Tag Archives: London

Brainiac Live Review

Brainiac Live! Promo Picture

A few weeks ago I was offered tickets to Brainiac Live! on stage to review, plus a competition. Yesterday, we managed to go to see it for ourselves. As it said that it wasn’t suitable for under four and a half year olds, we took one of MG’s school friends and his mum along.

Firstly, the theatre is very easy to find. It’s a short walk from Piccadilly Circus tube station and very visible. Our tickets were reserved at the box office, which was easily accessible. Getting there from Oxfordshire with two six year olds was not a problem, which is a very good start.

We were in the dress circle rather than on the same floor as the stage but this gave us a great view and as far as I could see there was no bad seating. The theatre was quite full, giving a good audience experience.

The show manages to pack a fair amount into an hour, so most people should find a few things that they particularly like. There were four “brainiacs” on stage, although “Brainiac Ned” was the lead and did everything with the others as support. He started with an experiment to see what materials it was possible to run through. The children found this hilarious, especially in any part where he might have got slightly hurt or fell over!

There was then a section on Mondegreens, including words to the whole of O Fortuna. There was a 12 volt electrified fence, lots of dry ice, and igniting balloons full of different gasses. They showed the famous selective attention test, used fire extinguishers as propellers and had a Brainiac vs Audience air bazooka competition as the finale. [Don’t follow any of those links if you don’t know what I’m talking about and want a surprise!]

This promotional video is an accurate representation of the show we saw (other than the audience)

I asked the two small children what they thought about the show and they thought it was awesome. Mighty Girl’s friend (boy, aged six) loves science things and came out of the theatre talking non-stop about all the explosions and all the different things he say. Mighty-Girl is quieter and not as keen on loud noises but she also enjoyed the whole thing, including the explosions. She did comment on the fact there was only one girl though. They both wanted to go back and see it again straight away.

The show is an hour long with no break, and is on two or three times a day. Because of this, it is very self-contained with stage clean ups happening as they went along, which meant a few ‘filler’ sections on screen when that was happening.

What didn’t work for me: The on-screen sections, especially the “Cambridge University” scrambled word study (it’s fake.) I’m the kind of person who already knows what a Mondegreen is and has done the selective attention test, and seen the ‘scrambled word study’ before, and who checks every round robin e-mail against Snopes. I guess I don’t really watch the show either, but I like the idea of having fun with science exploding things. The first five minutes seemed to be taken up with a voice over telling everyone how brilliant the next hour was going to be, which to me can only lead to disappointment, especially as most of the explosions were so obviously controlled (of course they have to be controlled, but so obviously?!)

What did work for me: I like liquid nitrogen. Some of the things they did using it were genuinely interesting (the balloon and the bottle, if you’ve seen the show.) The air bazookas filled with smoke were quite amazing to watch, and I was even hit with a blast of air up in the dress circle. The second half an hour was a lot more fun overall. The children were entranced by the whole show, and even the train being delayed and taking over two hours to get home didn’t bother them too much because they were happy.

Would I recommend Brainiac Live? Yes, if you’re within easy reach of London and enjoy the TV show. It’s something different to see in the school break, a show for children that most children will enjoy.

Disclaimer: We were given four tickets for our choice of Brainiac Live show in return for this review. All travel and sundry expenses were not compensated. Pictures are promotional shots and copyright their respective owners.

Our Week in Books #1

I’m still fairly quiet on the blogging front, but it’s back to school next week so that should start to pick up again. Real life has to win against blogging of course!

This week I have read one book for me which is Aspergirls by Rudy Simone. I read it entirely on New Year’s Day as it was an easy read and because it was – not a revelation, maybe an affirmation? – of things I had suspected for some time. I need to re-read, highlight extensively and then post about! Otherwise I have also read parts of The Etymologican by Mark Forsyth and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (both 99p Kindle purchases). The latter is not appealing to me enough to race through and the former isn’t the fiction that I’m currently craving so they are both in limbo.

In the five days of 2013 I’ve read 22 (and a half) different picture books to MG and DG. The different is important, as I have read some of them several times! This week’s “winner” in terms of re-reads is Jo Lodge’s Peekaboo Little Roar. A book that is technically too young for MG and DG but a huge hit nonetheless. Series winner goes to Princess Evie’s Ponies which both girls are enjoying immensely, much to my dismay… Actually, they’re not bad at all, just not my cup of tea!

Princess Evie's Ponies: Neptune the Magic Sea Pony Claude on Holiday. by Alex T. Smith Harry the Dirty Dog I Love You. by Giles Andreae, Emma Dodd Come Along, Daisy! Peekaboo Little Roar. Jo Lodge Rosie's Walk Merry Christmas Maisy Down By The Cool Of The Pool Welcome to Alien School Princess Evie's Ponies: Willow the Magic Forest Pony Princess Evie's Ponies: Star the Magic Sand Pony The Goldilocks Variations: A Pop-up Book Ella Grub in Love Tyrannosaurus Drip Muffin and the Expedition Ballet Class Princess Evie's Ponies: Silver the Magic Snow Pony Zoom, Rocket, Zoom! We Love You, Hugless Douglas! Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book Can You See Sassoon?

Six picture books have been added to our bookshelves so far this year! Two classics on buy one get one free from the lovely Tales on Moon Lane which I have at last visited; and four review books from Hachette. What lucky book bloggers we are 🙂

I’ve also been adding several 20p and 99p books to my Kindle in the Amazon sale. Ones I want to read at some point and at that price I’m afraid I can’t resist… I still can’t bear the idea of picture books on Kindle though.

Yesterday I took MG to London for the first time. We didn’t go on/into anything (it cost over £30 for the two of us to do anything like London Eye or Aquarium, and I just couldn’t justify the cost on a grotty January day just after Christmas!) but we walked along Embankment and took photos, then met some twitter friends at Tales on Moon Lane. MG loved her special grown-up mummy/daughter day trip. DG stayed with grandparents and was thoroughly spoiled 🙂

London’s Calling

You’d think there were things happening in London or something, with all the London-centric books that are out or re-issued this year! 😉 I’m not a huge fan of London, I’m sure it’s lovely really but I’ve lived in Oxfordshire my whole life so have Oxford for beautiful buildings; varied museums and art galleries; crowds of tourists and students; parks to wander round; and much, much more. I’ve never been a fashionista so don’t need to go browse the shops and I prefer peace and quiet to hustle and bustle anyhow. So London, to me, has generally just been a couple of tube stops on the way to visit friends or somewhere ‘central’ to meet people scattered about the country…

However, the books below are inspiring me to take MG and DG for a day-trip in the summer holidays (some time before the Olympics hit I think!) and giving them an idea of what we can expect to see.

The Dog Detectives in… Lost in London by Fin & Zoa and Monika Suska

Covers: Tower of London; London Eye; red buses; Big Ben; Buckingham Palace; Hyde Park; Trafalgar Square; St Paul’s Cathedral; London Underground

The ravens are missing from the Tower of London and Detective Jack and Deputy Poco Loco have until tea time to find them all. With the help from the Rat Riddler, they search London for the missing ravens by solving riddles like: I have a face and two hands but cannot walk. I count to twelve but cannot talk. This book can be enjoyed on one level by very young children while older ones can try to work out the riddles and guess where the detectives are going next.

Katie in London by James Mayhew

Covers: Trafalgar Square; St Paul’s Cathedral; The Tower of London; Tower Bridge; London Eye; Houses of Parliament; Buckingham Palace; a park; Harrods; red buses

Katie and her little brother, Jack, are taken to London to see the sights by their Grandmother who promptly falls asleep so they end up being taken on a fantastical tour through the main attractions by the stone lion in Trafalgar Square. Gorgeous art really gives the impression of the majesty of London attractions.

The two stories are a nice complement to each other, covering many of the same sights of London in very different ways. A good introduction to some main attractions in London for small children, which can then lead on to more detail in…

Paddington’s Guide to London by Michael Bond

This book is separated into short sections of easy-to-read information about different parts of London and is packed with colour photos of all the different areas. I’m not sure whether they actually took a Paddington toy around or if he’s been photoshopped in, but some of the photos with him in look a little odd to me! I suspect this would be readable by eights and ups but I’m guessing based on no practical experience. It was a very quick read for me, and informative as someone who knows nothing about London.

MG has been reading Katie in London at school so when flicking through the Paddington guide and seeing a photo of Tower Bridge, she told me it was in Katie in London book. We then read both the picture books together as she flicked through the Paddington guide to see where she’d like to visit.

I thought a Duck Tour sounded like the best thing to aim to take MG and DG on – seeing a lot of the sights from the stories we’ve read but not tiring them out with lots of trekking to different parts of the city. MG however really wants to go to Marine Ices (the picture of the ice cream sold her, the write-up sold me!) and the London Eye. They don’t look like they’re that close together so I’ll have to check to see whether it’s feasible to do both in one trip but we’ll try to cover at least one or the other (probably ice cream!)

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Paddington’s Guide to London by HarperCollins and The Dog Detectives in… Lost in London by Maverick Arts Publishing for review. I bought our copy of Katie in London. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.