Chatting to Ben Blackman

So last week I was sitting on the sofa cuddled up to my mum, because I was off school poorly. That’s quite a long story, because it was the third time I had the gastro since I started school again in September, and last week there were 200 children all sick on the same day and it turned out they decided there were bacteria in our tap water. So all the towns and villages round here can’t drink our tap water any more or brush your teeth with it. Well, now you can if you boil it for 15 minutes, but it tastes like swimming pool water because they are disinfecting the pipes. So instead my dad went and bought a big bottle of water from the supermarket. You might think that is a big inconvenience for us, but if you think about it there are lots of people in the world who don’t ever have clean tap water, so it isn’t really. We just bought a bottle and they can’t do that.

Anyway, while I was feeling poorly and cuddling mum I was watching a film and she was on twitter. She goes on twitter quite a lot to talk to people about books. And one of her friends called Ben got bored of talking to her and asked to talk to me instead. So we had a chat for a while and then my friend Carol-Ann phoned me to see how I was so we stopped.

But Ben had an idea that we could ask each other questions and put them on each others blogs so we did. We answered the same questions but my answers are on his blog and his are here. I don’t know if he is famous but he is funny… :mrgreen:

What is your name and how old are you?

My name is Ben and I am (WHAT?! I’m not am I? Seriously, when did I get that old?) 34 years old. Seriously – I thought I was, like, 23 or something?


Where do you live and what’s the best thing about it?
I live in a lovely village in Lancashire. I’m not going lie to you Amélie – one of the reasons we were keen on it was that, when we moved here, it had 7 pubs and just 3,000 people (many of whom were children so couldn’t even go to the pubs). Basically that is a lot of pubs and not a lot of people and I like that. But then it is mainly great because it’s in the countryside, all the people are lovely and the school is really good (one of my little girls is 5 so goes to primary school).

Amélie: Well that sounds nice, but I personally don’t really like pubs as it’s just a lot of adults chatting and wine. There are no pubs here where I live and that’s fine by me.

What don’t you like about where you live?
Too many pubs. Only joking. Really if I could make it a bit more ‘rural’ (deeper into the countryside and add lots of hills) that would be even better. And – RAIN. It rains a LOT in Lancashire.

Amélie: Haha, we have lots of hills, and not much rain. Except in spring when it rains every afternoon nearly and we get big storms. Would you like to come visit :) ?

Do you know what a loom band is?
Dude, I more or less invented Loom bands! Well, ok, maybe I didn’t. Do you know about the man who did though? He’s from India I think and his little girls used to make them (before they had really been ‘invented’ and one day he tried playing along – but his fingers were too big so he invented a little ‘pick’ to use instead and from that came the loom and now he sells so many he is a multi-BILLIONaire). Do you know what a BILLIONaire is? It’s enough to buy a LOT of loom bands.

Amélie: Yes, I know what a billionaire is, DUDE, it’s someone who is super-rich. But if I were a billionaire I would buy a horse and a super-nice house, not lots of loom bands. Derp.

Do you speak French?
Eurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, oui.”
Does that count?
In a word, non. I really wish I could. I know you speak French and English and your school speaks entirely French (because that’s where you live) – even the English lessons. I am so impressed you can do that because you are only 9 years old. And you also learn Catalan and Spanish. Wow – you are 157 times better than me at languages. To be honest I’m not even that good at English. Sometimes I can’t spell the words right.

Amélie: LOOL (do you get it?)

What is your favourite food?
That is a really hard question because I love ALL food (except beetroot and field mushrooms but then – who likes beetroot and field mushrooms really)?
I am VERY hungry right now (it is 9.46am and I didn’t have breakfast).
If I was making some food right now it would be this:
Cheese & Jam in Toast (it sounds silly right but seriously, it’s tasty and really fills you up).
I usually eat healthy – that is important. I know you’re mad into Cucumber so that’s good. Also – you should always eat breakfast. Not eating breakfast is REALLY naughty.

Amélie: Breakfast is my favourite meal. I usually have three parts to my breakfast, but none of it is beetroot or mushrooms, beurk! (That’s a French word for you it means yuk).

What off school / work activities do you do?
I used to play cricket and I might start that again next year – I really like playing cricket, especially when it’s sunny.
Also I like writing like your Mum (well not like your Mum – she is a LOT better at writing than I am and I write a different style but – it’s fun, I like it).
The main thing I love doing is hanging out with my little family. There’s me, my wife, and we have 2 girls Esmée (age 5) and Martha (age 10 months). Yesterday we went out and Esmée rode her bike. It was SO windy it made us all laugh and run and smile a lot. Then we went to a café and ate chocolate cake and we all smiled even more.

Amélie: Awww I want to go there! I rode my bike this morning near where we live, but there was no café and no chocolate cake and I loooooove chocolate cake (as long as it’s not too sweet, I don’t like too sweet things.)

Did/do you know what you wanted to be when you were an adult?
No. I think I’m still trying to decide now but writing things I only realised I wanted to do a few years ago so that’s been my best discovery. I wish I learnt how to play a musical instrument too when I was younger but still hope I learn the guitar one day. I set myself a target of learning before I was 35 so – better get a move on eh!

Amélie: Yes, seriously. 

I’ll tell you what I do know Amélie – the most important thing is to do things you love. Play with friends who you enjoy being with and do things you love and you’ll be very happy and do really well. But also learn as much as you can at school (even the boring bits) because they’re really important.

Amélie: Yeah, like I really like maths except divisions, they are so boring.

What did you ask for for Christmas?
We are going on a mini holiday after Christmas and I really cannot wait for that – I’m so excited. So I asked for nothing for Christmas, so that we can afford to pay for the holiday instead! Adults are weird eh. That said, I am kind of hoping to get a CD – maybe Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran. I pretend I listen to Taylor Swift because Esmée likes her – but really I do!

Amélie: My mum and dad didn’t give each other anything either but that is because we are saving up for a new house maybe…I love Taylor Swift too.

Also I love socks. I hope I get some socks. Adults are really weird (or maybe just I am)?

Amélie: Yeah it could just be you. I love throwing my socks on the floor. I use up about three pairs per hour. LOL. PS my feet are only one size smaller than my mums and already bigger than my grandma. But not as big as my dad’s because he’s ginormous and that would look weird.

What was your favourite book that you got for Christmas?
I really liked a book called Very British Problems. It’s by the man on twitter who does @soverybritish – it’s funny things about being British. You are quite French as well as British so probably won’t be as silly as British people are when you’re older. That is good.



That is pretty awesome. I suppose it’s about rain and leaks and flooded streets. We have that once in a while but it’s not because I’m silly, it’s just weather.

I answered all these questions too, but Ben has got them, so if you want to find out more about me you have to click here for his blog. You should, because the book I got for Christmas is totally awesome!

Toro! Toro! By Michael Morpurgo

Toro! Toro! (meaning Bull! Bull!) is about a bull named Paco and a boy named Antonito, and they are best buddies on a farm in Spain a long time ago, just before a war breaks out.

But when Antonito’s Uncle Juan comes to fight at corrida Antonito discovers that it is not only a dance that takes place there…and Paco is destined for the bull ring! He has to make a plan fast.

Toro Toro

It is a very short novel with long chapters to keep you waiting! My favourite part was after Antonito puts his plan into action, but then things get really much worse than you can imagine. I can’t say what because that would be *spoilers*

In the book I really cared about what happened to Antonito and Paco, but at the end it was pretty disappointing, because after all the bad things that happen in a book usually there is a happy ending to satisfy you, but the ending of Toro! Toro! is different. I would have given it a different end. See what you think.

It is a good book for children from 5 to 10 years, so read it, it is exciting and interesting.

This book is by Michael Morpurgo and there are a few illustrations by Michael Foreman, just enough to help your imagination. I also have The Butterfly Lion book, and my sister has The Rainbow Bear book and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips and Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea both on CDs, which she loves.

Books on How to Draw

Not all the books I like to read are story books. If you look at the categories on my home page you will see that also I like non-fiction books about things like art and crafts and the natural world.

One of the other things I really like to do is draw. And I love horses.

For my 9th birthday I got two ‘How to draw horses’ books and they are great. They both came from the same person and you might think that two books on the same thing is strange, but they go together really well.

What’s good about them is they are in simple steps and there is a detail book, so you draw a horse with one book and detail it with the other.

How to draw Horses: In Simple Steps by Eva Dutton


Horses (How to Draw and Paint series) by Walter Foster


They are really good for teaching yourself how to draw things that look realistic and you can get better at it really quickly. If you know any children who are interested in drawing I really recommend these series.

There are not just horses but people, faces, animals, dragons, pretty much whatever you’re interested in.

The Case of the Exploding Loo

I’m sorry I haven’t been doing blogs for a long time, but it’s school holidays now which means lots of reading and other activities.

The exploding loo is very awesome and I have read it all. There are three main characters Porter, Holly and Noelle, aka Know-all, the main one, who is very intelligent.

