Camogie, Gaelic football and a giveaway

Here’s a little known fact about me – I played rugby for years. I wasn’t particularly big, but I was fast so I mainly hung around on the left wing, occasionally outside centre. I’m a big fan of girl’s sport so couldn’t let this book go past.

Before we get to the book, I really want to share the sporty background of author, Emma Larkin, as you’d think it provides the inspiration for the book.

Emily coaches ladies’ football at underage level with her local ladies’ football club and did attempt to play ladies football for a few years with her local “Gaelic4Mothers&Others Team”! She claims she may not have been the greatest football player, but, like me, she could run! And it was an hour each week where she could exercise in a fun environment with a fantastic group of women, who she remains friends with to this day.

But apparently that wasn’t the inspiration!

It was her grandmother, Maureen Hennebry, née Cashman who was on the Cork camogie (this is women’s hurling, a bit like hockey) team which won the All-Ireland Camogie Championship three times in row between 1939 and 1941. She came from a family rich in GAA history, the Cashman’s of Blackrock in Cork, and is even mentioned in the following poem by the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh:

Camogie Match

Patrick Kavanagh 1905 – 1967

Bright shone the sunlight on Peggy and Doreen

Wild swung the ash sticks.  Be careful astoreen;

Josie is getting into her stride now,

Kathleen is hurling with all her Cork pride now.

A shout from the side-line: Mark your man, Kathleen Cody.

Kathleen pucks it.  I tell you that puck was a dotie.

The game is exciting, it is indeed really,

Maureen Cashman is tackling the bold Ide O’Kiely …

Emma says

“In hindsight, I am in awe of the fact that my grandmother and her teammates played camogie at such a high level at a time in Ireland, where a woman’s role was predominantly to be a wife and homemaker. Which comes to my reason for writing this book, my grandmother was my inspiration to write it, but my reason for writing it was to encourage all young girls to play sports. It is crucial for our wellbeing and development and we need to make it as normal for girls to play sport as it is for boys. The growing popularity of women’s sports in Ireland and further afield is so encouraging and we need to continue to develop this. As the current 20*20 campaign says, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. I hope that my book can in some way help to normalise girls playing football and that both boys and girls will enjoy reading about Izzy’s adventures!”

How cool is that?!

Right, on to the book.

Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

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Blurb

Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.

Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.

One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….

My review

I did get a bit confused about the sport. Given the inspiration, I was expecting the book to be about camogie but it’s actually about Gaelic football, which is where the author is involved herself. Plus, it’s called football, but football in Ireland means Gaelic football, with “football” being called soccer.

For the avoidance of further confusion, Gaelic Football is an Irish sport. You can pick up the ball up in it and run with it in your hand, subject to certain rules. You can score goals or points (over the bar). It has similarities to Aussie Rules football which I love watching (never played it though). All 32 counties (ROI and NI combined) have both mens and ladies football teams, and many clubs within them as well.

Back to the book, I absolutely love that you can order it in team strip colours, as well as the “neutral” green.

I do have a slight issue in that it’s a bit tricky to categorise as it’s very short, only 27 pages and heavily (and fabulously, I must say) illustrated, which would make it a picture book, but the written pages are quite text heavy, so it’s more like a short chapter book, but there are no chapters. You see the dilemma? To me, it actually looks and feels like a school reading scheme book, and I’d say it’s a great supported/ joint read for anyone working through the “Biff and Chip” series.

Setting the classification aside, it’s a great story with a strong message and if you know a sporty young girl who’s just moving towards independent reading, I’m sure she’d love it. It beats the terribly dull Biff and Chip hands down, slam dunk! Sorry, that’s basketball.

I personally wish it had featured camogie (the inspiration for the book), but whether it’s camogie or Gaelic football, it will spark a fascinating discussion on different sports as well as gender, meeting the author’s goal to encourage girls into sport.

I think all classrooms would benefit from having it in their book box.

