Have a very happy Halloween with Winnie the Witch!

Everybody’s fiendishly favourite time of year is almost upon us once again. And if you’re looking for inspiration both for party ideas and reading recommendations for younger children, then look no further.

Of course, every child’s favourite is WINNIE THE WITCH by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, and she has everything you need for your Halloween celebration to go off with a whizz, a bang and a pop!

Firstly, you can download your very own Winnie the Witch Party pack which contains drawing and colouring, party game ideas and an interactive storytime. PLUS there are step-by-step instructions to make your own Winnie the Witch hat and wig so you look the part!

Then, of course, no Halloween would be complete without a spooky tale or two – and there are three new Winnie the Witch stories that will fit the bill perfectly:

Winnie’s Big Bad Robot
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Winnie has made a robot! Out of cardboard! But when she decides to magic it into a real robot, both she and Wilbur soon discover that this robot is bad…

Winnie’s Amazing Antics

Winnies Amazing Antics

Three favourite Winnie stories in one: Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin, Winnie in Space and Winnie Under the Sea.

Winnie Adds Magic

9780192736666_WINNIE_ADDS_MAGIC_CVR_AUG14

Four stories for older readers which take Winnie and Wilbur on a crazy journey, full of unexpected twists.

Spooktacular Halloween Wishes!

 

Winnie the Witch and Wilbur fancy dress – inspiration for children’s Halloween costumes

Halloween is nearly upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by dressing up as the mischievously magical Winnie the Witch and her black cat Wilbur!

To make a Winnie the Witch costume

First of all find a blue dress, purple cardigan and stripy tights with a string of shiny beads.

Winnie’s hat

winnie hat

You will need:

  • Blue, yellow, orange and purple paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Black felt tip pen
  • Glue stick
  • Hole punch
  • Elastic
  • Hat template from the Winnie the Witch website

Instructions:

  • If you don’t want to use coloured paper, just print the hat template on white paper and colour it in. Simple!
  • Print out the hat template twice – tape together and use as one whole template, onto blue paper, then cut out.
  • Copy the ‘stripes’ template on to a folded piece of purple paper and cut out. Unfold the semicircle and put to one side.
  • Copy orange and yellow stripes on to a folded piece of yellow and orange paper. Cut out. Unfold the semicircles. Then carefully cut along the yellow strip so it is in half again.

winnie hat elements

  • Cut out the moon and star from the template on yellow card.
  • Glue everything on to the flat cone and leave to dry. Then go over all the lines with a black felt tip pen.
  • Attach the hat together with some double-sided tape and/or a stapler. For a little extra touch, push a small bit of rectangular paper through the hole at the top of the hat and bend to one side!
  • Use a hole punch to create a hole on either side of the hat to tie the elastic to, to secure under the child’s chin.

Winnie’s hair

winnie's hair

You will need:

  • Black card (long enough to fit around a child’s head – A1 or A2)
  • 2 x A1 sheets of black sugar paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Stapler
  • Sellotape/double-sided tape for neatness

Instructions:

  • Measure a length of card around the child’s head. Tape into place so you have a card ring that fits perfectly around their head (the one in the photograph is 5cm deep).
  • Tape another piece of card across the top of the ring. Repeat on the other side so you have a cross.
  • Cut two more pieces of card and place diagonally over the cross. Staple into place. Then attach the last piece of card to cover any gaps so you can have the basis of your Winnie hair (like a skullcap).

winnie hair work in progress

  • Now the fun really begins! Fold two A1 pieces of black paper like an accordion for Winnie’s frizzy hair. Gently pull the ‘accordion’ apart and cut into the strips.
  • Attach the strip around the top part of the hair ring with double-sided tape or use a stapler. Then attach pieces from the top of the head, down. It doesn’t matter if there are different lengths or widths of hair, as that adds to the effect!

