Category Archives: About Loony Literature

What is this?


This is a mystery sketch that I bought in a frame online. I don’t think it is Louis Wain; I think it is someone trying to copy him. Any experts out there?



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Cheer Yourself Up With The Plague

In these days of Brexit and Trump, I have decided that it is my duty to hand out stirring advice. In fact, I’ve nominated myself as the cheerer upper of the people. It’s a role that I relish and in these coming days, I hope to erase your feelings of discontent once and for all. So without any further waffle let’s get stuck into cheering ourselves up.


However bad you may feel, be glad that you were not alive in Tudor England when there were three main illnesses which could easily kill you. In those days, influenza was a serious killer. In fact, it travelled through the army so quickly that the generals had to call off an attempt to recapture Calais in 1557 – 1558. No flu vaccinations there then.

Carried on a flea

Another option was the plague and to be fair, with the plague there was a choice: Bubonic or pneumonic. This was caused by a type of bacteria which was carried on a flea on a rat. There was no cure for it during the Tudor reign and outbreaks occurred from time to time. In 1603, 38,000 people died in London and the plague doctors were little more than useless. Henry VIII had the best way of dealing with the plague – he got out of London as quickly as he could. It also broke out again in 1665.


If the plague or the flu didn’t get you, you still couldn’t relax because the sweating sickness might not be far behind. This broke out in England in 1485, 1517 and 1551. Talk about living for the moment, you really needed to when this illness was about. You could be singing a ditty, having a tumble in the hay and knocking back the mead at lunchtime but be dead before you got your supper; that was how quickly it struck folks down. Although saying that, it did not always kill. It is now believed that it was a type of flu and was named Sudor Anglicus because for some strange reason only the English caught it.


If you did get ill, you had a choice of who to turn to. You could go to the apothecary who handled drugs and herbs. Much of what they handed out was experimental so it was a bit of a risk seeing them. However, if you visited a barber-surgeon you would get an amputation. Perhaps, a physician might be a better choice because they would just stick leeches on you to suck your blood.

Well, that concludes my cheering up session for today. I hope it stirred you.


Filed under About Loony Literature, Being Buoyant, The Cheerer Upper, The Peculiar Past

What Has Ross Mountney Been Up To?

There is only one thing better than reading a wonderful book and that is when you are reading a wonderful book that is written by someone that is dear to you. It gives me extreme pleasure to be telling you about A Home Education Notebook by Ross Mountney.

A Home Education Notebook

This is a book for anyone that is interested in education. Yes. I stand by that. Folks often think that books like this are only to be read by those that are on the Home Education journey. However, if you are truly interested in education, you will understand the need to explore all philosophies in the hope of getting a fuller picture.

A Home Education Notebook is divided in 52 chapters so that anyone who is educating their children themselves can dip into it whenever they feel a wobble coming on or they suspect that the earth is opening them up and swallowing them.  Basically, there is a chapter for every week of the year – however, I couldn’t wait that long to read it all.

Ross Mountney

I think that sometimes people get the idea that because writers write about education, it must be very serious and proper – or even downright dull. Let me tell you that if you want to read someone that is funny, opinionated and often outrageous then Ross Mountney is your girl.  She really doesn’t pull any punches – although Jane, her editor at Bird’s Nest Books often has to restrain her a little.

Joking apart, when I close A Home Education Notebook, I get the feeling of someone who cares vastly about people and their experience of education. Ross has been writing about Home Education for a long time and she’s experienced so many people exploring this avenue that it is part of who she is. Like me, she believes that learning is for life. The only time you should stop learning is when you are no longer here.


Filed under About Loony Literature, Education

Course For Kids – Getting Your 4-8 Year Old To Create A Story Using Their Favourite Toy.

When Will and I started Loony Literature we hoped to get children writing more. Since starting this website, I’ve wanted to offer courses that would help kids to be inspired to write and also to give them the confidence that is often lacking.  I’ve gone through many ideas to make this happen and now, at last,with lots of help and support from Will,  I’ve got the courses going.

Watch Captain Digger and Rory Rabbit learn how to write a story.

Watch Captain Digger and Rory Rabbit learn how to write a story.


What would you call this beast?

What would you call this beast?

The course is made up of videos for your child to watch and story mapping sheets for them or you to fill in. You can take as long as you like to do the course because it is divided up into small workable sections.  You can stop and start to fit in with your individual child.

When your child has done their story, you can upload it for me and the rest of the class to enjoy. I will also give feedback.  You can use the course more than once because there is a range of main character sheets and settings for your child to choose from. You can also print up a certificate to show that they have successfully completed their story.

Would you like your name on there?

Would you like your name on there?

You can do the course with your child even if they can only write their name. The reason for this is that, they can tell you their answers and you can fill in the sheets for them. When it comes to telling their story, there is a section that suggests ways that they can do this too.

If your child is a bit older and can write a bit then they will gain confidence in their story writing skills as the course offers step by step guidance on how to write a story.  Often children can handwrite but don’t know how to get their ideas down – the course will help them to do that.

I have wanted to use my education,  writing and teaching experience, ideas and techniques to help get kids writing in my own particular way and now I hope to finally pursue my dream.

All you have to do to enrol  is to click on the link below and then press the enrol button.


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Why we need to develop creative intelligence in education

Ross Mountney's Notebook

I had a surprise visit from friend and artist Bob and Roberta Smith the other day.

The artwork of Bob and Roberta Smith

We were connected in our childhoods but rarely get to meet these days living in different places.

It’s a shame because we have a common quest; our desire to get people to understand the importance of creativity in education.

