London Museums without Leaving Home!

London’s museums and places of interest are gradually reopening.  However, some of us are still unable or unwilling to travel into London.  Do not despair!  Many of London’s attractions have websites that enable you to take a virtual tour and may whet your appetite for a visit in person at a later date.  These are some of the interesting ones that I have discovered:

The Royal Hospital Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded by King Charles II and designed by Sir Christopher Wren.  It was opened in 1692 as a retirement home for British Army veterans and now houses around 300 men and women army pensioners.

There are a number of short videos that you can watch to explore the buildings and grounds, learn about the history  and hear from the Chelsea Pensioners themselves.

10 Downing Street

A chance to look behind probably the most photographed front door in the country!  You can explore the great staircase, Prime Minister’s office and Cabinet room.

Charles Dickens Museum

48 Doughty Street was the London home of Charles Dickens and where the author wrote ‘Oliver Twist’, The Pickwick Papers’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.  For anyone interested in Dickens or the times in which he lived this is a fascinating house to visit.  The website offers an introduction to the house and also a virtual tour in which you can explore items in more detail.

The Houses of Parliament

Take a 360˚ virtual tour and explore the Commons Chamber, Lords Chamber, Members Lobby and many other parts of the building, all rather eerily deserted!

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, is the amazing house and museum of the British architect Sir John Soane (1753 – 1837).  His travels to the ruins of Ancient Rome, Paestum and Pompeii inspired his lifelong interest in Classical art and architecture.  He was an enthusiastic collector and repurposed his home as a museum for students of architecture with a collection containing thousands of objects ranging from Ancient Egyptian antiquities and Roman sculptures to models of contemporary buildings.  This is a wonderful house to visit but while it remains closed this summer you can take a virtual interactive tour of the Model Room and the Sepulchral Chamber, home of the 3,000 year old Sarcophagus of Seti I.

By Carol

A cute cat craft – inspired by the book ‘A Tale of Two Kitties’ by Liz Pichon

Roksana from Hillingdon Libraries has created this cute cat craft inspired by the cats from a wonderful picture book, “A Tale of Two Kitties’’ by  Liz Pichon. 

It is a great book with a humorous portrayal of cats as well as beautiful illustrations that will definitely capture children’s imagination. Thus, why not to read“A Tale of Two Kitties’’ by  Liz Pinchon and then, create this lovely cat craft?


  • white card
  • 2 googly eyes 
  • purple felt tip pen or pencil crayon
  • pencil
  • rubber
  • glue 
  • scissors
  • black fine felt tip pen or pencil crayon

1) Take a white piece of card, place your hand on it and draw around it with a pencil. 

2)  Cut the outline of your hand out. It is going to be your cat’s body. An adult should help when using scissors, if necessary. 

3) Take the remaining piece of the white card and cut a circle and two pointy ears out of it. The circle is going to be your cat’s head. 

4) Stick the cat’s head to its body and then, stick the ears to its head. 

5) Take a black fine felt tip and draw 3 claws on each cat’s paw.

6) Stick a pair of googly eyes to the cat’s face. Remember, googly eyes are small parts – take care if you have preschool children at home. You may want to draw the eyes on, instead.

7) Take a black felt tip pen and draw a nose, a smiley mouth and some whiskers on your cat’s face.

8) Draw an outline of the inner parts of the ears.

9) Colour the inner parts of the ears purple.

Finally, your cat is ready and you can play with it. 

We’d love to see your cat creations too. Please send them to:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries


And remember to join this year’s Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge!

Unusual places to visit in London – Part 1!

The Magnificent Seven

No, this is not the 1960 Western film I’m talking about but the seven large Victorian graveyards located in a ring around Inner London, that were the first commercial cemeteries to be constructed in the 19th century. If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary the next time you head into London, these beautiful cemeteries are definitely worth a visit, if not for the magnificent mausoleums, statues, overgrown graves and their famous occupants but also for the wildlife havens all of them have become. Many offer tours which is a good way of spending a few hours learning about their intriguing histories and famous occupants, as well as enjoying some fresh air. 

