Tag Archives: bookworm

Word for Wednesday: N is for…Nabarlek!

Okay, so those of you who know me well, know I am a bit of a nature nerd.  And I am also rapidly working towards turning my little girl into a voracious bookworm and fledgling linguaphile.  All great things to aspire to, in my opinion! But then I guess I’d have to say that, wouldn’t I?!

“‘I’m a N-N-Nabarlek,’ it stammered,

‘Don’t laugh, please, it’s true.

I’m definitely not a wallaby, or even a kangaroo.'”

(David Cadji-Newby, The little girl who lost her name).

Nabarlek (noun).

The nabarlek (Petrogale concinna), also known as the pygmy rock-wallaby or the little rock-wallaby, is a very small species of macropod found in northern Australia. It was formerly considered distinct enough to be assigned its own genus, Peradorcas, but it is now considered to belong, like the rest of the rock-wallabies, in the genus Petrogale.

(Source: wikipedia)

One of my very best friends in the world bought a truly inspired present for our girly for her first birthday.  One of the most brilliant children’s books I’ve ever seen.  Not least because inside, we found our first Nabarlek together!  I do not blog for money, none of my posts are advertising fodder or sponsored in anyway.  So believe me when I say that I really do think that ‘The little girl/boy who lost her/his name‘ books are utterly fantastic!

In their own words, “We are three dads and an uncle, who started all this as a DIY project (it beats putting up wonky shelves). The aim was to make the best personalised book in the world. Yeah. We know. But hey, if you’re not going to be ambitious, what’s the point?”. 

I’m just one mum, but I for one think they are indeed the most awesome personalised book that I’ve ever seen.  And there are obviously a few other fans too, because they are now a successful, thriving, fully-fledged business, rather than a part-time, very ambitious ‘DIY project’.  I love a good success story.

The books are personalised and structured around your child’s own name, which is such a special way to involve little people in reading.  The story takes you on a little journey to find the child’s name, meeting weird and wonderful new friends like the nabarlek on the way.

David Cadji-Newby is a British writer, who weaves the most lyrical of stories, using wonderful words like ‘courageous’ and ‘glamourous’.  Charming and witty, and not a goat in a boat or a cat on a mat to be seen.  It is a real revelation in writing for children.

copymarked by me, because it is my photo, but the credit for the creative talent lies entirely with the illustrator Pedro Serapicos.

The books in the series are illustrated by Pedro Serapicos, to whom credit for the illustration above belongs. He has a really fresh, distinctive style, which perfectly brings to life the words on the page.

Our little girl loves looking at the pictures and is so thrilled when we get to the end in a flurry of excitement because we’ve found her name.  Still a long way off, but I am looking forward to seeing what happens when she can read it herself. I can pretty much guarantee that it will be amongst the favourites in her growing book collection.

Did you ever have a personalised children’s book that you loved? Or have you bought one for someone else?  There are so many birthday parties when your children are little, and books are usually my first choice of gift.  Inspiration would be very welcome!

Word for Wednesday: L is for liminality!

We have books everywhere in this house!  We have shelves and bookcases with books especially for our little girl.  But which books are the ones she most wants to look at?  Ours of course!  And yesterday she toddled straight in to the office and pulled my copy of Theorising Childhood off the shelf.  It is a book by Allison James, Chris Jenks and Alan Prout covering the fundamentals of childhood social theory.

I studied the sociology and anthropology of childhood years before having my own child, so that book was looking decidedly dusty! But as I am currently reading Raising Girls: how to help your daughter grow up happy, healthy and strong, by Steve Biddulph, my curiosity was piqued. There was a bit in the chapter on the broad social theory of childhood that really stood out.

The authors observe that children ‘represent a potential challenge to social order by virtue of their constant promise of liminality, which […] maps out the space of the ordered and the normal.  In this case, this is the taken-for-granted, adult world.’

Liminality (noun).

  • the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the  participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct or dress (anthropological definition)
  • the condition of being on a threshold or at the beginning of a process
  • of or relating to a sensory threshold
  • barely perceptible
  • of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition

Derivation: Latin limen meaning threshold.  First known use: 1884.

The term liminality was in use amongst psychology professionals in the late 19th Century, but it wasn’t until a social anthropologist called Arnold van Gennep published ‘Rites de Passage’ in 1909 that the term gained a stable definition.  Van Gennep wrote of the different ritualised phases of transition for individuals and society.  He theorised that there were three components: preliminal, liminal, and postliminal.  Also alternatively referred to as separation, the liminal period, and reassimilation.

I’ve listed a number of contemporary definitions which show that over time the meaning of the word liminality has shifted from its purely anthropological sense to a much broader application.  If you’ve read my Word for Wednesday posts before you will know I have a bit of a word-crush for words with shifting meanings!

The authors of Theorising Childhood say that ‘although adults themselves have to be constrained into social order, in true Durkheimian fashion children offer living exemplars of the very margins of that order, of its volatility and, in fact, its fragility. On a momentary basis, children exercise anarchistic tendencies and asociality up to the limits of adult tolerance and often beyond’. I can second that!

Certainly, when I look at my little girl and her kittens rapidly growing up together, each testing the boundaries of what we adults will accept, each growing familiar with the other, I think of liminality in its original form.  A rite of passage for each of them, as she learns how far is too far when manhandling them and pushing them about in her doll’s pram, and they learn a degree of tolerance and patience I never could have dreamed of!  It’s not a word you hear widely used these days (I suspect it never was), but in the context of children and kittens liminality is the perfect fit.

006a_498 copy

In the circus tent…a playroom favourite! She loves the kittens but isn’t really sure how happy she is that they are in her tent; they aren’t really sure it’s worth the risk! But both parties really want to be there! They are figuring it out together – liminality in action.

Word for Wednesday: K is for Kid!

Wednesday is Jungle Jingle day down at the Jungle House, which is available to members of Jungle Tots to use for organised play sessions.  I think whoever established Jungle Tots perhaps got a bit carried away with the jungle theme when they arrived in Brunei and discovered that it did indeed have quite a lot of jungle. There are also play sessions on other days called Jungle tumble and Messy play in the jungle!

But the one that my little girl really loves is Jungle Jingle.  An hour of parents and tots, singing songs together, ‘playing’ (for want of a better word!) musical instruments, doing accompanying dance and movement.  They are learning language and rhythm and coordination and a heap of other things, but it is noisy and silly and the kids love it.

Kid (noun).
  • a young person; child
  • a young goat 
  • a generalized reference to someone especially younger or less experienced 
Derivation: Middle English kide, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse kith kid.

First Known Use: 13th century.  It was slang for ‘child’ as early as the 16th century, and established in informal usage by the mid 19th century.


Today, ‘kid’ is commonplace in the English language across the world.  It is so widely used to mean children that even dictionaries that once gave it as secondary slang now list it above the (original? alternative?) meaning – a young goat.

Some people have very strong opinions about the use of the word kid in the context of children.  Their argument is that it is sloppy, inaccurate use of language, representative of a more general social and linguistic decline in modern culture. Strong feelings for one little word!  I confess I am not in that camp myself.

Sometimes I say children, sometimes I say kids, depending on the context.  I also think they can convey different things, depending on the way they are used.  I want my daughter to have a rich tapestry of language at her disposal, so she can really express herself.  I don’t want to hear everything described as ‘nice’ or ‘good’.  Equally I’d like her to know when it is appropriate to say ‘children’, when to say ‘kids’; how they are different from ‘teenager’ or ‘toddlers’.

A Year in the Merde focuses on the cultural differences between the French and the British, and is an entertainingly light-hearted read.  In this excerpt I think Stephen Clarke provides a classic example of an author very deliberately and effectively choosing the word ‘kid’ for purpose:

‘I was also sick of my neighbors, as most Parisians are. I now knew every second of the morning routine of the family upstairs. At 7:00 am alarm goes off, boom, Madame gets out of bed, puts on her deep-sea divers’ boots, and stomps across my ceiling to megaphone the kids awake. The kids drop bags of cannonballs onto the floor, then, apparently dragging several sledgehammers each, stampede into the kitchen. They grab their chunks of baguette and go and sit in front of the TV, which is always showing a cartoon about people who do nothing but scream at each other and explode. Every minute, one of the kids cartwheels (while bouncing cannonballs) back into the kitchen for seconds, then returns (bringing with it a family of excitable kangaroos) to the TV. Meanwhile the toilet is flushed, on average, fifty times per drop of urine expelled. Finally, there is a ten-minute period of intensive yelling, and at 8:15 on the dot they all howl and crash their way out of the apartment to school.’

(Stephen Clarke, A Year in the Merde).

Regardless of whether she’s a kid/child/bambino/bairn, here’s our little Jungle Jingler, doing what kids do best: making noise!