I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
There is no contest. The ipad provides the best apps, books, (there is a kindle reader for iPad so it is a kindle too) and the best operating system by far. When I hear schools discussing the choice staffrooms, the same argument comes up, “Well, iPads are so expensive, and we can get so many more android tablets for our money.”
So you can, and with them you buy so many more headaches down the line. Android is the new Windows. A loose operating system that is changed and mucked about with at the whim of Google and the manufacturers of the hardware. One Android tablet is not like another. Each machine has it’s own quirks. They all have different capabilities and idiosyncrasies, just like windows pcs.
An ipad is an iPad is an iPad. They just work, and Apple make sure the apps that go on them work too. As with all technology, both iPad and Android tablets will have their off moments and frustrations, but you will have far fewer moments and lesser frustrations with iPad.
When it comes to illustrated children’s ebooks, iPad is the only game in town. I don’t mean singing and dancing animated app books, I mean books where the text stays still on the page waiting to be read. You can’t learn to read when the text is dancing up and down and reading itself to you – that’s entertainment.
eBooks for children with pictures in the right place, with video and interactive elements for learning are only readily available on the iPad.
If you want to get on and do stuff, get an iPad. If you want to spend your time asking for help from IT support staff, get Android. If you want to save time and money down the line and have the best apps available to you, iPad is your choice every time.
It has always amazed me that those who don’t use Apple products wonder why Apple users are so fanatical about their support for Apple products. Those who use Apple products are the kind of people who try other systems and are always amazed that anyone would want to use anything else.
There has been a meme going around YouTube for a little while called “Drawing My Life”. YouTubers tell the story of their lives while drawing, usually with stickmen drawn with dry wipe markers on a whiteboard. A lot of people have asked me to do a draw my life video over the last few months.
The trouble is that most of the people who make draw my life videos are quite young and they manage to fit most of their lives into one video. Well, I’ve been around quite a few years now, so I’m going to have to do quite a few episodes!
Also, I should really try to draw with something a bit more like the rest of my channel, with pens and markers or watercolour. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while, How I should go about it, how I should break my life up into episodes and what are the best bits to draw?
I think I’ve worked out the formula and, with some trepidation, I have started on what is going to be a pretty massive project. I could really do with your support if you like it. Please tweet, share, Facebook and tell al your friends on all the forms of social media you use. If you do – many thanks.
It’s going to be a bit of a history lesson too, so you may find it informative and useful in schools!
Watch the video and see what I drew in my sketchbook as we wandered around East and West Berlin last weekend, taking in the sights and history.
I went with my wife and best friends to have a good look round and came away inspired and confused! I had to confront several prejudices, or should I say cultural attitudes, that I was unaware of having before. I realised that, even at my great age, I come with the ideas inculcated my upbringing in the social class and country I happen to have been born into.
I didn’t have much time to sketch so grabbed moments in cafes and while waiting for planes and trains.
There is so much history I don’t know and haven’t been taught, because it in not “our” history. The Pergamon Museum is similar to the British Museum. It has undergone war damage and rebuilding, but I was surprised that I knew so little about it and even more surprised by the contents.
The Gates of Babylon were stupendous! Then I realised they had been plundered and brought back to the museum to aggrandise the German Empire, to add the sparkle of previous, mighty empires to the the German Empire as was. But then, that is exactly what the British Museum is all about, and the Louvre. Each museum is filled with the booty hauled from each country’s colonial sphere of influence, to say, “Look how wonderful we are!”
Of course now we say that we are saving, conserving and displaying these cultural artefacts for the World, but that is a revisionist point of view!
I lived in Germany as a child, around the time the Berlin Wall was built. I don’t remember that event particularly, but the East Berlin we visited was in such a time warp, that I sometimes felt I was back there in the sixties, like a time machine. So much of Berlin is a facade. Bombed buildings are rebuilt in an old or ancient style with modern materials, bits of infrastructure from the 1950′ and 60s survive with a lick of 21st century paint on top. You are not quite sure if anything is real or original.
After visiting the Stasi museum, I kept imagining hidden cameras every time I saw a camera-sized circular shape in a light fitting or poster, for instance.
The pace of development is amazing. Building going on everywhere. Eventually the split history of the place will be built over and it will become a single city again, but I certainly felt it was still a place of two halves. We kept asking ourselves, “Are we East or West?” You didn’t really need to look for the line on the map. The East still has a generation or two’s worth of development to catch up with the West, But they are getting there.
