Hillingdon Libraries: Serving the LGBT+ community and its allies

At the close of Pride Month, Nathan from Hillingdon Libraries writes about growing up gay and the work Hillingdon Libraries is doing to help LGBT+ residents and their allies. 

I’ve always loved libraries – I even volunteered in my school library growing up – but though I borrowed all sorts of books, I don’t remember ever finding one with an LGBT+ character back in the early 2000s.

As a gay teenager at the dawn of reality TV, most of my role models were on evening telly. People like singer Will Young, who won Pop Idol in 2002, and Big Brother champion Brian Dowling were the first visible gay men I noticed. 

Gay and lesbian representation was only just starting to filter down into stories aimed squarely at people my age. On TV, Buffy The Vampire Slayer managed a mostly positive – if tentative – portrayal of a lesbian couple in 2001, but the Harry Potter series isn’t exactly known for its LGBT+ witches and wizards – and looking through a list of 2000s teen fiction you’d struggle to find any memorable characters from our community. 

Representation did exist – but it was sporadic and well hidden. Author Aidan Chambers had been ahead of the curve, dealing with gay themes as early as 1982 in his novel for young people, Dance On My Grave. The same year, Nancy Garden published Annie On My Mind, still regarded as a lesiban classic. 

But these authors were an exception to the rule, and the few gay, lesbian or bisexual character popping up on the Teen Fiction shelves definitely didn’t mean that other parts of the LGBT+ community were being represented at all in that corner of the library before the 2010s. Books about trans people? Nonexistent. An asexual protagonist? Not a chance. 

Today, on the other hand, a much longer roll call of writers focus on LGBT+ experiences in their work for young readers, including people like Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Even action-packed fantasy blockbusters aimed at younger kids, like Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo books, now include out LGBT+ characters in their stories. And a far wider range of experiences are being covered: Alice Oseman has included asexuality in her work, for example. Others, like Lisa Williamson and Alex Gino, have put trans characters centre stage.

Writers and characters from this community are simply a lot more visible in books for people of all ages in 2020 – hopefully a trend that will grow and grow. 

I often read to look for ways to understand what it means to be gay, so books exploring this topic are hugely important to me as an adult. 

Whatever our age, It’s vital to have the chance to read about experiences we can connect to personally, just as it’s enlightening to find out about people who aren’t like us in one way or another by reading their stories.

There may be people out there who wouldn’t describe themselves as either LGBT+ or allies – I hope for them seeing more people like us in stories at the very least makes their reading lives more varied and interesting.

I’m thrilled to work for a library service – one that’s helping to make it easy for LGBT+ people to find entertainment and information about themselves and their community. 

As we near the end of Pride Month it’s a good time to take a look at some of the ways our service supports LGBT+ people throughout the year. 

Making it easy to find LGBT+ themes and characters in our books 

We make sure our catalogue represents LGBT+ voices, characters and themes, by choosing books that speak to our communities. There’s always more work to do, but we hope you’ll find some gems you’ve not heard of yet among our collection, alongside queer classics. 

You can find many of our titles on our online catalogue by searing ‘LGBT’. We add new books all the time – even I found exciting new reading the last time I searched! 

Digital choices 

LGBT+ themes and voices are well represented in our digital offer. Recent additions to our BorrowBox reading app include In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Diary of a Drag Queen by Crystal Rasmussen and Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James (which I’ve just decided I should probably read soon!). 

Elsewhere, both Attitude and Diva magazine are available on our RB Digital platform – and why not check out our new, improved selection of eBooks and audiobooks while you’re there, too? 

Events 

We’ve been lucky enough to host a wide range of LGBT+ writers and allies at our events in Hillingdon – and I’d love to organise more of these in future, too. In 2016 I had the chance to interview Wray Delaney, Stella Duffy and Rupert Smith about the LGBT+ themes in their work at an event at Uxbridge Library. 

