What really stuck out to me about this picture book is the language. It’s fun. It’s snappy. It’s clever. And it tells the story of this penguin turned Penguinaut named Orville perfectly.
Sure, it’s about the big adventure he longs to have and his ensuing trip to the moon. But more than that, it’s about something even bigger: his friends.
(click image(s) to enlarge)
Orville has big friends. Orville wants to do something BIG. Orville wants to do it himself. (Notice “flippered out” on that spread. That’s a taste of the terrific, inventive language I’m talking about.)
Orville does have a big adventure. The biggest. But just when he’s overcome with loneliness in spite of it, a note from his friends falls out of his pocket. And that note brings him home, the place where stories of adventure are told: together. And as anyone who’s ever had an adventure and then had the pleasure of telling a friend about it, that’s a pretty big deal.
A cheerfully zippy story with a vibrantly sweet heart.
Zoe of Northwest Felts and I met on Instagram a while back and so when I read this book and thought, “felt craft!” I also thought of her wonderful felt creations that are so perfect for not only crafting, but for storytelling too. She was kind enough to make a felt storytelling craft for Penguinaut, and is giving it away!
Take it away, Zoe!
When I first read Penguinaut, I was struck by the amazing outer space scenes. Danielle and I both agreed that they should be featured in whatever craft I created. Most of my crafting is done with felt as the medium, and it seemed like the right choice for the Penguinaut craft, too!
I wanted to make something that could be manipulated and played with after the actual craft was complete, almost like a felt story. I also wanted the craft to bring to life the “do it yourself” struggle all children and parents (and Penguinauts) inevitably go through.
What you’ll need:
Fabric glue (I normally sew my creations, but glue works too!)
Felt sheets (orange, red, yellow, brown, black, white, beige, green, blue)
*Children’s scissors are my secret weapon for cutting felt.
**I used photocopies from pages of the book in order to get the characters just right. If you’re skilled at drawing, you could easily draw the characters instead.
In order to make this a craft that older children can do by themselves, I would suggest getting photocopies of the main pieces from the story (the Penguinaut and the space ship are the two that I focused on, but get photocopies of whatever you want to create).
You can use the photocopies in two ways. The first is to trace the photocopy onto the felt and cut out the traced image. The second way is to safety pin the photocopy onto the felt and cut out around the photocopy. I used the second option because it creates cleaner lines.
To create a cleaner finish, you can glue penguinaut’s feet in between his white tummy piece and the rest of his body.
Now that we have a penguinaut, we can work on his space suit. I wanted him to fit inside the suit, so I made a suit that can open and close. I did this by first cutting long, thin strips on orange, to create hinges. Next, I glued them, half to the white backing of the suit, and half to the orange front of the suit. Finally, I folded the suit over so the hinges were hidden on the inside.
I also wanted Penguinaut to be able to get into and out of his spaceship, so I glued an extra piece of beige felt to the back. This created a little nook that penguinaut can sit in during his space adventure.
For the background, I chose to do the outer space scene. I loved the colour contrasts and the twinkling stars. Some of the pieces are glued down (Earth, the Moon, the clouds and stars) while other pieces are left unglued so that they can be moved and played with (the spacesuit, Penguinaut, and the flag).
Have fun with this part! I wanted to stay true to the illistrations in the book, but you can create different scenes based on your favourite part of the book (or your favourite part of space)!
I love the idea that you get to choose what to glue down and what to leave free to move around. Giving these choices can create a fun experience that can be revisited over and over again.
When the craft is done and you’ve finished exploring and playing with it, I love the idea of storing it on the wall as art. If you put it up on a felt board, a child can take it down and play with it whenever they want.
Thanks for following along!
Zoe is the maker at North West Felts. She loves using felt stories to create literacy experiences through play. Zoe’s favourite Felt set is Slippery Fish! She is a huge fan of children’s literacy and loves reading stories with her 2.5-year-old and her 8-month-old. Zoe is currently on maternity leave but will return to work as an Early Childhood Educator in the Spring. When she isn’t reading, she is using books as inspiration for her felt creations. Find her on Instagram and Facebook @northwestfelts.
Good news! We’re giving away a copy of Penguinaut and Zoe’s felt craft set to go with it!
Enter below (N. America only).