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Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children, is an imprint specialising in products for fun and engaging thinking. This website provides accompanying material to our Wonder Ponder boxes, including guides for children, parents and mediators, ideas for wonderpondering and fun games and activities. It is also a platform for sharing your very own Wonder Ponder content and ideas.

Wonder Ponder Blog

The Wonder Ponder blog includes posts on the creative processes behind our Visual Philosophy for Children material, as well as workshop experiences, guest posts on a variety of topics and generally interesting, eye-catching or mind-bloggling stuff we feel like sharing with you. 

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You've got a letter! And it's from Tomi Ungerer!

Ellen Duthie

Last Friday larger than life author illustrator Tomi Ungerer died.

For the Wonder Ponder team, Ungerer was many things. First, as readers, he was the author of some of our favourite children books: No Kiss for Mother, The Three Robbers, Zeralda’s Ogre, Flix, Crictor, Moon Man, The Beast of Monsieur Racine… to name just a few.

On the other hand, Ungerer, like us, had a rather special relationship with questions. We were big fans of his illustrated answers to children’s philosophical questions for Philosophie Magazine, which were collected in a book and published last year: Ni oui ni non.

As authors, Ungerer is always a graphic reference and a model of boldness to bear in mind. Readers who look carefully will find more than one hidden or not so hidden tribute to him in our books.

In the poster included in our Cruelty Bites box, readers will find our beloved Piper Paw from No Kiss for Mother.

Tomi Ungerer’s Piper Paw uses his slingshot on Daniela Martagón’s Piper Paw.

Tomi Ungerer’s Piper Paw uses his slingshot on Daniela Martagón’s Piper Paw.

Daniela’s Piper hits back..

Daniela’s Piper hits back..

In the poster included in our Whatever You Want box, featuring that splendid FREE HOUSE, it is not difficult to spot who presides it, with all their treasure hoarded up in the attic.

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But we have a story involving Tomi Ungerer, and we think it explains exactly how we feel.

One day about three years ago we thought of sending Ungerer our books and we contacted his daughter Aria via his Twitter account. She very kindly gave us her address for us to send them on. At the time we had only published two titled, Cruelty Bites and I, Person, and we sent him both, signed and drawn, with a letter inviting him to spot some of the hidden surprises we had included for him.

His daughter’s message came soon after: “Hi, Your package just arrived and I shall hand deliver it to Tomi tomorrow so perfect timing. I absolutely ADORE what you guys have done! A

And the following day, another message: “He loved it!” (attaching this picture)”.

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Did we shriek? Maybe. We were excited and very touched with his generosity.

We thought we couldn’t feel any more chuffed when a few days later, we received a hand writtten letter from Tomi Ungerer, spotted with stamped mottoes: “Expect the unexpected”, “Don’t hope, cope”.” En souvenir du futur… “ In the letter itself, he says several things, but mainly two: that there should be copies of the Wonder Ponder boxes at every school and that he hoped we would continue with the project.

The letter Tomi Ungerer sent us after we sent him  Cruelty Bites  and  I, Person .

The letter Tomi Ungerer sent us after we sent him Cruelty Bites and I, Person.

It may seem silly and of course it did not change our lives. But it is not every day that an author you admire shows such generosity with time and words. It is VERY encouraging. Thank you very much for the encouragement, Tomi. And thank you even more for your books.

And we leave you with a not so well known book of Tomi Ungerer’s with wonderfully absurd and fun questions.

Harper & Row, 1968.

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Online Premiere! Our first animated short film, LITTLE REMO IN PINCHMELAND

Ellen Duthie

The excitement!

Today we are launching our first animated short, based on the comic Little Remo in Pinchmeland, included in Pinch Me!, the fourth title in the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series.

We are making it freely available to anyone out there wishing to watch it at home, in the classroom or to screen it wherever they want.

We are launching it today, October 15, to coincide with the publication date of the first Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip by Winsor McCay, which our character Little Remo is an obvious referece to. Maurice Sendak fans will also detect a tribute in more than one sense to te author of Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There and In the Night Kitchen, which brings us back in a neat loop to Sendak’s own homage to Little Nemo.

First ever  Little Nemo in Slumberland  comic strip by Winsor McCay published in the New York Herald on October 15th, 2015

First ever Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip by Winsor McCay published in the New York Herald on October 15th, 2015

Sendak’s very own Little Nemo, Mickey, falling through the night, out of his clothes.  In the Night Kitchen.  Harper, 1970.

Sendak’s very own Little Nemo, Mickey, falling through the night, out of his clothes. In the Night Kitchen. Harper, 1970.

Little Remo in Pinchmeland poster included in  Pinch Me!  by Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón

Little Remo in Pinchmeland poster included in Pinch Me! by Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón

There are many other references and influcences besides these. We are sure you’ll have fun spotting them! A big clue is found in the books on the shelf in the scene in the bedroom at the end.

Remo bumps into Alice in  Little Remo in Pinchmeland

Remo bumps into Alice in Little Remo in Pinchmeland

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But besides the references, this short film is meant to hyptnotise, delight, baffle and bring some uneasy shifting in your seat together with some intriguing questions.

Haven’t you ever woken from a dream, only to realise that you are still dreaming?

Can we be certain that life is not actually a dream? And many, many more.

The piece was produced by La Pierna Audiovisual. It was a pleasure working with them to put Little Remo into motion.

This is a short film we have financed with our own limited resources with our sights set on potential funding for future projects. In order to get funding for future audiovisual projects, your ‘likes’ mean a great deal, as do your shares. That is why we are offering all our readers and followers this film for free, as we do regularly with other material, such as the special booklet for thinking about school or the booklet for wonderpondering about Christmas. We only have one request in return: if you like it, ‘like’ it; and if you really like it, please do share it. Thank you and we hope you enjoy!

What if life is a dream? Or an illusion? Or a good old story? New title in the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series to explore Reality, Imagination and Dream

Ellen Duthie

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COMING IN MAY 2018.
Coming soon, the new title in the Visual Philosopy for Children series by Wonder Ponder, Pinch Me!  We are not quite ready to publish the cover, but the above is a close-up of the title on the cover. Woohoo!

PINCH ME!

What if life is a dream?
An illusion?
Or a good old story?
When you pinch yourself, does it hurt?
And does the pain prove you are not dreaming?

 Can we trust our senses?
If our eyes sometimes trick us, might they always trick us?
How do we know that the world is as we perceive it and not as a fly or a dog sees it?

If you could connect to a machine that made you live and feel only good things, would you want to connect to it forever?

Can a made-up story be real?
Can a photograph lie?
Are some witnesses more reliable than others?
 
What is real? And what is not so real?
What do you think?

Half-way between a book and a game, Pinch Me! comes in a box and invites readers aged eight and over (adults too!) to think about reality, imagination and dream in a way that is both serious and seriously fun.

The box provides plenty of opportunities for younger and older readers to explore the differences between real and pretend, real and alive, our senses and what they tell us about the world, and to wonder whether we could be dreaming or not. It also contains scenes that are likely to spark wondering and pondering about virtual reality, fiction and reality, fake news and representation in selfies, in a way that is both relatable and destabilising, as well as riveting.    

Part of the critically acclaimed Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children series, Pinch Me! is designed for children to look at, read and think playfully about by themselves, accompanied by an adult or in a group, in educational, play or family contexts.

Themes:  reality ·  imagination ·  dream ·   memory ·   the five senses ·   perception ·   fiction/reality ·  real/pretend  ·   reliable information ·  real/virtual ·   philosophy for children.

Content
·   14 illustrated scenes.
·   More than 100 carefully worded questions designed to spark a rich and well-oriented reflection without leading it to pre-established conclusions.
·   3 blank cards for readers to design their own philosophical scenes and pose their own questions.
·   Brief guide for children and adults.
·   Ideas for wonderpondering. Suggestions for use.
·   A-3 thematic poster.

About The Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series
Wonder Ponder introduces readers to philosophy’s big questions in a way that is playful and appealing. Engaging scenes and intriguing questions prompt reflection and discussion, encouraging children to develop their own thoughts and arguments and to build a visual and conceptual map of the issue addressed in each box.

Interested in learning more about the Visual Philosophy for Children series by Wonder Ponder? Check out our website and our online shop

Wonder Ponder at the 18th International Conference of the International Council for Philosophycal Inquiry with Children (ICPIC)

Ellen Duthie

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Wonder Ponder's Visual Philosophy for Children author Ellen Duthie will be taking part in the 18th International Conference of the Internacional Council for Philosophical Inquiry with Children (ICPIC) to be held this week in Madrid (opening on Wednesday 28th and ending on Saturday 1st of July).

Under the theme 'Philosophical Inquiry with Children Coming of Age: Family resemblances' the conference aims to offer "an open discussion covering all the different approaches to the implementation of the community of philosophical inquiry in formal, non-formal and informal education. [...] After nearly 50 years of engaging children, adolescents and adults in a community of philosophical inquiry in different (formal, non-formal and informal) educational settings, a wide variety of methods and styles have been used that share some common features and a family resemblance.". 

Ellen has shared with us what she will be doing at the conference: 

 

On Thursday morning, I will be presenting my paper "The Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children’s Independently Narrative but Thematically Connected Visuals as Stimuli for Philosophical Inquiry”, where I will explore the specific qualities of Wonder Ponder visual philosophy scenes in terms of how they operate to stimulate dialogue compared to other types of stimuli commonly used in philosophical practice with children, such as Lipman's philosophical novels or quality picture books chosen for their potential for philosophical inquiry.  
At the crossroads between philosophy, art and literature, Wonder Ponder boxes use thought-provoking visuals to encourage readers to explore philosophical issues (cruelty, identity and freedom in the three boxes published to date), aiming to foster independent, deep and playful thinking. Each box contains 14 striking, independently narrative but thematically connected scenes for thinking about and engaging in philosophical dialogue on a given issue. It also includes a further 3 blank scenes for readers to contribute to the book as authors and artists and, innovatively, as thought-provokers.
I will suggest that, by virtue of being both deliberately philosophical and deliberately literary, the Wonder Ponder material interestingly incorporates advantages of other existing stimuli.
Like Lipman’s philosophical novels, Wonder Ponder scenes and sets of scenes are designed with philosophical intention, even though the result is far closer to the picture book form than the novel form. The advantage of being able to design material with philosophical intention is that it allows you to purposefully pack the material with philosophically stimulating potential. I will explore the differences and similarities between engaging with text-based philosophical stimulus and image-based philosophical stimulus in these two cases.
On the other hand, like picture books, Wonder Ponder scenes are designed and developed with literary intention. The advantage of creating material with literary intention is that it allows authors to bring out the deep connections between philosophy and literature in ways that are interestingly effective for stimulating philosophical inquiry with children. I will explore the differences and similarities between engaging with a picture book and one Wonder Ponder scene, and between a picture book and a full set of Wonder Ponder scenes, as a philosophical stimulus. 
In addition, the visual philosophy scenes in the Wonder Ponder boxes add one important advantage of their own in terms of thought and dialogue stimulation: the possibilities arising from comparing and contrasting.
Although individually narrative scenes, the scenes included in a given Wonder Ponder box are designed to prompt questions and thinking by themselves, but also to prompt thinking through comparison and in conjunction with the other scenes in their box. Thus, each box tells 14 stories with connections, both literary and philosophical, incorporating an interesting and relatively unexplored territory within the range of stimuli for philosophical inquiry: the possibility of comparing and contrasting complex, yet easily and immediately grasped scenarios from an early age and making connections between different fields and issues.
Besides presenting, I am also part of the Organizing Committee of the conference, which aims to be a fully bilingual conference (with sessions combining English and Spanish presentations and workshops), so our work's cut out for us! 
I'm very much looking forward to seeing some friends again and to meeting many others. I'm hoping -I'm sure- that this will be a stimulating opportunity to share and learn from each other. 
The conferences and some of the presentations and symposia will be broadcast live at https://www.youtube.com/c/RafaelRoblesLoro

Our Wonder Ponder titles (Cruelty Bites, I, Person and Whatever You Want will be available at the conference bookshop stall). 

See you in Madrid!