As part of our first ever YA Schools’ Day for local secondary schools in 2017, we brought together Young Adult novelists Lauren James, Lucy Saxon and Lisa Williamson to discuss how they explore LGBT+ lives in their writing. 

Bringing LGBT+ readers together 

Since 2016, Hillingdon Libraries has been home to a monthly LGBT+ Reading Group. Everyone is invited, but we only read books by LGBT+ writers or about LGBT+ themes. This month, we’re reading Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Over the past three years, we’ve made our way through classics like Maurice by E. M Forster, YA titles like Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli’s novel, which became the film Love, Simon) and memoirs like Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jeanette Winterson). 

Perhaps the only regular public LGBT+ event in the borough, and bringing together people of all ages, the group has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my time with the library service. We’re not meeting in person at the moment, but if you’re interested in joining once we are, you can email librarycontact@hillingdon.gov.uk

Book Bunch: Runaway Robot (Week 5: June 30th 2020)

Our children’s book of the month here at Hillingdon Libraries is Runaway Robot by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, which tells the story of a boy called Alfie who finds an ageing, dusty, memory-challenged robot in Airport Lost Property and mounts a mission to save his new robot friend’s life! 

We think this title, which TV’s Richard Osman has called ‘a funny, charming and life affirming book’, is just perfect for this month, because we’re just launched the Summer Reading Challenge 2020 in Hillingdon. This year the Challenge has a ‘Silly Squad’ theme, with an emphasis on funny books. 

The Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge runs from June to September 2020. Children can decide how big or small they want their challenge to be by setting a target for the number of books they want to read this summer. 

To take part, create an account for your child on The Reading Agency’s dedicated website, SillySquad.Org.UK or find out all about the Challenge in Hillingdon here. 

We’re also celebrating Runaway Robot at our Book Bunch Reading Club, meaning we’re creating new activities inspired by this title every week – and making sure you and your children can enjoy a digital copy of the book for free.

You can download Runaway Robot with any Hillingdon library card using our BorrowBox app, find more information here. We’re pleased to be offering both the audio and eBook versions of this title, so children can choose how they would like to experience the story. 

Below, you can find our activities of the week, linked to our new book. We’ll be posting new things to do every Tuesday in June. Here’s what we’ve done so far: 

Week One: Robot Assembly worksheet, ‘Judge A Book By Its Cover’ activity and Make Your Own Runaway Robot game. 

Week Two: Robot Job Selection and Silly Squad Robot-Design activities. 

Week Three: Abbie’s Robot Maze. 

Week Four: Abbie’s Runaway Robot Quiz.

This is our last Runaway Robot post – next month we’ll be picking a new book, so tune in next Tuesday to find out what our July title will be! Runaway Robot will still be available on BorrowBox and you can still download our fun tie-in activities for the title whenever you like.

Abbie’s Runaway Robot Newspaper Activity

Imagine you’re a journalist with Abbie’s exciting newspaper worksheet, inspired by Runaway Robot.

Robot School

If you’re still looking for creative writing fun, we’ve got a robot-themed writing prompt for you. What if all your teachers… were actually robots?!

We Want Reviews!

We’re very excited to hear what people think about this month’s book, Runaway Robot. We would love to hear children’s thoughts, the best review of the week will earn a special certificate. 

Kids could write a review, or even record a video or audio review. We’d love to see children’s most creative work. 

If you would like to share your children’s work with us, so we can show it off to the world, please do! We will assume work is okay for us to share on social media, unless you label your message ‘do not share.’ 

Share your reviews and creations at… 

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

WordPress: HillingdonLibraries.wordpress.com

Build your own brilliant beanstalk with Debbie

This glorious beanstalk model features a castle high up in the sky, overlooking the tiny cottage where Jack lives. It’s inspired by the famous fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, so it’s perfect for our Fairy Tale Week! Debbie shares the full instructions below.

