Thursday, 26 January 2012

I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur by Stella Blackstone

It was Year 9 options evening last week. I always find Year 9 options evening slightly distressing - not because I find Year 9s distressing in any way in particular, but because it reminds me of the contentious issue of my own Year 9 options, and even after many a long, long year, I still get a little cross about it.

My Head of Year MADE me take Spanish. Made me. I didn't even really like Spanish. Don't get me wrong - I like Spain, I loved the teacher, the motherly and gorgeous Mrs Beck, and I liked my classmates (of whom there were only 5 as, apparently no-one else wanted to take Spanish either). I didn't want to take Spanish, because I wanted to take music or art instead. But, no. Apparently Head of Year had in mind that I was to become a translator, and take French, Spanish and Italian at university. This despite the fact that I had palpitations at the thought of even walking up to the local shop on my own, without my Mum, Dad or friend. I hardly think I was the sort to merrily go and live in a different country for a year among strangers, with limited knowledge of the language beyond make-up and town hall (maquillaje and ayuntamiento in case anyone is interested).

Anyway, every Year 9 options evening, I get incensed by this travesty. I LOVED music, and I was quite good at it. I was pretty crap at art, but I really enjoyed it, and I had enough academic subjects already. I suppose it is time, 19 (19!!!!) years on, that I packaged it away and moved on, and yet the memory haunts me still.

What, then. has this got to do with I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur by Stella Blackstone, published by the wonderful Barefoot Books? Well, back in my day Textiles was a pretty boring subject. Now, however, you should see the pieces of art work the students produce, and the little source books that they lovingly create. It's like Pinterest, but actually real. Now, all my music and art dreams are pushed aside - I want to study GCSE Textiles! Cruelly, SLT will not let me off timetable to do this. Not that I have actually asked, as it would make me look a bit mad. But I would dearly love to study it. And this book made me want to study it even more as the whole book is pictures of felt-appliqued dinosaurs with sequins sewn on!

I am sure the words were lovely and all, but to be quite honest, we barely even noticed that there were words in the book, because we were all saying "Ooooh, look at the lovely sequins on that parasaurolophus" (another one for the "sentences I never thought I would say" file). The book is, quite simply, beautiful. It made me want to sew things. Two of my great pleasures in life - reading books to my babies and sewing, combined (I told you I was the orignial party animal). It made the kids want to sew too. It's a brilliant book. Timeless, like sewing itself. And quite unlike my knowledge of Spanish, which has been reduced from a respectable A grade at GCSE in 1995, to knowing about four words. My seven year old, who has been studying Spanish since September, now knows more Spanish than I do. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Head of Year 9, at generic comp in the Midlands in 1993.

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