Be A Tree! BOOK GIVEAWAY & Craft

The Book Giveaway is closed. Our winner is Josie Clark-Trippodo! Congratulations, Josie! Enjoy this beautiful book.

“Be a tree. Stand tall. Stretch your branches to the sun.” Maria Gianferrari’s beautiful picture book begins with a simple metaphor that extends and expands, connecting the ecology of trees to a message about interconnectedness and our human responsibility to care for, build and sustain our communities. The illustrations by Felicita Salas are delightful. On a page with text that reads: “Your skin is bark; dead on the outside, protecting what’s within,” Salas adds a detail of matching tattoos–a heart inked on a grandfather’s forearm with a twin heart carved into the trunk of a tree.

To mark the publication of BE A TREE, I wanted to create a variation of that perennial school project, the Family Tree–but one that would celebrate the circles of community that kids experience in their lives instead of ancestry. Not all children know or live with biological relatives–but all of them have important people who matter to them. So, introducing . . . the TREE RINGS PROJECT!

Block printing with organic materials (because: trees) is a perfect pair for this project, filled with texture and messiness. Who doesn’t love a puddle of glue, paint, and the surprise of lifting up a print you made to see the result? If it’s too glue-y for you, you can also create a Tree Rings Project using markers and crayons with concentric circle shapes to trace.

Tree Rings Project

MATERIALS

  • Flat piece of cardboard (you can cut out a side of a cardboard box)
  • Yarn
  • White glue
  • Tempera or acrylic paint
  • Scissors
  • Brayer (printmaking roller) or paintbrush
  • Paper (I used 50% recycled construction paper)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trace or draw concentric circles on cardboard. We had fun running around the house gathering cups, bowls and other round objects to trace. Your circles can be lopsided–the rings of a tree certainly are!
  2. Cut pieces of yarn that fit your circles.
  3. Now for the gluey, messy bit: squeeze a line of glue along your traced circles. Or, for smaller hands, pour a puddle of glue and use a popsicle stick to spread it on thick!
  4. Lay the yarn on your circles and let dry.
  5. Painting time! Once your block is dry, use a paintbrush or brayer to spread paint over the yarn.
  6. Turn it upside down on paper; press evenly.
  7. Lift carefully: you printed your tree rings!

Now for Step 8, the most important part . . . start at the middle of your tree ring and think about the place where you feel the most comfortable. It might be home or maybe school. In this central place, jot down the people there that help you grow strong. People you can count on and who can count on you. Move out to your next tree ring. This ring can represent another comfortable place–a grandparent’s house, a neighbor’s house, your after-school group. Who are your “people” there? Add them to your tree ring. Move your way out, considering other places and groups that help you or that you would like to help–the local animal rescue group or a community garden, for example. And voila! You’ve made your circles of community–your personal Tree Rings!

* Teens and grown-ups who don’t want to be left out of the fun but want more of a challenge: try creating a block print of wood grain. My attempt is pictured above and below. I free-handed the design, starting with interspersed spirals (knots of wood) and then adding lines of yarn (wood grain) around them.

To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari (pictured below “being a tree”), go to mariagianferrari.com. You can find illustrator Felicita Sala at felicitasala.com.

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

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:)

Marshmallow Jelly

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: