Children's Events Reviews


What a lovely time I had listening to Christine read from the first of her three children’s books involving the character Custard the brave and kindly dog. Christine was assisted by her son Will who turned the pages of the book to show the beautiful illustrations to the audience. He also added a few, fun sound effects.

Christine and her dogs Custard and Crumble and the cat Rhubarb all live in a medieval town in France, which is where the story is set. It is a sweet tale of adventure and bravery. The illustrations by Christopher Hobbs are just perfect, they completely capture the movement and characters of Custard and his friends and bring to life the gorgeous settings.

Both Christine and Will asked the audience questions as the story went along and Christine added extra information about France, and a recommendation for a particularly good cheese that can be purchased from a high-end retail emporium in Buxton.

The book is written in English, with the text in French on the same page. This is a brilliant way to normalise the words and the sounds of another language from an early age. We got to learn how to say dog poo bag in French. It would have been lovely to have at least one page read first in English then in French.

A guest appearance from Humphry (also a Bearded Collie) and Custard’s best friend who lives in Buxton was a sweet touch. Although Humphry was a bit timid and nervous about the event. More dogs had promised to come to the event, but they sensibly decided to stay on their cool mats at home. They can come again next week when it’s cooler.

The High Peak Bookstore is a perfect location for this event. It is very relaxed setting amidst the bookshelves of the children’s section. Afterwards take a wander around the store and then maybe have an ice-cream or a cake. This is a really lovely dog-friendly, free event.

Jayne Marling


Stone and Water has been running its Tiny! workshops for at least 15 years, even managing a live event in 2020. Their sessions are never less than delightful with all the young participants (including this not so young reviewer) coming away with a small cardboard creature of some sort, either on a ring or on a stick. This involves colouring in and/or drawing plus a bit of sticking if you want to add collage. In my case I drew a manageably Tiny! Fringe carnival float using a small piece of gold paper to fashion our Well Dressing trophy. Gordon MacLellan (aka Creeping Toad) then performed a little magic with a pipe cleaner and a stick so I could wave it about.

So far so straightforward but I noticed as I busied myself that there was a lot of interesting chat going on between Toad, fellow artist Sarah Males and the children. Everything we made had the capacity to become part of a narrative invented by the young makers. There was mild jeopardy as a shark was found to be on the loose (it was eventually found under Toad’s shoe), and excitement as a tiger was given a new career guarding a piece of treasure. Without forcing anything, Stone and Water made sure there were props around, from houses to jewels, to free the children’s imagination and help them find the words to tell a story. Toad described it as “informal literacy” at one point - I think the families would be more likely to define it as fun.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a blazing hot day but it was cool and delightful under the shade of a huge tree in the Pavilion Gardens near the children’s playground. Looking up, I found Debbie Nairn’s Pods sculpture, part of Art Up Close’s I Spy With My Little Eye Sculpture Trail, making the whole experience even more stimulating.

Stephanie Billen


Father of three, graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama and recent resident of Buxton Luke Wilkinson has created Wilbur the Worst Explorer from an idea he had during lockdown. It is a sweet story of nine-year-old Wilbur who wishes he was a bit braver, but with support he realises he can overcome his fears.

The story is told by Luke (as Wilbur) in a very sweet and gentle way. It was reminiscent of the old style children’s television storytellers. He interacted with his young audience in a gentle manner using a variety of props and a gorgeous tepee to help the story along! His piece does include a few mild gross-out moments but these will delight children!

We find out a few facts about adventurers old and new along the way and learn how to stay hydrated where there is no water around!

The audience were encouraged to join in with Wilbur’s adventure with audience participation being light touch and non-threatening. Those willing to actually volunteer in helping him will have some good fun! There are little treats as a reward!

This is a perfect show for young children who like stories. It is a warm-hearted show for the younger members of the family.

Jayne Marling