Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years

Mudlark Finds *8: The Conductor


The Conductor Laetitia Devernay

I found Mudlark Find Number 8 in a small art shop in the village of Haworth (West Yorkshire – where the Bronte sisters lived) this summer, and to my delight it’s available to the rest of the world through Amazon (there are several other interesting looking books in the section ‘other customers who bought this item also bought…’).  The description given is a good representation of what I felt about this simple but deep publication:

“The Conductor” is a striking and award-winning illustrated volume, originally published in French, that tells the story (without words) of a symphony conductor who ventures into the forest and conducts a musical movement of trees that magically become birds in flight. Eloquently written and beautifully illustrated, readers are drawn to its pages spread after spread. As this charming tale unfolds, the reader explores colour, perspective and motion throughout an amazing musical transformation; readers can almost hear the score swelling off the pages…This picture book is hard to classify, but ultimately its distinctive vertical trim size and enchanting story line will draw in art and music lovers alike”.  

Children will also be drawn to it I’m sure, and it will be a really good book to accompany children’s pleasure in playing with falling and fallen leaves through the autumn and winter months, adding wonderfully to their imaginations while doing so.

With this section of my website, I share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.


2 thoughts on “Mudlark Finds *8: The Conductor

  1. Hi Jan Have ordered the book below and the Green Book. thanks for the info. Could I ask you what you would recommend as a safe compost for children to play with. i.e. in the sand tray? I will add onions and shallots – not flower bulbs? Is there anything else you could suggest? We are turning the play house into a ‘potting’ shed so will add the usual trowels, various plant pots etc. Hope you are well. Its been quite a time since our trip to Holland and Germany but still using ideas from this. Yours in early years Teresa

    • Hi Teresa, good to hear from you. Is the playhouse outside? I would be inclined to use real loam topsoil, rather than compost, as it’s much richer and more realistic, and you can do more with it – like mixing with water and moulding. Compost is too humus rich to be sticky, so you cannot mix and work it like real soil (which has sand, clay and organic matter in equal proportions). Topsoil also smells lovely. I use loam topsoil purchased from a garden centre in a bag for about £2.99.
      I agree that some flower bulbs are poisonous if consumed (such as daffodil I believe) – but why not ask the children what things might be found in the ground: worms, bits of pottery, old coins and other treasure, carrots, twigs and roots, pebbles, ants… all these fascinated me as a digging child. I think they might have some interesting ideas and it would be more likely to be of interest. Hope this gets you started, Jan

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