Debbie’s Santa Craft

You will need:

White card or paper

Red card or paper

Cotton wool

Crayon to draw eyes (I could not resist using googly eyes but we advise that younger children draw them)

Rounded Scissors – If you do not have rounded scissors ask your adult to cut out all the shapes for you first. Then you can have all the fun sticking it together. If you are very little then you could just ask your adult to draw the Santa shape on the card or paper and you can stick on cotton wool etc or just colour in Santa.

Non toxic glue stick

Cut a circle from the white card. Cut a hat shape as shown above from the red card. Cut a circle from red card for the nose.

Stick the hat onto the circle of card, covering about 1/3 of the circle

Stick on the nose and draw the eyes.

Glue a round ball of cotton wool to the end of the hat and a strip of cotton wool to the bottom of the hat. Glue a beard of cotton wool to your Santa and he is finished.

As with all small parts, care should be taken – especially with preschool children.

Debbie’s Christmas Craft let’s make a Snowman!

Snowman for Older Children

You will need:

2 sheets of white card

Black card

Assorted buttons (or small circles of card)

Pipe cleaners or ribbon

Googly eyes (if you have them)


Rounded Scissors

Using one of the pieces of white card, cut two circles, one smaller than the other. Then fold the edge of the larger circle underneath about 2 cm. Stick the two circles together as shown below.

Cut a hat shape from the piece of black card.

Stick the hat onto the head. It doesn’t have to be straight.

Decorate your snowman. Glue on googly eyes if you have them, if not draw the eyes on. I used orange buttons glued on top of one another to make a nose. If you don’t have buttons then draw a nose on. The mouth was made from black card cut with a hole punch and glued on.

The scarf was a glittery pipe cleaner bent to shape and glued on. You could also use ribbon, or even draw the scarf on. Stick buttons onto the body of the snowman; any colour and number can be used. If you don’t have buttons, then draw them on.

Decorate the hat with the second pipe cleaner, or ribbon, or whatever you have. There is no limit to your imagination. Use the second piece of white card to make a support for your snowman to stand up.

Enjoy making your snowman!

Due to the small parts used, care should be taken if there are preschool children in your household.

Debbie’s Snowman Craft for younger children

You will need:

1 sheet of white card

Black card

Scraps of card or paper, any colour for decorating

Cotton wool balls

Non toxic glue stick

Rounded Scissors – If you do not have rounded scissors ask your adult to cut out all the shapes for you first. Then you can have all the fun sticking it together. If you are very little then you could just ask your adult to draw the snowman shape on the card or paper and you can stick on cotton wool or just colour in the snowman.

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Using one of the pieces of white card, cut two circles, one smaller than the other.

Fold the edge of the larger circle underneath about 2 cm. Stick the two circles together as shown.

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Cut a hat shape from the piece of black card.

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Decorate your snowman. Stick cotton wool balls onto the snowman. Cut out eyes, nose, mouth, buttons and a hat band from scrap paper/card and stick on as shown. Stick the hat onto the head. It doesn’t have to be straight. There is no limit to your imagination.

The Five Finger test – How to find books that are the right level for your child.

Now schools are back in full swing, we are seeing more children coming back into the library after school and at weekends to choose some new books – which is GREAT!

It’s wonderful to see how they’ve all progressed so far in lockdown and now they are wanting to move on to more challenging reads. We’ve been asked this question several times by parents and children over the last couple of weeks – “Is this book suitable for my child to read?”

Books that are too easy can make reading time boring, while those that are too difficult can cause your child to become frustrated, skip parts, and fail to understand what’s happening. So it’s important to strike the right level.

I thought this little test might help you all in assessing whether a book is the right level for your child to move on to. It’s called the Five Finger Test.

The Five Finger test is a quick and simple way for you and your child to check whether a book is suitable for them to read on their own.

First let your child choose a book that they would like to read. Open the book at a random page (one with not too many pictures on it) and let your child begin to read.

As they read, for every word they DON’T know they should hold up a finger.
At the end of the page see how many fingers your child has held up. You can use these guidelines to assess the book.

0 or 1 – The book is most probably too easy for your child as they know all the words.

2 – A good choice that will give your child a reasonable challenge and allow them to learn new words.

3 – Your child might need some help, but still a good choice if they’re up for a challenge.

4 – May be too difficult for your child to read on their own. If you are on hand to give them help or read along with them it can be suitable, but if they are reading on their own, choose a different book.

5 – Most probably a bit too advanced, try a different book.
The five finger test is only a guideline for helping your child to find books that are right for them. It’s worthwhile remembering that if they have their heart set on a book that seems too hard, it’s probably OK to let them have a go. As long as you’re around to help them if they get stuck on a tricky
word or part of the story with they will keep going! However, if you know they’ll struggle to enjoy the story, or follow the words, put it on a list for later in the year and suggest a different book instead.

Allowing your child to read the books they’re interested in (whether they’re too easy or too difficult) is an important part of nurturing and maintaining their love of books and reading and that’s something we all want to do!

I hope you find this little test useful and look forward to seeing what you choose to read next. Claire

National Libraries Week Harlington Library staff are currently reading…

One thing we all have in common in the library service is our love of reading.  As a child my sister Clair read to me every day and kept me going even after learning to read at school proved exceedingly dull.  My parents were not readers so Clair borrowed all our books from the library, she had to pass a reading test to join and show she knew how to care for the books.  A love affair that began in childhood has continued to this day.

I am currently reading Nevernight – I have only just started but I am intrigued, in just the first chapter the author Jay Kristoff mirrors two events in Mia’s life – her first sexual experience and her first kill.  Set in a land where three suns mean true darkness is fleeting but lives within Mia as she pursues her revenge. The tag line is never fear, never flinch, never forget.  Sounds ominous.  I have just finished reading Samantha Shannon’s Priory of the Orange Tree, another fantasy novel with a strong cast of female characters, hopefully this will be as good.  Although I do wonder if it’s a darker Harry Potter for adults.

I have also  just finished reading Lizzie O’Hagan’s novel What are friends for? Eve and Max are in Love – they just don’t know it yet….the story in a nutshell!  The story is mainly told through conversation and messaging – the characters are real and you can just see them in the pub having a good time and complaining about relationships etc. It is well put together.  Tom and Becky get together online once their respective friends Max and Eve help them change their profiles when they are fed up with a series of one night stands.  They even take over the messaging both before and after the couple meet up and date for a while.  It’s a will they won’t they tale with inevitable results.  


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My Name is Leon – Kit De Waal

“My Name is Leon is a heartbreaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home.”

I chose this book because having read Room by Emma Donaghue, I was interested to read another adult fiction book that is written from the perspective of a child. As Leon navigates big changes in his life, the book explores different issues such as the foster care in the 1980s and familial bonds, set against the backdrop of the 80s British race riots. I found this book honest and insightful but also really enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend it!


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Here is a little from me on the book ‘Wilde Women‘ by Louise Pentland– I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s about a single mum, Robin Wilde. She is busy with an exciting job that she loves very much and she has a new man in her life and is enjoying this new love in her life after her previous heart break. Her daughter is slowly opening up to her mum’s new partner and getting used to new family life. She has great friends who have become her and her daughter’s family. I enjoy reading this book, it’s light and simply written. 

The second book I really enjoy and recommend is ‘The conscious parent’ . It’s a book to help parents look within and embark on the journey of self reflection/growth. It’s about seeing our children as our teachers and taking a conscious approach instead of reactive parenting. Understanding it’s not our children who need fixing but it’s us who need to heal from our childhood. It’s to understand it’s not about fixing and creating the perfect child but to realise that the child has come into our lives to raise us as parents. 


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I am reading ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ by Sir Terry Pratchett.  This is the third time I have read this book.  The first time was just after it’s release in 2015 not long after the death of the author.  I have loved all of Terry Pratchett’s books from the first to the last.  The attraction of the Discworld series is that the books can be either read in order or as stand-alone novels.  The first time I read  ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ I did so, wanting to get to the end to see how it all turned out, and at the same time not wanting to get to the end as this is the last ever Discworld novel.  


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I have just finished reading The man in the brown suit by Agatha Christie (Arabic translation).  I like that it is a light read but still manages to keep you glued until the end. 


Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a funny, sad and touching book. It is about a girl who leads a simple life and tackles emotional challenges with grave courage.



Megan shares her review of the Palm-Wine Drinkard

Cover image for The Palm-Wine Drunkard : and his Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads'Town.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

ISBN: 9780571049967 Published by Faber 1969

Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard has been hailed as the seminal work of post-colonial African literature. Tutuola spins a vividly colourful yarn from Yoruba folk tales, combines it with European fairy tale structures and ends with a piece of art that has come to define the era. 

Tutuola was born in 1920 in Abeokuta, Nigeria. As a boy, he and his father reached an agreement with a wealthy acquaintance that Tutuola would work in his home in exchange for school. The acquaintance paid for Tutuola’s schooling for six years, but Tutuola eventually left, as he was not getting enough to eat from the penny-pinching household cook. From there, he went on to work as a blacksmith and joined the RAF as a coppersmith. 

The Palm-Wine Drinkard was published in 1952, it was the first Nigerian book to gain international acclaim. As such, it holds a special rank as one of the first and most significant works of postcolonial African literature.  As in The Palm-Wine Drinkard, many of the early postcolonial novels are wrapped with twin twines of hope and freedom, and are joyfully bathed in the authors’ own culture. 

As time marched on and the post-colonial dream turned into a nightmare for many African countries, the novels became darker, grimly imparting the horrors that Europe had cleared the way for and left Africa to deal with on its own when the horrors came marching through. These later authors write with despair and rage at the way the world had allowed them to be treated. 

After this period of stark disillusionment, African fiction began to change shape. Authors took up the pen more with a mind toward individualism. They began to focus on their individual reflections on culture and politics, which turned the topic from postcolonial Africa to a more artistic, individualistic expression of African writers within the frame of a realistic portrayal of national and cultural concerns.1

In The Palm-Wine Drinkard, the reader meets the palm-wine drinkard at his father’s home, where he is employed to drink palm-wine day and night. Already, the reader feels there is something supernatural about our protagonist. How can someone be employed to drink palm-wine? How can he possibly drink so much? He is living a carefree existence, always with friends about, drinking, talking and dancing until the small hours of every night. That is, until his palm-wine tapster falls from a palm tree one day and dies.

 Without the palm-wine tapster, there is no more palm-wine, the drinkard’s friends wither away, the talking becomes polite chat in the streets and the dancing grinds to a halt. The palm-wine drinkard is determined to find where the dead live and bring his palm-wine tapster back to the land of the living, so he sets off to find him, encountering many strange, magical and supernatural things along the way. On his journey, he is constantly side-tracked—for a total of ten years!—and made to use his status as “father of the gods who can do anything” (for that is his name) to help people in various villages accomplish impossible tasks, such as rescuing a woman from a bewitched skull in a forest, trapping Death in a net and escaping sinister magical creatures in the bush. 

Tutuola’s repetitious style combines with his knack for transporting the reader to far-away worlds to create one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading. He often uses the adventure-quest format common to fairy tales, where we have the hero, a sidekick (in this case, our hero’s hefty supply of juju) and a mission that sometimes takes three tries to complete. 

However, Tutuola differs from fairy tale tellers Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm in weaving an unrelentingly detailed tapestry. Rather than imparting an colourless story focused on the driving action, Tutuola dives right in, describing creatures, environments and even atmospheres in a tactile way so that the reader not only understands, but feels the predicament our palm-wine drinkard has gotten himself into. 

By using a style clearly reflective of oral tradition, Tutuola soon consumes the reader and we hear the story from his belly—warm, familiar and vivid. Each adventure is full of just the right amount of wonder and suspense culminating in a satisfying conclusion. The reader feels like a child sat on grandfather’s lap listening to fantastical stories, completely wrapped up in the moment with wide eyes and bated breath.

This book is simply a phenomenal read. The cast of characters, vibrant settings, astonishing events and clever tricks all cook down to provide a substantial story that sticks to your ribs long after you’ve finished it. The Palm-Wine Drinkard has been rightfully crowned as a monumental piece of African literature. 

1“Postcolonial African Literature.” eNotes, Accessed 02/10/2020.,nations%20gained%20political%20independence%20from%20their%20colonial%20rulers.

Hillingdon Arts & Library Services present   Open Mic Night  

Tonight is our third open mic night online and as usual we have a mix of different performances to keep you entertained from singers to poets.  

Unfortunately there is no possibility to sign up on the night, but you can always join in by contacting The next open mic night is scheduled for Friday December 11th 2020.  So if you would like to be included just let us know as soon as you have your recording ready.  We mainly receive video from musicians but welcome all performers.  

To start of us off tonight Scott gives us a chilled performance true to his psychedelic style. He has a new album out which you can check out here

Next Diamond shares with us a freestyle performance in celebration of the theme for National poetry day – Vision.

More poetry as James shares 3 of his poems with us – Country Road, Harbour and Hypocrisy.  The last of which he freely admits you will either love or hate!

Back to the music…

Claudia, (as are many of the other performers tonight), is a regular feature at open mic night .. however for many of us this will be the first time we have seen her playing an instrument.

Claudia has shared two items with us, The first is her performance of ‘Song my mother taught me” composed by Dvorak. This is followed by a traditional Russian tune “Black Eyes”.

Moving on to something more contemporary as Farah shares her cover of a well known song by the Beatles.

Coming even more up to date to the coffee shop culture Isabelle performs Taylor the Latte boy – or in this case chick and Gerri gives us the rebuttal.

Last month Belay shared a simple performance from his home.  This time he has gone all out with an exuberant performance including dancers.  For more why not subscribe to his youtube channel.  

Thank you so much for joining us this evening – hopefully next month you will be tempted to join in

Hear me Roar – I am a Tiger !!!

Roksana from Hillingdon Libraries has created a wonderful tiger craft inspired by the tiger in the fantastic picture book “I am a Tiger’’ by  Karl Newson.

It is an amazing book with a hilarious story about an imaginative tiny mouse who wants to be a tiger. It is full of colourful and funny illustrations of animals that children will definitely fall in love with. 

Why not read“I am a Tiger’’ by  Karl Newson  and then, create this lovely tiger craft?


  • orange card
  • 2 googly eyes 
  • glue 
  • scissors
  • black marker

1)  Take a half of an orange A4 card and roll it up to create your tiger’s body. 

2)  Cut out two pointy ears from the other half of the A4 orange card. An adult should help when using scissors, if necessary. 

3) Take a black marker and colour the inner parts of the ears black.

3) Stick the ears to the tiger’s head.

7) Stick a pair of googly eyes to the tiger’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.

8) Take a black marker and draw a nose, a smiley mouth and some whiskers on your tiger’s face. 

4) Draw tiger’s stripes using the black marker.

6) Cut a tiger’s tail out of the remaining piece of the orange card. 

7) Take the black maker and draw tiger’s stripes on its tail.

7) Stick the tiger’s tail to the back of its body.

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