skip to Main Content

Dare to Doodle

Debbie Glade gets doodly with today’s review.

The Pirates vs. Ancient Egyptians in a Haunted Museum ($6.99, Nosy Crow, Ages 7 and up) is the fourth book in the Mega Mash-Up series by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson with more due out December. Basically the reader draws his way through the comic-style book to put his own mark on the story. There are a handful of pirate and Egyptian characters living separately. But both groups run into some financial distress, and they each have maps to the city’s abandoned museum where a valuable statue of a Golden Howler Monkey is housed. The real fun starts when the two groups of robbers both search desperately for the treasure and collide inside the museum. Kids can read the book and doodle their way to the end to find out who gets the treasure and what happens after that.

Due to the nature of the subject, this story may appeal to boys more than girls. What works so well in Pirates vs. Ancient Egyptians is that the story is silly, fun and easy to read and stirs the imagination of the reader. Plus readers get to draw and participate in the story. They can create original art and also add to what’s there already. (There are some drawing tips and a picture glossary.) Reluctant readers will have so much fun with this book, they won’t even realize it is helping to hone their reading skills. Another bonus? This humorous book is really affordable and would make a great gift for a themed birthday party.

Share this:

What Presidents Are Made Of

Israeli artist and author Hanoch Piven has created an extraordinarily fun way for children to look at all 44 of our American presidents in an updated edition of his 2004 hit, What Presidents Are Made Of ($6.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ages 6 -10). This playful perspective presents each leader with his face depicted through a collage of items ranging from chains, telephone cord and jelly beans to a kazoo and a hot dog – yes, I kid you not, a genuine frankfurter for a nose!  It also sheds light on different aspects of their character or persona.

Did you know, for example, that Ulysses S. Grant once got a $20 ticket for dashing just a bit too quickly in his one-horse carriage and had only praise for the policeman who fined him, or that Franklin D. Roosevelt never liked the food his White House chef cooked but felt he just could not fire her? My favorite picture also belongs to that of our 32nd president and has a remarkable resemblance to Martin Scorsese with his prominent black bolt eyebrows.

In his straightforward introduction, Pinoch shares an artist’s ever creative approach to evoking these larger-than-life individuals for children to enjoy, but also to learn from in a light-hearted, whimsical way.  He also encourages kids to try their hand at reproducing a president’s likeness using found objects. If I were a teacher  I’d have a blast with this book, but parents can also take part in the portrait-making process. Go on, think about someone you’d like to recreate on paper (Lady Gaga, First Lady Michelle Obama, or maybe even Sponge Bob), get out some pasta, push pins, a few earrings that have lost their pairs, and start your own art project today.

Share this:

Origami Games – Original Fun



Joel Stern is the author of Origami Games published by Tuttle. The book contains directions for making 21 different origami models, and describes 22 games–both competitive and collaborative–that can be played with them. The models are all made from regular printer paper (8 1/2 x 11 inches), which means that a closetful of games and toys can be had for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

fill_er_upRecently Joel told me some interesting things about his motivation to write the book. “So many of our children have become addicted to technology, and have lost the ability and desire to make things themselves, and to use their imagination. Part of my intent with the book was to provide a hands-on, low-tech activity for parents to do with their children. Further, the cost of these games is negligible, which can be an important factor for families in these tough economic times.

chip_toss“My inspiration for the book was the ‘football’ game I learned as a kid, where we’d flick a triangle folded from a piece of paper over a ‘goal post’ formed by a friend’s fingers on the opposite side of the table. I figured that anyone who liked to play that game would enjoy playing other games out of paper. The models include a frog, dragon, basketball hoop, and zig-zag units that can form different shapes. The games help foster skills such as balance, speed, and accuracy.

“The book offers suggestions for using origami games in the classroom, and discusses the developmental benefits of origami in general. It also includes a template for kids (or anyone) to document their own games. In fact, I got many ideas for the book by observing the games that a class of third grade students came up with.”

slay_the_dragonBesides Origami Games, Joel’s authored three other books of paper crafts (origami and pop-up cards), which are described on his website:

Editor’s Note: Joel will be giving a workshop at the Slavin Family Children’s Library of L.A., at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. (the Jewish Federation building), at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 10. If you have access to Facebook, you can see that they’ve highlighted the book on their page.

Share this:
Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: