving in a linear fashion I am choosing which part of the story I want to work on. By using the outline feature you can also set up titles for sections and quickly jump to them without having to scroll through all the text. So now I am not looking for any specific writing apps that require me to spend time uploading and sharing to get my work into the right format. Now I am using Google Docs. The only issue is that you need to be online to access files, however you can now work offline. I have not tried it yet but will do at some point. So, get yourself a Google account and download Google Docs on your tablet and phone. You can get a quick bit of writing done whilst waiting for someone to get ready, during the breaks of TV shows or even whilst you sit on the loo!
I really love the Olympics, the excitement of winning medals, all the different sports that you have not thought about for four years, being glued to things you would normally not watch and after five minutes becoming an expert! I am constantly checking the medal table to see if Great Britain have won something else, this year I am even staying up till gone midnight each night watching sports I would normally turn straight off. I am particularly impressed by the respect the athletes have for one another, something my favourite sport of football could do with learning. One thing that really gets to me though is the idea of the Paralympics. These amazing people who are fitter, stronger and more athletic than 99.9% of able-bodied people are relegated to a side-show that is deemed less important than the Olympics. Even the TV coverage moves to a different channel. Whilst the Olympics gets the BBC, a flagship of British television and major broadcaster of sport, the Paralympics moves to Channel 4. Now Channel 4 is great but it is not known for covering sports. Also it is the channel that pushes boundaries and looks to show the niche and unique. This sends a message that the Paralympics are somehow a less popular alternative to the Olympics, a sporting festival that caters only to an alternative market. Maybe they are, but that is largely down to the media’s resentation of ‘disabled’ people as somehow less than able-bodied people. I am particularly loving Channel 4’s ‘superhumans’ campaign with the excellent version of ‘Yes I Can.’ Credit to Channel 4, they really do present the Paralympics well even if I do not think it should be on that channel.
Here is what I think should happen, the Olympics and Paralympics should just be the Olympics. In the Paralympics you have different classes for different athletes based on their abilities i.e. if they are missing limbs they may be in one category or if they are blind in another. Could we not just add one more category, able-bodied? It would be as simple as that. Like the football World Cup the whole competition could last a month or so rather than two weeks. Paralympians are Olympians in their own right so let’s treat them like they should be. I am one for equality and making there just be the Olympics but with different categories would be equality. It would show the world that no matter who you are you can do what you want with hard work and determination. That, despite being different, all people can be strong, role models and winners. It might even change attitudes towards ‘disabled’ people. Oh, and whilst we are at it, do you recon those divers could wear bigger trunks?