Zinnia and the Bees!

Zinnia and the Bees

I’m not a knitter. Nor a crocheter (besides some basics, which I learned just last winter). But the charming middle-grade novel Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis made me want to be both. Zinnia is a seventh-grade yarn bomber intent on putting an “exuberant sweater on the whole world.”

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But when her yarn habit gets her into trouble, she finds that her beloved older brother and frequent accomplice has gone MIA. And her mother, Philomena Flossdrop, D.D.S., seems more devoted to dental hygiene and do-gooder community activism than to Zinnia.

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Things unravel further when a swarm of runaway bees take up residence in the messy nest of curls atop Z’s head. She manages to disguise her beehive from most eyes but a boy named Birch takes notice. The story tangles and twists in unexpected ways before Zinnia, with a little help from her friends, comes to a new understanding of hive and home.

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(By the way, these magical, sweater-clad trees can be found in a grove along the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington, Massachusetts thanks to a community art project and a gaggle of nimble makers known at the Arlington Knitters Brigade (which includes a few of my friends–you know who you are, Jennifer and Janet–and Holly!)

Creative Kid: Storybook Box House

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Here is the shoebox house the kids made in my library from scraps and bits last year. We are back in school (as of yesterday) and ready to resume construction. Each room represents a different fairy tale. You may be able to discern these tell-tale details:

Jack’s room (from his beanstalk)

The candy-laden gingerbread kitchen that lured Hansel and Gretel

Little Red’s bedroom complete with her hoodie hanging in the wardrobe

The three bears’ pudding cooling on their table and their well-made  beds upstairs (pre-Goldilocks rampage)

I’m not sure where we go from here, but surely my students will let me know . . . stay tuned.

Creative Kid: Make a Mini Market

mini market by homemadecity.com

I haven’t made anything with matchboxes in a while, so I was overdue. This mini market was inspired by something similar (I think) that I spotted in the wilds of the internet but then couldn’t find again. Maybe it was just a dream (but a very particular and miniature kind of dream).

This tiny marketplace has a vaguely Mexican look thanks to the some bright 2″ origami paper and a nifty hole punch I got my hands on. Love that hole punch something fierce. I made a counter for the ice cream shop out of card stock and striped tape. Ditto the little table in the coffee shop (but this time I used checkered tape). The itty ice cream cones, donuts and penguins come from my son’s Japanese eraser collection (borrowed without permission!)

Creative Kid: Princess & the Pea

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Who wouldn’t awake, hobbled with aches, after sleeping on this perfect pea? Even with the assorted mattresses, 22 in all?

I promised to post photos of the cardboard box storybook house the grade schoolers made in my library this year. And only months later, I’m keeping my word! Each room was paired with a fairy tale and kid-created with tape, glue stick, thread, and recyclables: scraps of fabric, felt, boxes, egg cartons. This room, of course, belongs to the Princess of The Princess and the Pea. 

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We read Lauren Child’s version of the tale for inspiration. (Lauren herself constructed exquisite miniature rooms and paper doll cut outs to illustrate the story.) Then we savored the spin-offs: The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane Auch and Mini Grey’s The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be. 

The students used thread or embroidery floss and sewed pieces of felt or fabric scraps together. This involved a bit of prep–pre-threading needles so the kids could get to work. The bed is a paper-covered box with clothespin bed posts.

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And this little table and chairs adds luster to the princess’s room, I think. Her crown is on a chest of drawers against the back wall.

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FREE GIVEAWAY: Hello Goodbye Dog

Updated: The winner of the book giveaway is Sarah E. of Massachusetts. Congratulations, Sarah! You will receive a copy of Hello Goodbye Dog very soon. 

The principal at my elementary school knew Bowzer well. My beloved mutt hated goodbyes and followed me to school, preferring the many hellos of the kids in the playground. Bowzer was sent home, to bark maniacally at the mailman and wait not-so-patiently for the school day’s end.

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Zara and her dog Moose also suffer the pangs of daylong separation in Maria Gianferrari’s lovely picture book Hello Goodbye Dog. For Moose, hello is a “ride in the car” and a “pat on the head,” while goodbye feels like an “itch that cannot be scratched” and “a closing door.” After Moose makes mayhem in the school cafeteria one day, Zara provides a perfect–and unexpected–solution. Train Moose to be a therapy reading dog! Now Moose go to school, too, and turn reading into a cozy, furry experience for Zara and her classmates.

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To celebrate this little gem of a book (illustrated by Patrice Barton and brought into being by Roaring Brook Press), I created an easy bookmark project that honors both reading & puppy power! Your finished bookmark will slip onto the corner of the page & hold your place so your copy of Hello Goodbye Dog won’t get dog-eared.

What you need:

5.76″ x 5.76″ origami paper

Scissors

Black pen

Glue stick

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Step 1: Fold the origami paper as shown in the slideshow below.

Step 2: Once you have a triangle shape, cut the bottom point into two rounded points to make the dog’s snout.

Step 3: Cut out the nose (a small rounded triangle), ears, and tongue shapes in colors of your choice. You can freehand or use this template for the ears and tongue.

Step 4: Glue the nose in place. Adhere the ears into the pocket at the top of the triangle. I folded the ears at a slight angle to give the puppy a rakish look!

Step 5: Trim the tongue so that you can insert it into the opening at the snout end of your triangle. Dab with glue so that you can press it into place.

Step 6: Draw eyes and other details with your black pen. Voila! A dog-eared bookmark!

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Also, if you are in New England this August, Maria and therapy dog Brig will be presenting Hello, Goodbye Dog at the Toadstool Book Shop in Keene, NH August 20 at 11 a.m.

The blog tour of Hello Goodbye Dog continues . . . check out these sites:

July 27      Kid Lit Frenzy

July 28      Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

July 31      Picture Books Help Kids Soar

Aug 1        Bildebok

Aug 2        The Loud Library Lady

Aug 3        DEBtastic Reads!

Aug 4        Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

Aug 7        Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

EXTRA: Aug 25     Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton