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‘A Little Course in..’ Apple eBooks only 99p

Start the new year by learning a fun new skill with our ‘A Little Course in…’ series.

You can discover everything you need to know about wine tasting, yoga, baking and much more, plus the taster Apple eBook versions are just 99p.

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You can learn how to bake in simple, easy steps with A Little Course in Baking , a handy skill to master for birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, nothing says love like a homemade cake.

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Or you can ditch the cake and get back into shape after the Christmas holidays with A Little Course in Yoga, a great way to de-stress!

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Download the Apple eBooks now for just 99p each on iBooks : A Little Course in Sewing, A Little Course in Knitting, A Little Course in Pilates,  A Little Course in Growing Veg & FruitA Little Course in Preserving

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is nearly here!

Ready to get out into the garden and get birdspotting this weekend with the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch? Spend just an hour in your garden counting your garden birds and help the RSPB find out how different British bird species are doing.

Your garden birds are a great indicator of the health of the countryside and the Birdwatch’s results help the RSPB to keep an eye on the ups and downs of your local area’s wildlife and figure out how to protect it. What could be a better reason to get out in your garden and get spotting!

Pocket Garden Birdwatch

If you’re keen to start spotting, but want a little help identifying your birds, we’ve recently published Pocket Garden Birdwatch with the RSPB, a perfect companion to the Big Garden Birdwatch it profiles the 40 most common garden birds in detail.

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If, after the Birdwatch, you become besotted by your garden birds then there’s also handy tips on how to make your garden a bird-friendly haven, from what plants to grow to what food to provide.

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Pocket Garden Birdwatch is the perfect guide both for this weekend’s Big Garden Birdwatch and for making your garden into the ideal home for all your favourite feathered friends.

Click here for all our other books with the RSPB.

New iOS apps for kids (plus a free download)

Our new Peekaboo! apps provide plenty of fun and exciting  activities for kids. The Peekaboo! apps are aimed at children from 0-3 years of age … but that’s not to say that all ages can’t enjoy them too, so don’t let that hold you back:

Join Rainbow Butterfly and her friends on our new app, Peekaboo! Rainbow. Discover a world of sunshine, flowers, blue skies, smiling butterflies and buzzing bees.

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Peekaboo! Rainbow will have you putting together a jigsaw of Green Turtle, colouring in a boat and matching the rainbow friends to their colour. Read along with your child; this app is great for encouraging early word recognition and memory skills, helping your little one on the way to learning to read.

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With Peekaboo! Bedtime you can join Cuddly Ted and his friends in a game of hide-and-seek, as they hide in random locations to avoid going to bed…something many parents might be familiar with!

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Have fun playing games such as tapping all the bubbles to find who’s hiding in the bath, colouring and decorating Miss Elephant’s car and guessing which of Cuddly Ted’s friends is hiding in the laundry bag:

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This app is bursting with colours, noises and shapes; from matching musical instruments to their sounds to watching Cuddly Ted popping out from his hiding spot behind the bed. Peekaboo! Bedtime is a great app for getting your child sleepy and ready for bed, as Cuddly Ted and his friends fall fast asleep at the end . . . sweet dreams to all!

If you’re still feeling festive, the Peekaboo! Christmas app is available absolutely free:

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With lots of fun and excitement, the Peekaboo! Christmas app will have you colouring in your own snowman, helping the busy elves match the lids to the correct Christmas gift boxes, and decorating Christmas trees.

These apps are currently available on iOS only.

Enter our competition and win a travel pack full of getaway goodies!

If the January blues are setting in and you’re already planning your next holiday we can help…

Click here and Like the DK Facebook page to take our fun quiz and be in with a chance to win 1 of 10 Ultimate Travel Packs!

Take the fun quiz to find out what item people always forget on their holidays, discover what kind of traveller you are and enter your email to be in with a chance of winning an Ultimate Travel Pack!

