All Billy wants for his birthday is a bucket. Not a bike or a computer game. Just a bucket. His parents try unsuccessfully to persuade Billy otherwise but eventually a trip to Buckets-R-Us takes place. Billy returns home utterly delighted. He fills his bucket with water and so begin hours of play.
Every time Billy peers into his bucket he sees different watery worlds – crabs, sharks, divers, perhaps even a mermaid play in the water, and Billy is mesmerised by it all. His parents, on the other hand, are dismissive. They start off by humouring Billy (“What’s in your bucket now, Billy?” giggled his mum. “Seven sea lions and a walrus,” said Billy. “Of course there are, Billy,” laughed his mum and dad.) but soon they can’t resist teasing him a little; they try to persuade Billy to lend them his bucket so that they can use it for some household chores. Billy refuses. He loves his bucket and the worlds it contains. Indeed he goes to bed that night very happy – his bucket is “the best present in the world.”
The following morning Billy comes down to the kitchen to find his bucket missing. Although distraught it is Billy who ends up having the last laugh – it turns out his Dad borrowed the bucket to wash the car…and, well, let’s just say Billy’s Dad is now left looking somewhat foolish for not believing in Billy and the power of his imagination.
Please try to find a copy of Billy’s Bucket – the story is a fantastic testament to the power of imagination and a gentle reminder to those of us who might at times be far too sensible to believe in a little bit of magic. Kids will love it that Billy was proved right – there were, after all, marvellous sea creatures in his bucket, and parents will share a wry smile of recognition at the behaviour of Billy’s Mum and Dad. I also love the story for its delight in a simple birthday gift – a bucket – not a Wii or a trip to Disneyland – and in this respect it reminds me of Katie Cleminson’s Box of Tricks (which I reviewed here). Another book which could work well along side Billy’s Bucket is Polly Dunbar’s Penguin (which I reviewed here). All three are lovely birthday-themed books which rejoice in a child’s ability to imagine and create personal narratives.
The illustrations in Billy’s Bucket are bold and bright – J particularly enjoyed them. And whilst I don’t think they have the artistic flair of Katie Cleminson’s or Polly Dunbar’s illustrations they are nevertheless great fun to look at and an important part of why this book can hold the attention of both M (5) and J (1) at the same time.
To go with Billy’s Bucket we made our own buckets filled with sea creatures – but these were no ordinary buckets – their contents became our pudding one evening….
M made the gelatin as per the instructions on the packet, and simply added some blue food colouring for the “water” to go in the “buckets”. Jelly/Jello might work just as well, if you can get it in a blue colour . Once prepared, M poured the blue gelatin into the buckets where we left it to set for about an hour – just enough time for the gelatin to start firming up, but not for it to become too firm.
M then used a fork to push the sealife sweets into the water. Because the gelatin was already partly set the sea creatures appeared to float in the water and not sink all the way to the bottom.
Once the buckets were full of sea water and sea creatures they were left in the fridge to fully set.
Am I really showing you a photo of the inside of my fridge?? This is not at all what I anticipated when I started blogging…
Here’s our final collection of buckets full of wriggly sea life:
Here are the girls enjoying their buckets after dinner!
Billy’s Bucket:*** (3 stars)
And here’s the music we’ve been enjoying alongside Billy’s Bucket:
And just to show that some of my music is a little bit more up to date than the trio above we’ve also been listening to Ocean Night Song by Laura Veirs!
Other crafty activities which could work well alongside Billy’s Bucket include: