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Have you met any fantastic beasts?

The Zoo

I was asked to talk about an author, for my writing group, and what they meant to me..

Who is your favourite author?

There are so many, I didn’t know who to choose!

I thought about looking at JK Rowling and her book ‘Magical Beasts and where to find them’.

This reminded me of an old book we had in the family, ‘The Zoo on Sunday’, written by Frank Worthington.

I wondered if perhaps this was where JK Rowling might have got some of her ideas.The Snat

Frank Worthington C.B.E; F.R.G.S; F.Z.S; Formerly secretary of Native Affairs, Northern Rhodesia.

Author of ‘The Little Wise Owl’ and ‘Chiromo, the Witch Doctor’.

Frank Worthington published the book in 1925, and as a 'first-class black-and-white artist', was also the illustrator.

My aunt Rose was given the book in 1930 (now 99, she remembers it was given by her Auntie Edie, a teacher, and Uncle Carl Webster, a head master and schools inspector in London at that time).

The book was passed down in the family for us to look at and enjoy, which we did although it was a little strange.. It was certainly thought proviking..

Mixed up animals

The Tor-tare

The book has full page black and while illustrations of mixed up animals (The Tortaire; The Hippo-Cock-Tail; The Snat; the Hermit Bear and The Cro-co-dowl to name but a few)

Each with a poem to go with the new animal.

The introduction poem asks why London Zoo might be closed on a Sunday. It asks, ‘What can be seen there on a Sunday that isn’t to be seen on a Monday?’

The poem ends with a ticket to ‘Toological gargles, Wegent’s Park’ from the ‘Toological Sobriety of London’.

With a message’ don’t breathe a word on Monday of what you saw or heard on Sunday.

Frank Worthington had 'more than one unusual pet:

'One was a Marabou Stork, with a bill like a pickaxe. It would walk quietly up to a sleeping dog, contemplate for a time, and then give the animal a tremendous blow with his beak and would clatter his beak and dance around with delight.'

'Another pet was a large bush pig, it would often dig itself out of the sty and was persuaded to go home by one boy pushing it and another scratching its back with a garden rake.'

These strange pets obviously gave Frank Worthington his ideas and inspiration.

Lego Mixels

The Mixels - FlexersThe book has recently re-captured my imagination, because  over lockdown I have been making a few Lego models which seem to have mixed up animal links.

Each colourful trio come in family groups, such as The purple Wiztastics, who are Mesmo, Wizwus and Magnifo.Wiztastics

The Mixels and Nixels have some imaginative names such as Nurp-Naut; Vaka-Waka; Tentro; Glomp and Jawg and they certainly made me giggle..

MixelsI did wonder what a book of ‘Lego Mixels’ might look like and was set to have a go.

Phonics

As a teacher, I have been asked to teach phonics to reception and year one.

In the ‘Read-Write-Inc’ phonics scheme one task is for the children to sound out and say a few words and have to identify if they are real or Alien words.

Phonics - Alien WordsThese names not only sound fun, but have some very odd-looking creatures.

The next time I teach phonics I doubt I would be able to say if it was an alien word. If you can sound it out and say it, I’m sure you can write about it and if you can’t? Well there are lots of words from other languages you might have trouble pronouncing and just because you can’t say it doesn’t mean it is nonsense.

Maybe the best nonsense words can become fun. Like the Nifflers in JK Rowlings book Fantastic Beasts.

And maybe I will have to write a book to go with the Mixels. Who knows?

Where to get my books

Books are available from the following:   My Books

Amazon.co.uk     Amazon.com     Waterstones    

Barnes&Noble    Foyles (amongst others)

Don't forget to look and ask in your local Museum, book shop or even buy on your Sainsburys on line shop!

 

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