Category Archives: Picture Book Crafts
This is a dear, dear picture book. As the title implies, it contains a guide to making friends with a phantom written by Dr. Phantoneous Spookel, leading ghost expert and poet, and stars one sweet girl and one sweet companion ghost.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
The tone is at once quirky, inventive, and sincere and what gets me the most are the details. There’s a warning not to put your hand through a ghost as that can cause a tummy ache. There’s advice on hiding a ghost in a tissue box when guests come over. It’s those creative bits like bath time in a cauldron, bedtime lullabies of “eerie hums and wails,” and snack time of earwax truffles that truly delight.
The guide has three parts: ghost identification, ghost basics, and growing up with your ghost. The last one takes the main character all the way into adulthood, a certain spirit always by her side. And the ending plays with the idea of a friendship that lasts and lasts and truly goes on forever. You’ll seeeeeee!
Rebecca Green‘s illustrations have those same qualities as the text—quirky and inventive while also being sincere and gentle. This tender ghost story is a win all around.
Big thanks to Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada for images!
Baker and cook extraordinaire, Sylvia of Sincerely, Syl, is here with a vanilla marshmallow ghost recipe to bring the sweet ghost from the story to life!! Sylvia works for Tundra, the publisher of How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and we’ve been wanting to collaborate for some time. And then we found the perfect fall book, and Sylvia devised the perfect craft, complete with the ghost’s small mouth (that eats a lot) and rosy cheeks. Plus, each ghost is satisfyingly squishy!!
Makes enough to fill an 8 x 12 x 2 baking pan
½ cup water
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
Unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup golden corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- Using the bowl from your stand mixer, pour in the water and gelatin. Let it sit so that the gelatin can bloom.
- Brush the melted butter onto the base and side of your baking pan. Set it aside.
- Add the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and the other half cup of water into a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring it to a rolling boil and let it boil for about a minute. Then remove it from the heat.
- Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn it on low to mix the water and gelatin that’s already in the bowl until it combines. Then very slowly and carefully, add the hot sugar and corn syrup mixture into the bowl.
- Still mixing on low, add the vanilla extract.
- When everything is in the bowl, turn the mixer to high and whisk for 10 minutes until the batter turns white and triples in size.
- Stop the mixer, using a spatula, scrape the marshmallow batter into the baking pan. Spread the batter evenly and do your best to level it. A bench scraper or off-set spatula can help.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil, be sure not to touch the batter otherwise it’ll stick. Or use a lid if your baking pan comes with one. Leave the marshmallow to set at room temperature overnight or in the fridge.
- The next day, take the foil off and sprinkle icing sugar over the top. Cover the surface evenly so that it won’t be too sticky to handle. Run a knife along the edge of the pan to help loosen the marshmallow slab. Then carefully flip the marshmallow out onto a counter. Sprinkle icing sugar all over the marshmallow – don’t forget the sides.
- Use a knife to cut them into squares or roll a cookie cutter in icing sugar before using it on the marshmallow.
Check out that squishy sweetness!
Sylvia Chan lives in Toronto, Ontario with a growing collection of books and kitchen supplies. During the day, she works in marketing and publicity for a children’s publishing house. On her time off, Sylvia loves to bake, eat, photograph, draw, and travel. Follow along at sincerely.syl on Instagram or visit her blog at www.sincerelysyl.com.
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.
Big thanks to Penguin Young Readers for images!
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.
Over to Shelly!
What you need:
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!
The main character from the title is a mail carrier, only he delivers letters he finds floating in bottles found at sea.
What a fanciful idea for a picture book!
(According to press materials I received, Michelle Cuevas got the idea when she read: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I had created a formal role of the ‘Uncorker of Ocean Bottles’ to make sure that naval secrets sent via bottle did not fall into the wrong hands.”)
The illustrations alternate between and sometimes combine the green-blue of the sea and the rusty yellow rays of the sun. I can almost smell the seaweed and salty air. And the language is full of poetry.
The main character is a man who delivers ocean bottle-mail, but believes he will never receive any himself. But how he wants to! The Uncorker doesn’t even have a name. He is lonely.
“…for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.”
One day, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles collects a letter from the sea with no recipient named. It’s a party invitation, for tomorrow evening at the seaside—and so The Uncorker’s quest begins!
This is a story of kindness repaid, of connection made, of community convening. Of a heart, once empty, now “a glass vessel filled to the brim.” Everyone deserves some music and a seaside dance, don’t you think?
Big thanks to Dial Books for images!
I’m delighted to be hosting crafter and author, Margaret Bloom—her son was her assistant and you’ll see his hands in the photos! Margaret’s come up with a sweet, enchanting ocean bottle necklace craft.
Over to her!
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles celebrates not only the joy of sending and receiving letters, but also the joy of acceptance within a community. This is a perfect story to share with children in anticipation of Valentine’s Day when all are encouraged to create and deliver their own messages of friendship and love.
There are many beautiful lines in this book, but one of the sweetest reminds us that “a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.” And so in each little necklace-bottle created by my son, he placed a pearl… a tiny treasure hidden among the glittering ocean within each bottle. And when he offers these necklaces on Valentine’s Day, they will be accompanied by small, hand-written messages of his own, expressing friendship and love.
Tiny glass bottles, 2 cm tall (we used these)
Thin cord or ribbon
Glitter or tiny confetti
Paper scrap, approx. 3 cm x 6 cm
First, curl the paper scrap around the tip of your finger and secure with adhesive tape in the shape of a small funnel. Then hold the tip of your funnel in the mouth of the bottle and pour in a small bit of glitter (or tiny, iridescent/metallic confetti). Drop in a pearl bead. Insert cork into top of bottle (glueing the cork in place is optional), and seal with a wish.
Then measure a length of ribbon long enough to loop over a person’s head, plus extra for tying knots (we cut our ribbons approx. 40 cm long). Wrap the mid-point of the ribbon 2-3 times around the neck of the bottle and knot tightly. Then knot the ends of the ribbon together.
Last, write a note to accompany your gift, and delight a friend by giving them a magical necklace on Valentine’s Day (or any other day!).
Margaret Bloom has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is the author of two books: Making Peg Dolls (Hawthorn Press UK, 2013), and Making Peg Dolls & More (Hawthorn Press UK, 2015). She lives with her husband & children in a small cottage beneath the great oak trees of Northern California, and when she is not busy reading, buttering toast, and searching for lost socks, she spends her time working on a third book. You can visit her at We Bloom Here to read about more things which bring her joy and inspiration.
Many thanks, Margaret!
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham (2016) is a wonderful book about a boy named Charles looking for a wish tree in the woods while accompanied by his sled, Boggan. It’s a book about journeying, about wishing, and about kindness.
I’ve been fond of wish trees for a long while, so I thought it would be nice to make one for the new year and, inspired by The Wish Tree, one that adds in picture books that touch on the idea of wishing or hoping in some way.
Each of these 25 picture books contains a wish—a hope or dream or undertaking. So, in this craft, there’s a prompt for a wish to write inside each book that hangs on the tree, one that goes along with each story, something in line with its spirit.
You and your kids or classroom could read one or a few of these books every day, or once a week, or just sometimes.
To see what I mean, here’s the PDF template of book covers with wish-activity instructions I made so you’ve got everything in one place:
THE BOOKS AND WISHES:
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear and Chris Turnham (a wish to find a wish tree): write something kind you would like to do.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats (a wish to learn to whistle): write something new you want to learn.
Wish by Emma Dodd (a wolf parent’s wishes for their pup): write a wish you have for someone else.
Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Rafael López (a wish to create a vibrant and connected neighborhood): draw something to make a space more beautiful and hang it up.
Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell (a wish to give hugs): write the names of someones you’d like to hug (and hug them!)
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka (a wish for nature): write down a seed you want to plant this year (a literal seed or a different kind of seed).
Ursa’s Light by Deborah Marcero (a wish to fly): write down something you’d really like to do someday.
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López (a wish to be courageous, and to overcome boundaries): write down something you wish to have courage about.
Let Me Finish! by Minh Lê, illustrated by Isabel Roxas (a wish to read): write the name of a book you’re excited to read.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (a wish for a name of one’s own while not losing connection to one’s family): make a wish on behalf of someone in your family.
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (a wish for a granddaughter and grandmother to connect): write down a way you wish to connect with someone else this year. (Or else a pet you wish to own!)
Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton (a wish for something extraordinary): write down something you want to see that’s “extraordinary.”
Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So (a wish to help turtles find their way home): write down a way you can help animals this year.
The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by Rachel Isadora (a wish to belong): write down your favorite place to be.
Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior, illustrations by Laura James (a wish to learn to do something new): write down a goal.
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies (a wish to help): write down a story you want to tell someone. (Then tell them.)
Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBlox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (a wish for peace in the smallest ways): write down an action you can take to help create peace.
The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (a wish to keep a promise): write down a promise you wish to make to someone or to yourself.
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato (a wish to be noticed): write down something you wish to be noticed for—a talent or hard-try.
A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (a wish, a dream, a hope to dance): write down a dream you wish to come true.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Sprite of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (a wish—and lots of brave, brave action—for voting rights): write down a way you wish to speak out about something important.
The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi (a wish for a storm to pass): write down something you wish to happen in the future.
Where’s the Party? by Ruth Chan (a wish to have a party with friends): write down a wish for cake (what kind?).
Brave Girl by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (a wish for and action toward fairness for workers): write down a wish for justice (and perhaps a way you can make the world more fair).
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett (a wish for a bicycle): write down something you have that you’d like to give away.
What you need:
2 pieces of foam board as backing
The printable PDF with book covers and wish prompts:
First, make your tree by placing washi tape on a poster board in a tree shape. I used a double layer for the trunk and then embellished single-layer branches with clear, patterned tape (a bit like snow). But the sky’s the limit for how you design your wish tree! Next, tape together two foam boards (using clear/regular tape) and tape the poster board with the tree to those. (The double layer behind the tree is so the push pins don’t poke through the back when you attach them to the tree—be careful about that!)
Print the PDF template. Then, cut around the rectangles so you have mini books with front covers and back covers that contain the instructions. Then fold the papers in half so you have miniature books with a cover, a back cover with instructions, and space in the middle of the “book” to write.
Finally, pin the books to the tree and tape or prop the tree up somewhere. Ideally, you’ll have access to the book/books you’re reading that day and can read the book and then follow with discussion of the wish or hope or undertaking aspect before writing in the mini books.
Enjoy reading and wishing!
This picture book is about creativity. About how it can solve problems in unexpected ways. About how—and this is the most important thing—it can solve a problem you’re having with yourself.
Filled with the signature creativity of its creator, this one’s fun and full of flair.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
Bob has long, skinny legs. (They are good for walking.) Bob likes them. But then, others tease him about those legs and his perception begins to change. He tries to alter his legs, to make himself different. (You might guess his attempts don’t work.)
So Bob does what he always does: goes for a walk.
I like that Bob goes for a walk. It seems simple enough, but it does so much. It shows how walking or movement or taking a break—I’m a firm believer in this—is integral to figuring stuff out.
Bob brings his attention from his legs to his beak: something he can change. But not because he doesn’t like it. Because his beak can be his canvas.
At the beginning, Bob is a bird with skinny legs. At the end, he is an artist. He discovers himself. And he discovers that a physical attribute others mock doesn’t make a lick of difference when he’s found what makes him really tick. And while that thing may be on the outside, it comes from the inside, from his own creativity.
Big thanks to Laurence King Publishing for images!
Let’s design our own artsy beaks the way Bob did! They can double as party hats!
Marion Deuchars is all about encouraging kids to make art so that they can be artists—like the great masters, like her, and like Bob, so this craft fits the bill. (haha.)
What you need:
Tape (double-sided works best)
A one hole punch
Your artistic imagination!
First, cut out a party hat shape in cardstock (I loosely followed this template). After you test that it will wind up like a cone, lay it flat again and get creating. Draw whatever design you like. Then roll up the paper and tape it so the beak/hat sticks together. Then make a hole on each side and thread elastic through the holes. Tie the elastic through each hole and around it, making a knot. (Make sure the length of the elastic is just right to fit you or yours.) And, voila!
I hope you feel inspired like Bob!