Category Archives: Picture Book Crafts

señorita mariposa + butterfly clothespin craft

Señorita Mariposa Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G), illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero (2019).

Autumn means monarch butterflies migrating from Canada to Mexico and this vibrant picture book celebrates the amazing annual occasion with lyrical text in both Spanish and English to read or sing!

In fact, you can listen to the original song that inspired Señorita Mariposa right here.

 

 

 

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Señorita Mariposa does several things all at once. It pays tribute to one monarch butterfly, and the many like it who travel together, pollinating flowers along the way.

It shows the beauty of these magnificent marigold insects dancing through the sky by way of Marcus Almada Rivero‘s lush, crisp, and joyful illustrations.

It captures how those of us in the city or desert (my favorite spread!) or forest get to see this epic event if we look up to the sky in wonder.


And finally, it encourages love and care for the world around us, for these creatures who are part of a vast ecosystem that connects us all. The above spread in particular shows people doing just that through a community garden.

 


I love the way the text shows the lyrics in both English and Spanish and alternates in terms of which one is sort of singing lead (while always including translated text) on each spread.

 

A lively book that takes monarchs as its muse to inspire song and sweetness and science!

 

 

Big thanks to Penguin for the review copy and images!

 

 

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Not only that, but this book has also inspired a butterfly clothespin craft!

Kait Walsh is the visionary behind the Zinnia and the Bees pom-poms I’ve made with kids in libraries and bookstores for the last two years AND she devised a yarn bomb for us to do with young artists the week my book launched, so I’m already a big admirer and super grateful to her.

She’s a former teacher and illustrator who makes books for kids—you can check out her latest one, Don’t Cry Duck. She tells stories and facilitates crafts and does art-inspired community projects all over Los Angeles and I’m happy to have her on This Picture Book Life.

Over to Kait!

 

 

“Little butterfly you caught my eye” 

This craft was inspired by the beauty of one butterfly and the incredible journey they make when millions of them come together.

Making this with your family? Create butterflies in honor of your relatives and discuss how the butterflies migrate north over three or four generations.

Making this with your class? Use it as a lesson about working together. Have each student make a butterfly, attach the clothespins to yarn or a string, and hang it somewhere in your classroom as a bright and beautiful reminder of connectedness.

Allow your child or students to play and discover new and unique shapes as they paint the wings. But the real fun happens when you clip all the butterflies together in a group, reminiscent of the beautiful illustrations by Marcus Almada Rivero of the Sierra Mountain butterfly hibernation in the oyamel fir trees.

The sky’s the limit! xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much, Kait, for making this little butterfly come to life!

 

 

For almost a decade, Kait Walsh taught five and six year-olds in a classroom. Now she spends her days creating art and stories for kids and kids at heart. Her art is a love letter. A letter that has been sketched, painted, cut, carved, stamped, sewn, glued…everything but the kitchen sink! But like all the things she has ever worked on, the real magic happens in the spaces where it interacts with you! Follow Kait on Instagram for more art, more stories and more community.

 

 

 

 

the king of kindergarten + crown craft!

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2019).

This picture book veritably bubbles with confidence, joy, triumph, and whimsy and was created by a dream team: Derrick Barnes, best known for the incredible Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut and Vanessa Brantley-Newton, who has many gorgeous books under her belt. (The author and illustrator have collaborated before as well on Ruby and the Booker Boys.)

 

 

 

 

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“The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets.

It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown.”

 

 

Using the metaphor of a king going off to their kingdom for the first time, a child embarks on a first day of kindergarten. They’re buoyed by encouraging parents, a friendly teacher, and the knowledge that they’ve got this. And it’s especially nice to see a Black child as the focus of this empowering off to school book.

 

The King of Kindergarten sets a child’s mind at ease. It says that school doesn’t have to be scary, especially when you’re meant to be there, you have a place, you’re on a mission of soaking it up, of learning, and of kindness too.

 

 

The illustrations are as vibrant and reassuring as the words. Kindergarten is absolutely fizzing with fun and color, shapes and swirls. And that sun appears on many pages, shining behind the main character’s head—”like a crown.” Spotting the crown (there from the first spread on the character’s PJ’s!) and sun motifs is part of this delightful experience.

Read this one before school starts to get any young reader “ready to reign” (and play and learn and share and nap).

 

Big thanks to Penguin for review copy and images!

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The crown, sun, and colorful swirls of the art in this book were our inspiration for a crown craft to match. I enlisted Jen Pino from Vroman’s (who once contributed some picture book gems to this blog) because she is a passionate book person, a super talented craft person, a bookstagrammer, and a friend.

 

Over to Jen!

Hi! First off, I want to say a huge thank you to Danielle Davis for letting me be a part of celebrating this joyous book! I am a huge Vanessa Bantley-Newton fan and when I heard that Danielle wanted to do a craft around The King of Kindergarten, I immediately had to join in. A little about me: I absolutely adore crafting, but am not the greatest with providing instruction. However, I also believe that there are many different ways to create, so for those who are like me, this one’s for you.

 

We are going to make a crown worthy of a royal kindergartener.

 

What you’ll need:

Scissors

Colored paper

Something round

Puffy paint and markers

Glue

Craft twine

Pencil

Tape

To start off, I took craft twine and strung it around the top of my head as a sort of measuring device. I guess you could also use a tape measure. I then cut the twine at the right place and taped it to the table where I was working. From there, I lined up all of my yellow paper, glueing each at the seams, until it appeared that I had enough. A ruler would also be helpful for this process, if you have one on hand. I didn’t and so I drew a line where the twine ended on my paper and folded over the excess to meet that line. Then I was able to draw a straight line up and use that to cut that excess off.

After I had the right length, I drew the outline of a crown and then erased all lines that I didn’t need. Because I didn’t have a ruler, I again used the straight edge of another piece of paper to draw a line where the bottom of the crown should be.Then I proceeded to cut out the crown and the length that would wrap around my head.

Next, I got to work on a sun. Vanessa Brantley-Newtwon illustrates all these gorgeous suns throughout the book and I wanted to make sure I had one on my crown. This would be for the back, so that the crown could be worn on either side. Use any circular object and trace the top to get the base of your sun. Then you can draw some sun flares to cut out as well. After I had everything cut out, I glued all the pieces of the sun together and used my puffy paint and markers to give it a smile and blushed cheeks.


For the front of the crown, I wanted to include lots of swirls and pops of color, like Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s, whenever the characters are thinking or imagining. I drew out some blue swirls and a red blob and glued them to my crown, cutting off all excess paper. Next, I took my gold puffy paint and swirled it over the crown with my fingers (make sure you have something underneath your work!). I then added some white puffy paint details, a rainbow with my markers, some cut-out letters and another green swirl. Finally, when everything was glued down and had time to set (make sure your paint has time to dry), I glued both ends of my crown together.

 

And that’s it!

 

 


Thank you for this royal crown for this royally delightful book, Jen!!

Jen Pino works at the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California, Vroman’s Bookstore. She’s worked there for almost 9 years and loves all things related to children’s books. Currently, she is the Book Buying Department Administrative Assistant and School Coordinator. Check out her bookstagram: Confessions of a Starstruck Bookseller (@coasbookseller), where she shares what’s new at Vroman’s Bookstore, reviews books, features gift guides, and showcases booksellers! Or take a look at her blog!

 

most marshmallows + marshmallow craft!

Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins (2019).

This picture book exudes creativity, both in the story and the illustrations that help tell it—photos of marshmallow-people in various scenarios!

It’s the simple story of “most marshmallows.” The ones who watch TV and celebrate birthdays and go to school and all that stuff most people do too. But it’s also a story of those marshmallows who aren’t like most. Because some marshmallows secretly know that all marshmallows can dream big. And this book tells them to do just that.

 

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The art is where you really spend your time with this one. The adorable marshmallows. And the vignettes, mostly cut paper, but all sorts of other items that are fun to identify and wonder at.

 

Most Marshmallows is creative, quirky, unusual, and encouraging. It demonstrates with both text and visuals that most things are done a certain way—books even!—but that some marshmallows dream up ways to do things differently. Daringly. Imaginatively.

 

And you, little marshmallow reader, you can too.

Big thanks to Chronicle Books for the review copy and images!

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Rowboat Watkins’s books often shout craft (as in the one I made for Rude Cakes). In this case, marshmallows? Yes, please.

Rowboat was kind enough to share some tips about how he created those marshmallows. Mainly: let the marshmallows get stale first! That way, they harden and become an easier surface to draw on. He also let us in on the pen he used: a brown Micron 01. I opted for a thin, brown marker instead as I found it a little easier to maneuver and plus, my marshmallows were only 0ne-week stale. Little hands might find a marker easier as well.

 

What you’ll need:

Stale marshmallows (I used jumbo)

A marker or pen (I used these from IKEA in brown, but I’m sure there are many that would work)

That’s it! But you can also use construction paper, tape, and markers to whip up party hats if you would like.

 

I left my marshmallows out on a plate for about a week. Then, I was ready. I simply drew on each one, trying to get them at least somewhat like the book version. Then, I cut some circles from construction paper and rolled and taped them into party hats.

 

 

 

 

 

You may also like this Beekle marshmallow craft!

 

 

 

 

 

wallpaper by thao lam + paper creature craft!

Wallpaper by Thao Lam (2018).

The first thing you’ll notice about this picture book is that wallpaper from the title. Beautiful, Layered. Nostalgic. Full of wonder. It’s at the heart of this mostly wordless story and contains a whole world that imagination makes possible. A world in which a shy girl gains just the courage she needs through her own creativity and resourcefulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re introduced to a character who’s just moved to a new house and is unpacking her room. Outside her window, there’s a treehouse with other kids in it. They wave. They’re friendly. But waving back is not so easy when you feel out of place or out of sorts. Shy or scared or sad.

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Crouching—hidden—below the window, the character peels back some wallpaper, releasing a flock of lemon-yellow birds! (And they just so happen to match her shirt.)

She peels back more wallpaper and follows the birds into a whole world of wallpaper, including a creature who is super scary, but who, it turns out, is actually not scary all. The creature is merely unfamiliar. The creature wants to be friends.

The character and creature frolic in fields and play with clouds, all provided by this magical wallpaper. And when she’s back in her room, alone again, the wallpaper isn’t just one pattern anymore. It’s been peeled to reveal all the layers she’s experienced,.

 

Those layers help her remember that she doesn’t have to be so scared, or that she can be scared and still experience new things. They help her remember that unfamiliar might not be ominous after all. And that by peeling back a layer or two, everyone wants to be seen, welcomed and, accepted. Just like her.

And that leads to hello, and to more possibility.

This is an original, artful, hopeful picture book that invites the reader to dive into paper creations and possibility and what it means to reach out to someone unfamiliar and turn them into a friend.

 


Big thanks to Owlkids Books for images and a review copy!

 

 

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Such beautiful papers and such a spirited creature can only mean one thing. Paper craft! I wanted to make that creature and I wanted to make sure the creature could move. Really, you could make all kinds of paper stuff from this book! I chose the creature and yellow birds and used brads so they could change position.

 

 

 

What you’ll need:

Sturdy white paper (I used watercolor paper)

Pencil

Eraser

Scissors

Brads

Pastels or crayons or markers (I used pastels for the creature, marker for the birds)

I started by tracing the creature on a thin sheet of computer paper. Then, with my watercolor paper behind that, I pressed firmly with pencil to leave an indentation I could then trace on the actual paper I wanted to use. Or you can draw the creature free hand! I did the body, arms, and legs as separate pieces, then cut them out. Be sure to leave the pencil lines and make some white space outside the pencil lines to mimic Thao Lam’s style.

Next, I colored in the creature! And after that, I attached the limbs with metal brads. You can poke holes by either pressing the scissor ends into the paper or folding a bit and making a tiny cut. It’s that simple! Now you have a creature you can move about!

And it’s the same process for the birds if you choose to make those, and there are many shapes that would be fun to draw, cut out, and color from the book. The sky’s the limit!

 

 

 

 

And check out this gif of the creature moving around!

 

 

 

penguinaut + felt storytelling craft + giveaway!

Penguinaut by Marcie Colleen and Emma Yarlett (2018).

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.

Big thanks to Marcie Colleen for images and Scholastic for a review copy!

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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!)

Children’s scissors*

Felt sheets (orange, red, yellow, brown, black, white, beige, green, blue)

Black Sharpie

Safety pins

Photocopies**

*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.

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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).

a Rafflecopter giveaway