For a capital city, it does seem quite parochial though. It’s been left out of the internationalisation of other World Capitals for so long, it has a lot to do to catch up, in attitudes as well as facilities and infrastructure. We felt the general levels of service fell short of what you come to expect in major capital cities, these days.
We came home quite exhausted, both from physically doing so much and fitting in so much culture!
As English children prepare for their new spelling and punctuation tests, It makes me wonder about the outcome of all this testing.
The testing of children is one-sided and far too academic. Where are the art exams for eleven year olds? The music exams? The interpersonal skills exams, the cooking, the athletic, the talking and the reading for pleasure exams? These are all real skills in life that are ignored by those academics and politicians who run education and wish everyone to be like them and damn them if they aren’t.
Those who excel in real life skills are taught by the education system that they are failures, that spelling and punctuation is all that matters, followed closely by maths and the cold analysis of text. Fail in those and you are a failure.
If those who excel in tests – those who go on to become politicians, set the tests and run education – were made to sit tests in art, drawing, gymnastics, football, astronomy, fashion, music and any number of relevant subjects, they would also know what it is like to be deemed a failure at the age of eleven.
I am all for good spelling and punctuation, but this comes with culture. If correct spelling and punctuation are expected and rewarded, then the achievement levels will rise. If it is made the subject of do or die testing – for the school as much as for the pupil – then for every happy smiling face on results day, there will be a crying, shame-faced failure, stigmatised for the rest of their lives.
“I’m no good at spelling,” they’ll say in their defence. “Look I’ve got a certificate to prove it!” And so the path of their lives is set for them by those to claim to have their best interests at heart.
Neuroscience is showing us daily how different we all are, how some just see the world in a different way to others. The internet is changing the way everything is done. New, previously unheard of skills are demanded daily, and yet academics are obsessed with preserving tests relevant to the age of coal and steam.
Let us have a level playing field. If you are not wired up for perfect spelling or number-crunching, let it be possible to show how amazingly you are wired up for the things in which you excel – the very skills that the world needs now.
My legacy is that I learned to draw feet a little better than before. While researching for my Olympia books, I looked at a lot of drawings on ancient Greek pots. The drawings were a revelation. I’d never really looked at them closely before. The style and often the drawings themselves were drawn again and again and passed down from father to son or master to apprentice. All the time the style was refined so that graceful athletes could be portrayed in a very few stokes of the pen or inscribed with a stylus.
I find I often go to the Old Greek Masters for inspiration and understanding of how to draw simply as well as how to understand the world in general. The old philosophers had it pretty well sorted!
If you were thinking of getting one or two, It really helps support this website and my drawing videos if you use the Amazon Links below. Thanks.
I went to Brussels in Belgium on the Eurostar Train this week and I took my sketchbook with me. I thought it was a great way to share the experience with you as it is a record of my thoughts and things that catch my eye as I go along.
I was visiting the British International School in Brussels, which is in a wonderful old house full of Art Nouveau and Art Deco details. I had a great time there meeting the children, who come from all over the world, telling them stories and showing them how to draw stuff!
Thanks to everyone at the school for arranging the trip and making it both possible and memorable.
Millie and Bombassa are on the iTunes Store.
This video is about How to draw Bombassa the loveable rhino that is the hero of my Millie and Bombassa books. You Can watch me tell a Millie and Bombassa story here:
When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” with songs about stinky things and choruses that end in “Eeeeuew!”
Renita has begun putting stories on YouTube for all to share. Here is one that has so many Ps in it I’m surprised we can still see through the lens of the camera by the end of the story.
Checkout her YouTube channel here and make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any new stories!
Meet World Famous Illustrator Alex Brychta, who has illustrated over 500 books in the Oxford Reading Tree!
If you are under 30 you probably learned to read with Alex!
I had the pleasure of visiting Alex at home last week and talking to him in his studio about his amazing career in which he has illustrated over 500 books for the Oxford Reading Tree.
I first saw his work back in 1986 when I first went to Oxford University Press and a green and innocent young illustrator. While I was there, they saw my Lydia books, which were made up into dummies, and said they thought they’d fit in with the ORT. They showed me the first ORT books, which hadn’t yet come out, so I was sworn to secrecy!
Alex has been drawing Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy ever since and is now helped by his father and and old friend who has learned Alex’s style so they can keep up with the schedules.
There will be more next week when Alex shows us some of his techniques