Abney Park Cemetery is named after Sir Thomas Abney, a previous Lord mayor of London and is also the first cemetery to be used as an arboretum with over 2,500 trees and bushes, its oldest recorded tree (actually a bush) is Perry’s Weeping Holly, now 170 years old. Here you will find a white lion marking the grave of Frank Bostock, a lion trainer from the age of 15 and responsible for educating Victorian Britain about African and Asian wildlife. Amy Winehouse also filmed part of her ‘Back to Black’ music video here. Over the next few months a programme of online events has been put together, featuring various musicians playing in the chapel. Filmed with a 360 degree camera it means that you can enjoy the surroundings at the same time.

Photo by GrindtXX

Brompton Cemetery in West Brompton is not only a pleasant place to wander around, it is also a bee apiary with bee hotels, workshops on beekeeping and offers the chance to purchase some honey. It is also the only cemetery in the country to be owned by the Crown as well having bit parts in the James Bond movie GoldenEye, Johnny English and The Wings of the Dove amongst others. Beatrix Potter is believed to have used names from tombstones for her characters; you might want to look for Mr Nutkins, Mr McGregor, Jeremiah Fisher and even Peter Rabbett. One huge stone tomb complete with Egyptian hieroglyphics is also rumoured to be a time machine! It is the final resting place of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, Sir Samuel Cunard of the shipping line and auctioneer Samuel Sotheby. Tours are available most Sundays depending on the time of the year.

Photo by Simon Burchell

Highgate Cemetery just fifty years ago was the scene of dueling magicians and vampire hunting mobs convinced that a vampire was on the loose. Whilst the vampire was never found, plenty of graves were ransacked and their occupants staked and beheaded. The creepy place with its overgrown graves became a perfect filming location for some of the 1970’s Hammer horror films. It has however quietened down since then and is now a beautiful nature reserve where the wilderness has taken over with ivy clad gravestones, wild flowers and ferns. It is home to 40 species of birds and 20 different butterflies as well as foxes, owls and badgers. It also has a rather impressive A-list of famous residents, Karl Marx, Malcolm McClaren, Douglas Adams and George Michael to name but a few although the latter’s grave remains private. There are tours available as well as some free range access, the times of which can be found on their website.

Photo by Panyd

Kensal Green Cemetery, the oldest of the Magnificent Seven, opened for business in 1833 and was the only to remain open following a series of cholera epidemics in the 1850’s. Its 77 acres are now home to two conservation areas, rare flora and fauna, a variety of wildlife as well as 33 species of birds, and attracts both nature enthusiasts as well as bird watchers. Over 500 of its residents are British aristocrats but you will also find many others including Charles Blondin, a master tightrope walker who first crossed Niagara Falls in 1859 and continued to cross it more than 300 times more, including whilst blindfolded, carrying a man on his back, on stilts and even stopping to fry an egg halfway across, although not all at once! Tours are available every Sunday.

Photo by Vassil

Nunhead Cemetery was left to decay for many years by its previous owners, suffering neglect and the effects of vandalism and thefts from the catacombs, although there are now attempts being made to restore it to its former glory. It was sold to Southwark Council in 1975 for just £1 but it took Lottery funding before the restorations could begin. Whilst many areas are still inaccessible, it is now a nature reserve and wildlife haven with 16 species of butterflies and a diverse range of native and exotic plants. If you are willing to climb the hill you will be rewarded with a view of St Paul’s Cathedral through the trees and to the left on the horizon, Alexandra Palace can be seen. Friends of Nunhead Cemetery run guided tours on the last Sunday of every month.

