Electric Babyland on tour!

Leanne Bellot and Silvia Sousa, North Kensington Library, write:

A couple of months ago, North Kensington Children’s Library had several celebrity visitors: apart from Father Christmas, we had two very special, and talented, hosts for our Baby Rhyme Time session. Dressed in matching elf jumpers (it was Christmas!), Daniel and Robert (on loan from Chelsea Library, pun intended) came to North Kensington to give us their thrilling Electric Babyland session as a festive treat.

The words “thrilling”, “loud” and “exciting” come to mind when I try and describe the experience. But even then, Electric Babyland seemed to generate a myriad of feelings, that limiting it to these three adjectives does it a disservice.

Electric Babyland!
Electric Babyland!

The amps were the focus of several curious gazes but when the iconic strums to “Wild Thing” began to play, it didn’t take long for most of the children (and the adults!) to start getting their groove on.  And if the giggles and wiggles we witnessed are any indication, we several future rock stars to look forward to! One Direction, who?

We quite enjoyed our “Route 52” rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” (we travelled all the way from Ladbroke Grove to Willesden Junction!) and let me be the first to say that there was a lot of passionate “shh, shh, shh” going on!

Things got a little bit competitive when it came to a post code-challenge “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”! Sufficient to say, Daniel and Robert were blown away with our talented children and their superior skills. Better luck next time, guys!

If after the session, we borrowed a copy of “Guitar for Dummies” and dusted off our once-used-and-quickly-abandoned-guitar, we would never tell. Guess we will have to see what our next Baby Rhyme Time sessions bring!

Find out when our Baby Rhyme Time sessions are held here!









Bombs up the chimney, Electric Babyland & Dirty Snow

Daniel Jeffreys, Chelsea Librarian, writes: 

Michael ForemanThe winter began with quite a bang when children’s book author and illustrator Michael Foreman visited Chelsea to talk about the inspiration behind some of his best loved work. He described his wartime childhood in Suffolk and his excitement when one night a bomb flew through his bedroom window, bounced across the floor before exploding in the fire. Orange flames burst from the chimney of his family home. The experience was hugely enjoyable. The child was unaware of the danger: instead he was caught up in the drama of the moment.  The war is still a big influence on Michael’s writing and he even improvised a quick picture.

Journey to the river sea
Journey to the river sea

Children are often unwittingly brave and that is certainly the theme of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea which we read in Chatterbooks.  Young orphan Maia is sent off to the Amazon to stay with hostile English relatives. The Amazon is a hell or a heaven depending on your state of mind—to Maia’s adoptive family the jungle must be kept out, bugs sprayed regularly and tinned food imported from Blighty rather than risk eating local produce. There are lost children in the jungle dreaming of Victoria Sponge, an Earl’s son gone native hoping to disappear into the forest and Maia herself a receptive and delighted traveller enjoying the night time music.

Don’t forget as it grows colder that you can still have a hot cup of coffee and slice of homemade cake at our coffee mornings every Wednesday at 10.30. We have had some good guest speakers, community police, a milliner and most recently a talk on diabetes—perhaps the double chocolate cake wasn’t such a good idea after all!  And watch this space for details of a special Christmas Electric Babyland when the vintage Danelectro guitars will be wrapped in tinsel!

Book of the month

Dirty Snow
Dirty Snow

For all you Christmas bibliophiles: you might be aware of the great range of smart reissues of classic novels by The New York Review of Books. They are lovely editions. This month I read George Simenon’s Dirty Snow.  A gripping read about a young man living in occupied France drifting into crime out of boredom and a desire to be noticed, Frank commits acts of almost suicidal stupidity in a search for meaning while everything is frozen: the only running water is by the sewer.  The dirty snow is a symbol of all the cinders and ashes of the occupying army and the petty criminal enterprises of the locals, no fresh white powder can cover it up for long and the reader and Frank long for a thaw.


Gabriel D’Annunzio & Electric Babyland

Daniel, our Chelsea Library Assistant, writes: 

This month in Chelsea Library I have been engrossed in Lucy Hughes-Hallet’s biography of Gabriel D’Annunzio, The Pike: Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War . We can learn a lot about PR and customer service from D’Annunzio, a flamboyant and incendiary public speaker. He would certainly know how to increase cyber traffic! A lover of woman and bric-a-brac (although the bric-a-brac probably came first) he mingled warfare with self-promotion, managing on an early bombing raid above Trieste to drop bombs and pamphlets of his poetry.

What D’Annunzio teaches us is to make our lives into works of art. Every gesture, every pose, must be carefully thought out.  Reading his book I’ve picked up the following tips: always wear pressed white shirts, arrive by plane or on horseback for business meetings, conduct your love affairs in the public eye and, if you have a new book out, concoct rumours of your own early death to boost sales.

The book at over 600 pages is a tall order for a three week read and the hold list is growing longer. Many of our readers coming back to borrow it for a second time to get to grips with this extraordinary individual.

Beautiful pig
Beautiful pig

The coffee morning is growing and we have many regulars with interests ranging from writing poetry and jazz to painting watercolours. People  bake their own cakes so please spread the word if you know of anyone in need of a cup of coffee and slice of cake on Wednesdays at 10.30.  There are plenty of activities for all- our weekly events now include a read and create session on Saturday afternoon, in the past we have made pigs and sunflowers!

Don’t forget that we are still running our under 5’s music event, Electric Babyland (aka Baby Rhyme Time), in the children’s library. Over 150 mothers and children come to wriggle and fall over to the primitive sound of Wild Thing and The Wheels on the Bus on Thursday mornings at 11.00am.

Electric Babyland!
Electric Babyland!

Please join us! For more information about our services and activities for children, take a look at the children’s pages on our website.