Sticky-back tape, glue, feathers, tissue paper, cardboard, egg boxes, felt, fur fabric, empty plastic bottles and a sewing machine.
Head into the loft, or raid the charity shops. Go forth and seek these basic items out, quickly.
I’m giving you an early heads-up. You will be called on in the coming days to get ready for the big day.
I don’t mean Red Nose day in aid of Comic Relief, although that is around the corner, too (it takes place on Friday, March 24 – you must have spotted all the red noses piled high at Sainsbury’s if you shop there?)
Nope. I mean the other big day in March – World Book Day.
You may have already emptied your child’s book bag and discovered a crumpled reminder, or this may be the first you have heard of it, but trust me, if your child’s school or nursery is taking part it’s best to be prepared.
I am totally behind the concept of the day itself: a world-wide celebration of the written word, with the aim of encouraging children to lose themselves in a book, instead of tapping away at a console game controller, or swiping away at an iPad?
Yes, yes, yes. Sign me up, I’m in.
Something special happens when we read. We are transported from the everyday to the extraordinary, unless you’re reading a book on DIY or fly fishing, maybe not then.
I grew up on a literary diet of stories written by Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene. I would often spend my Saturday mornings browsing the shelves at my local library then I’d devour an entire Malory Towers book or a Nancy Drew mystery over the weekend.
I still adore walking into a library, or a bookshop. It’s not just the smell of the paper and ink, it’s the stories waiting to be discovered. There is something special about falling in love with a character, a place, or an idea you have read about in a book.
I’m sure that’s why book clubs are so popular, that and the copious bottles of wine drunk at most of the gatherings I’ve ever attended.
But does everyone feel the same? In the name of research, I carried out a straw poll among my mummy friends to gauge their general feelings about World Book Day.
Opinions varied from ambivalence to seething rage. It seems most parents agree teaching a love of books via a day of fun and dressing up is good in theory but in practice is fraught with problems.
My pet peeve is the choice of costume. My one golden rule about costumes is that my children must have read the book, or at least have had it read to them.
So, because I am quite anal about these things, I will find myself trying to explain to a headstrong child why they can’t rock up at school dressed as Buzz Lightyear, (movie), Spider-Man (nope, Marvel comics are not books – please don’t cite the ‘graphic novel’ argument as a justification for wearing a Captain America costume, clever git) or Elsa from Frozen (movie, again – unless you are going to tell me you know the film is inspired by Andersen’s Snow Queen).
“IT HAS TO BE A CHARACTER FROM A BOOK, DARLING. A BLOODY BOOK.”
“No, you can’t go as Lightning McQueen…”
Several hours later…
“YES, MOG COUNTS. GO AS A CAT, (crying into my wine now) for the love of god, please go as a bleddy cat”.
*Drinks more wine and begins sewing a fur tail made from a deconstructed hot water bottle cover onto a pair of tracksuit bottoms.*
Please don’t feel guilty if you don’t have the time or the inclination to start crafting at midnight. Order that Little Red Riding Hood costume from Amazon (I hold my hands up), pop a Harry Potter wand and cape next to the apples in your Asda shopping trolley, no-one will judge you, I promise. We are in this together, do what you must to survive.
However, here are several suggestions it’s probably best to avoid, despite being them relatively easy to achieve: Hannibal Lecter, Lord Voldemort and Christian Grey. Don’t go there, ever.
As for do-able, last-minute costume ideas, here are a few. For the girl who loathes dressing up, suggest she wears a blue dress, pop a red ribbon in her hair, give her a pile of books to carry – voila – Matilda! For the reluctant boy, dig out a hand-knitted cardigan and short trousers – he can then pretend to be either of the Pevensie brothers from the Narnia series, Roald Dahl’s Charlie Bucket, or Herge’s Tintin (don’t forget the quiff).
And, let’s take a look at the incentive – a quid to spend on a book. I have no idea when I will make the time to go into town to spend a £1 book voucher that will no doubt be lost inside the Book-bag of Mystery, the one that swallows all important pieces of paper.
The organisers of World Book Day would do better to issue a ticket for a free a Cosmopolitan or Woo Woo and invite mums along to some kind of reading session in the library.
That is the kind of happy hour I’d totally get behind and after three cocktails, I absolutely wouldn’t care if there were eight Elsa’s, five Spider-Mans and a Kung-Fu Panda sitting around listening to a reading of Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.
So, World Book Day. Yes, it might be a pain in the bookend, but for me, with or without that book voucher as a carrot and ignoring the costume dilemmas, I am all for it!
About Sam Curtis
Sam Curtis, 46, lives in Lincolnshire, in a house that’s not as clean or tidy as she’d like with her husband and their two children, a tweenager and a threenager. It’s a riot. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter
Visit www.worldbookday.com for more information about World Book Day which takes place on Thursday, March 2.
Image credit: Alison McGarragh-Murphy