Photo by GrindtXX

Tower Hamlets Cemetery is a unique nature reserve and heritage site in East London where not only are the dead remembered but you will also find festivals, art, nature conservation, school visits, learning and private events. Several trails and walks have been created by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and whilst it doesn’t have the same kind of famous residents the other cemeteries are known for, in less than 50 years from opening it had already interred almost 250,000 bodies and still remained open for a further 77 years. Open from dawn to dusk, this park is free to visit.

Photo by Irid Escent

West Norwood cemetery is a magnificent walled 40 acre park and the world’s first ever Gothic style cemetery, complete with catacombs able to store up to 3500 coffins. It even has its own railway; during a 2010 exploration of the Dissenters’ Catacombs a rusty bier (a frame used to move corpses or coffins) was found, its wheels designed to have run on a narrow-gauge railway track. Buried in this cemetery are notables such as Baron Julias de Reuter, founder of the Reuters news agency and Sir Henry Tate the sugar merchant and founder of the Tate Gallery. Tours are held on the first Sunday of each month.

Photo by Heritage Daily

By Anne

Building Challenge Wednesdays (July 29th: ‘Scene from my Funniest Book’)

Hello Library LEGO fans, it’s the middle of the week and it can only mean one thing… time for our LEGO Building Challenge! This week we are challenging you to build a scene from one of your funniest books. We are looking for models based on books which make you smile, laugh and chortle.  

Suzanne and Jane have been laughing building funny scenes from their favourite books. And Suzanne has built a model of Snook the Penguin, from the Summer Reading Challenge mascots, the Silly squad. He’s one of the characters that illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson has created to promote this year’s digital Summer Reading Challenge.

To learn how to build Snook, watch below:

Sophie, from Sophie’s Snail, by Dick King Smith, makes Jane laugh. Here is her model of Sophie’s Snail.

Dr Seuss books make Suzanne laugh. Here are two models, one from Cat in the Hat and another from Green Eggs and Ham. Can you tell which one is which?

Another book, which amuses Suzanne, is My Dad’s Got an Alligator by Jeremy Strong. She laughs at the scene when the alligator is in the bath.

When the tiger, in The Tiger who came to Tea by Judith Kerr, drinks up all the water in the tap, it amuses Jane.  

When Flat Stanley, from Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, gets sent through the post it makes Jane laugh as well. Here is her model of Flat Stanley:

We’d love it if you sent through your models of scenes from funny books!

Parents, please send them to:


Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries


Have lots of laughter building! 😀

Books on Tour – Part 4 – London A-Z (Second half)

Continuing our literary tour of all 32 London Boroughs.


Brixton Rock by Alex Wheatle is the story of 16 year old mixed-race boy, Alex, who has lived in a children’s home all his life. It’s set against the backdrop of the riots in the 1980s. This was his debut novel and the title is an allusion to Brighton Rock, its funny, tragic, fast paced and exudes a real sense of time and place. 


Claire Donaghue sets her police crime fiction in the mean streets of South-East London.  The detectives work in the Lewisham Murder Squad. If you are like me and have to read a  series in order, start with Never Look Back.


Nigel Williams is the author of a trilogy of comic books set in Wimbledon, this is the second, They Came from SW19. It is the story of a 14 year old UFO fan whose father has died.  His mother joins a spiritualist church to try and contact her late husband.


The Wicked Boys by Kate Summerscale tells the true story of a murder in Plaistow in 1895.  The details fueled the press with horror and seemed to mirror the plots of the “Penny Dreadful” novels that the teenage murderer loved to read.


Barbara Nadel has written a series of crime novels about  a detective agency in the East End. The agency is run by Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hasim. Bright Shiny Things is number 5 and is about an ex-Army friend of Arnold who lives in Ilford and is worried about the possible radicalization of his son.


EV Harte has set her Tarot crime series in picturesque Barnes. The first is called The Prime of Ms Dolly Green. She is a psychic who turns her talents to sleuthing. E V Harte is a nom-de-plume of the writer Daisy Waugh.


