You know how I like book crafts, right? Well, since now I have a book(!), I thought it would be fun to have a craft for it. So I enlisted my friend, the very talented teacher and illustrator, Kait Walsh, to create a Zinnia and the Bees inspired craft.
Since my middle grade novel’s main character, Zinnia, is a knitter and yarn bomber, Kait opted for pom poms. They’re a super simple yarn craft that don’t take a lot of time or materials to make.
You can make one pom pom. You can make a bunch of pom poms. Or you can make pom poms with others, like say a group of kids, and then yarn bomb something together (no knitting skills required). Pom pom tree! Pom pom chair! Pom pom bulletin board! Pom poms are fun.
Here’s how to make a pom pom with just yarn, scissors, and some cardboard, in Kait’s wonderful hand drawn tutorial:
Kait generously invited me to visit the Makers Mess summer art camp to make pom poms and yarn bomb a tree with the mini makers there! It was loads of fun! (We had permission from the park.)
Here’s a photo of the finished pom pom yarn bomb!
First we made pom poms.
The kids showed me how it’s done.
Then we set off to the park.
And a few of us talked about the book while having lunch.
We made more pom poms.
We yarn bombed!
Big thanks to Kait for the instructions and wonderful craft idea (as well as Chloe, the other art camp teacher)! And for spearheading the yarn bomb! It was such a special time. (Some of these images were taken by her as well.)
Kait Walsh is a Kindergarten teacher turned full-time artist. You can find her creating illustrations in her Silver Lake studio, teaching kid art classes at Makers Mess, or letting loose at her local dance studio. Follow her daily creations and discoveries on Instagram and feel free to contact her if you want to make something together or just say hi. @sealedwithakait
p.s. I’m coming to Green Bean Books in Portland August 13th and we’ll be making pom poms at the event!
I’m so happy to share the picture book life of Kyo Maclear today since she’s one of my very favorite writers. Her one-of-a-kind work has a simultaneously intellectual and daydreamy quality. In my view, she embraces the unexpected—whether that be taking inspiration from historical figures to taking risks—in the best way and never underestimates young readers. In a word, she’s brilliant.
“‘My picture books start with text and image. I weave an ‘art script’ into my text manuscripts because my stories are visually driven, but these art notes are always open for interpretation by the illustrator,’ Maclear explains. ‘The word-image dynamic is so enmeshed in my books and often so amplified by the metaphoric intuition and intelligence of the illustrator, I find it hard to separate one aspect (or intelligence) from the other. By the end, the collaboration is pretty seamless.'” (From the CBC)
Kyo Maclear was born in London and was raised, and now lives, in Toronto. She’s studied fine art and art history and cultural studies and, I believe, is working on a PhD.
“Kyo now resides in Toronto, where she shares a home with two children, a cat, a musician and a lot of books. In addition to writing, she likes to listen to music, watch old movies, do yoga, make art and play around in her bright, open kitchen… As well as writing for children, Kyo is a novelist and a visual-arts writer.”
“‘When I visit schools, I meet a lot of kids who are first-generation immigrants and I see myself in them,’ Maclear says. ‘Many of these students have super-strong linguistic skills (often serving as interpreters for their families, as I did for my mother). Yet, if asked, many of these verbally dexterous, multilingual kids would not imagine themselves as future writers.
‘I think it would be a great public service to explore how children’s linguistic hesitance (both in reading and writing) is tied to experiences of migration, social marginalization, and a dearth of role models. There are children with amazing verbal/narrative imaginations who are simply not finding their way to the language-based arts. And I believe that’s a loss for our literary cultures.'” (From the CBC.)
“Her first children’s book, Spork, a delightful tale of a mixed-identity kitchen utensil, was inspired by the birth of her first child, and Maclear’s own dual British-Japanese heritage.” (Link to feature/quote here.)
Two friends (one of whom is named after Julia Child) whip up a feast filled with sweetness, wonder, and imagination to remind busy, worried adults of what they’re missing. A couple of years ago, Lyndsay from Coco Cake Land made the chocolate almond cupcakes from the book for this blog! Check it out!
This super clever book includes a bird who watches humans a la birdwatching and who notices a change in the land where it lives. A story of coming together over a common observance and care for the world. The wordless spread is especially arresting.
“Based on a true story, this tale follows a daring, Houdini-esque octopus as he performs his greatest escape act yet.”
“In April 2016, The New York Times published an article about an octopus named Inky who escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand through a drainpipe and into the sea. In this charming fictionalized account, Inky, worn out from his exciting life in the ocean, has retired to the aquarium. There he quietly plays cards, makes faces at the visitors, and regales his tankmate Blotchy with tales of his past adventures. Then Blotchy dares Inky to make one more great escape: out of their tank. Will Inky succeed?”
Here’s the colorful, dynamic cover! (I especially like the block print quality of the title and sea surroundings and the energy that seems to emanate to and from Inky.)
In honor of the cover reveal, Casey and Sebastià did a little Q & A about the design of the octopus characters:
“Sebastià, how did you come up with the design for the characters of Inky and Blotchy?”
Sebastià: The first sketches show a more naturalized version of Inky and Blotchy, with the head back like it is in a true octopus. I knew this wouldn’t be the final version because the characters were really fun and lovely and, bit by bit, the curves softened, the eyes grew and moved up the head, and the head gained importance in relation to the tentacles. All these changes were made with the intent of getting a more expressive face because this was a main point in Casey’s text – full of expressive nuances in the characters. Really it was a surprise for me to discover how expressive an octopus can be.
“Casey, what was your first reaction when you saw the artwork for Inky’s Great Escape?”
Casey: Total and utter delight! When I work on characters, I think more about the voice – how they think and talk so I really had no preconceived notions about how Blotchy and Inky would look. And I’m so glad I didn’t because what Sebastià came up with was better than anything I could have imagined. First of all, I loved the colours – everything was so bright and vibrant. But Inky and Blotchy are my favourite part because I think Sebastià captured them perfectly. The different facial expressions and body language are all spot on and totally in sync with the text. He brought them to life in the best way possible.
Casey is giving away one copy of Inky’s Great Escape! Since it’s not out yet, this will be a pre-order, shipping in November. Something to look forward to!
A sweet, gentle, honest story about finding a way to feel like you, to feel comfortable, to navigate new things in your own way.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
The start of school is approaching, and when shopping with her dad, only one item calls Lily’s name. A cat mask.
Lily does everything in the cat mask all summer. Goes to the doctor, meets her soon-to-be teacher, grows up.
It’s kind of a security blanket, but it’s more than that too. A mask is something that allows you to see and experience the world, but without the world seeing you. It’s a way to ease into something, to check it out first, to have a little buffer from what’s now and what’s coming next.
So when Lily can’t wear the mask during certain times at school, the reader sees her feeling strange and uncomfortable and a bit out of sorts. Until the day of the costume party, which I get the feeling the kind teacher may have thought Lily would like.
One of the things I love about this book is that Lily doesn’t change who she is. She doesn’t all of a sudden love the spotlight. She stays herself, but she grows too, and even inspires someone else. In the end, Lily wears her trusty cat mask to the costume party. She’s comfortable again. And she’s no longer alone.
I’m delighted to have Shelly from Creating Creatives with a cat mask craft like Lily’s for us! Her site is full of wonderful art projects for kids. She’s even got a template to make it even easier to make your own.
Something to color with, we used Paint & Paint Brush & Kwik Stix
Pen or Blunt Pencil
Pipe Cleaner or String
Start by cutting the outer (red) circle on mask template.
Once cut, take your paper plate and turn it upside down. Center the template on the bottom of your plate and trace the features you want to use with a ball point pen or dull pencil. You want to make an indentation in the plate, so it looks like the picture below. The eyes are probably the most important.
Trace the dotted line on the top of the head, then draw 2 curved lines from the top dotted line to the edge of the plate; these will be the edges of the ears.
Use your scissors to cut the top section (the part between the ears) out. Then use your x-acto knife to cut out the inner most pupil, this is the dotted line part of the eye on your template. If you want to cut out a mouth, use your x-acto knife to cut out the mouth too.
Now it’s time to personalize your cat! I put out a bunch of things to color with for my little creatives to decorate their masks. Their favorites were paint and Kwik Stix.
This is a great time to look at the cat masks in the book and discuss what features their cat mask might have. We discussed spots, stripes, tigers, rainbow cats and cats with different colored eyes. Have fun.
Once the paint has dried it’s time to hole punch and add the pipe cleaner / string. Because everyone’s head is a little different, place the mask on your child and see where it’s best to hole punch.
Now thread your pipe cleaner or string through the hole and twist, or tie. We like using pipe cleaner because it’s easy for my little creatives to put their masks on by themselves.
Here’s a PDF with all the instructions, plus step-by-step photos:
Shelly is a Visual Effects Producer turned Entrepreneur who lives with her husband and 3 young children in sunny California. After having her third child, she realized she wanted to spend more time with her family. Many a happy afternoon of arts and craft with her children led her to the realization that she needed to spread the word about creating together with children, and how inspirational it is. So she created an online space with fun and simple projects to do just that. You can visit this happy space and hopefully grab some inspiration at creatingcreatives.com.
Thank you, Shelly, for sharing this craft with us—so much fun and the photos of your family are the sweetest!