A BOU TOOK A STROLL THROUGH THE DEEP DARK WOOD…

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If you’re a parent then I’d say it’s quite a safe assumption that you’ve heard of the Julia Donaldson book, The Gruffalo. With its catchy rhymes, colourful characters and good humour it is no wonder that it has captured the hearts and imaginations of children around the world. It was one of the very first books I bought when I knew I was expecting my little boy and we all fell under the story’s spell. The kid loves it when I do the voices of the different animals and although he can’t read yet, I know he appreciates the vivid illustrations from Axel Scheffler.

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Now The Gruffalo Experience has arrived in Milton Keynes and when I was asked if our family would like to steal a sneak peek before it opened to the public, we of course, couldn’t say no.

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All that I knew prior to arriving was that it is in Middleton Hall in the centre:mk and The Gruffalo Experience promises a walk through and interactive journey into the deep dark wood.

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From the outside the space looks like a giant white inflatable bouncy castle but once inside, you get transformed into the pages of the storybook. The way they have used the space and effects used to create the feeling of you being in the story are fab but all totally in keeping with the original book. There’s no interpretations or disappointment, thankfully.

The staff are friendly and energetic as they take on the role as your guide through the wood. I think they engaged really well with children of all ages. I was a little worried that my son was going to be too young to appreciate the experience. At only 20 months he was the youngest there but that didn’t stop him from being captivated by the characters and the storytelling, so even if you’ve got children under the age of three I think this is a lovely thing to experience as a family and you can take a pushchair inside too. For older children there is lots of opportunity for participation and learning what it’s like to be one of the characters from the book.

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The Gruffalo Experience is open at the centre:mk from 19 March – 10 April 2016.

This is definitely the must-do event for the Easter 2016 hols. Tickets are £7.95 per attendee (adult or child) and under two’s are free of charge. Check out the centre:mk’s website to find out how to book tickets:

http://www.thecentremk.com/Events/Events-Listing/The-Gruffalo-Experience

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New year’s resolution

I can’t be alone in admitting that I’ve neglected my brain of the nourishment of literature in the last few years. There are so many technological distractions nowadays that reading as a past time is often overlooked. The emotional stimulation, the excitement and adrenaline that can come from reading a good book has got lost behind reading a list of Facebook statuses of what people are eating for dinner or what emotion they are currently feeling (nearly always negative – funny that?)

My resolution for 2015 was to read a book a month. It may sound like a very modest target but as a new parent free time is definitely a luxury and I wanted it to be spent worthwhile. When I say book I really mean book, not an eBook on a tablet, text on a screen or an e-reader with an infinite battery life. I mean a paper bound, art work covered, beautifully smelling book. Novel? No pun intended.

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In January I read “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green. I’ve not seen the film to date and I’m not sure I can take the disappointment of seeing my imagination crushed into a director’s two hour Hollywood vision. Although it’s a teen story, I fell in love with its simple yet beautiful storytelling of friendship and living life. In February, I read thriller “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn which I found gripping with a creepy yet refreshingly realistic view on the way most of us have experienced relationships (Cool girl). I’ve seen the film and enjoyed it but still avidly prefer the book.
Because I have been reading the paperbacks of these books I have them now still sitting on my bedside unit collecting dust. This has bothered me the last few days knowing they will probably become dust catchers in my house rather than doing what they were created to do; tell their story to someone who wants to listen (or in this case, read). So, I’ve been thinking of something a bit different from just giving them to a charity shop. I want to give them back to the public and hopefully they will be picked up and read by someone who will then do the same and pass them on. I have marked the front covers with “Free Book – Read Me” and marked the insides of the books with who I am. If you do happen to come across one of them feel free to send me a message as it would be lovely to see how far one book can make it.

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It’s already the 4th of March and I currently do not have a book lined up to read this month. The two other books have been indirect recommendations from other people and now I’m scratching my head. If anyone can recommend a good book I would appreciate it!