The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson is set in the same debtors’ prison that featured in Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit. It is set in an earlier time though,1727.  It tells the story of Tom Hawkins, a young man with gambling debts who meets the enigmatic Samuel Fleet there. The book vividly evokes the 18th Century London of coffee houses, gambling dens and brothels. The plot is a fast paced murder mystery that draws you in. 


Another tricky place – I did eventually find Jolly Green Giant,  the Autobiography of David J Bellamy, the naturalist who was often on television in the 1980s. He describes his wartime childhood growing up in Carshalton.

Tower Hamlets

Monica Ali’s Brick Lane is set in the Bangladeshi Community in the East End and partly in Bangladesh. It follows the story of newly arrived Nazneen and her sister Hasina who stayed in their village.  It covers themes of tradition, family duty, adjusting to a different culture and the role of women. It manages to be both comic and poignant.

Waltham Forest

Two for Joy by Helen Chandler is set in Walthamstow where one of the characters, Julia lives. The story concerns her best friend Toby and his ex Ruby. The ensuing love triangle and an unexpected pregnancy form the plot. It’s an enjoyable easy romantic comedy.  Lots of online reviewers said they galloped through it in only one or two sittings. 


Home- The Story of Everyone who has Lived in our House  by Julie Myerson does the same research as A House Through Time has done on BBC2.  The author tracks down as many of the previous owners and tenants of her house in Battersea and it becomes a microcosm of the history of London.  It tells the story from the affluent first occupiers to the Jamaican family in the 1950s to its bedsit period and then its gentrification.  It is not purely factual as the author does a lot of imagining too and addresses the concepts of what is a home, something we discussed in a previous blog post,  There’s no place like home


Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle is synonymous with 221B Baker Street. The address now houses a museum to the fictional detective. As well as spawning many films and television series there are also many books by other authors adding to the original stories. Just search Sherlock Holmes in our library catalogue. There are also non-fiction titles about him – the most apt here is The London of Sherlock Holmes by John Christopher which will give you a guided tour of the landmarks in the novels.

Writing about each borough individually I have left off some interesting titles and important authors who have used London as their palette, the most important of these is Charles Dickens. So many of his novels have been set here, from the dust heaps of Somers Town in Our Mutual Friend to the Inns of Courts in Great Expectations and Bleak House.  As with Sherlock you can also follow in his footsteps by reading Walking Dickens’ London by Lee Jackson

Peter Ackroyd has written several fiction and nonfiction books  set in  London –  London:the Biography, Londer Under, Queer City, The Clerkenwell Tales, London : a Traveller’s Read, Three Brothers and The Lambs of London.

Ben Aaronovich has written a series called The Rivers of London. They are fantasy novels set in London where the Metropolitan Police have a branch that deals with magic and the supernatural.

I really enjoyed The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd. It’s a engrossing murder mystery about the famous Ratcliffe  Highway in Wapping in the early 19th Century, butit also moves back in time to the era of plundering Elizabethan pirates. It seems very topical at the moment as it tells the lesser told part of English history and the start of slavery that led to the Empire. 

I recently finished Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin. It is aimed at a teenage audience and is a gripping story set in the 1760s concerning foundlings and poverty.  The title is from Sir Thomas Coram who started a home for abandoned children.  We previously looked at their online museum, Online archives

24 hours in London 

I found three books set in London over the course of a day.  Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. The novel follows Clarissa Dalloway as she gets ready for a party as she thinks about her past, and also Septimus Warren, a World War One veteran with shell-shock.  Serious Sweet by AL Kennedy follows 24 hours in the life of two lonely Londoners as they move around the city. Interestingly she uses some of the same locations as Virginia Woolf. Saturday by Ian McEwen details a neurosurgeon’s actions on February 15 2003, the day of the anti Iraq war protests in the city. 

I am sure I have missed out many of your favourites – sorry there are just so many!

If you are interested in more information, in the course of my research I found these websites on fiction set in the capital

The other gives you a map of locations in books from all around the world,

Happy armchair travelling! 

Debbie’s Paddington Bear Craft

Debbie from Hillingdon Libraries has made this adorable Paddington Bear craft to celebrate the Summer Reading challenge.

This years Summer Reading Challenge is all about funny books and the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond are hilarious. Paddington lives with the Brown family in London and somehow manages to get himself into all sorts of funny situations.

If you would like more information the Summer Reading challenge please use the link below:

You will need:

  • Kitchen roll centre cut in half
  • Blue paper
  • Red paper (half a sheet of A4)
  • Black pen
  • Scissors (an adult should help with these!)
  • Glue

The Hat

1)  Take your A5 piece of red paper and fold the two short edges together.  Then fold in half the other way so your paper looks like this. Unfold the previous step. With the folded edge at the top, fold down the top corners to the middle lining up with the central crease as shown

2) Take one layer of paper from the bottom and fold it up as far as it will go. Turn the hat over and repeat for the other side. Fold over the bits sticking out from the edge to make a triangle. A small amount of glue on these folded down tabs will make sure your hat stays in shape during the next step. 

3) Fold the corners and the front & back up to form the brim of the hat. Don’t worry if your hat looks rather creased and battered after this step. Fold the tip of the hat towards the back. A small amount of glue will ensure that the tip stays down.

The Bear

1)  Draw eyes, nose and mouth on the tube.  Glue the hat into place.

2)  Cut a piece of blue paper to fit your tube as shown. Make sure you leave enough room at the bottom for the feet to show. Glue into place with the top corners folded down to form a collar. Cut a piece out of the bottom of the tube to form the feet and add claws. Make two small tubes using blue paper and two front paws with some card. Draw claws onto the paws.

3)  Insert the paws into the tubes and glue into place. Glue the arms onto the side of the bear.

4)  I used beads to make the toggles for my bear’s coat. If you don’t have any beads you could stick a small piece of paper on, or draw directly onto the bear’s coat.

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

We would love to see your Paddington bear, why not share your creations at… 

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 


And remember to join this year’s Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge!

Debbie’s Running Dog Craft

Debbie from Hillingdon Libraries has created this fantastic running dog automata craft, inspired by Jeremy Strong’s book Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog.

This is a bit fiddly to make but the effort is worth it. The step by step instructions are given below with clear photos to guide you through. This is one for an older child to make with support and supervision from a grown up.


You will need:

  • Cardboard
  • White card
  • Drinking straw
  • Glue
  • Scissors (an adult should help with these!)
  • Paint, crayons, felt pens or colouring pencils
  • Googly eyes if you have them
  • Black pen

How to build The Mechanism

1) Make a box as shown below. Mine was a cube of about 10 cm. The triangles glued to each corner front and back make the box stronger and keep it square. Cut a slot in the middle of the top. The slot needs to be 1.5 cm high and 1cm wide when looking from one of the open sides. Make a hole in the middle of the two sides large enough to pass a drinking straw through. Make sure you get an adult to help make the holes as you will need to use something sharp and pointed. Paint or colour your box.


2)  Carefully cut out the push rod ends, push rod, end cap, handle and crank pieces. For all items on the template sheet, cut on the solid lines and fold on the dashed lines. Leave the dog parts uncut for now. If you ask an adult to lightly score all the dashed lines with a craft knife, you will find it much easier to fold them accurately. Make up the crank pieces as shown below.

Running Dog templates.jpg

3)  Fold and glue the crank pieces as shown below. Fold and glue the push rod. Seal one end of the rod by folding and gluing the flaps, leave the other end open as shown. This will be used to glue the dog to the push rod.  


4)  Glue the pushrod ends to the sealed end as shown. Make up the handle as shown. Don’t worry if the little piece holding it all together breaks (mine did), just make the handle in two parts. The important thing is that it ends up looking right. Make up the end cap. This will look like a small box with no lid.


5)  Paint or colour the push rod, handle, end cap and crank pieces. Cut a piece of drinking straw about 2.5 cm. Glue one end into the small hole of one of the crank pieces. Leave to dry. Pass the straw through the holes in the push rod and glue into the small hole of the other crank piece. Make sure the two crank pieces are in line with one another to ensure your mechanism will turn smoothly. Leave until the glue has dried completely.


6)  Cut two pieces of drinking straw long enough to go as far as possible down the open ends of the crank pieces with enough left over to stick out of the holes on the box. Better to have too much and have to trim a bit off. From the inside of the box, carefully guide the pushrod through the slot in the top of the box as shown. Pass the straws through the holes on the sides of the box and glue each into the open ends of the crank pieces. Let the glue dry completely.  


7)  Glue on the handle putting as much of the straw as possible down the open end. You may need to trim the straw. Ideally you want a few millimetres of straw left showing after the handle has been glued into place. If you are left handed you may find it more comfortable for the handle to be on the left of the box when looking at the front. Glue the end cap to the straw sticking out on the other side, again having a few millimetres of straw left on show. Let the glue dry completely before trying out your mechanism.


How to Build The Dog

1) Carefully cut out all the dog parts as directed. As before, ask an adult to lightly score along all the dashed lines with a craft knife. Fold and glue all the parts. The trickiest part is the head. Make little cuts along the two flap edges of the insert. Starting with the nose area, glue a small section then let it dry completely before moving on to another section. That way you should be able to follow the shape of the side pieces accurately. Make sure you leave the ends of the legs below the fold line unglued. These flaps will be used to stick the paws on. The same applies to the tail; the flaps will be used to stick the tail to the body. Curl the ears round a pencil so they end up curved. Assemble the pieces as shown. Cut four small circles (I used pink card) and draw paw prints on each of them. Stick to the bottom of the legs using the flaps. Leave until the glue has completely dried.


2)  Paint or colour your dog. Stick on googly eyes if you have them. If you don’t have googly eyes a circle of white card with a black dot drawn on will do just as well. Cut a small piece of red card (or white card coloured red) and stick to the underside of the head to make a tongue. Draw a black nose on the end of the snout. Cut a narrow strip of red paper and stick round the neck to make a collar. Stick the dog on to the push rod. Wait until the glue has completely dried before you are tempted to turn the handle and watch your dog run! Have fun and we would love to see your creations.


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

Contact Details:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries


And remember to join this year’s Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge!

Jane’s digital picks for kids: Short stories

It’s Summer Reading Challenge time again! To find out more about the challenge and sign your child up, click here.

You can find books on our BorrowBox app, plus there is now the RB Digital app with even more books to explore.

We don’t always have the time to get stuck into a long book but we still want to get engrossed in a good story, so here is a selection of anthologies of short stories, tales and fables, some of which may already be familiar from our own childhoods, plus there are new stories to discover. 

Books on BorrowBox

Age 0+:

Puffin Sleepy Tales: Ten Stories to Relax and Calm Busy Young Minds at Bedtime
Ladybird Sleepy Tales: Ten Calming Stories to Help Little Children Relax at Bedtime

Ladybird Sleepy Tales. AudioBook. Read by Candida Gubbins.

Puffin Sleepy Tales. AudioBook. Read by Ellie Heydon. 

Listening time 2 hrs 30 mins each

These two collections have been developed with the Children’s Sleep Charity and tested with parents. Each 15-minute tale will help children settle down at the end of the day. The Ladybird tales feature gentle stories about drifting snowflakes, floating bubbles, and rainbow journeys, whilst the Puffin stories include The Night Sky, the Sunset Beach, and The Garden Wall amongst others. They can be enjoyed by children of all ages, but the Ladybird tales will appeal to children aged 3-6 most of all, whilst the Puffin tales are aimed more at the over 7s. 

