One of my favourite instructions to send out, when I worked for Waterstone’s booksellers, was the list of rules that accompanied any children’s costume for children’s fun days. It read:
- Always have someone accompany the costumed person around. Do not leave them unaccompanied.
- They must do 20 minutes max in the costume and have 10 minutes off before going back out.
- WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT REMOVE THE HEAD ON THE SHOPFLOOR!
Imagine how traumatised your child would be watching The Gruffalo’s head come off in a bookshop. Enough to put you off reading for life.
I had this in mind when we went to Waterstone’s this weekend to have a Great Tiger Tea Party with Judith Kerr’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea. E loves it. Judith Kerr is a great favourite here, and I used to love that one too. We even managed to take S with us, who wasn’t really sure what to expect.
E was very excited and climbed up the moving stairs to the top floor saying “where’s that tiger?” We all sat on the floor and waited. The tea party was held by a lady who told the story first, making all the children join in, especially with the eating noises. E, who goes quiet and watches till she’s sure of things, got quite animated by this point and ate up lots of cakes.
When the story finished we all made masks – colouring in and putting stickers on to look really tigery and then the storyteller led the children out into the shop to roar at customers. There was one sensitive type trying to browse philosophy books who tried his best to ignore a parade of small children marching past and roaring.
And then back in the room, we all called to the tiger to come and join us – the costume was enormous and very like the book and E was entranced. She stared at him with a big smile on her face, though she wouldn’t go near him and have her photo taken. Some of the other children found him a bit intimidating, especially the smaller ones. But we all (including S) did some dancing with the the tiger (to Tiger Feet by Mud) and then we had tea – tiger cupcakes on tiger plates and apple juice in tiger cups. There were chocolate brownies for the grown ups.
E brought home a tiger tea hat, a sticker, some activity sheets and a balloon and was really excited with her afternoon. It cost us the tram fare to get there and that was it. All reports from behind the scenes were that Pete (inside the tiger) was incredibly hot and about to drop by the end (the Gruffalo suit has air con inside but not this one) so well done Pete and thank you. Have a cold beer mate.