Maisy’s Placemat Doodle Book by Lucy Cousins

Maisy’s Placemat Doodle Book by Lucy Cousins is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

 

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Maisy’s Placemat Doodle Book by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick Press, 2014.

My youngest daughter adores a certain mouse by Lucy Cousins, so Maisy’s Placemat Doodle Book (Candlewick Press, 2014; $11.99, Ages 3 and up) was a huge hit with her. With over 50 activities, it’s perfect for doodling, coloring, drawing, and, most importantly, using imagination. Each of the pages has a prompt and an illustration to inspire little hands to get busy with crayons, markers, or pencils. For example, your child can give these mugs some pretty patterns or can help draw some food that she [Tallulah] would like to eat. The prompts help children learn or reinforce colors, patterns, shapes and content knowledge.

As with all Maisy books, the illustrations are splendid in their simplicity, and Maisy’s friends are there to join the fun. Draw lots of teeth for Charley so he can crunch on this tasty carrot. Make his shirt striped. Panda has been eating tomato soup. Draw the TERRIBLE MESS he has made on his face and everywhere else!

The pages are 12.5” x 9”, so there is plenty of space to color. When we’ve been on our way to dine out, I’ve torn pages from the book and taken them with us. That way, my daughter has her placemat(s) at the diner, as well. In her words, “You could color it, look at it, and it’s fun.”

Check out this terrific My Friend Maisy/Maisy’s Fun Club site for kids.

 

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

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.

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre

Too Much Glue, written by Jason Lefebvre and illustrated by Zac Retz, is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

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Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre with illustrations by Zac Retz, Flashlight Press.

Flashlight Press is a small publishing house based in my old stomping ground of New York; Brooklyn, to be precise. Although they don’t publish a lot of picture books each year, what they do publish is not to be missed.

That is certainly the case with the uproarious picture book Too Much Glue (Flashlight Press, $16.95, Ages 4-8). When a review copy entitled Too Much Glue arrived in the mail, I was instantly transported back to Mrs. Snow’s elementary school art class where I, like the book’s main character Matty, over-indulged in what could be called Glue Pouring (and Smearing) 101.

Author Lefebvre is keenly aware of many youngsters’ predilection for squeezing out way too much of that fascinating sticky stuff in the plastic bottle with the orange twist cap. In fact, Matty’s teacher cautioned her class, “Glue raindrops, not puddles!” But what kid doesn’t love splashing around in puddles, so creating a big gooey lake of glue was simply too hard to resist, especially for Matty.

The combination of Lefebvre’s loud read-aloud language (there’s Plooooop!, Geronimo!, Snap! and Kabooom!) and Retz’s colorful and comical (lots of wide-open eyes and mouths) illustrations make this an irresistible, over-the-top tale sure to keep kids glued to their seats at story time!

Readers learn that playing with glue is nothing new for Matty who, together with his dad, designs “glue eyeglasses, glue mustaches, and even glue bouncy balls.” So it should come as no surprise that Matty’s slopping glue all over his desk with a dash of sequins and a dollop of goggly eyes is a recipe for trouble. And try as they might, Matty’s classmates valiant efforts with a lasso, and a tow truck fail miserably to remove Matty from his desktop disaster. Even the school nurse ends up leaving Matty as a “melted mummy, clicky bricky, clingy stringy, blucky stucky mess.”

Is there a way out of this sticky predicament for Matty or is he destined to remain stuck forever in an art project gone awry? Find out for yourselves if Matty finds freedom in this no holds barred picture book that celebrates creativity in every sense of the word.

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