You will need:

  • 2 kitchen roll centres cut in half
  • 2 more kitchen roll centres
  • About 30 cm tube (join two together if necessary)
  • Box about 7 cm all dimensions
  • Cardboard
  • Paper, blue and green
  • White card
  • Paint, felt tip pens, crayons or colouring pencils
  • Scissors (an adult should help with these!)
  • Glue

1) Cut crenellations into the top of each ½ tube and the box to make the castle.

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2)  Glue the tubes to the corners of the box. You may find it helps to cut a piece out of each tube so it sits on the corner. Paint your castle in the colours of your choice.

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3) Make a small cottage and decorate it. Draw a door and windows on the castle. This is my cottage and castle next to one another.

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4) Cut two circles of strong card about 22 cm diameter. Draw two more circles the same size but do not cut them out yet. Cut a hole in each of the uncut circles. To make a strong join between the long tube which will become the beanstalk and the circles of card, cut a piece of tube as shown below. This tube will need to be a tight fit inside the beanstalk.  Stick the cut ends to your base and then cover with card and glue firmly. Repeat for the other circle of card. Cover the base with green paper. Cover the other piece with blue paper on the side of the tube and green paper on the flat side. When the glue has dried trim the excess card.


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5) Assemble the pieces as shown. I checked that everything was a good fit and then covered the pieces as described above with coloured paper. Before gluing everything together, I also covered the beanstalk with green paper. Cut another piece of tube about 18 cm and cover in green paper. If you are running out of tubes then make your own with card and/or paper. Cut two sizes of leaf as shown. The bigger leaves were about 6 cm top to bottom and about 3.7 cm at the widest point. I used 21 large leaves and 20 small leaves. Stick the large leaves to the main beanstalk and the small leaves to the other green tube.  

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6) Make some trees in assorted sizes. I painted the front leaves of the trees using a small circle of sponge to dab different shades of green paint on lightly. The backs were just painted one shade of green. Glue the cottage and trees in place on the bottom circle.


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7) Cut enough clouds from white card to go round the edge of the top circle and one extra. Glue the castle to the topside of the model and the top of the beanstalk next to it. Glue clouds all the way round as shown. Glue the last cloud to the top of the beanstalk. 

I hope you enjoyed making your Jack and the Beanstalk model!


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Here’s how to get in touch with us:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

WordPress: HillingdonLibraries.wordpress.com

Books on Tour – Part One – The American West

One of the things I most like to do on holiday is to read a book set in that location.  I’ve used websites such as:

https://www.tripfiction.com / https://www.mappit.net/bookmap/  or just searched on our library catalogue.

My most successful match of book and location was when I was reading a novel set in Paris and realised at that exact moment, where I was sitting was the same small square that was being described in the book.  Shamefully I cannot remember the book nor the author. I even tried to find it again when revisiting the city, but failed. 

Sadly my holiday plans for a 3 week road trip to the west of America have been cancelled.  So I will start with a few books that were on my travel list. 

San Francisco

The Armistead Maupin Tales of the City series started life as weekly episodes published in a newspaper. They are fast, funny, over the top and a great introduction to the city.

Robin Sloan – Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore seemed tailor made for someone who works in a library visiting the city. With hidden books, a mystery and a romance it was on top of my list. 

Monterey

John Steinbeck set Cannery Row and  Tortilla Flat in this central California coastal town. Both novels portray the lives of people on the fringes of society – exploring their often ignored humanity. The street it was set in was renamed Cannery Row in his honour. 

Big Sur

Jack Kerouac wrote a  book of the same name. It’s about his fictional alter-ego moving to the scenic area to escape the pressures of fame.  In James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls his detective Alex Cross  chases a West Coast serial killer across California, including Big Sur. 

The Open Road

Steinbeck also wrote Travels with Charley about his cross- country American road trip and Grapes of Wrath which documents the Oklahoma migrants forced west because of economic hardship, trying to find a better life.  

Kerouac also wrote the classic Beat generation novel On the Road where different American road trips are recalled. 

