Tag Archive | crafts

Will & Whit, by Laura Lee Gulledge (book review) – hurricane blackout, fears to face

book cover of Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge published by Amulet BooksLet’s get this all straight: Will is a teen girl (full name Wilhemina), Whit is Hurricane Whitney striking inland Virginia, and this great graphic novel has heart written all over its black and white pages.

A shrink would make much of Will’s creation of lamps from found objects in relation to her fear of dark, but I think her creative heart would lead her to do it anyway. She and her friends won’t let a little thing like a hurricane and no electricity stop them from putting on quite an arts carnival to end their summer.

Take a peek into Will’s life with the book trailer (you know, like a movie trailer -except for a book) – gotta love Laura Lee’s art!

Have you ever faced your fears like Will wants to do?

Book info: Will & Whit / story and art by Laura Lee Gulledge. Amulet Books, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As a hurricane approaches, Will confronts her new fear of the dark as she finds ways to move forward with her life through friends old and new.

Just a few more weeks of summer before their junior year of high school, so Wilhemina and her pals float along the river on air mattresses, check out the kids across town planning an arts carnival, and hope that Hurricane Whitney won’t really get this far inland. Will makes lamps from interesting found materials, Autumn loves creating puppets, Noel is the best cook ever.

The late-season storm does hit their Virginia hometown, knocking out the power for days. She and her aunt are fine in the family antique store, but now Will has even more dark places to avoid as she tries to not-think about what happened to her a year ago.

Ava and Blake have worked on their arts carnival all summer – now the continuing blackout may prevent them from actually having the show.

Can Will, Autumn, and Noel help the show go on?
Is there some special chemistry brewing between the two groups of friends?
When will she face what happened last summer?

Laura Lee Gulledge’s black-and-white art is filled with heart and hope and light, despite the personal darkness that Will must face in this graphic novel of friendship and growth.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

C for The Candymakers, by Wendy Mass (book review) – sweet competition, dark secrets

book cover of The Candymakers by Wendy Mass published by Little BrownA scrumptious contest to win!
An entire candy factory to use!
Secrets to keep…

Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip each have worrisome problems in their lives which they must overcome or work around so that they can succeed in this sweet opportunity that most twelve-year-olds can only dream about.

Despite having four youngsters entering a candy factory, this is not at all a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,  but a unique story with its own variations and flavors of friendship.

Pick up this yummy tale today at your local library or independent bookstore; it’s a great all-ages read-aloud with mysterious twists.

What candy would you invent to satisfy discriminating sweet tooths?

Book info: The Candymakers / Wendy Mass. Little Brown, 2010 hardback, 2011 paperback.  [author’s website]  [book website]   [publisher site] [fan-created book trailer]

My Book Talk:  Inventing a new candy! What could be a sweeter contest for kids, especially the four regional finalists who live near the famous Life Is Sweet candy factory? Except that only one can win, even if the twelve-year-olds can overcome their differences and become friends…

Logan lives in Life Is Sweet with his Candymaker parents, who stopped giving factory tours a few years ago. Miles is allergic to rowboats and wonders constantly about the afterlife, sometimes speaking in code. Daisy carries a big book in her bag everywhere, is amazingly strong and often looks distracted. Philip in his business suit chooses regular pizza over chocolate pizza for lunch and doesn’t want to have any fun.

From calming the bees whose honey makes the best nougat to squooshing through the mud to harvest roots to make marshmallows, the four young people learn about all the ingredients that go into candy on their first day at the factory. Camping out under the sapodilla trees and vanilla vines in the Tropical Room, they dream about making the best, most unique candies in the world.

So whose idea will work – and win? Logan’s chocolate that turns into gum then back into chocolate? Daisy’s ummm-something flower or Philip’s playable candy harmonica? And they have just one full day to create the actual product!

The winning candy will be produced by the factory sponsoring its creator, so if Life Is Sweet brings a winner to the Confectionary Association’s contest, they’ll be able to keep making high-quality candies. It’s an open secret that Life Is Sweet puts their secret ingredient into every candy they make…and that other candymakers really want to have it.

Is someone trying to steal the secret ingredient?
Why does Logan live at the factory instead of going to school?
Can the four competitors be friends and still make amazing candy in just one day?

Friendship, complications, misunderstandings, and trust fill the many compartments of this story told from four viewpoints with a surprise ending and a yummy twist. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A for Artist – Paper Artist, by Green, Laughlin and Phillips (book review) – cute, clever crafting

book cover of Paper Artist by Green, Laughlin & Phillips published by Capstone Young ReadersA is for artsy-crafty-creative.
(and for Arlee at TossingItOut on the first day of 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge that he started)
No April Fooling!

Your own creative spark sets apart these stylish paper items from the print-out-cut-and-glue variety. Who could have imagined a paper skirt or decoupaging a pair of shoes with your favorite design?

Ask for this one at your local library or independent bookstore – it’s a great addition to any crafting collection.

Which pictures would you choose to become a stackable photo blocks display?

Book info: Paper Artist: Creations You Can Fold, Tear, Wear, or Share / Gail D. Green, Kara L. Laughlin, and Jennifer Phillips. Capstone Young Readers, 2013.  [publisher site]

My Recommendation:It’s easy to make charming gifts, decorations, and keepsakes as you become a Paper Artist, using ordinary materials in unusual ways like turning paper into wearable shareables with new techniques.

Dangling earrings are lightweight and lovely when crafted from paper. A ‘quilling pen’ allows you to twirl paper strips into cleverly curled decorations used on the Heads Up headband and Quilled Nameplate.

Plan a perfect Purse with patterned cardstock or turn plain shoes into Fancy Footwear, perhaps with old book pages. The tissue paper Hat is surprisingly sophisticated, while the matching possibilities of the button-clasp Belt and Beaded Bracelet are endless.

Transform flower petals and paper into a Captivating Container to hold trinkets, repurpose a cereal box into the Fluttering Butterfly Gift Bag, and make your own Stationery Paper with the recycling instructions included.

Several variations on handmade boxes, artwork, frames, and flowers round out this selection of over 50 artistic paper crafts, providing lots of options for your own creativity to flourish.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Cardboard, by Doug TenNapel (book review) – living cardboard people, good and evil

book cover of Cardboard by Doug TenNapel published by GraphixWe’ve all played with cardboard boxes,
made forts and racecars and castles,
but we didn’t use magic cardboard like Cam has!

Hopefully, we don’t have evil neighbors like Marcus either… (stealing a guy’s only birthday present, when it’s just made with a cardboard box…sheesh!)

The creator of Earthworm Jim of video-game fame and the recent graphic novel hit Ghostopolis  (my review here) brings another fantasy world to life in full-color,  so find it now at your local library or independent bookstore.  

Cardboard  has already been optioned to become an animated feature film, but you’ll have time to read it first… and keep an eye out for that Marcus.

Book Info: Cardboard / Doug TenNapel. Graphix (Scholastic), 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [video author interview]  [inside TenNapel’s sketchbooks]

My Book Talk: Worst birthday gift ever: a cardboard box… but Cam’s widower dad took their last few cents to buy it from a strange fellow who gave them rules about how to use it. So the teen and his dad bend and cut the box into the shape of a man, a boxer who magically comes to life!

Bill the boxer-guy talks to them, will mow the lawn, wants to be a real friend to Cam – but his cardboard can’t withstand the water-cannons of neighborhood bully Marcus. Taking the leftover cardboard bits (despite the seller’s warnings), Cam creates a cardboard-making-machine that allows him to repair Bill… and tempts the very evil Marcus into wicked plans and plots that might destroy everything.

TenNapel’s detailed drawings underscore the barely-hanging-on desperation of Cam and his depressed dad, the manic gleam in Marcus’s conniving eyes, and the contempt that the rampaging Cardboard bad guys have for good-fellow Bill and the “fleshies” he tries to protect in this outstanding graphic novel from the creator of Ghostopolis.   (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Junk-Box Jewelry, by Sarah Drew (book review) – recycled bracelets, earrings, necklaces

book cover of Junk Box Jewelry by Sarah Drew published by Zest BooksWhat to do with that earring who’s lost its mate?
Hmmm… you’ve saved all the beads from that broken necklace…
There’s got to be a way to showcase that stunning sea glass without drilling holes in it!

With some crafting tools, wire, and jewelry “findings” (clasps, jump rings, etc.), you can turn these assorted bits into great jewelry – elegant or funky, casual or ooh-la-la.

Sarah Drew shares techniques and ideas from her successful handmade jewelry business in England so that you can let your imagination transform parts, pieces, and pearls into wearable art.

With lots of color photos and instructions, this Zest Books paperback hits the shelves on June 26, 2012, so zip in to your favorite independent bookstore  then, and ask your local library to order it, too.

When folks start asking to buy your one-of-a-kind jewelry, be sure to grab Kenrya Rankins’ Start It Up (recommendation) so you can build a great business plan for your new enterprise.

Book info: Junk-Box Jewelry: 25 DIY Low-Cost (or No-Cost) Jewelry Projects / Sarah Drew. Zest Books, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  If you want to create new jewelry from interesting bits and pieces, then this is the book for you! Sarah Drew provides clear instructions and diagrams for basic and intermediate wire-crafting techniques, plus twenty-five innovative jewelry concepts from funky to fancy.

Once you have a few very basic tools and the right kind of wire and jewelry fittings from the local craft department, then you’re ready to start looking around your house, rummage sales, and even the beach for the colored, sparkly, smooth or shiny items that will feature in your creations.

Perhaps you’ll start mastering your wire techniques by remaking old beads into a new Retro-Bauble Bracelet or a fanciful Bling Ring. A Vintage Lace Choker has white glue as its secret ingredient, ornamented by a few well-placed reclaimed beads or faux gems.

You’ll learn how to suspend a beautiful stone as a pendant without drilling a hole in it, go green by making your own colorful tube-beads with magazine photos for a Newsstand Necklace, and turn hardware store finds into “charms” that will make your Toolbox Bracelet unique.

With a little practice, you can crochet wire into fanciful Cuff Bracelets or twist and twirl it around pearl-beads to fashion an intricate Art Deco Bracelet. For the prom or that special night out, create Elegant Earrings and a Juliet Headband to match your favorite outfit.

Once you’ve learned these basic jewelry techniques, you’re only limited by your imagination and the intriguing pieces of old brooches, sea glass, silk flowers, and thrift-store treasures that you find! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Fun Friday – fiction A to Z and then some

Friday! Time for some fun books and taking a deep breath before plunging into April’s AtoZ blogging challenge. Click the links to get straight to the no-spoiler reviews.

Tallulah wants to grace the stage, to be in lovvvve, to have a figure like her cousin Georgia. Will these wishes come true at summer drama school on the Yorkshire dales? Withering Tights begins this funny series (and owls are also involved).

Since she’s messed up so many decisions, Brook finally turns to blog readers for advice, letting them vote on every choice she has – from which novel to read in English class to trying out for rugby – in My Life Undecided.

Not again! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, but Elly’s parents won’t buy her a new cellphone, then burglars steal the family’s computers! How can the Sydney teen stay connected to her friends? Yikes!

A missed flight, a changed seating arrangement, meeting a new stepmom in a foreign country – no wonder Hadley imagines that The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love is zilch.

Lillian loves the idea of a road trip with her best buddy Josh right after graduation, even if they’re heading cross-country after a kidnapper… and Josh has never realized how much she loves him – Don’t Stop Now.

Some years after high school, Simon and his pals are still social dorks. But pretending to be someone else is too strange – so why is Nancy answering letters to a previous tenant as if she were that Sarah person? Same Difference is a graphic novel with sarcastic bite.

Try some hands-on yummy fun with the step-by-step instructions for creating Insanewiches, from the East Meets West Dog to the famous Rubik’s Cubewich.

Head up to Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity with Hakata Soy and friends for classes in dinosaur racing, cute hats, run-on sentences, and spying…

Read any other fun and funny books recently?
(Take a smile image courtesy of Nana who retains all rights – http://nanaisreal.tumblr.com/post/3323260821)

Insanewiches, by Adrian Fiorino (book review) – super sandwiches, creative cooking fun

Fun Friday and ready to make your lunchbox the envy of everyone at the table with Insanewiches, an amazing album of edible art that you can make at home.

Wildly inventive sandwich artist Fiorino brings us clear instructions on how to design and construct A+ sandwiches from teeny Cutecumber ‘Wich to gigantic Quadruple Down. Grab your edible ink markers and amaze your lunch buddies with your own Insanewich.

Equipment and tools needed? Cataloged.
Best breadstuffs for intricate cut-out shapes? Listed.
Hunger-inducing color photos for each Insanewich? Absolutely!

If anyone can make a better sandwich than the Cordless Mousewich with USB Cheesestick or popular Rubik’s Cubewich, it’ll be Fiorino!
Be sure to check the Insanewiches blog for new recipes, contests, and other funny stuff.

Book info: Insanewiches / Adrian Fiorino. St. Martins Griffin, 2011 [author’s website] [publisher website] [book trailer] [Review copy and cover image courtesy of publisher]

My Book Talk: If the sandwiches in your life are boring, square, or blah, you need Insanewiches! No ho-hum PBJs in this collection of yummy toteables created for breakfast, party time, dessert, and even lunchboxes.

Try breakfast on a stick with Pancake Popwiches or open wide, wide, wider for the amazingly tall morning stack-up entitled The Breakfast Club (sandwich artist Fiorino advises that you eat no more than these per day – it’s that big!).

Take a “Don’t Eat Like a Bird” sandwich featuring a two-tone bread birdhouse shape in your lunchbox or assemble a sad, sad Flatbread Fred with delectable vegetable eyes and nose for a quick lunch at home.

Get adventurous with an East Meets Westdog (sushi + hotdog!) or the Cold Cut Cage Match (complete with wrestling arena on top!). King Me with the ham and cheese checkerboard, try to lift the Sumo Sandwich, or go all out with a Crazy Canuck Sandwich – dinner will never be the same again… Satisfy your sweet tooth with a dessert-worthy Banana Splitwich, a clever Coffee ‘n’ Cakewich, or The Curious Carrot Cake Sandwich.

With 101 ideas for amazing, crazy Insanewiches to choose from, you’ll always have the tastiest plate in town, plus well-explained food-assembly techniques for making your own sandwich dreams a reality.

At Home With Handmade Books, by Erin Zamrzla (book review) – how-to do something new

Craving a new journal in your favorite colors? Easy.
Need an itsy-bitsy notebook to slip a secret pocket? Simple.
Want to use that single unique sheet of patterned paper in a special way? Can do!

With this Fun Friday find, you can make your very own books from a wide range of materials.
Go green as you use old postcards as covers for a travel journal!
Be ready for a new school year with fabulous keepsake-gathering book featuring ziptop bags as pages.
Make all your holiday gifts with your own two hands, the paper and cover stock that you find, and some very simple tools.

Erin gives very understandable step-by-step instructions for each binding method, and you’re sure to go beyond her examples to create one-of-a-kind books that you’ll be proud to show off, share, or even sell. Of course, some will be so special that you’ll just hide them away so you can enjoy them all by yourself.

Your local independent bookstore would love to order this for you if not in stock. And ask for it at your local library so they know it’s a book that their patrons would use again and again.

Book info: At Home With Handmade Books: 28 Extraordinary Bookbinding Projects Made from Ordinary and Repurposed Materials / Erin Zamrzla. Shambhala Publications, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [Video one and two – make a tag notebook!] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Recycle everyday materials into amazing personalized books as you create a Pillowcase Dream Journal or a Peek-a-Book with these clear instructions and step-by-step photos. Turn a favorite bookmark into an accordion book with space to write notes or make your travel pix into a fanfolded Travel Photo Album. Charming flutter books include a Sketch/Jot Journal, just right-sized for your jeans pocket.

Learn simple four-hole binding to make a Cut, Keep, Collage Storage Book with ziptop plastic bag pages for corralling photos and ticket stubs or use a sponge as the cover of your favorite Cleaning Hints Book. Take the outside cover of an old children’s book and rebind it with journal pages inside – ultimate recycling! The Yamato binding technique is preferred for the perfumed “Sweet Secrets Sachet Book,” while Ledger binding transforms leftover papers into a “Recycle Bin Memo Pad.”

Zamzrla explains tools, techniques, and papers as she guides you through each project and makes suggestions for variations and tweaks. Learn how to make these 28 handmade books, and you’ll always have great ideas for gifts and beautiful journals at your fingertips! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Little Green Dresses, by Tina Sparkles (book review) – re-fashion clothes your way

book cover of Little Green Dresses by Tina Sparkles published by Taunton PressTransform a thrift store find into haute couture with this well-designed book of clothing transformation techniques and pattern-starters.

Austin sewing wiz Tina Sparkles has turned her popular Stitch Lab classes into a book filled with easy-to-follow lessons about selecting garments and fabrics for repurposing, how to measure and create patterns, basic sewing techniques, and clever finishing touches for your one-of-a-kind outfit. (Cashmere hoodie! Suit-jacket skirt!)

Little Green Dresses  gives you 50 potential ways to reuse and recycle as you practice your sewing skills to “go green” with your own unique style.

Book info
: Little Green Dresses / by Tina Sparkles. Taunton Press, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Recommendation: Create your own one-of-a-kind fashions from old garments and vintage fabrics using the techniques and patterns shared by Tina Sparkles and her fashion-designer friends. Tina notes that over 17 million pounds of clothing are thrown in the trash in the United States each year, so she challenges creative gals to rescue the fabric from discards to make new-again tops, skirts, dresses, shorts, rompers, and even coats.

Learn how to make patterns, using your own personal measurements, so that each design can be custom-fitted to you. All sewing techniques are clearly explained, from making a casing for elastic to clipping seam allowances to installing a zipper.

Each design includes what pattern-making experience you need (1= straight lines only, 4= major adjustments) and the sewing skills necessary (1= sew a straight seam, 2= facings and buttonholes, 3= zippers, invisible hems). The easiest designs are first in each chapter so you can gain more skills as you make cute clothes.

If you can sew a straight seam using a sewing machine, then you can turn a silky long robe into a slinky Rectangle Tie Shrug or an Ultra Mini-Skirt (easy designs). With more experience, two large men’s sweaters become a Cashmere Hoodie and a suit coat is transformed into a Suit Skirt (complete with the suit coat buttons on the front) in skill level 2 designs.

More advanced projects see sheer curtains made into a stunning tunic, t-shirt sheets fashioned into no-side-seam leggings, and an old corduroy blanket revived as a coat.

Use the ideas and techniques in this book to change up the look of clothes in your closet, the too-large items from the vintage store, or fabric finds from swap meets and garage sales as you go green and get creative. Fashionistas – start your sewing machines!! (one of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)