Giveaway

I have one paperback copy (in the neutral green strip) to give away – you can enter here

Win a copy of Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure

Good luck!

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

https://www.amazon.com/Izzys-Magical-Football-Adventure-Larkin-ebook/dp/B07XGS6D3G/

Author bio-

new author pic

My name is Emma Larkin, and I am the founder of “Emma Larkin Books” and “Rebel in Kerry Press”.  I have recently written and published my first book “Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”, and I hope to write many more books about Izzy and her adventures in sport. As may be evident from the name of my publishing imprint, I am a “Rebel in Kerry”!  This means that I am originally from County Cork in Ireland, which is known as the Rebel County, but I moved to Kerry (another county in Ireland which neighbours Cork) in 2006 and have been happily living in Kerry since then, with my husband and four children. My husband is a Kerry native and we live in North Kerry, near Listowel, where my husband is from, and is an area which is rich is literary history!

I have always enjoyed reading and writing. Writing essays was my favourite part of primary school!

In my spare time, I love to run. I am very involved in my local parkrun in Listowel.  

For more info on any of the sports you might find these useful.

20*20 campaign – www.20×20.ie

Sport Ireland – www.sportireland.ie

Ladies Gaelic Football Association – www.ladiesgaelic.ie

Camogie Association – www.camogie.ie

Women in sport – www.womeninsport.org

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/emmalarkinbooks/

https://twitter.com/emmalarkinbooks

https://www.instagram.com/emmalarkinbooks/

Calling all budding entrepreneurs

You’re never too young to set up your first business, whether it’s the lemonade stand on the street or some fancy gaming app. My son has several business ventures up and running including break-time haircutting services for his friends at a bargain £3 (compared to £10 at the local barber shop). Sadly, the business plan collapsed as school were rather less than impressed by the resultant mullets and mohicans, but I was secretly quite chuffed with the initiative.

I’ve got a Creative Writing Workbook coming out in October, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the non-fiction world recently and was excited to be offered a chance to review the Creative Genius Journal.

Creative Genius Journal cover

 

The blurb says

With 9 challenges that build the skills to help inform and develop a child’s resilience, imagination, improve their creativity, encourage drafting, sketching, reviewing and self-correcting of information and ideas. These are important, as alongside problem solving and working with others, they are the skills they will need for their futures.

But to my mind, it offers even more; it encourages those first steps towards launching a business. The activities include things like design a piece of apparatus for an adventure playground (the next Dyson?), or create a character to advertise a new drink (very Sir Alan Sugar/ The Apprentice). Each challenge draws in lots of aspects but they’re broken down into fun, manageable chunks.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

I want to have a go myself, but I’ve resisted and have a pristine copy to give away to one lucky reader (UK only, sorry).

You can enter here …

https://kingsumo.com/g/kd8d0c/creative-genius-journal

About the author

Susan O'Coonnor

Susan has taught for over thirty years in schools and colleges and has produced maths games and written several books for children and teenagers – ‘Mighty Memory Tricks’, ‘High Five Jive’, ‘Be Positive’ and ‘Creative Genius Journal’. These practical books are fun but have genuine educational benefit. Currently, she is writing for Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

Rocking the art

We’re well into the summer holidays now, so I thought it was time for some arts and crafts. Given the amazing weather, it had to be outdoorsy too, which means ROCK ART! My extended clan ranges from 5 to 15, so finding activities for all can be a challenge but this was a huge hit with everyone (including granny and grandpa).

We gathered the rocks on a hike (we’re currently up in Scotland and hiking daily, to some teenage mutterings). The 5 year old had ambitious plans that left his dad looking like Sisyphus pushing a boulder uphill in Greek mythology. The others had more modest sized selections. Back home, we decorated them using these

  • acrylic pens – I got a multipack plus silver and gold extra. The black ran out first, so next time I might get a spare as it was used to outline everything (I hadn’t realised that).
  • “>modge podge – we used the gloss finish but you can get matt if you prefer.

