Read & Make: Blue Rider

When you open the cover of Blue Rider by Geraldo Valerio, you’re met with delicious saturated color in an array of forms and shapes. It’s a treasure just like the book that the child character discovers on a city sidewalk in this wordless story. As the child opens the book, a blue horse leaps across the sky streaking the city’s gray grid with a spray of color.

When Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life suggested I make a craft for Blue Rider, I happily took up my scissors and glue stick. But how best to reproduce the surprise and pleasure that a reader, like the child in Blue Rider, can find by opening a book? How about a pop-up? With collaged bits of jewel-hued paper. And a blue horse, of course.

Spirals are the simplest way to create a pop-up–and their shape adds whimsy and movement as you open the fold. Plus, they’re easy enough for both kid creators to make.

What You Need:

Card stock or construction paper

Paint color sample cards

Scissors & glue stick

Here’s how:

First, fold a piece of paper in half. I used an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of dark blue card stock. Set aside.

On a different piece of paper, trace and cut out a circle on stiff paper. I traced a circle about 4″ in diameter using a tin coffee can. Cut a spiral into your paper circle. It’s OK to freehand, lopsided spirals are as beautiful as uniform ones.

Dab glue to the center of your spiral. Place your circle (glue facedown) inside of your folded paper.

Dab glue to an inch or two of the exposed tail of your spiral. Press the folded paper closed so that the glued tail will adhere to the other half of the paper. When you open the card, the spiral will pop up like a spring!

Now for the fun–cut shapes or hole-punch dots or stars or flowers from your paint sample color cards. If you want to write a message, trace letters and cut them out–whatever pleases you!

Glue your shapes to the spiral, making sure nothing peeks out when you fold the paper closed.

I cut out a blue horse and fashioned a rainbow mane like the one that canters across the city sky in Blue Rider. Then I added abstract shapes to the dark blue background, inspired by Valerio’s pages of rich color and collage. It was so delightful, I quickly made another with abstract bits and tiny hole-punched blooms.

No horse this time, just color, shape, surprise:

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Creative Kid: Ink Drinker Shoebox House

In our school library, we’re back at it–creating new shoebox rooms to go with our favorite stories. Last year we made a fairy-tale themed high-rise. This spring we used a mishmash of recyclables to make a crypt (and aboveground graveyard!) for the Ink Drinker, Eric Sanvoisin’s ink-slurping, book-swilling vampire.

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The Ink Drinker, a book about discovering an appetite for books, is beloved in our school. The kids supplied the crypt with coffins for the Ink Drinker (and a couple guests), books for guzzling, wallpaper made from words, and plenty of headstones.

If you haven’t encountered it yet, this skinny early-chapter book is well-pitched for a third-grade read-aloud. (Read it to second graders at your own peril. Those littles tend to FREAK OUT about the vampire element.) Because it’s slight, you can read the whole thing aloud in about 30 minutes.

If you find your audience is hooked, follow up with the next three stories in the series (A Straw for Two, The City of Ink Drinkers, and Little Red Ink Drinker). The stories are translated from the French somewhat choppily but I choose to believe that the bumpy translation adds to its charm.

 

Read & Make: Terrific Tongues! Giveaway

*Publisher giveaway* for U.S. residents–The giveaway offer has now ended. Congratulations to Erin Ellis! 

You can clean your eyeballs with your tongue (if you happen to be a gecko). Or you can use your tongue as a lance (if you’re a woodpecker impaling a larva). And if you’re a snake, you can smell with your tongue.

Frog party blower by homemadecity.comI learned about these fun tongues in Maria Gianferrari’s playful, informative picture book, Terrific Tongues! (with spirited, bright illustrations by Jia Liu). An inviting read-aloud, the simple text keeps the audience guessing at each turn of the page: Which tongue (with which function) belongs to which animal? Sidebars and back matter offer more detailed information about the unusual abilities of tongues.

 

If you (or a young someone you know) would like to take a turn unraveling your tongue just like a North American bullfrog, here’s a project to try.

What You Need:

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party blowers (in red or pink)

1 sheet of card stock green paper

color paper (construction, origami, whatever you have)

Frog Party Blower template

optional: googly eyes

Instructions:

Using the template above, trace the frog shape onto your green card stock. Cut along the outline. Use a hole punch to cut out the circle/mouth hole. Trace and cut out the cheeks, eyes and pupils onto color paper of your choice. Glue the eyes and cheeks to the frog. Insert the blower into the mouth & voila. You are a bullfrog! Perfect for a birthday party or a book celebration of Terrific Tongues!

To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari, go to http://mariagianferrari.com/ or visit her on Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Read & Make: Cloth Lullaby & Sashiko

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This book. I’m not sure which is more beautiful: the words or the pictures. Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois (written by Amy Novesky; illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault) was published a couple of years ago, but my appreciation for its cross-hatched reds and blues hasn’t abated, nor has my admiration for its quiet telling about an emerging artist.

fullsizeoutput_169For me, the illustration’s delicate inky stitches brought to mind sashiko, a Japanese form of embroidery that I’ve been spotting online a lot lately.

Sashiko is usually a running stitch; the word sashiko translates to “little stabs.” My attempt at sashiko was my own improvised version. I used fabric scraps I had on hand, denim pieces from old jeans and worn cotton patches I rescued a while back from a disintegrating quilt. I grabbed embroidery floss for thread and the sharpest needle I could find.

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I didn’t make anything in particular. I’m not sure I will. But I found the stitching meditative and love the way the stitches & patches look: imperfect, wobbly, delicate, salvaged. I think the simplicity and improvisation would appeal to kids, too (although I’d probably use thinner cotton so that the “little stabs” are easier to make). I’m going to try it out in my school library after reading Cloth Lullaby aloud–I’ll let you know how it goes . . .

 

Read: Cozy Children’s Books about Knitting

Knitting Books

January is a wooly time of year. And if you can’t knit (like me) some mittens for your kittens, the least you can do is read those kittens some knitting-themed books. Hand-knit hats will keep your keppie toasty according to Mrs. Goldman in A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This warm story will remind readers to look for ways to practice good deeds (and accept interesting gifts graciously).

In my experience as designated reader, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is a perfectly paced fable that packs a lot of drama (and humor) into very few words. Jon Klassen’s yarn-textured illustrations are droll and wonderful. In this story, knitting is a gentle act of generosity with the power to transform a drab, chilled world.

Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosnol fits my wintry mood exactly. A person will go to great lengths for a little space (in this story, space as in outer space)–only to want to return to the warm heart of home and family (armed with woolens for everyone).

For middle-grade readers (knitters and non-knitters alike), Danielle Davis’s Zinnia and the Bees is a quirky, sweet yarn-bomb of a book (see my earlier review here).

I still can’t knit, but I did recently attempt some French knitting/spool knitting (I found some good instructional photos at Lion Brand Yarns). It’s pleasantly addictive to do while watching Netflix although I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with the long ropes of yarn I was creating. Captain Wonderpaws seemed to like his rainbow collar . . .