A Bit of Dahling

Cara McKee,a writer and mum-of-three living in Largs, is getting creative with kids…

I’ve been working at my local library for almost a year now and it’s one of the most fun jobs in the world to do (although sadly, that’s reflected in the pay packet). I spend a lot of my time there putting things into alphabetical order, or occasionally numerical order, and it feels like a rather lovely mindfulness practice. I also get to do a lot of stamping, which I feel a bit guilty about…I mean, we let the children stamp their books, but we don’t offer the same chance to the grown-ups, and surely everybody loves stamping? There’s something so satisfying about it.

I also get to be useful, a lot more than I’d expected – helping people to use computers and photocopiers, and to find out all sorts of things. However, I do think my most favourite thing is running a children’s writing workshop. This term it has been dominated by a Roald Dahl theme and I’m calling it ‘Dahling’.

For Roald Dahl Day on September 13, we read some of Dahl’s own cheeky versions of nursery rhymes and tried to create some ourselves, with results like, “Twinkle Twinkle little star, how we wonder how you fart?” We also used the Roald Dahl name generator (it’s on the BookTrust website at booktrust.org.uk), to create character names which we ran with – drawing them, creating their homes, their friends, their hobbies, and then doing things like dropping them off cliffs, or trapping them under ice – fun times!

The kids invented Splatch-Winkling Hornswagglers that ride dragons and have cute pet moles (and are currently falling off a cliff), and have designed castles with just the right amount of ivy for a Catasterous cowgirl to climb. There’s a lot of drawing involved, which is fine by me. It’s all storytelling and, after all, a graphic novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year.

It’s the 30thanniversary of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book Matilda this year, so we’ve also been thinking about what Matilda’s life would look like now that she’s thirty plus, and designing book covers showing what she’s up to now. Someone reckoned she’d be a librarian – which I think would be an awesome job for Matilda –although a girl like her could probably do anything. Designing those book covers has led us on to talking about the books we love and what other covers we might redesign. We’re also planning on making some posters about why older people should read kids’ favourite books by authors like Jeff Kinney and Lari Don.

You could try this stuff out yourselves. Make up a character name using the Roald Dahl name generator, or be inspired by J.K. Rowling and find names when you’re out and about (Snape is a village in Suffolk!). Once you’ve got a name –work out what they look like, where they live, what they love to do, who they’re hanging out with …and then drop them off a cliff, or trap them in a lift, or leave them in the deep, dark woods – any very dangerous situation you like really – just to see what they do next. If you need more inspiration, you’ll find books full of it in your local library. Use us or lose us!



A statue of Matilda Wormwood squaring up to President Donald Trump has been unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of Matilda after a poll revealed that the British public think President Trump is the person Matilda would most likely to be standing up to if she was around today.

Bernie Hall, from The Roald Dahl Story Company, commented: “Matilda demonstrates that it’s possible for anyone, no matter how small and powerless they feel, to defeat the Turnchbulls in their own lives –a message that feels even more relevant today than it did 30 years ago.”

The installations can be seen for a few weeks in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, which was Roald Dahl’s home for 36 years. As well as revealing who Matilda would be standing up to in 2018, the study found that over half of us think that Matilda would still have her powers of telekinesis, have travelled the world and been knighted by the Queen.

Cara works in her local library and writes poems, most recently she’s been published in Picaroon Poetry magazine. Find more from Cara at caralmckee.blogspot.co.uk

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