To make a Wilbur costume

No Winnie costume is truly complete without her faithful cat Wilbur by her side. Create the perfect costume for siblings or friends, or even a playful parent!

wilbur headdress

You will need:

  • Black card
  • Green, pink, black and blue paper
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • Stapler
  • Ruler
  • White pencil
  • Wilbur head template from the Winnie the Witch website

Instructions:

  • Cut out a strip of thin black card, long enough to wrap around the child’s head. Staple or tape together.
  • Cut out Wilbur’s head shape, then fringe the edges slightly for Wilbur’s fur.
  • Use the eyes, nose, teeth and ears from the template. Draw round the eyes on to green paper, nose on to pink paper and ears on to black and blue paper.
  • Glue the eyes, nose, ears and teeth to Wilbur’s head. Add some pupils to his eyes, white whiskers and mouth line with the white pencil.

wilbur headdress 2

  • Then attach his head to the headband. There you have it!
  • For the rest of Wilbur’s costume, wear a black jumper trousers or leggings and shoes. Another idea for Wilbur’s face would be to use face paints.

Abracadabra, everything you need to make this Halloween magic!

Download PDF instructions

We’d love to see pictures of your mini-Winnie and Wilburs – share your photos on Twitter @OUPChildrens

For lots of Winnie the Witch fun, visit www.winnie-the-witch.com

Why not start off your Halloween night with a brand new tale from Winnie the Witch?

In her latest picture book Winnie sets sail for a swashbuckling pirate adventure!

winnie's pirate adventure

For older readers, try Spooky Winnie, or Winnie’s Halloween Gift Pack, which contains two brilliant Winnie books and a pumpkin orange trick or treat bag.

spooky winniewinnie's halloween gift pack

Wilbur’s nine lives

With his lovely new board books about to hit the shops, Winnie the Witch’s lovable cat Wilbur joins us to reflect on his best moments so far in his adventures with Winnie…

Wilbur

They say that cats have nine lives. Well it’s certainly true in my case! I can think of nine nail-biting (or should that be claw-biting?) moments in my life but here I am to tell the tail (sorry, tale)! It must have something to do with being a witch’s cat.

1. I remember the time when I was dozing on Winnie’s Flying Carpet, and the wretched thing whisked me out of the house and took me on a white-knuckle ride, ending up at a fun fair. Though it wasn’t much fun for me! Luckily Winnie came to the rescue. Now I’m always careful about where I cat nap!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

2. Then there was the rather embarrassing moment when I was impaled by a broomstick after a day with Winnie at the Seaside turned into a whale of a time (literally!). Ouch!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

3. And I’ll never forget the incident with Winnie’s New Computer. The shiny new mouse was so tempting but when I pounced on it – ooof! – I disappeared into thin air! If you want my advice, be very careful when it comes to new technology.

from_winnies_new_computer

Artwork © Korky Paul

4. Cheers of ‘Winnie Flies Again’ greeted us when Winnie took to the skies sporting a new pair of glasses. Now she could steer her broomstick without bumping into things. Before she got her eyes tested, things were rather different, and rather painful for me.

From_winnie_flies__again

Artwork © Korky Paul

5. Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin was certainly awesome, especially when it turned into a helicopter. What was less amazing was the enormous caterpillar that scared the wits out of me on a giant beanstalk. I think oversized vegetables are overrated!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

6. I’ve always known that Winnie the Witch loves me, so being turned into a multi-coloured moggy and stranded at the top of a tall tree wasn’t my finest hour. But, you’ll be pleased to know, that particular story had a happy ending!

From_winnie_the_witch

Artwork © Korky Paul

7. Oh yes, on one occasion, an unexpected scaly visitor – Winnie’s Midnight Dragon – chased me onto the roof while his mother set my tail alight. Charming!

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Artwork © Korky Paul

8. There’s a day that I’ll always remember as Winnie’s Dinosaur Day. It started normally enough at the museum but before I knew it I was face to face with a prehistoric beast!

from_winnies_dinosaur_day

Artwork © Korky Paul

9. And finally, there was the time when I reluctantly joined Winnie in Space – we had broken rockets and naughty space rabbits to contend with . . .

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Artwork © Korky Paul

So you see, being a witch’s cat is never dull. But I love being Winnie’s pet and I wouldn’t swap my owner for the world!

Wilbur’s first concept board books are out in June, and are full of humour and wit!

Pages from 273510_WILBUR_OPPOSITES_INS_JUN13

Artwork © Korky Paul

Pages from 273508_WILBUR_WORDS_INS_JUN13

Artwork © Korky Paul

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For more fun with Winnie the Witch and Wilbur, visit the Winnie the Witch website.

