Tag Archives: creativity

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Imagination Box” by Martyn Ford

  • imagination boxStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely
  • Age range: 9+

” “There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want. What would you pick?”

That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. The greatest toy on earth.

The top-secret contraption transforms his life but when the box’s inventor, Professor Eisenstone, goes missing, Tim knows he has to investigate.

With the help of a talking finger monkey called Phil, he sets out to find the professor. In order to rescue his friend, he must face his darkest fears and discover the true potential of his own mind.”

 

I picked this book up in the library last summer for SC and I to read as part of the summer reading challenge.

Now, the official guideline says it’s for 9+, well SC was 8 when we read it last year and to be honest I think even a 7-year-old would enjoy it – it makes for a great bedtime read, if you are strong enough to stop despite cries of “Don’t stop reading mummy!”

I thought the back of the book blurb sounded like it could be a fun book, and I was not wrong.

This book is brilliant. It is very cleverly crafted and will appeal to children and adults alike.

There is laughter, lots of it, and without giving any spoilers away let’s just say there are jet-packs to add to the amusement.

There is sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

But at its heart is a story about friendship.

When we finished it last year, we definitely gave it a 5 star rating – it would have got more.

Well, imagine our surprise when looking through the books at the library this summer for suitable reads for the reading challenge when lo and behold we spied “The Imagination Box: Beyond Infinity” on the shelves.

A sequel?

Oh yes indeed.

Is it as good as the first book?

Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.

All the characters are back for some more fun with the imagination box, including Phil the talking finger monkey (mine and SC’s particular favourite – he’s very posh don’t you know?)

This time Tim needs to rescue his imagination box after it has been stolen from him. But who can he trust? Can he trust anyone?

Let’s just say I guessed the baddie much to SC’s annoyance. But I didn’t see the ending coming!

Another fabulous read and there is another book coming out – the third in the series – Spring 2017, hopefully.

That will be another one on the list.

If you can lay your hands on a copy of these books, do so. You, and your children, will love them.

So …

There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want.

What would you pick?

Let me know in the comments section – happy imagining.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Children

Friday Poem – Art

A poem by the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

A poem that celebrates man’s imagination and creativity, and that through art, in whatever form, man gives his life importance.

Art

Give to barrows, trays, and pans
Grace and glimmer of romance;
Bring the moonlight into noon
Hid in gleaming piles of stone;
On the city’s paved street
Plant gardens lined with lilacs sweet;
Let spouting fountains cool the air,
Singing in the sun-baked square;
Let statue, picture, park, and hall,
Ballad, flag, and festival,
The past restore, the day adorn,
And make to-morrow a new morn.
So shall the drudge in dusty frock
Spy behind the city clock
Retinues of airy kings,
Skirts of angels, starry wings,
His fathers shining in bright fables,
His children fed at heavenly tables.
‘T is the privilege of Art
Thus to play its cheerful part,
Man on earth to acclimate,
And bend the exile to his fate,
And, moulded of one element
With the days and firmament,
Teach him on these as stairs to climb,
And live on even terms with Time;
Whilst upper life the slender rill
Of human sense doth overfill.

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco in my car CD player (SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky 😉

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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The A-Z of Life – Passion

Take your passion, and make it happen – to coin the song 😉passion

I’m not talking about relationship passion – because everyone knows that that initial intenseness fizzles out eventually and you’re either left with roots entwined with someone who has become your best friend or nothing.

I’m talking about being passionate about something – be it creative or otherwise.

Being passionate about something gives us an outlet from the hum-drum of normal life where we, more often than not, live to work rather than work to live.

That passion gives us our spark. Our reason for keeping going when stress gets too much.

I have always been passionate about the theatre. I love it. I could eat, sleep and breathe it 24 hours a day given half the chance.

I always wanted to be an actress, when I was younger, and yes I will admit it probably was for the illusion of glamour that surrounds the profession.

I joined various local am-dram societies, but despite that there was always something niggling inside, a flame burning away inside, I wanted more than just what I had.

My drama teacher, very wisely told me to go to university and get a career behind me before even attempting ‘life as an actress’ – and to be brutally honest, that was the best advice I have ever had – it meant that I was not reliant on the audition I walked into being the means to paying bills for the next month.

Eventually, I did go to drama school. It was hard, boy was it tough. They break you to build you and every single person on my course went through the “why am I doing this?” phase, we all felt we were not good enough at some stage.

Of course, when I left, there were no agents beating a path to my door, no big Hollywood producer calling – although I live in hope Stephen Spielberg will return my call one day 😉

I got the odd job here and there, but certainly not enough to keep the wolves from the door, so I was lucky I had my ‘career’ to return to.

The theatre though continues to be my passion. Whether I’m watching it, or doing it. There’s something about the moment the curtain goes up – it always brings tears of excitement to my eyes.

Nowadays, for me, it isn’t about the glamour, but merely that fact that it probably is the one thing I am (not being big-headed) pretty good at!

I am nearly free from the shackles of my contract (it certainly will be a relief to have the millstone removed from around my neck) and I am working on updating my ‘acting’ stuff and seeing if I can’t get the odd job here and there again – it’s been far too long.

The other thing that has recently become a passion is writing.

At school my English reports always said I lacked imagination, and that my structure of essays left much to be desired. Still I managed a reasonable B in English Language at O’Level and C in English Lit. (yes I am that old to have taken O’Levels!)

Having written various blogs for the past couple of years I have surprised myself at how, sometimes, the words seem to just flow – after enduring my school years struggling to find any inspiration whatsoever. I suppose that is the benefit of ‘life experience’ – it makes some topics much easier to write about.

So the next big(ish) project I am going to tackle is writing a book.

I’ve got a couple of ideas for fictional novels, so I’m going to see where the words take me.

Passion comes from within and sometimes that passion leads us on journeys we never knew we could, or would take.

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