Inside the Book People
Everyone remembers the bit in Roald Dahl’s Matilda when poor Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat an enormous chocolate cake just to himself. We know that there will be some who would like to try it for themselves, especially as this week we’re celebrating the centenary of Roald Dahl, so we’ve put together a Bruce Bogtrotter-inspired chocolate cake recipe for you and the little ones to try – ‘you can do it, Brucey!’
For the chocolate cake:
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
175g softened butter
1½ level tsp baking powder
40g cocoa powder
4 tbsp boiling water
For the chocolate spread:
150ml double cream
150g plain chocolate
You will also need:
2 x 17cm deep sandwich tins, greased and lined with non-stick baking paper
- Preheat the oven to 180C, gas 4.
- Beat the eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter and baking powder until smooth in a large mixing bowl.
- Put the cocoa in separate mixing bowl, and slowly add the water to make a stiff paste. Add to the rest of the cake mixture.
- Put into the sandwich tins, level the top and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins.
- Leave to cool in the tin, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the icing: measure the cream and chocolate into a bowl and carefully melt over a pan of hot water over a low heat, or gently in the microwave for 1 min. Stir until melted, then set aside to cool a little and thicken up.
- To ice the cake: spread half of the chocolate spread on one of the cakes, then lay the other cake on top, sandwiching them together.
- Use the remaining chocolate spread to ice the top of the cake – and gorge!
This time last year I was in a very similar situation to thousands of unhappy parents all around the country – I had to watch in horror as my sweet little girl left for her very first day of school. It was a difficult experience, one that give me a horrendous sense of foreboding when I think I have to live through this traumatic experience twice again in the next couple of years.
To help some other parents through what I would describe as ‘the poopiest day ever’, I’ve broken down the five stages of your child starting school…
My baby can’t be starting school. They are too little. They were only born, like, a year ago. How will they cope? How will I cope?
Nope. Not happening.
What if they hate it? What if they hate their teacher? What if their teacher hates them? What if they don’t make friends, don’t get invited to parties, don’t eat their lunch, etc, etc.
(BTW – they will eat their lunch, including all the things they refuse to eat at home).
“Let me brush your hair before we leave the house and we’ll go to the park on the way home.”
“Do your homework before dinner and you can have pudding.”
“Walk a little bit faster and we won’t have to sign the late book… AGAIN!”
Sharing the excitement of your child learning to read words for the very first time, listening to them happily chatting about their day at school. Maybe this isn’t so bad…
My child is learning, growing and happy. This school thing is okay.
There is also the acceptance that you will receive 30 emails a week about various school events, most of which require some kind of participation that you will never quite be prepared for. World Book Day costume anyone? Victorian Day? Bake sale? Arrrrrgggghhhh. Maybe I’m still working on the acceptance!
Books to help you through this difficult year
To help you through their first year (that first horrible, HORRIBLE year when your little person isn’t at home making a mess any more – I miss the mess!!!), I’ve picked out my top 5 books to survive your child’s first year at school.
Once my daughter started to enjoy reading, she was desperate to read more than just the 3 books a week from school. This collection has been perfect for keeping her supplied with appropriate, phonics based reading.
These are so handy to have. As they are only £1 per book, they are perfect for using as a reward. In Sophie’s school, each week one child from each class gets put into the ‘Gold book’ for good work or behaviour, so if Sophie was chosen I could reward her with a sticker book.
The first year at school can be quite challenging for children, so having a good bedtime routine with time to wind down and talk about their day is really important. I take 5 mins to let my daughter chat about her day and then I will read a few chapters of a Rainbow Magic Fairies book to help her switch off and settle for the night.
Your child will likely be invited to 20 + parties in their first year of school. As everyone settles into friendship groups, ‘whole class’ parties are typical, which is lovely but can be expensive. I have found the collections of books (such as the Mega Character Colouring Collection) make perfect party bag gifts or pass the parcel prizes if you are hosting a whole class of children, while the Book People’s gift range offers really affordable presents for other children’s parties. I bought several of the lovely make your own ranges – Princess and Pirate Peg Dolls, Paint Your Own Mugs/Gnomes, Jigsaws and Games and have kept them in a box ready for the next party invite! See the full gift range here.
New research that we at Book People have conducted has identified the UK’s biggest colouring-in hot spots – and it looks like it’s a university affair, with Oxford and Cambridge residents top the list of crayon wielding adults.
The findings, based on how many adult colouring books were purchased on average per person over the past eight months, found that the battle of universities is not only restricted to league tables or boat races, but crayoning too. With Oxford topping the list of colouring in cities, closely followed by Newcastle and their mortal opponents, Cambridge.
Over the past year we’ve been amazed by the rapid growth in popularity of adult colouring books. With recent reports showing that a shortage in colouring pencils could be on the horizon, it seems the trend for colouring in is only getting bigger. It’s surprising to see Oxbridge so high in the colouring rankings, we can only assume the next Stephen Hawking is colour coding their crayons in between their theoretical cosmology lectures!
Of the types of adult colouring books the public are purchasing, patterns, animals and nature were the most popular niches, with two thirds (66%) of people choosing one of those genres.
It also seems the popularity of The Great British Bake Off has had an impact on our colouring preferences, particularly in Cardiff where 12% of all colouring books purchased were cake related.
In Cambridge, it looks like academic types could be busy shading in Brad Pitt’s cheekbones, with 10% of all colouring books bought on the topic of famous faces.
Speaking of why Oxbridge may have come so high in the colouring rankings, Dr Nick Smith, courses director and founder of Oxford Open Learning Trust, commented: “For students in a high pressured academic environment such as Oxford or Cambridge colouring is the perfect means of relaxation.
“Adult colouring books are not only a great way to engage your creative side, but they encourage users to take a break from technology and the stresses of daily life – so we couldn’t recommend them more highly for any students needing some ‘me-time’.”
Mali Lewis, a postgraduate from Leeds Beckett University, used colouring books as a means of relaxation in her final year of university: “Studying for my finals was an intense time, with dissertation hand-in just around the corner, I often turned to colouring as a way to detach myself from work and unwind. I love any of the books by Millie Marotta – her illustrations are so calming, you can get lost in them for hours.”
All figures based on sales data from Book People, from July 2015 to March 2016.
The UK’s top ten colouring cities:
|Newcastle upon Tyne|
Most popular colouring in genres:
|Genre||Percentage of people who’ve bought this genre of colouring book from Book People|
We love Roald Dahl books here at Book People, and with excitement high among Dahl fans due to the release of Steven Spielberg and Disney’s adaptation of The BFG, we thought we would run through our top ten Roald Dahl quotes from The BFG book.
Have we included your favourite quote, or perhaps we have these Roald Dahl quotes in the incorrect order? Join the conversation over on Facebook or tweet us @thebookpeople and let us know your thoughts.
And number 1…
Do you know a young reader (or an older one for that matter!) who loves Roald Dahl? Our 15-book Roald Dahl Collection offers unbelievable savings of over £70 off RRP.