Age 4 and upwards:

Spectacular Stories for the Very Young: Four Hilarious Stories

Spectacular Stories for the Very Young – David Walliams. AudioBook. 

Read by the author. Listening time 33 mins

Four of David Walliams’ popular picture books are read aloud by the author himself. Hear all about the First Hippo on the Moon, the Slightly Annoying Elephant, The Bear who went Boo! and There’s a Snake in my School!’. These books have been described as ‘side-splitting’, ‘hilarious’ and ‘amazing’ so should be the perfect way to keep your kids amused over the summer.

Age 5 and upwards:

Just So Stories: How the Leopard Got His Spots

Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling. AudioBook. 

Read by Johnny Morris. Listening time 3 hrs 7 mins

These classic tales by Rudyard Kipling are based on stories that the Jungle Book author heard whilst growing up in India, and on his later travels. They include ‘The Cat that Walked by Himself’, ‘The Beginning of the Armadillos’, ‘How the Camel got his Hump’ and ‘The Elephant’s Child’. These stories were written by Kipling for his own children as ingenious explanations as to how animals came to be as they are, so why not introduce your children to these imaginative fables, read by the much loved and missed TV presenter Johnny Morris?

Aesop's Fables

Aesop’s Fables. AudioBook. 

Read by Anton Lesser. Listening time 1 hr 19 mins.

How can the Tortoise run faster than the Hare? What happens when the dog growls at its image? Or when the Country Mouse goes to supper with the Town Mouse? Aesop’s Fables have enchanted adults and children for centuries. This collection told by Anton Lesser includes ‘Androcles and the Lion’, ‘The Fox and the Crow’ ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ and many others. Set against a background of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ and other sound effects, this would be a great way to introduce young children to these stories that have become part of our culture.

The Cleo Stories

The Cleo Stories – Libby Gleeson. AudioBook. 

Read by the author. Listening time 50 mins.

Cleo is a little girl who finds that a big imagination is essential in finding ways to solve problems and have fun. Here are four stories of how Cleo really, really wants a necklace, but doesn’t want to wait for her birthday; how she comes up with a brilliant idea for her mum’s birthday present; how she finds herself a pet in the most unexpected way, and how she amuses herself on a rainy day. These stories would be ideal for encouraging children to use their own imaginations to come up with things to do over the holidays.

Age 7 and upwards:

Image result for dinosaur cove attack of the lizard king daniel hill

Dinosaur Cove: Attack of the Lizard King and other stories – Rex Stone. AudioBook. 

Read by Daniel Hill. Listening time 1 hr 31 mins.

In Dinosaur Cove you can discover dinosaurs of all kinds. In these stories Jamie and Tom meet a hungry T-Rex, try to avoid being squashed by a herd of triceratops and try to save a baby Ankylosaurus before it sinks into the mud. They then have to face the little dinosaur’s mother on her return!

Age 8 and upwards:

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2: 100 More Stories of Extraordinary Women

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Book 1 & 2 – Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo. AudioBook. 

Read by: Various. Book 1 listening time 3 hrs 20 mins. Book 2 listening time 3 hrs 47 mins.

Two anthologies read by inspirational women of today including Alicia Keys, Ashley Judd, and Janeane Garofalo amongst others. Each containing 100 biographies of celebrated women from history such as Nefertiti, Elizabeth I and scientist Ada Lovelace, plus modern-day heroines like Beyonce, Malala Yousafsai and Serena Williams, these books are written in the style of fairy tales, making them instantly accessible to young readers. 

Age 13 and upwards:

Tales from Watership Down

Tales from Watership Down – Richard Adams. AudioBook. 

Read by Clive Mantle. Listening time 6 hrs 50 mins.

The sequel to the much loved classic Watership Down,  these tales return to Fiver, Hazel, Bigwig and the legendary rabbit hero El-ahrairah, and introduce many other new characters. Join the rabbits as they battle the shortsightedness of human nature, and the tragic but inevitable cruelties of the natural world. Including new adventures and traditional rabbit mythological tales.