Be relaxed with our in-flight comfort kit, safe with our first aid kit and have your phone fully charged anywhere across the globe with the international travel adaptor. Plus expertly explore the country of your choice with 5 DK Eyewitness Guides, all packed away in an Osprey ultra-light wheeled bag. Make sure your getaway is stress free with this fantastic prize full of travel essentials.

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From Barcelona to Istanbul DK Trip Planner is your personal travel guide helping you plan the perfect getaway. Using DK’s global, trusted content Trip Planner puts together the greatest cafes, museums, parks, galleries and much more to create your own unique trip tailored to your needs. Download your personalised itinerary so it’s handily available on the move so you can look up listings, pictures and maps even when your offline. Find out more about Trip Planner here!

Click here to Like the DK Facebook page, take the quiz and be in with a chance to win an Ultimate Travel Pack!

Things to Listen to in this Lifetime

Robert Ziegler, world renowned Conductor and Consultant for our new book Music: The Definitive Visual History, shares his essential listening guide…things to listen to in this lifetime.

1. Vespro de la Beata Virgine (Vespers of 1610), Monteverdi: Composed just over 400 years ago, Monteverdi’s landmark religious work features all his theatrical flair in this setting of the Vespers for the Blessed Virgin.

2. Brandenberg Concerto No 5, Bach: One of Bach’s most joyous and famous creations.

3. Aria “Dove sono” from the opera Marriage of Figaro, Mozart: In a drama about class, sexual infidelity and emotional honesty, the Countess reflects on lost youth, innocence and love.

4. Symphony no 5, Beethoven: Beethoven’s definitive symphony. There’s never been as dramatic and intense a symphonic statement. The composer by whom all others are judged.

5. Ride of the Valkyries from the opera “Die Walküre”, Wagner: Before cinema’s soundtracks and special effects, Wagner had singers flying around the stage to this thrilling score. Also used in the film “Apocalypse Now”.

6. Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, J. Strauss II: The elegance of the Viennese waltz is summed up by its greatest musical master, Johann Strauss II.

7. Aria: “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme, Puccini: If the TV series “Friends” were an opera, it would resemble this story of the young Bohemians in Paris. In this aria Rodolfo and Mimi meet for the first time on the stairs between their apartments. Puccini’s most intimate aria from the greatest operatic love story ever.

8. The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), Stravinsky: The brash 20th century starts here – Stravinsky’s ground breaking ballet score explodes onto the stage.

9. What a Little Moonlight Can Do (with the Teddy Wilson Band), Billie Holiday: A quicksilver joyous jazz band featuring legendary pianist, Teddy Wilson, supports the magical singing of “Lady Day” – Billie Holiday.

10. Music for Prepared Piano, John Cage: John Cage, a fearless pioneer of new music,  re-invents the humble piano with other-worldly sounds that out-do new age electronics. This video is of John Cage performing “Water Walk” in January, 1960 on the popular TV show I’ve Got A Secret:

11. South Pacific, Rogers/Hammerstein: From Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein,  the two creative giants that invented the modern musical, one of their greatest hits. This really is “Some Enchanted Evening”!

12. Come Fly With Me, Frank Sinatra: Frank Sinatra’s voice and music defined the American 20th Century: confident, optimistic and cool. Here’s one of his unforgettable signature songs.

13. Music from Vertigo, Bernard Herrmann: Bernard Herrmann’s music for his longtime collaborator, Alfred Hitchcock, produced his most dramatic scores. Here is one of the greatest for the mysterious thriller, “Vertigo”.

14. Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix: In his brief yet astounding career, Jimi Hendrix’s songs and guitar playing revolutionised everything about the guitar and its place in pop music.

15. Hound Dog, Elvis Presley: Elvis! The hip shaking singer who spawned an army of devoted imitators and created rock ‘n’ roll into the bargain. Long live the King!