Las Vegas

Hunter S Thompson’s  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is a surreal fictionalised account of the author’s visits to the city mostly seen through the haze of a huge variety of recreational drugs. One of the characters Dr Gonzo spawned the term “gonzo journalism” which means when the reporter lays aside objectivity to become part of the story. 

Arizona

Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel, The Bean Trees, is the story of a young woman’s journey from Kentucky via Oklahoma where she acquires a child to Arizona where her car breaks down.  Her sequel Pigs in Heaven is also set in the state. 

By Jane

Make your own little pig mask with Roksana

Roksana from Hillingdon Libraries has created this cute piggy mask inspired by beloved children’s fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs

Why not to read The Three Little Pigs and then create this beautiful piggy mask?

Materials:

  • 2 pink paper plates
  • lollipop stick
  • glue 
  • scissors (an adult should help with these!)
  • sellotape

1) Fold a paper plate in half and cut off its rim. Repeat the same action with the second paper plate. If you do not have pink paper plates, you can use white ones and paint them pink. 

2) Stick two paper plate rims together.

2) Draw pig’s ears on the round parts of the paper plate and then cut them out. 

3) Sellotape the ears to the back of the paper plate rim.

4) Sellotape a lollipop stick to the back of  your mask.

Finally, your cat mask is ready and you can dress up as a piggy.  

Here’s how to get in touch with us:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

WordPress: HillingdonLibraries.wordpress.com

Canine Tales

Since the start of the pandemic we have all been spending more time with our pets. I’m not sure if my dog is pleased about this or can’t wait to be left in peace. There are many famous dogs in literature – from Cerberus in Greek Mythology to Nana in Peter Pan to Pilot in Jane Eyre. There are also many books with dogs as the protagonists or even where the book is written from the point of view of the dog.  I thought I would check the library catalogue to find out some titles. 


The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Set in the Yukon Gold Rush of the 1890s. The book is told from the point of view of Buck, a dog kidnapped and cruelly treated by his various owners. As the title suggests he finds his wolf instincts awakening in his bid to survive. 


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine and made several times into films and TV programmes this book famously features a dangerous, possibly otherworldly beast of a dog encountered on Dartmoor.  Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson manage to get to the bottom of the mystery. 


  Nikolai Gogol – The Diary of a Madman

This short story is written in a diary format and chronicles the descent of a civil servant into insanity. This involves his unrequited love for the daughter of his work superior and believing he can hear her dog talk. He also imagines that her dog writes letters to another dog.  This absurdist work is both funny and tragic.  Having only known of Gogol’s work when I saw his play, The Government Inspector with Rik Mayal in the 1980s I am really keen to read this one. 


Virginia Woolf –  Flush

This book is written from the perspective of  Flush, a cocker spaniel belonging to the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The latter wrote two poems about her dog  – “To Flush, My Dog” and “Flush or Faunus” which are included in the anthology Dogs – Stories and poems, edited by  Mark Bryant. Woolf uses her distinctive stream of consciousness writing to tell the life story of the dog and his owner – covering her illness, his jealousy of Robert Browning and their time in Italy.  I knew of Flush only from watching the 1950s film The Barretts of Wimpole Street.  I didn’t know of this title and it is now on my to read list. 

Matt Haig – The Last Family In England and The Humans

The Last Family in England is another one from the dog’s viewpoint. It concerns a family of labradors who are loyal to humans whilst other breeds have turned against people.  

The Humans is an enjoyable and philosophical read,  with an alien narrator coming to earth and taking over a mathematics professor’s body.  The professor’s dog, Newton is the first one the alien bonds with and he helps him appreciate humanity with all its many faults. 

W Bruce Cameron – A Dog’s Purpose

This is the first of a trilogy of books, two of which have been made into films.  It is narrated by a dog whose spirit carries on through time reincarnating into other dogs. It’s a combination of the very funny and the very sad. I particularly enjoyed the part where the dog saves a frog, with whom he wanted to play, from his siblings. Later he comes to regret this, “I was to think of that frog often in the days that followed, usually just as I drifted off to sleep. I found myself wondering how it would have tasted.”

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark

This is the second book taken from the author’s blog about her dog. She usually writes and illustrates children’s books (you may know her from the Blue Kangaroo series) but this one is more for adults. The vibrant pictures compliment the amusing and sometimes poignant episodes from a dog’s life. It would strike a chord with any owner of a slightly naughty pooch. 

 Marley and Me by John Grogan

This is another book that became a film and is an entertaining memoir of the “World’s Worst Dog”. The story follows the life of a loveable but destructive family pet. The author is a newspaper columnist who wrote an ode to his pet that was so well received that he wrote a whole book about him.  It’s another laugh till you cry story which seems to be a frequent trait of dog books. 

Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus tells the story of Ted, a lonely, gay, single writer, and his relationship with his elderly dachshund, Lily. He describes their conversations such as who is their favourite Ryan Reynolds or Gosling? It’s a quirky story with elements of magical realism, both the dog and the octopus talk.  When she is licking away her owner’s tears, Lily says “THIS! EYE! RAIN! YOU! MAKE! IS! FANTASTIC! I! LOVE! THE! SALTY! TASTE! YOU! SHOULD! MAKE! THIS! EVERY! DAY!”  

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This book has also been adapted for the screen. It is narrated by a dog, Enzo, (named after the founder of Ferrari) whose owner is a race car driver.  The dog wants to educate himself in all the ways of being human so that he can be reincarnated as a man.  This fast paced bestseller is  another tear-jerker but full of humour and pathos.

Fluke: Amazon.co.uk: Herbert, James: 8601405774552: Books

James Herbert – Fluke

The novel is about a mongrel, Fluke, who wanders the streets plagued by echoes of  memories of his past life as a man. The book describes the struggles between the animal instincts of the dog and his lingering humanity. This is not a more typical James Herbert horror novel like Rats but it shares the plot twists of his previous work.   

I hope you enjoy some of these books, even if you are not a dog person. My last suggestion is a dog poem. I was introduced to it because my grandfather read it to my mother. She told me that when she was at drama school she used to read the poem before going on stage.  I believe  she was playing the mother of the princes murdered in Richard III and had to come on sobbing.  Despite it not being about the death of a dog, it is definitely a tear-jerker, be prepared. 

To a Bull Dog

Have you got any favourite literary canines?

By Jane

Gardens to visit from home

During lockdown we have been enjoying and appreciating our own gardens and local parks.  For many of us the spring and summer are times when we like to travel and visit attractive gardens and stately homes with lovely grounds, things which are not very easy to do at present.  However, all is not lost!  There are some wonderful interactive websites that allow us to visit beautiful gardens around the country from the comfort of our own sitting rooms.  Here is a selection that I have discovered:

The National Garden Scheme

National Garden Scheme

The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927 to raise money for the Queen’s Nursing Institute which supported District Nursing.  Garden owners were asked to open their gardens for ‘a shilling a head’. 609 gardens opened and raised a total of £8,191.  Nowadays the National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,700 private gardens in England and Wales, and raises impressive sums of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cake.  Unfortunately we can’t experience the cake but we can view nearly 200 exceptional gardens by clicking on this link: https://ngs.org.uk/virtual-garden-visits

Kew Gardens

Davies Alpine House at Kew

Escape the crowds and take a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, or a guided tour of the Palm House.  There are over 20 different videos to watch here, some informative and some just glorious vistas of trees and flowers.

https://www.kew.org/about-us/virtual-kew-wakehurst

The Eden Project

The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.  Nestled in a huge crater in Cornwall massive Biomes house the largest rainforest in captivity.

This website gives you lots of ideas and tips on how to create your own eco-friendly garden.  There are lots of suggestions for children to try too.

https://www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone

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Inverewe Garden

Enjoy a virtual guided tour of this incredible garden, now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, on Scotland’s North West Atlantic coast.  Begun in the late 19th Century the effects of the Gulf Stream enabled the garden’s founder to cultivate plants from around the world.

