Tag Archives: The Owl and the Pussycat

Nominate Edward Lear for the new £20 note by 19 July 2015

pussy2

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/characters/nominationform.aspx

The  Bank of England website has a competition to nominate a British visual artist for the new £20 note – why not add your vote for Edward Lear?

£20 note character nominations close on Sunday 19 July 2015.

Why Lear?

Because he was a  scientific illustrator of animals, doodler of nonsense Limerick illustrations and a man with a beard and facial hair that would make such a banknote hard to counterfeit or forge!

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/Pages/characters/nominationform.aspx

 

You are only allowed 100 words so I wrote my nomination at speed in the spirit of Lear in non-Limerick doggerel (which doesn’t scan that well)

There was an odd man called Edward Lear,

whose limericks were strangely queer;

Pobbles, jumblies, owls and cats,

And  Quangle-Wangle’s amazing hats

on a £20 note – imagine that!

Owlpussycat

Happy 203rd Birthday Mr Lear – it’s International Owl and Pussycat Day again!

Today’s marking of Edward Lear’s 203rd  birthday 12 May 2015, celebrating this pioneering wildlife illustrator and creator of nonsense verse, celebrates his nonsense botany:

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A beautiful little something from our collection, using the 1988 centenary stamps and a great Owl and Pussycat postmark!

If you want to find out more about using postage stamps within teaching, check out the blog posts and links on our  Darwin200 stamp zoo website blog  

Find out more about Edward Lear, his famous poems and teaching and literacy ideas on the links and previous posts of this blog.

Happy Birthday Mr Lear!

Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo

Owl and Pussycat carved tree sculpture, Treefest Westonbirt 2013

Owl and pussycat  carvings by Dave Lucas, Westonbirt Treefest 2013  Source: FOWA website

Owl and pussycat carvings by Dave Lucas, Westonbirt Treefest 2013
Source: FOWA website

After chatting online to Forestry Commission colleagues at Westonbirt, I came across these fabulous pictures of The Owl and the Pussycat carved from a tree trunk by David Lucas. It was carved as part of Treefest 2013 and has now apparently been donated to Coln House School for their sensory area. Lucky school!

Owl and pussycat  carvings by Dave Lucas, Westonbirt Treefest 2013  Source: FOWA website

Owl and pussycat carvings by Dave Lucas, Westonbirt Treefest 2013
Source: FOWA website

I’ve sat in some good storytelling cahirs in schools and school grounds in the past, talking about animals but these really are magnificent!

owl_news_clipping

You can see the statue in use at: http://www.colnhouseschool.org/index.php/2012-11-12-20-56-49/2013-12-03-14-12-30/the-owl-and-the-pussycat

See others on the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum website  http://www.fowa.org.uk/your_westonbirt/blog/?p=3695

You can see more about the next Treefest 2015 at:

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6xclux

Happy New Lear 2015!

For more info on this Guinness parody of Lear see http://guinnesscollection-mick.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/dr-book-15-happy-new-lear-from-1957.html

Happy New Lear, a parody of Lear by Guinness and artist John Nash 1957

Happy New Lear, a parody of Lear by Guinness and artist John Nash 1957

Happy 202nd birthday 2014 Mr Lear!

Happy 202nd Birthday Mr. Lear! I cannot believe it is two years since zoos, museums, galleries, libraries,  schools and many others around the world celebrated Lear’s bicentenary on May 12 1812 / 2012 .

The last year or two since Edward Lear’s 200th birthday  has seen further Lear events (see Facebook link below). 2013 also saw the spirited sequel The Further Adventures of the Owl and The Pussycat by children’s author Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, Stick Man, Tiddler and other much loved captivating rhyming modern classic children’s picture books.

The poem / sequel is beautifully illustrated by Charlotte Voake, illustrator of many other interesting plant and animal based children’s books.

You can take a peek inside the book at the Puffin website.

I’m sure Mr Lear would be very proud that his characters live on.

We couldn’t let Lear’s 202nd birthday go past without rounding up some of the interesting online resources of inspiring nonsense (poems) for classrooms, in case you missed them :

1. Online Puffin Live interview  Further Adventures read by Julia Donaldson http://www.puffinvirtuallylive.co.uk/author/juliadonaldson

2. Puffin Virtually Live Teachers Pack with lots of nonsense ideas, mask templates http://www.puffinvirtuallylive.co.uk/assets/FurtherAdventuresOwlPussycat_PuffinVirtuallyLive.pdf

3. Event kit for libraries and teachers from the Reading Agency  with games, puzzles, masks  http://readinggroups.org/OwlPussycat_EVENT_LIBRARIES.pdf

4. More owl poem ideas for teachers and uniformed group leaders  http://www.freebookez.com/thank-you-owl-poem/

5. Telegraph interview with Julia Donaldson about Further Adventures http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10257895/Julia-Donaldson-on-how-Edward-Lears-poems-influenced-her.html

Maybe its time for more Lear Prequels and Sequels:

What might Julia Donaldson write next? The Previous Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat? Or you class if you happen to be teaching nonsense in the classroom?

The Pobble Whose Toes Grew Back?  

Further Adventures of the Quangle Wangle’s Hat?

I often wondered what later happened to Lear’s not so well known characters “Four Children who went round the World” – Violet, Slingsby, Guy and Lionel  http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/fc.html

I like the way Lear inserts some of his other characters into their bizarre world here, as if they just popped next door or tunneled through the pages. it makes the nonsense world just that little more believable.

There are lots more ideas on previous blog posts here and the Nonsense Lit webpage http://nonsenselit.wordpress.com/  and Lear events Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/learnonsense

I look forward to many more prequels, sequels, further adventures …

Until then, Happy 202nd birthday Mr Lear, 12 May 2014 !  Happy International Owl and Pussycat Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppets, poems, owls, pussycats and wedding presents – more ideas for celebrating International Owl and Pussycat day

Decided how you’ll celebrate International Owl and Pussycat Day, 12 May?

12 May is  Edward Lear’s birthday and 2012  is his 200th birthday. A bicentennial of bosh, a bicentenary of nonsense (and some superb landscape and animal paintings too). You might also have noticed it’s Dickens’ 200th birthday in 2012 as well.  Lots of the way Dickens’ bicentenary is celebrated you could borrow as ideas for Lear’s birthday too! see our events page http://nonsenselit.wordpress.com/ 

 What about an Owl and Pussycat puppet show?  

On my wedding day I was presented by my wife with an unusual wedding present, a vintage pair of Owl and Pussycat hand puppets, old enough to have the cardboard neck tube style head. The Owl and Pussycat poem is a poem about a wedding after all, and I did meet my wife doing puppetry and bug handling for Newquay Zoo on outreach at one of our partner galleries. Like British Sign Language and bugs (the bugs get vertigo and seasick pretty quick), I found that puppets and bugs don’t mix well.  But that’s another story …

We’ll come back to the wedding or birthday present idea in another – but what would you give the Owl and The Pussycat as a wedding gift? Who alive or dead, real or fictional, would you invite to their wedding reception? What nonsense plants would be be their wedding bouquet? http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/nb.html Who would design the wedding outfits for guests? And the ring if the piggywig didn’t wnat to sell his? You could design (make and eat!) a suitable nonsense wedding cake, the invitations … Lear loved nonsesnse cookery and there are some nonsense cooking in his books http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/cookery.html

Puppet theatres were a big Victorian passion and you can see how to make one on the fabulous Victorian Farm Christmas website crafts section with downloadable templates amongst many other fabulous ideas http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/activity/toy-theatre.shtml

You don’t need to build a whole theatre, a shoebox ‘television’ http://http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/buxton_puppet_festival_-__shoe.html or a shadow puppet version are easy enough to rough together.

We’ve used puppets at the zoo and in gallery talks from time to time, using everything from hand puppets to an OHP Overhead Projector  (old technology now, should be few lying around in schools)  to proper lit from behind tissue paper or thin cloth screens and torches.

Esay puppetry? Print out the Owl and Pussycat illustrations on card whatever size you want, cut them out, put them on sticks and away you go …. paint the backdrop, use them as shadow puppets. http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/index.html 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t need much to make a stage – half a blocked doorway with a cloth pinned up (for the Owl and Pussycat Sea, naturally) or an upturned desk will do the trick.

The puppetry portal website http://www.puppetry.info/ has masses of useful information.