16. The Ace and Deuce of Pipering, The Chieftains: For over half a century, The Chieftains have been synonymous with Irish folk music and have popularised it around the world.

17. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles: The Beatles created a body of songs known throughout the world. This is probably the most famous and most influential album of all time.

18. Ragas, Ravi Shankar: Just listen and be swept into another world by Ravi Shankar.

19. Sweeney Todd (musical), Sondheim: The Broadway musical turns murderous in this riveting thriller set to music by Stephen Sondheim.

20. Bring The Noise, Public Enemy: Public Enemy were pioneers of hip hop and this track saw them stomp onto the global stage.

21. Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, Arvo Pärt: Music from the Estonian master Arvo Pärt whose music is simplicity itself and contains some of the most sublime moments you’ll ever hear.

22. Thriller, Michael Jackson: In partnership with musical wizard Quincy Jones, Pop’s greatest icon was at his peak when the music, video and songs combined to make his greatest album.

DK Chats to Professor Robert Winston and More…

We’ve launched our DK Podcast Soundcloud channel with a series of interviews that we’ve called DK Chats…take a listen and tell us what you think:

Making Music: Photographing 100 objects in the American Midwest

In early February I was lucky enough to be part of a small DK team that ventured out to South Dakota in the hope of capturing some truly unique and beautiful instruments for Music: The Definitive Visual History. We wanted the book to be more than just another account of the western classical tradition, so tracking down instruments from a wide range of cultures (and historical periods) was key.

National Music Museum
National Music Museum ©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

The National Music Museum is an absolute gem: tucked away in the town of Vermillion, it holds an astonishing collection of more than 15,000 instruments from all over the globe, and has a wonderful staff brimming with expertise. We had a fairly intensive shooting schedule, and faced some interesting challenges along the way. Around 1,000 instruments are on display in the museum’s galleries, while many more are held in the archives. This meant we had to work out the most efficient way to shoot everything on our list, while still trying to save some time to photograph any hidden treasures that we might come across when exploring the museum’s collections.

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

Some of the instruments were very delicate – and valuable! – and needed extra care when being handled. Fortunately we had the museum’s staff on hand to offer all manner of creative curatorial solutions, from white cotton gloves to fishing lines…

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

…and, in a pinch, a box of wine!

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

Brass instruments were often particularly fiddly, as minimizing the reflections on all the curved surfaces took a lot of patience (and sometimes involved balancing and repositioning ever-smaller pieces of coloured card).

National Music Museum

©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

Certain instruments were too big to move into the studio, so they were photographed in situ. This meant setting up equipment in the museum’s galleries to create a makeshift studio space for our photographer. We had to be careful around the other exhibits, while still trying to capture the right lighting and angles for each object.

When we were shooting some early Italian string instruments made by Stradivari and the Amati family, one of the museum’s graduate students took the chance to get a closer look – these incredible objects are not often taken out of their glass cases. Here the King Henry IV violin, made by Antonio and Girolamo Amati circa 1595, comes under close inspection.

National Music Museum

King Henry IV violin ©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

We managed to photograph more than 100 instruments spanning centuries and continents – from pre-Columbian ocarinas to a Spanish guitar Bob Dylan used for some of his early songs, from the only known surviving English-made Renaissance cittern to a gold Gibson Les Paul from 1952 (when the model was introduced).

Gibson Les Paul, National Music Museum

Gibson Les Paul ©Dorling Kindersley: The National Music Museum Inc.

It was a great experience, and it has been fantastic to see these instruments again on the pages of Music, for even more people to discover.

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Les Paul spread from Music The Definitive Visual History ©Dorling Kindersley

by Lili Bryant

Get 30% off Music: The Definitive Visual History (offer ends 31 December 2013).

Crafty Creatures at Renegade Craft Fair

We mentioned before that we were heading off to run a stall at Renegade Craft Fair with our very own author and craft connoisseur Jane Bull. One chilly Saturday morning we set off for The Old Truman Brewery to make many colourful felt birds and check out the London craft scene.