Several hours of painting and varnishing later, we had a large collection.

We then wrote the details of the local rock art FaceBook group on the back of each rock, to encourage people to share pics of when they found them, and hid them across the area (hike number two with absolutely no complaints from the teenagers). Just search for “rock art” to find the local group.

Here are some examples where we have hidden/ found rocks but there are loads of groups

Aboyne Pebbles & Rocks

Hidden Rocks Chichester

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The next morning, I woke to demands of a repeat of the activity – result! More hiking, more art. Happy families 🙂

There was huge excitement as several rocks were spotted over the next few weeks and the finders very kindly shared pictures of their finds on FB, but sadly most of the rocks vanished without a trace. We consoled the kids with the fact that their art work was so good people wanted to take it home as treasure. If you do find any rock art, I would urge you to share a snap with the FB group as it really makes the kids’ day.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Anyone for pom pom sushi?

Every time my nephews and nieces get together, we try a new craft activity. They range from 4 to 15 so it’s quite challenging to find something that they’ll all enjoy. Since I’m always searching for new ideas (I actually keep a whole Pinterest board just for this – its become a tradition and the pressure is on for each to be better than the previous one), Let’s Make Pom Poms caught my attention.

I didn’t realise there were so many things you could do with a pompom, although I’m not sure anyone will ever need sushi pom poms? My personal favourite was the key ring but the kids voted for the Easter chicks, and since that’s seasonal, and I had some left over yellow wool from another project, that was easy.

There are other seasonal projects too. The spiders would be a great Halloween project, but I’d use black wool. And the snowman is a must for Christmas.

The instructions in the book are clear and simple. My only criticism is that it could do with measurements so you can make your own cardboard rings (old school style, using a cereal box), rather than having to buy the plastic ones. Cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. And it’s not difficult. As I didn’t want to buy seven rings just for one afternoon activity, I guesstimated. Obviously I miscalculated a bit as our chicks are hens. It was great fun though.

I love a spot of crafting and happily recommend this as a family friendly activity.

Let’s Make Pom Poms

2B62E98B-B649-4AF2-A1DE-A56107954920

Fun and easy makes for all the family. Get crafty with pom poms with 15 easy to follow step by step guides. Make your own set of fluffy dice, sushi that looks good enough to eat and an everlasting Christmas tree as well as many other exciting projects

Purchase Links:

UK – https://amzn.to/2PdVBax

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KZLCBPG

 

Author Bio – Katie Scott is a craft and book blogger who lives in the county of Kent, UK. Living at home with her husband and infant daughter, Katie loves nothing more than long evenings in with a good book, a pile of crafting goodies and a very large pot of tea.

Let’s Make Pom Poms is her first crafting book.

Find more work from Katie Scott on her blog: https://www.bloomingfiction.co.uk

Social Media Links –

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bloomingfiction

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/BloomingFiction/

Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/bloomingfiction/

Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.co.uk/bfbookblog/pins/

 

 

 

 

(Legal) street art for all ages

“Please bring in some of the art you’ve done at home,” the teacher asks.

That’s going to be a little bit tricky …

Don’t worry, the garage doors were being replaced, and I’m thrilled with my colourful garage interior.

I adore street art. Several years ago Chichester did an amazing street art exhibition. These make a very teenager friendly alternative art tour. Plus I’m always up for a bit of stealth education.

Sadly my favourite, “King of Cats”, was whitewashed over recently by the council following complaints about antisocial behaviour. Personally I’m happy that the Belgian artist, Joachim, has provided a new masterpiece for us to enjoy. The Chichester Observer reported

Joachim’s management said he had been ‘horrified’ to hear his King of Cats mural ‘attracted antisocial behaviour’ within the city of Chichester and took it upon himself to put things right. Knowing that cats can be rather antisocial by nature, Joachim decided to paint ‘The Watchdog’ to watch over the streets and keep the neighbourhood safe.

King of Cats

King of Cats by Belgian artist Joaquim

Back to our budding vandal. It was really no surprise that he wanted a graffiti birthday party. Near Waterloo Station in London is Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel where anyone, armed with a spray can or two, is permitted to make their mark, without getting arrested. The tunnel was originally created by Banksy although his artwork is long gone.

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Luckily, his friends are urban cool, and their parents super chilled, so there was barely a raised eyebrow.

The toughest decision was what to paint over, because all the art was amazing, but eventually the spot was chosen and after a tentative start they all got into it.

IMG_4016

Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel

Top tips if you’re thinking of taking the kids

  • buy the cheapest spray paint you can as they race through it
  • painting masks from the DIY store hopefully helped with the fumes, but it was outdoors so it wasn’t too bad
  • surgical gloves are a very good idea! I bought a box of 100 from the local chemist.

The other artists working on the same day were super friendly and showed the kids how they used stencils in their designs.

There are official “street art” walking tours in various towns if you’re interested in exploring but unsure where to start. I was looking at the Shoreditch Street Art tour which I haven’t done but it’s on the list.

And since this is also a book blog, here’s a little bit of bookish news

Purely by coincidence, I just finished reading Revenge on the Rye by Alice Castle about the murder of a street artist, which I highly recommend. I blogged about this a few weeks ago.

 

Easy guide to illustration apps for kids

Sometimes you meet people whose talent just blows your mind! So today I have the very great pleasure of introducing Charlotte who is going to share her illustration app tips. She’s already planning a career in art and I see a bright future for her.

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She entered my illustration competition, and not only were her drawings amazing, but she was the only computer based entry which really caught my attention. I asked her, via her Dad, if she would mind sharing her knowledge on computer based illustration to help other youngsters try it out. I’m delighted too share this blog from her, and being a super cool tech-savvy kid, she’s made us a YouTube video too!

So over to Charlotte …

Hi, I’m Charlotte and I am 11 years old. I love to draw; it’s one of the things that I like to do most in my free time and I hope to someday make a career out of it. 

I mostly draw on my an iPad using the Apple Pencil, which I prefer, but I also enjoy drawing on paper. The reason why I enjoy digital drawing more is that you can do so much with colours, shading, and layers. Layers are really useful as they can help you build up your artwork and allow you to experiment with your drawing without ruining it.

The app I draw with most is Autodesk SketchBook but I do have a few more, including: Adobe Sketch, Adobe Draw and MediBang Paint. Even though drawing is my speciality, I do like to animate as well. The FlipaClip app is a very good app to animate with, and so is Toonator (a website), but I would say FlipaClip is better.

I have an art style that the Japanese created called Manga. I feel Manga is probably easier than drawing realistic art. The reason why I like Manga so much is because it has that cute cartoony look to it but you can also make it realistic. So it’s like a mix between cartoony and real life. Also, I think eyes in Manga are just beautiful and there are so many ways to draw them.

If you are starting to draw on paper or on a digital tablet, here are some tips:

– Firstly, find out what your art style is first before you start doing anything. E.g. realistic, manga, cartoony, abstract (and lots more).

– Secondly, picture your drawing in your mind and then sketch it roughly.

– Thirdly, when you’re happy with the outline, start to build up the detail in your drawing.

This is how I draw step by step:

– Sketch the thing you want to draw (It can be messy).

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– Go over it in a black pen or press hard on a pencil – go for the pen it’s easier.

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– Colour it in or go for the monochrome look (Black and white).

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Once I’m happy with the colours, I start to shade in a deeper colour than the original colour that I started with. Also, a great way to record your artwork is to have a paper sketchbook. It could help you over the years until you fill it up with all sorts of things, then you can look through everything you created and see if you have improved. Then you could try and see if you could learn a different art style.