It all starts when a portaloo (a toilet that you can move from one place to another) explodes! You might have expected that from the title. And what is worse, Noelle and Holly’s dad is in it at the time and now he’s missing. BUT although they find poo and a pair of shoes they don’t find any bits of exploded person.

exploding loo

It’s a mystery, and Noelle decides to solve it. All through the book she picks up CLUES. I don’t want to give the story away but like: CLUE 1: It is statistically unlikely that dad spontaneously combusted.

Some of these clues are important but others are RED HERRINGS.

Noelle and Porter and Holly contact each other by writing weirdly like this: « u mit oona com here 2 8 the cantne is awfl its fish everyday blablabla. » It’s a kind of code.

A big part of the story is a school called LOSERS which means: Lindon-based Opportunities for the Superior Education of Remarkable Students. It’s for clever children. Or is it?

I was really freaked out at the end of the book because when the mystery is solved it was not what I was expecting at all. SURPRISE!

At the end Noelle says she might look for other cases to solve. I think they should be called:

1) The Case of the Missing Weetabix

2) The Case of Invisible Thief


3) The Case of the Zombie Sister.

It’s almost my birthday in a month and a bit, I am going to have a pyjama party with my best friends Anna, Romy, Clémence and Noémie. We will have pizza and watch a film so if you have any good ideas for films or shenanigans good for 9 year olds then let me know.

This book is by Rachel Hamilton, here is her very cool  website, and she sent it to me because she heard I like reading, so thanks, Rachel :mrgreen:

The Secret Garden


This month I have been reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and I finished it today. Then as a surprise my dad had bought a film that had been made of the same story so we could watch it. We have done this before with a book called The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith and I have discovered something about films made of books…

They make the stories different!

Like in The Secret Garden book Mary’s parents die of cholera which is an illness and in the film it was an earthquake. And in the book the robin shows where the key is buried and in the film she just finds it in a drawer straight away. And that’s not all!

Anyway, about the book. I really really liked The Secret Garden. It was a long book but it kept me interested because lots of worrying things kept happening and Mary was a good character that was sad but also surprising and funny. Dickon was my favourite person. Exciting things happened at the end of the chapters and I kept asking if I could have just a bit more.

I prefer the book to the film because the film was a lot gloomier and skipped things that were important, like when Mrs Sowerby came into the garden. Mrs Sowerby wasn’t even in the film at all, or her currant buns or her cottage on the moor and all her children, which is a shame because she was nice and important.

Also, Mrs Medlock was played by Professor McGonagall off the Harry Potter films (I havent read any of the books yet) and she wasn’t who I was imagining at all.

MBDSEGA EC009McGonegall

I’d have liked it better if she was played by the farmers wife off Babe (That is another Dick King-Smith story).

babe wife

There was a lot of details in the book and it made me feel nervous a lot, but In the film everything happened straight away so it didn’t build up as much and I got a bit bored.

One thing that made the book more interesting was sometimes you saw things from Mary’s eyes and sometimes from the servants, and sometimes Dickon’s and sometimes even a robin. But in the film you only had your own point of view.

So my advice would be to read a book first before you see a film of it because it’s more interesting and you will be happier at the end even though it takes longer.


I have decided to talk about some of the other things I enjoy besides books. I hope you think it’s interesting. Next time I will talk about computer programming, but this time I want to talk about Minecraft, which you might have heard of.

Minecraft is my favorite game. I spend a lot of my time with my dad’s laptop on rainy days. Minecraft is a computer game which is made completely of blocks! There are different modes, Creative and Survival and you can have either of these on Peaceful setting or Zombie mode. I prefer peaceful mode in Creative, because otherwise the zombies are destructive and they blow up my awesome stuff that I have built.

To give you an idea I have built houses, a ruined castle, a fountain, a maze and a mini-game and I have bred horses and built a Minecraft model of the riding stables where I go riding.

Minecraft Skin

It’s awesome, I love it. My sister Beatrix likes it a litle bit and she has her one and only WORLD!!!

(Which I made for her). She likes her world. And Minecraft has texture packs that make the scenery look different and you can download mod packs. They add things like different articles (computers) animals (hamsters) etc

Sometimes you get special updates like at Halloween it adds pumpkins and skeleton faces, and at Christmas there were witches.

I got the Minecraft Annual for Christmas and that has lots of helpful and fun things too.