The wonderful Rough Magic Theatre from Bolton have Lear and Lewis Carroll shows using a suitcase shadow puppet theatre. Watch their video and you’ll be wanting to make one of these walking spiv suitcase stages yourself! http://www.roughmagictheatre.co.uk/html/jabberwocky_.html

If you can’t make it to Covent Garden, you visit the fabulous Pollock’s Tpyshop online  http://www.pollockstoytheatres.com/index.htm 

http://www.pollocks-coventgarden.co.uk/index.php/links-page

More ideas for International Owl and Pussycat Day in the next few weeks – and we’ve loved to hear how you are going to celebrate Edward Lear’s birthday using this poem or any other ways …

Now whicvh of all this will we do at Newquay Zoo on Lear’s birthday, 12 May 2012? So many to choose from?

 

Ten more ideas for teaching the Owl and Pussycat or other nonsense in the classroom!

Ten more random ideas for teaching the Owl and The Pussycat poem in your classroom …   a random selection as various Newquay Zoo staff  came up with these whilst eating our lunch. (No runcible spoons, mice or quince included.)

If you’d like to share your ideas for teaching the Owl and the Pussycat , add them to the comments section at the bottom of each post and we’ll upload these (after moderation).

No 1.  Show us your groovy moves!

In the poem the Owl and the Pussycat “danced by the light of the moon” (the moon, the moon) – but how did they dance? Remember this is a wedding dance, so rhythmless dad-dancing is possible! Did the Owl and the Pussycat, the Turkey  and the Pig dance differently? Can you show their character through their dance?

No. 2 Owl Heads and Pussycat Tails –

Print out the words of the poem or first verse and cut each line in half  then give a set to each small group to reassemble the poem (or just Jumblie up and  rearrange this).    

No. 3  Blankety Blank  verse or Conse-quince-s … 

Print out the poem with some, alternate  or all key rhyming words missing or blanked out and see if the group can work out what the missing words should be … you can always put the missing words in a jumble at the bottom of the sheet / page if you want to be helpful. Blanked out words with alternative words of their own are always an amusing variation … 

No. 4 Round and round the Owl and Pussycat …

What happens when you sing this as a round, one group starting a few lines after the other? (Chaos probably).  

No. 5  Wordsearch Owl or Crossword Puzzlecat

Pick out your favourite nonsense words and type them into a wordsearch or crossword puzzle making programme (there are loads to download on the Web). Alternatively let your spellchecker suggest changes to the ‘odd’ Lear nonsense  words in the poem, and let your computer or group adopt  these  other strange or more sensible ones … 

No. 6  “And sang to a small guitar” … musical versions?

Edward Lear often made up and published his own music to accompany his songs, and sang them to people at gatherings. (People’s opinion of his talent and singing voice varied). Many people from Stravinsky to Katy Perry have set  Lear’s Owl and Pussycat words to music (see the bompa.org webiste which will play them to you). Listen to these, talk about your favourites  and get each group to vote / make up a top five Owl and Pussycat Pop chart.

No. 7 More music – Bong! Ring! (a ding-ding)

“Small guitar”  aside, there are lots of possibilities in setting this to music or choral speaking for percussion and mouth sounds from the Bong tree, to the ‘ring’ at the end of his nose, the sounds of the sea … 

No. 8 Put it on (cardboard) TV

Did you used to make your own TV programmes as a child using a box and long strips of paper as a child? Make yourself / your group its own TV out of a shoebox or bigger box. Cut out the screen front panel. Insert two large kitchen roll tubes or dowel rods either side of the ‘screen’. Don’t forget to draw on the control knobs  to make it look like a TV etc.

Draw or illustrate the poem on a long roll / sheet of paper or several sheets of paper stuck together). Sing or say the poem as you turn the  tubes or rods to pass the pictures past the screen.

It helped pass the time on  many a wet day in the 1970s … when Lootube came before Youtube.

No. 9  Owl and Pussycat Bayeux Tapestry style?  

1066 and all that! Amongst your group tell the story of the Owl and the Pussycat with embroidered textile, painted or drawn panels, like the Bayeux Tapestry (depending how much time you have) with the text words at the top or bottom.  It would make a good class mural project for display …

No. 10 The Owl and The Pussycat’s “Purr-fect Day” version

Remember a charity version of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day song with one line each sung by various celebrities? When we talked to the London Zoo Education CREW about Owl and Pussycat Day, they wanted to apply this style to the Owl and the Pussycat as a video using a line each from lots of different zoo and keeper staff and then stick it on Youtube. Maybe they will.