Jane had our stall looking beautiful in no time.

Jane at Renegade

The crafty creatures were so admired that we had to put up a sign explaining that they weren’t for sale, but they are all ready to be made in our Crafty Creatures book, as are the countless brightly coloured felt birds that lots of crafters enjoyed making at our stall.

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Biscuits were eaten, copies of Crafty Creatures were sold and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and hope all our visitors did too. It was lovely to see so many people enjoying making Jane’s birds and families making their felt friends together and enjoying some quality crafting time.

Thread at Renegade

So thanks for having us Renegade, perhaps we’ll be back with more wonderful colourful creatures to stitch and sew next year.

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If you couldn’t make it to Renegade, all of the cute critters can be made from Crafty Creatures, available at our DK Crafts page.

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Spotify Playlist: Get To Know Your Music

To celebrate the release of Music: The Definitive Visual History the DK US team have put together a Spotify playlist with tonnes of different types of music from Public Enemy to Ella Fitzgerald:

Enjoy!

How To Make A Teddy Bear Cake – by Karen Sullivan

Author of Step-By-Step Cake Decorating and this month’s guest blogger  - Karen Sullivan – talks through the basics of cake decorating.

It’s never been so easy to create amazing cakes, thanks to the multitude of tools and special ingredients that are now available, and the wealth of techniques that are now de-mystified with the help of decorating classes, blogs, TV programmes and, of course, enlightening and inspiration books like Step-by-Step Cake Decorating. It was great fun putting together this book, with the help of award-winning bakers and decorators: Asma Hassan, Sandra Monger and Amelia Nutting. I think we’ve not only produced a great range of exciting cakes, cupcakes and cake pops that you can recreate in your own home, but also a compendium of techniques that should make almost every cake possible, with the minimum of fuss.

Step-By-Step Cake Decorating

Last week I worked on a teddy bear cake. The most important thing to remember when making any type of 3D cake is to take your time.

1. Create the body by baking a firm Madeira cake in a ball tin, and the head in a bowl tin.

2. Let the cake cool and set on a rack for a day before lightly icing it with buttercream to ‘crumb coat’.

3. Place a layer of icing between the head and body and run a dowel through both to provide additional support.

4. Roll light-brown fondant (also known as sugarpaste) to about 6 mm thick and then gently lay over the crumb-coated cake.

5. Dust your hands in cornflour and use them to smooth down the fondant, over the head and body, tucking the excess under the base of the teddy. Let this set for 24 hours.

6. Form arms and legs from sausages of brown fondant, strengthened with about 3 teaspoons of tylose powder (this helps the fondant to become hard and firm, as well as making it more pliable for moulding).

8.  Cut the teddy’s features from various differently coloured fondant, rolled thin, then fix to the teddy with a little water.

9. Create a bow from pink fondant, strengthened with tylose powder. When it begins to harden, place it around the teddy’s neck, and hold it in place with cocktail sticks until dry.

10. Leave the cake to set for another 24 hours and in the meantime cover a cake drum with rolled white fondant, securing a satin ribbon around the base.

11. When the teddy is firm, place in the centre of the covered board, held in place with a dollop of edible glue.

Carebear Cake

Lots of people wonder if a cake will dry out if left for long periods of setting, but once covered with buttercream icing (and/or fondant) it will last for days on end. Most importantly, it will hold its shape, which is essential for 3D creations and anything stacked or carved.

This week I’m working on an autumn-themed cake, with hand-painted sugar leaves, fresh berries, tiny sugar acorns and chestnuts, and the odd squirrel, all tumbling out of a sugar bushel basket made from strengthened brown fondant. My aim is to ensure that everything on every one of my cakes is edible, and that can sometimes present a challenge!

If you have any cake-decorating queries, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them – and get you on your way!

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