Chipping Norton Literary Festival: Mini Grey

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Today, I went to Chipping Norton for their Literary Festival. After quite a long drive, I arrived at the (free) festival care park where I caught the (free) mini-bus into town. The lady driving the bus was lovely- and obviously very proud of her town. 

Mini Grey was my first event and it was wonderful to see so many children (and adults!) gathered to hear about her new book, 'The Last Wolf'. Starting with the story of how she got her name (she was born in a MIni on the way to hospital!), Mini quickly donned her red and black dotted pinny and set to work. 

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With infectious enthusiasm, Mini told us all about how she loves to make things- particularly mini things. When she showed us the pages of the Ladybird book showing the dolls' house furniture made from matchboxes which she had always wanted to make when little, I was taken right back to my childhood. I, too, had longed to make this set, but suffered a similar lack of matchboxes.

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Mini read us her latest book, 'The Last Wolf'. In this twist on Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red is determined to catch a wolf. Safe in the knowledge that no live wolves have been seen for at least a hundred years, her mother lets her set off with her pop-gun and back-pack, telling her to be home in time for tea.

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After several failed attempts, Red finds more than she was expecting- and learns a few valuable lessons- before going safely home. 

Containing a very clear message about the effects of our actions on the environment and offering a simple suggestion for how we can make a change, this is a powerful story, beautifully told. Mini's illustrations are full of action, humour and detail. I love all the paintings on the walls of the house in the tree and the things in the kitchen of Red's home. This is a story that lends itself to sharing in school as well as at home and I'm sure will soon become a firm favourite.

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Having read the story, it was time to get crafty  and Mini explained how everyone was going to make their own little house in a tree. The thought and preparation she had put into this was amazing! There were ready cut trees, doors, bases, leaves and backgrounds, with holes and double sided tape added ready for construction. With their parents support, each child ended up with a successful model to take home. Mini had even prepared copies of the characters from the book- or card to create you own- so the little tree houses were instantly ready for playing with and using to tell stories. 

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It was a fantastic event, greatly enjoyed by all. I can't wait to read the story to my class, Book Group and share it at both of our teachers' reading groups. I might even get them to make little tree houses...

The Last Wolf    Mini Grey

Penguin    ISBN: 978-0857550927