fun and games in leicester

Look at the fabulous Summer Reading Challenge team I got to work with in Leicester on Wednesday! I know marvellous multilingual storyteller Jyoti Shanghavi from previous visits (blogged here and here) and Farida Mohammed, the fiery one on the right, was assigned to look after me all day and had me in absolute stitches with the funny things she’d come out with.

And we made board games! The book of mine we read, When Titus Took the Train, reads a little bit like an adventure board game, and making games is such a fun, easy way to get even very small children creating stories. Basically, they choose a starting point (a railways station? their house? a dark cave? the inside of a stinky shoe?) and finishing point (where do they want to go?) on their big paper, draw a curvy railroad track between them and make lots of exciting and disastrous things happen between the two points. …Ta-dah! A story.

We had some stories set in Candyland, some in space, some at sea, even a game charting someone’s fashion development. I didn’t manage to get any photos at the event at Leicester Central Library, but here’s the team, including some fab volunteers, at Rushey Mead Library. (The paper in front is the downloadable Titus board game I made, that we gave kids to take away at the end.)

I think this board game ended in heaven.

This one was made by a great father-daughter team.

Here’s a close-up of a board game that ended in a forest in Uganda. How cool is that? When I asked the kids about trips they’d taken, we had a long run of kids saying ‘India’. Farida told me the local Gujarati population call themselves ‘Gujjus’ for short.

One little girl’s lovely mermaid. (You get to go forward two spaces when you land on the mermaid’s square.)

And this guy very creatively used stars instead of a railway track, going from Waterworld to Fireland.

Lunch time was funny, I had some lovely company and was plied with loads of food and drink, but no one could actually eat with me because it was Ramadan. (Two of the ladies said they do Lent as well!) Then Farida found out that I’d been raving about a Gujurati restaurant called Bobby’s, which I’d visited last year with my friends Selina Lock and Jay Eales, and said we had to pop in. Sadly, the owner I’d met on the first visit had died; he was a real pillar of Leicester business, but the manager was very welcoming.

He even gave us free Indian sweets. Score!

Indian sweets are so beautiful, but you can’t eat too many because, wow, they are SWEET.

Thanks to Farida, Sandy Gibbons, Paul Gobey and everyone at Leicester libraries who made my trip such fun and run so smoothly! As soon as I got back, I raced from St Pancras station to the cinema, where I met my friend Caroline Smith to see the last Harry Potter film (a big deal as neither of us get to the cinema much these days). I had a giggle when quite a few scenes were set at St Pancras station, which made the experience a bit of a busman’s holiday. And there was this one scene, where we think Harry might be dead and he asks Dumbledore where he is; Dumbledore replies ‘King’s Cross Station’ and everyone in the cinema started laughing. I think American audiences might find that a bit more exotic, but to that crowd it was almost like saying, ‘in the produce section of Sainsbury’s’. Here’s a picture Caroline’s daughter drew of the two of us (Sarah, Mummy) watching Harry Potter. I like the perspective; it’s like one of David McKee’s books.

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