If you’ve borrowed our Touch to See version of Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, you’ve probably already imagined all the sights, sounds, smells and textures of Stick Man’s adventure away from the family tree. We certainly have! Martin Freeman, British actor (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit!), lends his voice to our audio guide and brings to life our tactile pictures and Axel’s brilliant illustrations.
To help you make the most of this fast-paced adventure story with blind children here’s our take on Stick Man’s sensory journey with hints and tips for talking about the story and exploring the illustrations with touch, smell, taste and sounds in mind.
Stick Man’s mis-adventure starts in a park on a warm, summer’s day. The perfect kind of day when birds are tweeting, leaves gently rustle in the breeze and mischievous little doggies play – you can hear their paws on the ground as they run, their breath when they pant and of course, their barks when they get a little too excited! The grass has a lovely soft, cool feel and the flowers on the ground have a fresh, sweet smell. In the park, you can hear children shouting out to each other, laughing and making up games to play.
Once Stick Man has escaped from the dog (who thought he was part of a game of fetch), he becomes part of another game entirely – do you remember the name of the game? It’s Pooh Sticks. On the bridge where Stick Man is dropped into the river, there are lots of sounds and textures to feel. The bridge is made of grainy wood and underneath it, where the river runs, there are lots of ducks quacking and splashing about. There’s even a cat on the bank – and we all know what noise cats make, meow!
Make your own Stick Man – all you need is some fallen twigs, glue/string/brown pipe cleaners for securing arms/legs together, stick on googly eyes… and don’t forget green leaves for the top of his head and elbow!
As Stick Man gets carried out to sea, he passes lots of noisy animals: a honking swan, a croaking frog and another dog. Perhaps you can hear the whirring noise of the fisherman’s rod who sits on the edge of the riverbank waiting to catch some fish?
When Stick Man reaches the beach, he’s all caught up in squishy wet seaweed and grainy sand. Do you like the feel of warm sand on your feet? I know I do! There are lots of interesting sounds at the beach too. The children splashing in the water, the seagulls loudly calling out to one another and of course the crashing of the waves on the shore. If you’ve been to the seaside, you might remember there being a salty smell in the air and the funny smell of seaweed. On the sand, you can probably smell the lovely coconutty scent of suncream.
After the seaside, Stick Man travels all around, passing by parks and houses. He travels around so much that summer has gone, autumn has faded and it’s now winter. Brrr! It’s chilly!
When it gets cold outside, we all like to wrap up warm with soft, woolly scarves, hats and gloves, don’t we? Walking in the snow makes a scrunchy, crunchy noise and if we haven’t got a pair of thick socks on, it can make our toes feel like blocks of ice! It’s also at this time of year that we hear other noises too: bells, music and carol singing just in time for Christmas.
Christmas for Stick Man is usually spent with his Stick Lady Love and their Stick Children three but in the book, he’s spending the season away from home and as you’ll remember, he finds himself on a log fire, just about to be lit! I bet the house Stick Man is in smells lovely. Perhaps there’s a smell of freshly baked mince pies or gingerbread in the air, and the fresh piney scent of the Christmas tree. As Santa drops into the house, covered in soot, there would also be the smell of coal and the sound of the cat meowing as he runs away, frightened by Santa’s sudden appearance down the chimney.
What noise does Santa’s sleight make as it flies back to the family tree? There’ll be jingling bells and a wooshing noise as it makes its way through the air, and maybe the sound of the reindeer breathing as they pull the sleigh. And I bet Santa and Stick Man can feel hundreds of tiny snowflakes melting on their faces too.
Once he’s back home, Stick Man dries out and cuddles his stick family. That certainly was a long journey – and with so many things to hear, smell and touch.
Stick Man got the thumbs-up from Ted, young blind library member, pictured below.
And listen to Martin Freeman chatting about all things Hobbit on our Soundcloud.