I also watch loads of Minecraft videos on youtube, my favourites are done by Stampy Longnose – he is funny and creative and gives me loads of ideas. I also like watching Minecraft parodies of songs, which are often funny and have a little Minecraft story to go with the song, for example Viva la Vida, which is about a Minecraft king who loses everything including his Queen and child and kingdom, and the zombies come to get him so he has to choose death by zombies eating his brains or to throw himself off the castle. Which will he choose? You’ll have to look it up to find out! (By the way, it’s not very scary).

Minecraft Hunger Games are when you have to get looted up and get the best loot you can and then you try and kill others in the map without getting killed yourself. You have a certain amount of time before the death match where you get teleported into an arena and you have to fight. My mum says that The Hunger Games books are too old for me, but the Minecraft game is fine.

Minecraft Landscape

Minecraft is like building my own little world where there are no rules to follow, except for no mining straight down unless you want to get stuck. And you learn about different elements and how they work together like obsidian and coal and iron etc.

My friends at school in France think that computer games are for boys, but I disagree. What do you think???

Théa Cavalière

Théa Cavalière is about a girl who goes riding at a stables, and always has her favourite horse (called India).

But the stables changed and she rode on Jump instead and found that she was better than India after all. Meanwhile her sister Penelope was not very good…that’s sisters for you.

And at the end her mother took them both to buy horse things, and the bill was 1000£.

Here, not a chance.



As you can see, it’s a cartoon strip which I love and have lots of. This book is in French because I live in France, but even if you don’t speak French you could try cartoon strips. And if you are learning French and have a dictionary you should be fine.

It’s funny because they say really funny expressions.

I have another series called The Rainbow Orchid which is in English and really good. I will talk about it another time. I have not been doing many reviews recently because every day from 9:00 to 16:40 there is school.

And homework is even worse!!! Especially if you love Minecraft (it’s a computer game) and have got dogs to take for walks. So that’s what’s after school ;-)

Théa Cavalière is by Judith Peignen and Emma Schulz. The illustrations are by Thierry Nouveau.

Winter’s Tales by Lari Don

It’s nearly winter in France. Today it’s 8°C !!! And there’s snow on the mountain of Canigou!

This book I am going to tell you about is a good one to read on a lazy day staying in in the warm house.


There are 15 short stories in the Winter’s Tales. They come from all over the world (especially China) and they have creatures in like wolves and bears and dragons.

Some of the stories are legends and myths. Legends are things that ring with truth, that people pass on to each other.

My favourite story is The Last Sun which is a story where there are lots of different colour suns, but I won’t tell you what happens.

But if you want to see what the stories are like, here you can read one of them. It’s a Christmas story from Ukraine, about a spider:

Soon we are going to Paris then to Yorkshire then to Hampshire by car then all the way back home and we’ll arrive at about 23:00 or 00:00!!!

Thank you to Bloomsbury for this book. There are other books like this one. The most similar one I have is The House of Cats by Maggie Pearson. Here is a picture of that one.


And Girls, Goddesses and Giants which is another one by Lari Don which looks good and I am going to ask for it for Christmas.


Fortunately The Milk… by Neil Gaiman

This book is funny because of all the different characters. There are aliens and monsters and pirates and wumpires, and especially (SPLOD the GOD of people with short funny names).

The story itself is about milk and the adventures that the dad has to do to get it back safely from the shop…

Sometimes my mum leaves my dad at home to look after us too, and it’s true that dads do get up to nonsense.

Also, the illustrations in the book are really FUNNY !!!!!!!!!!!

They are in black and white so you can colour them in if you want to (I am) and read the book again at the same time.


The illustrations are by Chris Riddell. Neil Gaiman has written lots of other books so I am going to ask for some others for Christmas probably.

ps: It’s the school holidays. 5 days until I am going to HORSE GAMES (I will be riding a horse called Comtesse).

And thank you to Bloomsbury for this book (which is a special copy not like the shop ones) and the 3 other books they gave to me.


We went in to their office this week with my mum, who wrote The Night Rainbow (you will see a photo of it). Everyone was nice to me and my sister and they have LOADS of books there.

I will write about the other books soon. :mrgreen:



The Natural History Book

The natural history book is one of my favourite books so far.


It represents all the (natural) things on earth: birds, mammals, minerals, bacteria, fish, etc. And it has explanations about them.

My favourite animal is a barn owl, I also like looking at things you can only see under a microscope.


I haven’t got a microscope but I hope I get one for my birthday. I am going to be 8 years old….

AND IT’S 3 DAYS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The natural history book probably has everything in it except it doesn’t have the new creature that was found this week, the olinguito.