Officer Katz and Houndini (and Craft!)

*BOOK GIVEAWAY* Leave a comment below on this post and you will be eligible to win a free copy of Officer Katz and Houndini! The giveaway will be open from October 26 until November 1.

The book giveaway officially closed yesterday and the winner is . . . RebeccaAa! Congratulations–we’ll be in touch shortly.

I love a cat vs. dog story. But as a hybrid cat person/dog person, I never know who to root for. As good fortune would have it, I don’t have to pick sides in Maria Gianferrari’s new picture book Officer Katz and Houndini: A Tale of Two Tails published this week by Simon and Schuster. Readers can enjoy plenty of silly, sticky, maze-bending, catapulting antics before arriving at a satisfying (and collaborative) solution to this classic canine-feline face-off.

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Illustrator Danny Chatzikonstantinou’s cozy autumny teal-orange-maroon palette and his adorable mustachioed Houndini inspired one of my fave kid-friendly craft projects ever: mustaches on a stick! Who doesn’t want to sport a mustache once in a while? And everything is better on a stick. Think old-time opera glasses, but more debonair and dastardly.

What you need:

wooden skewers

card stock in your preferred mustache color

hot glue gun

mustache pattern by homemadecity.com

It couldn’t be simpler: print the pattern and trace on card stock. Apply a dab of hot glue to the back of your mustache and adhere the pointed end of a wooden skewer. Voila! An escape artiste is born.

In case you’re more law-and-order feline than hard-to-pin-down canine, try this pattern instead: an official Officer Katz Kitty City sheriff’s badge. Just trace the pattern onto card stock, cut out, and hot-glue a pin clasp to the back.

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Follow Officer Katz and Houndini’s virtual tour at these blogs:

Monday, Oct. 17: Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) THREE GIVEAWAYS: a query pass from the amazing Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary; picture book critique from me, and a copy of Officer Katz & Houndini!!

Tuesday, Oct. 18: Librarian’s Quest

Wednesday, Oct. 19: Bildebok

Thursday, Oct. 20: Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

Friday, Oct. 21: Pragmaticmom + THREE book giveaway

Monday, Oct. 24: Homemade City

Tuesday, Oct. 25: ReFoReMo THINK QUICK Interview with Carrie Charley Brown

More about author:gianferrarimaria_hres
Maria Gianferrari’s a lucky dog—she gets to write stories about cats and dogs, and when she’s dog-tired, she can catnap in her office. Maria lives in northern Virginia with her cat’s meow of a family: her scientist husband, artist daughter, and top dog, Becca. She is the author of the Penny & Jelly books as well as Coyote Moon and the forthcoming Hello Goodbye Dog. To learn more about Maria, please visit her website at mariagianferrari.comFacebook or Instagram.

Make: Happy Mail #2

More happy mail! There’s time yet for summer correspondence before the hurly burly of the school year begins. To spice up your post, I’ve drawn up some non-governmental, very unofficial stamps to get your letters to their destination. Just print out this Happy Stamps link and start coloring. Then glue stick ’em to your envelopes–with proper postage, of course.

 

Penny & Jelly and a Star-Powered Craft!

Your friend is not invited to the sleepover. But you are. What do you do?

In Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, Penny faces this dilemma, with a twist or two. The excluded friend isn’t just an ordinary pal but her fur-faced, dog-breathed bestie, Jelly. And the sleepover isn’t the any-old variety, either. It’s a special sleep-under-the-stars event at the Town Community Center.

Penny and Jelly Slumber Under the Stars

Penny meets this problem with aplomb. As a maker and dabbler myself, I love how Penny sets about finding a solution. The girl gets crafty!

Armed with yarn, cotton balls, recyclables, shaving cream, even gelatin, Penny attempts to create a substitute Jelly to attend the sleepover instead.

Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars

(A close-up of the classic toothpick-and-marshmallow combo:)

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OK, as you’ve probably guessed, Penny learns that craft projects don’t fix all of life’s problems. (She does find a creative solution. But I’m not giving it away.)

Nonetheless, the story inspired me to get crafty. Why not throw a starry sleepover for a couple of wacky, resourceful kids that I know and celebrate the publication of the second Penny & Jelly adventure (written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated in warm washes by Thyra Heder)?

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We don’t see a lot of stars in the city so we chose to make our own. Here’s how:

You will need a standard size flashlight, 1/4″ hole punch (we used a star-shaped punch), black construction paper, scissors, white pencil, and masking tape.

Step 1: On the black paper, trace circles that will cover the lens of the flashlight.

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Step 2: Sketch your starry designs. Simple constellation patterns are readily available online for inspiration–or for tracing.

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Step 3: Cut out your circles and punch holes for each star in your pattern.

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Step 4: You can either inset your star discs (which involves unscrewing the head of the flashlight, removing several parts, and then replacing everything–whew! involved)–or you can overlay the star disc on the lens. You may need to use masking tape to keep it in place while projecting.

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Step 5: Pop some corn, set up the sleeping bags, and project the starry night onto your ceiling!

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Boston-area residents: Bring your young book enthusiasts to the Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars Book Launch at Newtonville Books on July 24 at 2 p.m.

And check out all of these stops on the the official Penny & Jelly blog tour:

Extra feature:

 

Make: DIY Bitty Bistro Chairs

Mini Cafe Chairs by homemadecity.com

I’ve been saving champagne corks for a while meaning to twist together some tiny cafe chairs, but I had forgotten about the project until . . . I tripped onto This Is My Dollhouse, a recent picture book by Giselle Potter (published by Schwartz & Wade Books). As a maker and admirer of all things itty bitty as well as a fan of Potter’s doll-like, oval-faced illustrations, I couldn’t resist getting my hands on the book.

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The story is about a girl who creates a dollhouse out of a cardboard box, furnishing it from snippets and household bits.

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Inside the dust jacket is a hidden treat: hints and ideas for making and outfitting your own cardboard box dollhouse.

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Clothespins and a matchbox become a bed. Bottle caps make perfect plates. Pieces of yellow string equal noodles. Fried eggs? Pencil a yellow circle on a white scrap! The story honors a child’s ability to transform the ordinary into a miniature world.

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So, I found my champagne corks where I had squirreled them away.  If you have a supply ready, here’s how to make them:

You need: a wire cutter and a champagne (or craft beer!) cork

Step 1: Cut the wire that connects the bottom of the cork cage. Try to straighten out the twists as best you can.

Step 2: Twist the wire into the shape you’d like and hook and secure the loose ends to the back legs of your chair.

The tricky part (other than all that twisting that ended up lopsided in my attempts) is to secure the back and keep the seat on the chair. If the legs splay out too much, the seat falls off. You need to straighten the legs a bit to keep the seat attached.

Mini Cafe Chair by homemadecity.com

 

 

 

Make: School Pencil Flags

This one’s for people who share my unnatural possessiveness toward pencils. In my school library, pencils walk away with alarming frequency. A yellow #2 looks a lot like every other one, after all.

My solution: pencil flags! The kids love getting picky-choosy about their favorite flags, but they also tend to return them more often. I glued little sayings and stickers on colored rectangles of paper and used strong packing tape to attach to the pencils. Now my library pencil jar is full!