At Chez Ridenhour, husband-Jamie and I sit around a lot drinking coffee and brainstorming new and interesting ways to create community, engage in the arts, make education fabulous, and in general enjoy ourselves thoroughly. We have a lot of these discussions, and I’m happy to share our newest idea, which can involve… yes, that’s right: YOU!
Announcing the Mad Dogs and English Dinner! As many of you know, Jamie is an author, and a couple of years back released his first novel called Barking Mad: a hilarious, clever, 1930s whodunnit, complete with comical werewolf and starring man-about-town Reginald Spiffington. It’s like Agatha Christie meets P.G. Wodehouse meets… a werewolf. He’s getting ready to release its sequel, Mad Dogs and Englishmen in February 2014. And I’ll tell you what: I laughed out loud all the way through. You’ll love it!
As we were drinking our coffee and thinking about how to promote the book (which is being released by Typecast Publishing), we noted both novels’ emphasis on fine cuisine and elegant dinner parties. We also used to love hosting Murder Mystery dinners – remember those? Holy cow, they were fun. What if, we mused, we invited people to host a period dinner with their best friends to celebrate the book’s release? My education brain kicked into overdrive. We could mix cooking, literature, and history all up together to create a super cool event for kids and adults alike to share all over the country! Oooh! And Skype! We could have Jamie Skype into each party and connect with the guests.
Ok – I’m getting carried away. Allow Jamie to tell you how it works:
Things You Should Know
This is not primarily an educational event. We are trying to sell Jamie’s book. However, it is in line with how we in general “do” education around here. We find fun ways to engage with the traditional (and sometimes nontraditional) core. This is fiction novel, but it is set in a particular time and place. We have no curricula to hand you, but you can create an interesting educational experience for your kids if you’re up for it.
- Both Barking Mad and Mad Dogs and Englishmen are adult novels, but older kids and teens will enjoy them as well. I love Jamie’s language, which is rich and sometimes challenging. There are funny romantic escapades, and at one point Reggie (our hero) finds his hand cupping his lady fair’s breast. There are also a spattering of curse words, the worst of which is sh*t, which our hero uses once to describe manure, and immediately apologizes for. But those are the most mature events in either book. Well, besides the murder.
Turning the Event into a Unit Study
- Host an event. Sit down with your child/ren and study the British 1930s. This is the period between the World Wars. What was going on then? What technology was being invented? What was the social class system like? What was the prevailing culture?
- Read some P.G. Wodehouse.
- Read some Agatha Christie.
- Read Barking Mad!
- Invite your guests and plan the dinner with your child. Teach them simple things like how to address an envelope (we take these things for granted sometimes!).
- Read the recipes together, as well as the costume, party game, and music suggestions. They will all be historically accurate.
- Decorate and plan costumes together. Really get into the look of the day.
- Menu plan, shop, and prepare the food together. This is a great opportunity to get kids working in the kitchen. And each course has options for the real-from-scratch-deal, or shortcuts that you can make or procure in minutes. You could switch it up, making a couple of courses, and short-cutting others. To check out the recipes, just click here.
- Talk about authorship, and have your child prepare some questions for Jamie on the big night. He will be happy to answer anything you throw at him!
Learn More about Reggie Spiffington
- Check out Reggie’s own website! You can listen to and/or read excerpts from Barking Mad, learn more about werewolves, and check out the dinner menu.
- Connect with Reggie on Twitter.
- And of course, learn more about Jamie as well at his author website or on Facebook.
- Explore the world of the talented culinary guru Jenni Field, who created the nine-course menu for the Mad Dogs dinner party.
We hope you’ll join us!