People often respond to that idea with the question ‘What use is painting pictures in the world of employment?’ as if that were the only interpretation of creativity. It also misses the point; creativity isn’t restricted to painting and drawing, for goodness sake!

Creativity is primarily about thinkingcreative thinking. Intelligent creative thinking.

Intelligent creative thinking is what enables us to lead our lives on a day to day basis.

Intelligent creative thinking enables us to find solutions, solve problems, rise to challenges and develop as people.

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Who’s Not In School?

Who’s Not in School is a new picture book written by Ross Mountney, illustrated by James Robinson and published by Bird’s Nest Books. The picture book is unusual as it is about Home Education and as far as I am aware there are not many other picture books which cover this subject, if any.

Who's Not In School

Ross is to Home Education what Mrs Beeton was to household management and has published two other books on the subject, ‘Learning Without School’ and ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. The illustrator, James Robinson is a talented eighteen year old who was Home Educated and it is the first book out with new publishers, Bird’s Nest Books.

Home Education is one of those subjects which tends to cause prejudice through ignorance and it is a shame became families all over the world are successfully educating their children themselves. Luckily, Ross is flying the flag for the subject and making sure that folks know the truth about it. Her memoir, A Funny Kind of Education is a charming, page turner that is not out of place besides other life adventure books like Peter Mayle’s, A Year in Provence. Anyone reading that will soon see the merits of Home Education and be enchanted at the same time.

A Funny Kind of Education

Who’s Not At School is Ross’s latest book to help the world understand that children do not have to go to school to be educated. It’s out today, May 27th 2015 and if you are interested you should have a peek.  Just follow the link.


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Horrible Histories Series Six First Promotional Pictures

Horrible Histories is so close to my heart that it has a special place right beside it. If you want your children to become engaged in something educational this is the way forward.

The Consulting Detective


The BBC have today released the first promotional pictures for the new series of Horrible Histories. Set to air on the 25 of May on BBC 2, the new series focuses on different historical characters for each episode. The first episode focuses on Alfred the Great and his fight against the Vikings. The second episode broadcast on the 1st of June focuses on Boudicca; the third episode focuses on William the Conqueror and is broadcast on the 6th of June; episode four is based around Napoleon’s conflict with Wellington and the rest of Europe and will be shown on the 13th; episode five is about the famed Pharaoh Cleopatra and will be broadcast on the 20th; episode six Oliver Cromwell and his republic which will air on the 27th. Further episodes feature Mary Queen of Scots, Churchill, George III, Queen Victoria and Henry VIII. An outline of the series and some of its guest stars…

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Episode One Promotional Pictures

Watching great television is always helpful for creative folks whether you write, act, film or make sets – don’t miss this as it looks like a pure treat.

The Consulting Detective


The BBC has today released promotional pictures for the first episode of the new drama series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Based on the best selling book by Susanna Clarke, the series follows the reintroduction of magic into England during the 19th century and the relationship between Strange and Norrell. Starring acclaimed  actors Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel alongside Alice Englert, Marc Warren, Samuel West, Charlotte Riley, Enzo Cilenti, Ariyon Bakare and Peter Bowles. The first episode is set to air at 9pm on BBC One on Sunday the 17th of May. Synopsis and more promotional pictures below:


1806. Magic once existed in England, but it has long faded – that is until the reclusive Mr Norrell is discovered in Yorkshire.

He comes to London to offer the government his services as a magician – but rising politician Sir Walter Pole refuses to align himself with such a disrespectable…

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A couple of decades later…

This fabulous young woman and her chap are doing everything that we at Loony Literature sound off about. I am very proud to put this on the website.

Ross Mountney's Notebook

Production shot from Decade 20

When you relinquish your little one to the mayhem of backstage that accompanies any children’s production you wonder whether you’re doing the right thing. It appears to be a mad disorganised crush of costumes, dropped make-up, stressed parents and performers and a half dressed chorus line looking bewildered.

I remember a strong desire to snatch Chelsea back to my suffocating bosom and cry ‘You’re not doing it’!

But I got over it, went out front and watched with amazement this perfect little pro overcome her own shyness to do what she loves; perform on stage. (You can read some of this in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’)

I’ve since found out how many actors are shy. Yet there followed from that day many a production, two or three a year, which we sat through and applauded with dripping cheeks, for the next twenty years –…

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Getting Kids to Read – Lotta’s Bike

If we are to get little ones reading, we have to keep them interested. This means sharing a wide range of books with them. A wonderful book called ‘Lotta’s Bike’ by Astrid Lindgren will most certainly make them want to turn the pages and find out what happens to Lotta. It is aimed at children over the age of three.

Lotta's Bike

The book was published in 1971 and Lotta is one of the most popular characters in Swedish children’s literature. She is little girl who gets into also sorts of scrapes alongside her older siblings, Jonas and Maria. Some parents might view the antics of the children as being a bit too much but children love them and it is a great way of discussing behaviour with kids.

In ‘Lotta’s Bike’, Lotta is hoping to get a bike for her birthday. However, her parents get her something else instead and so she decides to borrow her neighbour’s bike and takes her toy pig Barnsie for a ride. Unfortunately, the bike is too big for Lotta and she loses control of it on a steep hill. As per usual, she has to face the consequences; think rose bush and bicycle owner here.

All the Lotta stories explore everyday events which small children can understand either through personal experience or by it happening to someone close to them. For instance, in ‘Lotta Leaves Home’, Lotta is not happy with her family and decides to run away from home. As you can guess, Lotta soon appreciates the value of her family and her home when she is away from them. All the stories are told with gentle humour which will make your child smile while thinking about the deeper meaning of the story. If you can get your hands on a copy of any of the Lotta books, you will probably enjoy it as much as your little ones.


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