Why today is a dinosaur day: dinosaurs, Oxford, and Winnie the Witch

In the latest Winnie the Witch picture book adventure, Winnie visits the museum and is transported back to the time of the dinosaurs. Oxford is home to Winnie the Witch, but did you know it is also home to one of the leading fossilists of the 19th century, William Buckland, whose birthday it is today?

Helen Mortimer, Senior Picture Books Commissioning Editor and editor of our Winnie the Witch books, explains Oxford’s connection to dinosaurs…

Helen MortimerIf you were to open a copy of Winnie’s Dinosaur Day, at the start of the story you would find Winnie and Wilbur queuing excitedly outside a grand museum.

Artwork © Korky Paul

Artwork © Korky Paul

Visually, it has all the hallmarks of Winnie-esque architecture: turrets and gables, mullioned windows, tile upon tile, and of course that classic grey-black brickwork that graces Winnie’s own home. But it is also based on a very real building. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History, just a ten minute walk from our offices.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford’s Natural History Museum and the Megalosaurus

For the time being the museum is closed while major renovation work is carried out to the roof, but outside the huge reconstructed footprints marching across the lawn give a clue to the impressive dinosaur displays that can normally be found inside.  These footprints were unearthed on the floor of an Oxfordshire quarry in 1997 and were left, around 168 million years ago, by a Megalosaurus.

Dinosaur footprints

Dinosaur footprints

William Buckland

And this dinosaur, the Megalosaurus or ‘great lizard’, was first described by William Buckland who was born on the 12th of March in 1784.  Buckland was professor of geology at Oxford and in 1824 he gave a lecture that presented the very first scientific account of a Megalosaurus dinosaur, some 18 years before Richard Owen coined the word for this group of animals.  The area that is now Oxfordshire was swampland fringing shallow-water lagoons and seas in prehistoric times and Buckland had dug up hundreds of fossils from around the county. According to one visitor his college rooms were crammed with ‘rocks, shells, and bones in dire confusion’.

Stonesfield bones

But the particular bones that led to Buckland’s ground-breaking description of the Megalosaurus came from a small village about 15 miles northwest of Oxford (and just a foggy Sunday morning bike ride away from where I live).

Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Stonesfield slate was quarried here from the 17th century onwards and the slates were used to roof college buildings and churches in the city. The mined slate was kept damp until it could be split apart by being exposed to frost and the slate makers, finding fossils as they worked the blocks of rock, would put them aside for sale to visiting collectors.

Information about Stonesfield's fossils and slate

Information about Stonesfield fossils and slate

The fossils that were acquired by Buckland from the Stonesfield quarrymen included part of the lower jaw with some teeth in place, fragments of backbone, and sections of the pelvic and thigh bones. Not much, but enough for him to make his startling discovery.

Buckland’s legacy

So, remembering him on his birthday, we have William Buckland to thank as one of the pioneering fossilists of the 19th century whose findings led to the discovery of the age of the dinosaurs – laying the foundations for the on-going study of these incredible animals, endlessly fascinating for children (and witches) everywhere!

Artwork © Korky Paul

Artwork © Korky Paul

Unofficial curator

During his time in Oxford, Buckland also took on the role of unofficial curator of the geological collection of the Ashmolean museum – at the time housed in a building in Broad Street. He added many, many specimens to the collection and it was moved to the present site when the ‘new’ Natural History building was completed in the 1860s.

Roof repairs

So we also have him to thank for providing many of the exhibits in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Buckland was by all accounts a larger than life figure with a great sense of humour. He would probably have liked the idea of needing to repair the roof on the building housing his great fossil discoveries, the most important of which he came across thanks to quarrymen extracting slate for . . . repairing roofs!

Note:  The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is due to reopen in early 2014. During 2013 you can still access the building to visit the Pitt Rivers museum. Visit the museum’s ‘Darkened not Dormant’ blog to stay up to date with all of the special activities taking place at the museum during the closure year.

Helen Mortimer

Helen Mortimer is Senior Picture Books Commissioning Editor at OUP Children’s Books.

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Winnie’s Dinosaur Day, by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, is out now!

Find out more about Winnie the Witch at www.winnie-the-witch.com

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