As well as BorrowBox you can also find audio and eBooks on the RB Digital App. Here’s an example of one of the books on offer by one of children’s literatures most beloved authors. 

A Twist of Tales

A Twist of Tales – Julia Donaldson. Audiobook. 

Read by Helen Keeley Listening time 21 mins. Aged 5+

These stories are a great introduction to short stories for younger children. What is the secret that the king hides under his crown?  How does a clever girl outwit the king, and what adventures will be had on a journey inspired by a wonderful dream?

There are lots of other books available, including plenty for adults, so why not download the BorrowBox and RB Digital apps? As well as choosing a book for your kids,  you can choose something for yourself to read or listen to!

You can find us on:

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Hillingdon’s twin towns

Hillingdon is twinned with two towns in Europe; Schleswig in Germany and Mantes-la-Jolie in France.  The idea for town twinning originated after the Second World War.  Foreign travel was only available to a minority and the aim of town twinning was to bring people from different European countries together through common interests such as sport, art, education and music.  It promotes links and better understanding of various cultures.

The former Hayes and Harlington Urban District Council established links with Schleswig and Mantes-la-Jolie in 1958, before the formation of the London Borough of Hillingdon.


Schleswig is a former Viking settlement and lies just 30 miles from the Danish border on the Schlie, a long inlet of the Baltic.  The skyline is dominated by the Dom St Petri, a 12th Century Lutheran cathedral.  In the shadow of the Dom is Holm, a quaint fishing village.  The population of Schleswig in 2011 was 23,701 and the main industries are leather and food processing.

Find out more at


Mantes-la-Jolie is situated approximately 30 miles west of Paris.  It is located at the edge of the Vexin Francais Regional Natural Park and has been described as ‘a town in the countryside’. Its history dates back to pre-Norman times and William the Conqueror came from this area.  Between the shopping centre and the banks of the Seine is the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame; an impressive example of French Gothic Architecture built in 1170.  In 2016 the population was 44,231.

Find out more at

Last year the Town Twinning Youth Exchange was hosted by Hillingdon and attended by young people from Hillingdon, Schleswig and Mantes-la-Jolie.  Unfortunately this year’s event in Germany has been postponed.  Hopefully it will go ahead in 2021 and will allow for eight young residents from Hillingdon to travel to Schleswig where they will take part in a programme of activities planned by our German hosts, alongside eight German and eight French young people.  In 2022 the event will be held in Mantes-la-Jolie.

Town twinning

Near the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge there is a tree  and a plaque celebrating 61 years of friendship with our twin towns.  The tree was planted by the Mayor during the Youth Exchange in 2019.


By Carol

How to make Roger the sheep – inspired by Julian Clary’s book, The Bolds to the Rescue

Roksana from Hillingdon Libraries has created this lovely sheep craft inspired by Roger, the sheep who appears in Julian Clary’s book, The Bolds to the Rescue.

It is an awesome book, loaded with humor and amazing illustrations that children will love.

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  • cotton wool balls
  • black card
  • white card
  • glue
  • scissors
  • 2 googly eyes
  • pencil
  • rubber

1) Cut a circle out of white card and stick cotton wool balls to it. It is going to be your sheep’s body. An adult should help when using scissors, if necessary.

2) Cut out two legs from some black card and stick them to the back of the sheep’s body.

3) Draw a sheep’s head with a pencil on a black piece of card and then cut it out.

4) Stick the sheep’s head to its body.

5) Take two googly eyes and stick them to the sheep’s head. Remember, googly eyes are small parts – take care if you have preschool children at home. You may want to draw the eyes on, instead.

Finally, your sheep is ready and you can play with it.

We’d love to see your ‘Roger the Sheep’ creations too. Please send them to:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries


And remember to join this year’s Silly Squad Summer Reading Challenge!