Going back to the drawing apps, the best thing about using a good digital pencil/stylus is that if you press harder when drawing it makes it darker and thicker and if you press softer it’s thinner and lighter. If you select the pencil tool in the app when using an Apple Pencil (or similar digital stylus), tilting the pencil slightly creates shading very similar to drawing with a real pencil on paper, but the app makes it easier to correct your mistakes and doesn’t leave any marks or traces of the pencil behind. You can also make your pencil thicker and thinner just by changing the settings of that tool and can adjust the opacity of it too (see-through).

I hope you find these tips useful, Charlotte.

Lessons from a 9 year old coder

I’m literally bursting with excitement at introducing my guest today. Yeva Patterson is an ultra cool 9 year old coder. She’s a big supporter of girls in tech and STEM, and I reckon she’s probably the youngest VR developer in the world! Today she’s sharing her tips to help get other kids into coding, and a special selection of book recommendations on coding for kids.

 

So over to Yeva …

 

How I Got Into Coding

My parents are developers and they started teaching me how to code when I was 5 years old.

They were developing a mobile educational math app and they let me help. I would build levels for it and they actually put them into the app! I was so excited that people would play what I built so I kept going, learning more about coding and finding out what else I could create.

I realized that learning to code allowed me to be creative in a whole new way. I learned that you can code computers to do just about anything.

I found code.org tutorials particularly fun and helpful and progressed through their curriculum. I enjoyed getting their certification achievements. After I learned some coding basics I got to start using Unity3D game engine and worked on creating some fun apps. Unity now has a free asset called Unity Playground that is a simplified version of the more complex game engine. I’ve been playing with it recently and it’s really good for early programmers to first learn on Unity.

Late in 2017 I got to try virtual reality for the first time. Once I put the headset on, I fell in love! It was so much fun! I could fly! I could ride in Santa’s Sleigh and deliver presents and I could float above earth at the space station. Around the same time I was asking my parents for a rock wall but we didn’t have any space for a real one. So I decided the next best thing would be to climb in virtual reality so I built a climbing experience in VR. I made it into the shape of Google’s logo for their Doodle for Google contest because the theme that year was to doodle what inspires you. I am inspired by VR and the limitless possibilities of what you can do with VR.

What I love about VR is that it is not only really fun, it is also really useful. You can learn things in VR in such a different way. You get to be inside an environment and experience it and interact with it in a whole new way. My parents said that they could see how enriching learning in VR was for us. That’s when they decided to make a VR app to teach computer programming in VR. It’s called vCoder and it is the first virtual reality app that teaches coding in VR. I am helping them build vCoder because it is really entertaining to code in VR and I want other kids to learn how fun programming can be. This is really exciting because kids can enjoy and immerse themselves in an engaging VR world. Along the way they learn a valuable skill and see that they can learn to code too.

There are some great resources for kids to start learning how to code. I recently had a great time presenting to a class of Kindergarteners and First graders and I recommended they can easily get started at Code.org. They have tutorials even for kids that don’t read yet. I also recommend Girls Who Code.

 

I really enjoy teaching other kids about coding and have a passion for supporting and encouraging more kids to learn how to code. So I made some video tutorials on my YouTube channel, Yeva Codes, that helps young kids get started with code.org. I love doing it! I’m making more coding tutorials and will be adding them to my channel.

I hope to inspire other kids, and especially young girls, ​to learn how to code so they can create their dreams too!

 

These are my top books for getting kids into coding:

 

Hello Ruby Adventures in Coding (Journey Inside the Computer and Expedition to the Internet) by Linda Liukas

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World – by ​Reshma Saujani

Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code – by Stacia Deutsch How to Code a Sandcastle – by Joshua Funk

Secret Coders – by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes Dot – by Randi Zuckerberg

 

 

Wow! Thanks very much Yeva.

Readers, you can see why I was so excited! I can’t wait to show my family these books, plus the websites and apps, and see where this journey takes them. I hope this inspires them, and many other kids, to give coding a go.

If you’ve got any questions, I’m sure Yeva would be delighted to answer them! You can even follow her on Twitter on @yevacodes