It would be even funnier if each line was in a different language – see the bompa.org website for examples. If you have different first language speakers in your class, this would truly make it an ‘International‘ Owl and Pussycat Purrfect Day version …

That’s 10 daft ideas to be getting on with … but before we go, we have to mention Paul the Zoo Groundsman’s suggestion when I was telling the rest of my lunch table about the 120 translations of the poem on the bompa.org website. Paul was disappointed that it wasn’t in Morse Code (or Semaphore), so maybe you could add a Purrfect day line in Morse (or flag). (Thanks, Paul)

We worked out that if you transmitted the entire poem in Morse, there is a small risk that somewhere in the world, a Coastguard or Lifeboat station would pick it up and be put onto red alert, helicopters scrambled etc looking for a two small animals in a pea green boat sending out distress signals … Don’t blame us if this happens.     

Someone else noted there’s no Makaton, BSL or other Sign Language version of this poem either yet on the bompa.org website. What is the BSL sign for Runcible Spoon?  

Reminder / Think you can do dafter? If you’d like to share your ideas for teaching the Owl and the Pussycat , add them to the comments section at the bottom and we’ll upload these (after moderation). Alternately you can contact us via my zoo email – its mark.norris    and that’s @newquayzoo.org.uk    

We’d love to hear from you!   Email would be better than Morse …

Top nonsense teaching tip from Toxic Childhood expert Sue Palmer

The amazing Sue Palmer has been variously an inspirational  primary headteacher (who taught one of my friends as a wee girl),  involved in the National Literacy Strategy and now writes and lectures worldwide on childhood issues http://www.suepalmer.co.uk/ 
We asked Sue what she would do to celebrate Edward Lear and she told us about another of his fabulous nonsense poems:

Sue says about Edward Lear’s  birthday celebrations: “Great idea. The Dong With The Lumionous Nose makes a amazing performance poem for Y3 or Y4 9 (around 7 to 8 years old).” 

“My class divided it up into parts for choral recitation, made costumes and props, practised like mad and we did it for an assembly.”

“It went so well we were asked back to do it again the next week.  (I can still hear them…. ‘The D–o–ng, the D–o–ng…’)”  So a great idea for teaching “The Owl and Pussycat” as well … Thanks Sue!

Here’s the luminous nose text for you:

 When  awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
  Through the long, long wintry nights;–
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;–
  When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:–

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
  A lonely spark with silvery rays
  Piercing the coal-black night,–
  A Meteor strange and bright:–
Hither and thither the vision strays,
  A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,–pauses,–creeeps,–
Anon it sparkles,–flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,–
    ‘The Dong!–the Dong!
  ‘The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
    ‘The Dong! the Dong!
  ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!’

    Long years ago
  The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
  Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,–
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
    Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
  And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,–
    ‘Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.’

Happily, happily passed those days!
    While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
  They danced in circlets all night long,
  To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
    In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing–gazing for evermore,–
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,–
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,–
    ‘Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.’

But when the sun was low in the West,
  The Dong arose and said;–
–‘What little sense I once possessed
  ‘Has quite gone out of my head!’–
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing–‘O somewhere, in valley or plain
‘Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
‘For ever I’ll seek by lake and shore
‘Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!’

    Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
    Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
    And because by night he could not see,
    He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
      On the flowery plain that grows.
      And he wove him a wondrous Nose,–
    A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
    –In a hollow rounded space it ended
    With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
      All fenced about
      With a bandage stout
      To prevent the wind from blowing it out;–
    And with holes all round to send the light,
    In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild–all night he goes,–
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,–
    ‘This is the hour when forth he goes,
    ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!
    ‘Yonder–over the plain he goes,
      ‘He goes!
      ‘He goes;
    ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!’

More Lear Lyrics at http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ll/dln.html

More nonsense teaching ideas

If ever a poem deserved to have more pictures as illustrations, or a fantastic map drawn for it or a travel diary, or postcards home from the Dong? (The poem’s author Edward Lear was a great traveller and landscape painter too).

With the Owl and the Pussycat, The Dong and The Jumblies as great travellers and explorers, you might want to list and discuss more sensible things to take on a journey

Jumbly Girl? Jumbly Chorus?  check out my other favourite Lear poem (and strange sea journey) The Jumblies http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/jumblies.html 

Warning – do not attempt any sea journeys in a sieve! Why not? There’s a Physics or Science lesson idea hidden in there somewhere, how to waterproof a sieve.