Wednesday, October 23

Bad News and Good News

Both bad news and good news.  Bad news is that Frank has had to pull out of the illustrating, the main reason being that he now has commitments in his family life that he wasn't anticipating when he joined the project.  The good news is that the children are producing some wonderful work.  In the last couple of sessions they've been thinking about the flea characters who will accompany Mabel on her nursing expedition to France.

Of course, fleas are not supposed to be on the hospital train at all, and if anyone finds out about them, they might be cleaned away by nurses armed with disinfectant and scrubbing brushes.  But Mabel plans to hide them in her sewing box, so they can keep her company when she is off duty. And what is more, they are all part of the flea circus, and don't want to be separated!

The kids are very interested in all this and are full of ideas.  Each flea has its own personality, and they've been trying to get inside the heads of each character.

Here's "Bossy Benji," the high dive flea, describing his conflicted feelings, in the words of Siraj.

 "I was really worried because Mabel was going to go to war and leave me here all by myself and might never come back."

By contrast, Ajebike understand how "Lazy Linda"  feels because she hasn't bothered to listen.

"I am feeling confused because I did not listen to anything she said. Does this mean I am leaving my home and friends?"

Scary Simon, who rides the wall of death, struggles with keeping up a brave front and dealing with his fear.  I think Alex has really got inside Scary Simon's head, showing how he keeps his bad feelings to himself:. 

 "I felt a bit scared, what if we all get killed?    I will still be brave because I am brave and I am not scared to do anything. My heart started beating and I did not know what to do. All the other fleas felt so happy and I didn't have a choice, so I had to go. 

"I felt abandoned because Mabel is doing her nursing and she is not looking after us and she's not feeding us- we are hungry and I don't like her any more because she's not spending time with us."

And I really love Ayesha's description of Brainy Barbara's thoughts. 

"I will probably be able to read silently and write an interesting book. I've decided its going to be about medicine. I am happy and not even this dark and damp box can dampen my spirit.

"First, someone needs to watch the nurses and someone needs to change that bandage, the wound is infected and I need to find the medicine and read the labels and I need to get a scrape of paper and two scrapes of card to make my book. I have brought one of my little bottles of ink."

Great stuff!!  I'm looking forward to seeing what they write next.  

Here's our last picture of Frank, who was getting along really well with the pictures and just starting on a beautiful steam train.      Here he is with a ticket for the flea circus, which is a cut-out that will form part of a collage on one of the pages.   Russell will run with some of these ideas. 


  1. I'm surprised that there are no other comments on this thread. The work you're doing is so good and necessary. You're providing those children with a great learning experience. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for the comment. I need to work at bringing this blog to the right peoples' attention, but right now none of us have had enough time to spend searching on the internet to do it. We are all working flat out but it's on my list to start researching the right readers. I had difficulty fixing a followers button onto it too, but will give that another go today.

  4. What fun characters you have developed! Bossy Benji sounds like he is based on someone's older brother.

  5. I hope that while in France her fleas won’t be stolen by the “dresseur de puces.” Flea in French is “puce.” When I was a little girl in Paris my mother would take me to the Musée Grévin and there they had a booth where someone made the fleas walk with little carts attached to them. There is an article about the dresseur de puces (flea trainer,) but it is in French – here . You could also see these fleas in fairs in France. Also, do you know that to call someone “ma puce” is a word of endearment? Puce is a feminine word – la puce. You can say “ma petite puce!” is like saying “my little sweet.”

  6. Vagabonde, thank you for such a wonderful and interesting comment!!! lots of really great information, so interesting. Mimi, I think he WAS in fact based on someone's older brother :)

  7. This is wonderful! It is SO imaginative and the kids are so creative with their characters! I think you are going to have quite a journey! I just love this period -- it is ripe with opportunity for good, for danger, for learning. What a wonderful way to teach and discover!

  8. Such creative stories. I can just picture that little box full of fleas all thinking "what next?". This is an amazing adventure already.


  9. What a creative story! I'm so impressed by the children's really getting into the different characters and knowing how each one would feel. These students must love coming to school each day!