Why I’m making peace with my ‘Beautiful Oops!’

IMG_4852I really wish that this book – ‘Beautiful Oops!’, by Barney Saltzberg (published by Workman Publishing) – had sprung to mind as I was writing this post about my lack of prowess in the crafting department.

It’s a glorious book that my sister (who I’m fast realising has been responsible for choosing an AWFUL LOT of VERY COOL books for us) gave me last year and I hadn’t looked at it in months until yesterday, when it suddenly occurred to me that it might pull me out of my slump.  Boy, was I right.

The blurb on the back says:

“When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!”

The book is filled with examples of how to view typical ‘mistakes’ as a chance to make some really brilliant art of your own.  This called to mind comments from both Zoe and Jo on my previous post, who in their own ways rightly pointed out that children’s creativity will be reigned in if they are trying to stick to strict instructions about things like where to add glue and what colour paint to use. So, in the book, a tear in the page…





A paint spill…






and a scrap of paper…






These, and the other ideas in the book, really reminded me that one of the things I love most about books and reading is how they open up your imagination.  Perhaps I need to keep this book attached to me on a string so that I can easily recall that this same philosophy is just as applicable to art (and crafts)?!

I suppose that one of the niggling things about my crisis of confidence in Story Seekers was the worry about how I could build on the stories I shared at each session to ‘add value’ (not quite the phrase I want, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment).  My thinking was that parents would expect me to be doing a lot more than just reading a story if they were going to pay to for their children to attend.  Because quite a few of the book (and parenting blogs) I follow – such as the astonishingly brilliant ‘Playing by the book‘ – include a wide range of craft ideas, somewhere along the line I ‘decided’ that the only way to add this value would be to do a craft activity of some description.

Anyway, reading through the comments (and ‘Beautiful Oops!’) provided me with a startling moment of clarity.  I was focusing too much on what the parents would expect from each session and was starting to lose sight of what the children might want or need.  I am used to a school environment where I only have to think about my pupils, so the thought of having parents at Story Seekers as well is pretty scary and I think that their presence had begun to dominate my planning.  That’s not to say that parents aren’t important – indeed, they are absolutely vital and my hope would be that they would catch the reading bug as well!  If I’m working with babies and pre-school children, adults will be the ones reading to them anyway, so I’ll need them on board as much as the children.

In addition to all the constructive comments on my blog post, yesterday I had one of the loveliest things ever happen to me.  Completely out of the blue, a neighbour dropped round to say that she’d been following my blog and wondered if we could chat about it.  I hadn’t met this neighbour before (though our husbands know each other), but she also has a teaching background and is also interested in storytelling (among her many passions).  We had a great chat (whilst H ate a very cheese-based lunch – still making our way through his birthday party food 😉 ) and she was able to offer me a more objective perspective on some of the things that had been bothering me.  I am so grateful to her for making the effort to come round and inspire me and I hope that I would be ‘brave’ enough to do the same for someone else.

I am now rethinking just what a typical Story Seekers session might look like (as both Liz and my neighbour commented, the other things I can offer might be just as valuable as crafts and therefore I should play to my strengths) and am considering a much less formal approach than I had previously envisaged.  I’ll blog about it in more detail when I’ve got my head round it all, but in the meantime I want to say another ginormous THANK YOU again to who everyone responded to my post 🙂




  1. I love the look of this book! And how your thoughts are developing. It made me think of a fabulous little Beatrix Potter exhibition in Birnam, where she used to holiday. It has baskets of books, dressing up, play activities like a shop (Ginger & Pickles) and ironing/laundry (mrs tiggywinkle), puzzles, soft toys, etc – and colouring/brass rubbing but no crafts 🙂 we spent hours there last summer, the kids choosing what t do & when, and I can really see a storyseekers session as you say, less formal, with different things to do, a bit like this. Btw I wouldn’t worry too much about adding value – you are already adding value by choosing stories parents may not be aware of, widening reading lists, and secondly by storytelling! Just leading the group is already adding a great deal of value I think. 🙂

  2. Thanks Helen, your comments are really helpful! A couple of other people have made the same observation about the books and storytelling side of things being ‘enough’ too. I think it’s going to really help me to do some more thinking about which bits of Story Seekers sessions will be aimed at parents and which will be aimed at children. Clearly, engaging children and hopefully helping them to love books and reading is paramount, but I’d like the parents to enjoy the sessions too and it did occur to me that perhaps if the sessions are too formal and packed with stories, crafts, etc. that parents might feel put off and as though this was something they couldn’t possibly do at home. The main aim of Story Seekers is to get as many families sharing books and stories as possible and I’m thinking a relaxed approach might therefore be best anyway.
    Thanks again for taking the time to comment and for being as lovely as always 🙂

  3. […] light of the above and of my recent realisation about my love/hate relationship with crafts, I have been wondering about the possibility of offering more informal sessions.  Most of the […]

  4. […] is by the same author as another book we love called ‘Beautiful Oops’ (mentioned in this post) and allows the reader to model different pairs of cardboard glasses on Arlo to decide which ones […]

  5. LOVED your post! I’m so glad you found and like Beautiful Oops! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    Most sincerely,


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