RHS Wisley

Follow this link and one of the curators will take you on a tour to explore some of the highlights of The Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley/social-media

National Trust

On this National Trust site you can explore some of the Trust’s beautiful gardens such as Hidcote and Sissinghurt Castle – and hear the birdsong too!

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/virtual-tours-of-our-places

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By Carol

The Art of Benin

This week we have been educating ourselves on Black Culture, Black Authors, BAME identities and more.

Something that absolutely fascinated me was art from the Kingdom of Benin in West Africa from as far back as the year 900! It’s very easy to fall into the trap of always defaulting to the “Classics” such as Greek or Roman art when we think of ancient civilisations, only really because of their influence on the Western world today.

If we cast our glance to Africa, the kingdom, civilisations, art and history is as rich and impactful as anything from any other culture. The Kingdom of Benin is just one example.

What was Benin Like?

From roughly the year 900 until the late 19th century, one of the major powers in West Africa was Benin in what is now southwest Nigeria. When European merchant ships began to visit West Africa from the 15th century onwards, Benin came to control the trade between the inland peoples and the Europeans on the coast. The kingdom of Benin was also well known to European traders and merchants during the 16th and 17th centuries, when it became wealthy partly due to trading in slaves.

Map showing Benin in West Africa

The court of the Benin kingdom, located in Benin City, supported two guilds of artists who created masterpieces in bronze and ivory. By the 15th century the kingdom grew to encompass an area the size of New England, with more than 2 million subjects. In this period of expansive local and international trade, the Oba, or king, commissioned a dazzling array of sculpture to celebrate his growing success and to commemorate earlier kings. Benin art has fascinated the kings’ subjects, ambassadors to the court, and art collectors ever since.

The Art

Primarily made of cast bronze and carved ivory, Benin art was produced mainly for the court of the Oba of Benin – a divine ruler for whom the craftsmen produced a range of ceremonially significant objects. The full complexity of these works can be appreciated only through the awareness and consideration of two complementary cultural perceptions of the art of Benin: the Western appreciation of them primarily as works of art, and their understanding in Benin as historical documents and as mnemonic devices to reconstruct history, or as ritual objects

Benin Bronze
Bronze head of Queen Idia
Figure of a Leopard

The Fall of Benin

The decline of Benin art occurred in the 19th century when the punitive expedition by the British caused impairment in the creation of the arts. On February 18, 1897, the British arrived in Benin City under orders to invade and conquer it. As a result, the possessions of the Oba and his court became spoils of war. The objects were rounded up with little regard for their associated meaning; no systematic record was kept of their grouping or placement. Many of these objects were sold in London to defray the cost of the expedition.

What has survived

The Kingdom of Benin has produced some of the most renowned examples of African art. There are an estimated 2,400 to 4,000 known objects – and that’s what’s survived into the present day!

These include 300 bronze heads, 130 elephant tusks, and 850 relief plaques. The art of the Kingdom of Benin is most widely known for its bronze plaques. The majority of the bronze plaques are at held the Berlin Ethnologisches Museum, British Museum, National Museum of Nigeria in Lagos and Benin City, Weltmuseum Wien, Field Museum of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Most of the ancient art of Benin is royal and honours the Oba, or king of the Benin Kingdom.

If this has captured your interest and you’d like to read more, I would recommend using one of the libraries resources such as Encyclopedia Britannica here: hillingdon.gov.uk/libraries or BBC Bitesize.

Or you can do one of these free online courses!

Open Learn from the OU – The Benin Bronzes

Course Buffet – African Art

Special thanks to the following websites for the information provided

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_the_Kingdom_of_Benin

https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Benin+Kingdom

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-africa/west-africa/nigeria/a/the-kingdom-of-benin

By Lara

How to make a cat mask – inspired by Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man books

As part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge in Hillingdon, we’re celebrating a different funny children’s author every Friday. This week it’s the turn of the creator of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey.

