Over the past month or so, I’ve received several interesting books from Templar/Bonnier Publishing that combine reading and creating.
The first two are Harry Potter Quidditch and Harry Potter House Elves:
which are part of a series of four books looking at aspects of the Harry Potter films and books.
Each book comes with a removable model to make – one has Dobby and one has the Golden Snitch – and a fully illustrated book on how the filmmakers created the props and characters. In Dobby’s book, there are fascinating facts from behind the scenes, with information on how the actors voiced the characters, how the special effects team created Dobby and the different house elves that appear throughout the series. In the Quidditch book, we learn about the Golden Snitch (and how the special effects team not only made the ball fly but created a reflection in Harry Potter’s glasses!), how the costume designer came up with the Quidditch outfits, how the pitch was created and filmed, and how – as the films progressed – moulds were taken of the characters’ bottoms to increase their comfort during the broom-flying scenes!
Anyone who loves to find out how films are made will appreciate these books; I think the appeal will stretch beyond young children to adults. I wasn’t so keen on the model-making, admittedly because I’m not too clever with my hands and find fiddling with thin, small parts irritating after a while. I did attempt the Dobby figure but made a complete hash of it, uttering some not-very-sporting language in the process. My husband corrected it easily. However, I think this shows that it is an activity best undertaken with an adult if you are a child (unless I really am just ham-fisted and hopeless!).
The books are out this month and next, just in time for the build-up to Christmas, and I reckon could be excellent presents for young (and older) Harry Potter fans out there.
Also out this month is Templar’s Build the Dragon set. This encourages children to build their own 3D moving model of a Western Dragon which is then powered by a wind-up motor. I’ve not tried this yet (am still recovering from Dobby) but I think my husband is eyeing it up eagerly. The accompanying book is beautifully illustrated and full of facts about dragon folklore, showing all the different dragons that exist in legends from around the world. I found this particularly interesting as I had a conversation at school the other week about where dragons come from and had believed that they, mainly, stem from Northern Europe and China. However, the map at the front of the book shows that there is one from each continent, each with their own name, powers and preference of good or evil.
It was also fascinating to read how different cultures viewed dragons – from evil, human-eating creatures to beasts that help mankind. We learn about where dragons live (apparently Western dragons prefer underground lairs but Eastern dragons often prefer underwater palaces at the bottom of oceans and lakes), how some hibernate in the winter (I’m with them on that one), and how some dragons have magical, healing powers.
I really do love this book and I know the children at school will. The only problem is that the model box is the back of the book – I can see why, as to have a packet that could be separated (as in the Harry Potter books) would have been more costly to produce since this is a larger model to make. Opening up the top of the box warped to back page a little so the two cannot exist as separate entities. Personally, I would have preferred just the book and not the model, but as we know, I’m not a model model-maker!
Please note that while I received copies of these books for review purposes, this did not reflect my opinions in any way.