Step into the worlds of your favourite stories

Year 2 pupils from Crofton Hammond Infant School visiting the Search Museum in Gosport for World Book Day, dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Centre Charlotte Howick (7), left Abigail Hall (6), right Oliver Godkin (7) and back Millie Smith (6)
Year 2 pupils from Crofton Hammond Infant School visiting the Search Museum in Gosport for World Book Day, dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Centre Charlotte Howick (7), left Abigail Hall (6), right Oliver Godkin (7) and back Millie Smith (6)

From broken bones to new beginnings

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Most of us have read a book that we enjoyed so much we wished we could step into the world on the page.

Children and creative adults may even have imagined themselves among the characters and scenes of their favourite stories.

Now, families really can immerse themselves in scenes from literature at SEARCH Museum in Gosport.

A special free event tomorrow, as part of World Book Day celebrations, includes a number of scenes from children’s classics and hands-on activities to get kids involved in the timeless tales.

It’s called Story Explorers and links the museum’s collections with famous books and the objects, characters and stories which feature in them.

Families will find each of the minibeast characters from Roald Dahl’s James and The Giant Peach available for them to study under a microscope, so they can see what a grasshopper, spider, glow-worm and silkworm really look like.

Tied-in with Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass and it’s prequel Alice in Wonderland, SEARCH has turned the Victorian parlour into Looking Glass House.

Families can go ‘through the looking glass’ into the next room where they can see the croquet scene with a flamingo and a rolled-up hedgehog.

Plus, they can get dressed up for the Mad Hatter’s tea party with dormouse and hare specimens.

The museum even has one of the only dodo bones in the country (which families can handle) and a unique cast of a dodo’s head.

The animal characters from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows can be discovered in a river bank safari. Here families can meet Toad, Mole, Badger and Otter – more of the museum’s stuffed animal specimens.

And there will be a snowy owl, like Hedwig from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, along with Hogwarts outfits so families can dress-up and have their photo taken as Harry with his pet.

On top of all that, there’s a War Room where children can learn the background to Good Night Mr Tom, by local author Michelle Magorian, dressing up as evacuees and meeting one of the museum’s older volunteers who was a boy during the Second World War and can talk to the children about what it was like.

For younger children there are activities based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales such as finding the mice in Cinderella’s kitchen. (Museum staff have hidden toy mice all around their Victorian kitchen.)

Other animal characters families can meet on the day, include Fantastic Mr Fox and the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Janet Wildman, a learning and community engagement officer for Hampshire Arts and Museums Service, says: ‘It’s our way of marking World Book Day. We’re using traditional museum specimens in an accessible and child-friendly way. It should be really good.

‘Children will enjoy the hands-on activities. They can enjoy the stories without just sitting down quietly and reading the books. And it helps them visualise what the characters, scenery and objects look like. It brings the books to life.

‘Like World Book Day, the aim of our event is to inspire children to read the classics and books that they have not read before.

‘We’ve put in some lesser-known books like Gull and The Unravellers. They are both children’s adventure books set at the seaside.’

The event runs from 10am to 1pm at the museum at 50 Clarence Road, Gosport.

To find out more, see hants.gov.uk/museum-search.