Girls Get Stitching! & Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends

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FSS_logo_lgToday Mary Brown reviews Girls Get Stitching! by Shirley McLauchlan & Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe.

The recent surge in DIY crafts can be seen in the number of bright, attractive books that are available to aspiring crafters who want to explore new, creative endeavors. Young people (okay, girls) are encouraged to learn the basics of sewing, embroidery and related crafts – that maybe skipped their moms’ generation. We’re looking at two of these books today, both of which seek to teach tween girls how to do basic embroidery and hand sewing. They each have their own charms.

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Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch With Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe, C&T Publishing.

BE CHIC & UNIQUE! Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10-13) by Kristen Sutcliffe provides instruction for the basic skills needed to complete the fun projects that are featured. The emphasis is on hand-embroidery and hand-stitching, with some felting, leather, and glue gun action. No machine sewing is included. This book’s best attribute is its modern, spare aesthetic. It’s clear that Ms. Sutcliffe loves the look of the Anthropologie store chain; think of this book as the tween-craft harbinger of Anthropologie taste. The designs feature dainty graphics in a hipster palette. There is little variety amongst the images; if you go for the general look, you’ll like the book. If this isn’t your style, try a different C&T book. The introductory material does a good job of presenting the materials and skills that will be needed to create the projects.  The basic five embroidery stitches are fully explained in both picture and text. However, not all aspects of the projects are fully taught, and the kid creator might well get confused. For instance, the ‘Easy Wrapped Bracelet’ tells you to use needle-nose pliers to crimp the clasping hardware, but there are no illustrations or even detailed instructions to help the crafter execute the task. Depending on the age of the crafter, this might present a challenging obstacle, especially as the items in question require real manual dexterity. Some of the projects lack appeal for the target age group. The ‘Arrows Wallhanging’ is a head-scratcher – neither the task nor the finished product are tempting, and good luck finding that driftwood. There is a slight disconnect in the book, between the age and experience required to make the crafts, and the appeal of the end results for a tween girl.

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Girls Get Stitching! by Shirley McLauchlan, C&T Publishing.

GO FROM DRAB TO FAB! Girls Get Stitching! (C&T Publishing, $21.95, Ages 10 and up) by Shirley McLauchlan does a better job of wrangling the interests of the tween craftgirl. Like the previous book, this one fully describes the basic skills and materials needed to start out. However, the emphasis in this book is on cute embroidery designs to embellish items the crafter already owns. T-shirts are enhanced with a darling graphic of a fawn, utilizing both embroidery and simple applique. The design is modern and pleasing, and the tween can use a shirt she already owns. The same is true for many of the other projects in the book, like embellishing an existing pillow, hat or apron. There is also more variety amongst the graphics, along with encouragement to use one’s own imagination in creating the designs. http://youtu.be/nKM5EqCakRw While the aesthetic of Fabric Paper Thread is attractively hip, the actual instructional information of Girls Get Stitching! is more appropriate to the targeted reader. The projects are more doable, both in terms of difficulty and availability of materials. Fabric Paper Thread might be good for a self-starting tween girl who already has some crafting under her homemade belt. Girls Get Stitching! is a better choice for the tween just starting out in the crafting world. This book and a little packet of needles and embroidery floss would make an awesome springtime gift, as well as a worthwhile summer activity.


Churchill’s Tale of Tails by Anca Sandu

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Churchill’s Tale of Tails by Anca Sandu is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

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Churchill’s Tale of Tails written and illustrated by Anca Sandu, Peachtree Publishers, 2014.

In Churchill’s Tale of Tails, a new picture book by Anca Sandu (Peachtree Publishers, 2014; $16.95; ages 4-8) readers meet Churchill, a rather sophisticated pig. He likes to take tea, paint self portraits (lots of them,) and play classical music. He is also quite a proud pig, especially of his tail. It wasn’t a big tail. It wasn’t a fancy tail. It wasn’t even a very practical tail. But it was his tail, and it made him feel great.

So when Churchill loses his tail, he isn’t happy. His friends, Billy and Gruff, try to help by finding other tails for Churchill to try. There are so many tails—zebra, peacock, fish, and more—and they make him feel so different and wonderful that Churchill no longer has time for his friends. A tail from the fish made Churchill feel fantastic! He could do things he’d never done before. “Churchill never talks to us anymore. It’s all these fancy tails.” Will Churchill realize he’s being a bad friend? Will he find his own tail? Does he even want it back? This delightful tale will engage readers for the creativity of the story, the humorous artwork, and the moral. Does trying to be different  mean that you forget your true friends? Anca Sandu answers this question in a realistic and sweet manner that young children will enjoy and understand.


JUBILEE! One Man’s Big, Bold and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace

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JUBILEE! One Man’s Big, Bold and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter, with illustrations by Matt Tavares

☆ Publishers Weekly – Starred review

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Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold and Very, Very, Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter with illustrations by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, 2014.

JUBILEE! One Man’s Big, Bold and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace, written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Matt Tavares (Candlewick, $16.99, Ages 7-10), is a new picture book reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Big events – really BIG events – are not a new idea for most of us these days. We witness enormous crowds at sporting events like the Super Bowl and World Cup soccer matches. Political rallies, marathons, even royal weddings draw spectators and participants by the hundreds of thousands. But this idea was more novel in 1869, when Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore pulled off an incredible festival in Boston; the National Peace Jubilee.

Alicia Potter and Matt Tavares have captured Gilmore’s story with enthusiasm in this picture book biography extolling one man’s determination to mark the end of the Civil War with a celebration of unheard of proportions. As a child in Ireland, Gilmore developed a passion for music that he brought to America as a professional bandleader and a member of the Massachusetts 24th Regiment. After the war ended, Gilmore dreamed up a five day musical concert bigger, bolder and louder than any other to celebrate peace and restore national unity.

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Interior spread from Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter with illustrations by Matt Tavares,
© 2014 Candlewick Press.


Potter writes masterfully, building anticipation toward the big event by chronicling the steps Gilmore took to raise funds and public support over several years. She chooses great aural vocabulary to describe the roar of the organ and the thundering of drums. Tavares wisely incorporates toots, booms, and shreets into his soft, detailed illustrations that fill both the eyes and the ears with impressions of the experience.

An extensive author’s note and bibliography provide supplemental information about Patrick Gilmore’s life and subsequent events that led to his designation “Father of the American Band.”

Potter and Tavares’ fascinating tale will captive elementary age readers and ensure that this important chapter in American music history is not forgotten.

-   Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where obtained: I received a review copy from my public library. The opinions expressed here are my own.