Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shirley Barber and how to survive "Book Week"

BOOK WEEK! Arrrghhh! It's one of those things that sends shivers down the spine of even the most hardened person. The Children's Book Council of Australia, in conjunction with schools all over Australia, conduct Book Week for a week in August every year. It's a great initiative to get kids interested in reading and books BUT it means that on one of those days during the week, your child has the opportunity to get dressed as their favourite book character and parade around the classroom and school.

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Shirley Barber is a well known Australian (originally from the UK) author and illustrator of the most gorgeous fairy story books. My daughter (and son) have loved them for years and have many different books. The illustrations are just fantastic, full of detail and allow the children to get swept away into 'fairyland'.

[photo source]
[photo source]

Last year, my daughter's first year of school, sent me into a spin. I knew nothing of this 'book week' and she informs me on the Friday afternoon that she needs a costume for Book Week and wants to go as Dorothy from "Wizard of Oz". I knew I had some blue checked gingham in my sewing stash. Team that with a white t-shirt and we were done. Or were we? What about the shoes? The most important part of the costume. I managed to pick up a pair of red sequinned shoes at the local department store, in her size. The Gods were kind that day my friends.

I wasn't going to be unprepared this year. First mention of Book Week in the weekly newsletter and I was onto it. We decided (with my persuasion) that my daughter would go as Red Riding Hood. I stumbled across a red hood that my Mother had made for me when I was 6 years old so Red Riding Hood it was. That was until last Thursday when my daughter had just read one of her favourite Shirley Barber books "A Visit to Fairyland" and she wanted to go as a fairy. Oh no!

The Gods were smiling again on Friday. It's still a bit cool here so I didn't want to let her wear one of those summer fairy dresses. I ducked down to my local thrift store and found this beautiful blue velvet gown for $5. I gathered a few sewing and craft supplies and spruced it up. She is now the "Winter Fairy delivering the hope of Spring".

So, my top tips to survive "Book Week"?

  1. Make sure you keep that dress up box fully stock until they are at least in high school.
  2. Know that around August there will be "Book Week" and you will be required to dress your child up at short notice. The school usually tells you the week before. If you check out the Children's Book Council of Australia web site, they have already announced the dates for book week for the following year so start planning NOW.
  3. Find out what story your child is 'into' about a month before. They usually change their mind at the last minute so have a few options available.
  4. Be aware that this is another one of those 'competitions' that some Mums like to get involved in. Remember, it's not about us, it's about the kids and encouraging them to read.
  5. Know that after the Book Week festivities at school that morning, you can come home and have a nice hot cup of tea (or whatever you fancy) and know that Book Week is over for another year.
Here's another take on Book Week from a 'book weeking virgin', Gemma from My Big Nutshell. It's her daughter's first.

What on earth will I do next year when I have both of them at school? I'm removing all "Cars" (ie Lightning McQueen) and Transformers books from the house NOW!



  1. Oh Anne, you do such a wonderful job of your book week costumes!
    This year Mr 5 will be reusing the Harry Potter costume his big brother wore a couple of years ago and Miss 8 is desperate to go as Alice in Wonderland, which I admit I'm finding tricky to put together - I can't find a blue dress anywhere! Looks like it's time to pull out the sewing machine.

  2. her costume is gorgeous. perfect

  3. Wow you are clever!!! I'm so hopeless with a needle and thread. Your daughter looks gorgeous.

  4. What a beautiful fairy and now I have to go put some of those books on reserve at the library. I've never heard of them.

  5. Oh Anne! you have done two years worth of sensational book weeking! Your tips are spot on! I'm not going to get caught out again.

    I love how thoughtful you are with your tips. All I did was whinge about why librarians can't think like parents!

  6. That's very sweet - both costumes! Your little girl is super cute too :)


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