I don’t really remember being four. I’m sure it was a fun time though, before school started for me, but was well and truly occupying my three older brothers. I guess I hung out with my lovely mum and grandparents a lot. I think I must have gone to preschool part-time (maybe 3 days per week) and I do remember that place a little bit. I swear that War Memorial Preschool had front gates with black jail-style bars, but will need to fact check that (if the building hasn’t yet been bulldozed to make way for an apartment block).
Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’m currently enjoying a little holiday over in WA, where my middle brother lives with his lovely wife and daughter. Milly is four. And I’d better keep spell-checking as that gets autocorrected to Milky. Which would be slightly too wacky as a name, even for WA.
It’s fun to catch up with Milly, and I’m learning a lot. For starters, I didn’t know there were different varieties of Vegemite; or that tiaras make surprisingly practical headbands; or that the free Playschool app is actually really clever. In return, I’ve shown Milly the genius of the funny filters on Snapchat; introduced the celebratory fist bump; and generally complemented an already impressive repertoire of wackiness. We’ve watched some movies and read some books and done some shopping. Good times.
I am excited to report that I have read three books during my two-week festive holiday from work. I have also finished at least five magazines (and they were really big ones, guys, full of lots of words and info graphics and stuff). This has reduced the remaining magazine stacks to only semi-dangerous height now. (I did tear out quite a lot of pages for future reference, but since they go on a completely different pile, it doesn’t really count.)
Anyways, back to the books. I dedicate the first EverydaySparks book review for 2015 (the first of at least three reviews, I’ll wager) to a book that was recommended by my fabulous niece, Kate. The book is Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. The age guide is 10+ and let me say that it comes extremely highly recommended by a panel of reviewers aged 12, 30-something and 70-something.
It is outstanding. Accessible to kids, with its short chapters and contemporary pop culture references. Of universal appeal and education due to its incredible messages around being courageous, different, kind, grateful, and accepting the cards that have been dealt.
Without giving the game away, Auggie is a young boy who was born with severe facial deformities. Really severe. He is a source of much curiosity, sympathy, horror, and ridicule. But people can be so awesome. And that is all I’ll say about this book.
My dear old Dad says it should be compulsory reading for every school kid. I think it should probably be compulsory reading for every human. But we can start with the kids, I guess. You can buy it from book stores all over the world – and I really think you should!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the festive season, I thought I would share some excellent advice from my lovely niece Laura, aged 9. This was part of a homework assignment last week. I really do think that this little book, Recipes of Advice, could come in handy for children and adults all around the world. Including, you know, political leaders and diplomats and HR professionals. And meanies.
So many gems to consider – love you and your work, Laura Grace. xoxo
In case you haven’t seen this video, taken at an aquarium in the USA, here’s a Beluga whale trying to get his point across to some kids. I think their mother might be partly responsible for their shrieking – at the very start of the vid, she says “Ooooh, he’s coming for you!”, but I think he’s really just saying “Hey, guys!” and wondering what all the fuss is about.
Also, it’s a bit boring up to 45 seconds, so please stick with it (or fast forward if you’re in a hurry).
Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from it all. Especially as we come into the silly season, when we can be hit with invitations and wish lists and Mariah Carey and sunburn (or frostbite, depending on your hemisphere) and mixed nuts and cards and shopping and people. All of the people. It can be tough to find a place just for yourself – where you can chillax and regroup, before rejoining the madness. Well, have I got a treat for you, my friends!
I present the clever gals from Striped Coast in Lithuania – their range is designed to ‘keep your home and soul warm’. And, although I’m actually more interested in keeping my home cool at this time of year, I do like the idea behind their work. But not as much as I like the work itself. Which is this: TABLECLOTH HOUSES. Uh huh. Such a clever idea – chuck an oversized tablecloth over your table and create a peaceful oasis underneath. And they make such pretty houses too.
See what I mean? No alarm code to remember, no garbage bin to put out, no windows to clean – this could be the perfect house to escape from the business of busy-ness. The only real downside I can see is if people start using the roof your tablecloth house for their dinner – then you might need to watch for stray kicks, pieces of broccoli or stinky feet intruding on your oasis…
If you’d like to check out more tablecloth house goodness (or some cute homewares) from Striped Coast, they are here.