Roksana from Hillingdon Libraries created this cute cat mask inspired by Li’l Petey, the adorable little cat, one of main characters in Dav Pilkey’s book, Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties. It is an excellent book, full humor and amazing cartoons. Why not to read Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties and then, create this lovely cat mask?

Materials:

  • 2 paper plates
  • lollipop stick
  • orange paint
  • mixing palette
  • paint brush
  • glue 
  • scissors
  • sellotape

1) Fold a paper plate in half and cut off its rim. Repeat the same action with the second paper plate. Then, stick two rims together.

2) Cut two pointy ears out of the round parts of the paper plate that are left. 

3) Paint the ears and the paper plate rim orange and let the paint dry.

4) Sellotape a lollipop stick to the back of the paper plate rim.

5) Stick the ears to the back of your mask.

Finally, your cat mask is ready and you can dress up as Li’l Petey. 

If you’re looking for more Dog Man fun, why not check out this video of Dav Pilkey himself drawing his canine hero?

How to make a Petey puppet – inspired by Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man books

As part of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge in Hillingdon, we’re celebrating a different funny children’s author every Friday. This week it’s the turn of the creator of Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey. Inspired by Dav’s Dog Man books, Debbie from Hillingdon Libraries has made this puppet based on the character of Petey the cat. Enjoy!

You will need:

  • 1 kitchen roll centre
  • Card
  • String
  • Beads or buttons
  • Glue
  • Scissors (an adult should supervise with these!)
  • Paint, crayons, felt pens or colouring pencils
  • Wooden skewer or similar (blunted)
  • Black pen

1) Cut the tube in half. Cut about 4½ cm from one of the halves. Set the other piece of tube (about 6 cm) aside for future projects. On a piece of card draw four circles using one of your tubes as a guide. Add ear shapes to one of the circles and cut out as shown below. Cut out the three circles.

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2) Cut a tail from card as shown below. Glue the piece with the ear shapes to the shorter (4½ cm) tube. Paint or colour all the pieces orange.

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3) At each end of the long tube, make holes as shown. The holes for the leg strings should be about 3-4 cm apart and about 7 mm from the edge. The hole for the head/tail string should be directly above the point midway between the two leg string holes and about 7 mm from the edge. At the end of the head closest to the ears, make two holes, one directly opposite the other. Make sure you get an adult to help make the holes as you will need to use something sharp and pointed.

Cut two pieces of string about 35 cm long. Pass one of them through the two holes in the head

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4) Draw or paint black stripes on the body and tail. Place pony beads on the end of string on the underside of the head. The photo shows 6 pony beads but when I was putting it all together, 4 looked better. Put the end of the string through the hole on top of the body. Fasten inside the body with a knot and some glue.  

5)  For the legs, cut 2 pieces of string about 30 cm long. Pass a piece of string through the leg holes. If you have them, put pony beads on the strings with a bigger bead on each end. I used 10 pony beads and one wooden bead for each leg. I only had ivory coloured beads so I painted them orange and then drew a black line around each pony bead. Knot and glue the ends of the strings inside the large beads. Cut off any extra string. Pass the remaining 35 cm length of string through the tail hole and fasten with a knot and some glue inside the body. Stick the tail on with glue. Stick one circle of card to each end of the body and the remaining one to the head. Draw a nose and mouth on the front of the head and two eyes on the top as shown. Cut out two small pieces of black card/paper to make the inner ears. If you don’t have black paper or card you can draw the inner ears on with black pen.

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6) Cut a wooden skewer slightly longer than the length of the body (an adult should help with this – and ensure the skewer isn’t sharp before use). Stick the tail and head strings to the ends, making sure your dog hangs level. I stuck pony beads on the ends to cover any rough bits and also to make it look nicer. 

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Warning: due to the small parts use caution with this craft if there are pre school children in your household.

Finally, for all those Dog Man fans out there, here’s a video of how to draw Petey! Thanks to the Library of Congress for posting this: