Category Archives: Picture Book Crafts
This book is a stunner—wordless and captivating. The colors! The cut paper! The journey from the uniformity of the everyday to the magic of story and art and imagination. All because of a book!
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The story is simple. A child finds a book with a blue horse on it on a city sidewalk. Back in her apartment building, we see her reading in her room, the rest of the windows around her opaque and beige. But she’s reading this bright blue book with a bright blue horse on the front.
And then, we glimpse the vibrant, exuberant horse inside! It’s mid-jump and kind of carries the girl away, and into the book. Out of everyday life. Pages continue like that—we are in the book with the child, the horse artwork getting more and more colorful and more and more abstract. Now, the child’s room (and world and imagination) are filled with art and color and shapes and possibility.
Geraldo Valério was inspired by the German Expressionist Group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) when making this book. It weaves in elements the group explored, like color and form having resonant meaning of their own. “The name ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ referred to Kandinsky and Marc’s belief that blue was the most spiritual color and that the rider symbolized the ability to move beyond.” (Quote found here.)
The child rider of the horse in the story certainly moves beyond—her surroundings, her modern, mundane world, her limits, by riding that horse out of the book and into her life. It moves her, it changes her, it shows her all kinds of possibility. Just the way reading and art can do.
This excerpt is taken from Blue Rider, text and illustrations copyright © 2018 by Geraldo Valério. Reproduced with permission from Groundwood Books, Toronto. www.groundwoodbooks.com
Big thanks to Groundwood Books for images!
I’m delighted to have Margaret from the wonderful literary kids’ craft blog, homemade city, here to share a truly exuberant Blue Rider craft with us! I’m a huge admirer of Margaret’s aesthetic and creations—her crafts are a must see (and make!).
Over to Margaret!
When you open the cover of Blue Rider by GeraldoValério, you’re met with delicious saturated color in an array of forms and shapes. It’s a treasure just like the book that the child character discovers on a city sidewalk in this wordless story. As the child opens the book, a blue horse leaps across the sky streaking the city’s gray grid with a spray of color.
When Danielle suggested I make a craft for Blue Rider, I happily took up my scissors and glue stick. But how best to reproduce the surprise and pleasure that a reader, like the child in Blue Rider, can find just by opening a book? How about a pop-up? With collaged bits of jewel-hued paper. And a blue horse, of course.
What you’ll need:
Card stock or construction paper
Paint color sample cards
First, fold a piece of paper in half. I used an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of dark blue card stock. Set it aside.
On a different piece of paper, trace and cut out a circle on stiff paper. I traced a circle about 4″ in diameter using a tin coffee can. Cut a spiral into your paper circle. It’s OK to freehand, lopsided spirals are as beautiful as uniform ones. (Spirals are the simplest way to create a pop-up–and their shape adds whimsy and movement as you open the fold.)
Dab glue to the center of your spiral. Place your circle (side with glue facedown) inside of your folded paper.
Apply glue to an inch or two of the exposed tail of your spiral. Press the folded paper closed so that the glued tail will adhere to the other half of the paper. When you open the card, the spiral will pop up like a spring!
Now for the fun—cut shapes or hole-punch dots or stars or flowers from your paint sample color cards. If you want to write a message, trace letters and cut them out—whatever pleases you!
Glue your shapes to the spiral, making sure nothing peeks out when you fold the paper closed.
I cut out a blue horse and fashioned a rainbow mane like the one that canters across the city sky in Blue Rider. Then I added abstract shapes to the dark blue background, inspired by Valerio’s pages of rich color and collage. It was so delightful, I quickly made another with abstract bits and tiny hole-punched blooms. No horse this time, just color, shape, and surprise.
Thank you, Margaret! This craft is bursting with joy!
Margaret is the author of Mabel One and Only (Dial Books for Young Readers) as well as Flip: How the Frisbee Took Flight, a nonfiction picture book slated for Fall 2019 with Charlesbridge Publishing. By day, you can find her wearing cat glasses and cardigans as the children’s librarian at Hardy Elementary School in Arlington, Mass. In her free time, she makes wacky, colorful crafts at homemade city.
This picture book is the story of baby animals in the forest, afraid of the startling sights and sounds of the night, wind, and rain. And it’s the story of Mama Elephant who comforts them, telling them the ways the elements that appear scary are actually necessary—natural parts of the world that deliver good, wondrous things too.
“You’re safe with me,” Mama Elephant says again and again, as comforting as any lullaby. That refrain, and all her stories of the world around them, put the animals peacefully right to sleep.
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This story is blanketed by the most beautiful illustrations by Poonam Mistry. The dance of dark and light, the glow of gold—this exquisite art dives into each element being explored by Mama Elephant. From her website, Mistry says the following about her work:
“My style incorporates my love of nature and explores the relationships between pattern, shapes and colour creating beautifully intricate illustrations.
Being brought up surrounded by Indian fabrics, paintings and ornaments have heavily influenced my work.”
“You’re Safe With Me was inspired by the rich oral storytelling tradition I grew up [in]. My grandmother and her sister told me stories from Hindu epics and my mother made up stories whenever I asked for a new one.
I visualised Mama Elephant as a storyteller who tells a little story for each of the elements of the thunderstorm to help the little animals deal with their fear, and at the same time reassures them that she’s there to look after [them] no matter what.
And that to me is the role of a storyteller too – they guide us through dangerous imagined worlds, all the while holding our hands.”
You’re Safe With Me is a book for soothing a little one to sleep, a book for embracing the natural world in new ways, a book for cherishing our loved ones who make us feel safe in any storm.
Big thanks to Lantana Publishing for the review copy and images, and to Poonam and Chitra!
The illustrator herself, Poonam Mistry, has designed a corresponding craft for You’re Safe With Me!
Mirroring her intricate artwork in the book, she’s here to show us how to make our very own paper stars! And she’s got printable templates too.
Over to Poonam!
What you’ll need:
Coloured card or paper
Gel pens, felt tips or pencil colours
Optional – foil and a permanent marker to draw on the foil
String to hang it
Cut around these and stick together in order using glue (3 should be on top with 1 at the bottom).
Add triangles or circles on the points of the star using pencil colours, felt tips of pencil colours. I used a gold gel pen in this example.
Cut out smaller shapes in coloured card/paper and glue these to add more patterns. Triangles work best. You could add foil shapes if you wanted to make your star sparkle.
Add the last patterns and details on top drawing geometric shapes and spirals.
Finally, Put a hole through one point of the star. Thread the string through it and tie a knot at the ends to hang it.
(Here I used foil and a permanent marker to add patterns. White gel pen was used to add details onto the black card.)
Thank you so much, Poonam, for designing and sharing this special star craft!
The first thing I noticed about this picture book was the delightful and bright illustrations Marisa Morea created. (I love how the title lettering seems almost embroidered onto the chair.) The second thing I noticed was that it’s told through the hilarious main character’s point of view—Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III the cat’s to be exact. Together, they make a winning story of learning to embrace change, sharing, and getting used to a new housemate turned co-boss.
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So, Oswald is the boss of everything including the chair and Bruce the mouse toy. That is until Pom-Pom the kitten comes along.
Pom-Pom makes himself quite at home and things are just, different. Oswald feels a bit displaced, something kid readers with new siblings or changes in friendships might relate to.
But when they both get in trouble with their owner and Pom-Pom seems distressed, Oswald changes his tune. He even shares the chair. And Bruce the mouse toy! Life may be even be better with a co-boss in tow.
I can’t help but notice that Bruce the mouse has stripes the colors of the three most important characters in the book: Oswald’s blue, Pom-Pom’s gold, the chair’s red pillow and outline. Bruce, in a way, embodies all the characters. Bruce embodies sharing and connection.
Big thanks to Sterling Children’s Books for the review copy and images!
And Bruce also immediately said, “Craft!” to me. The little mouse toy the two main characters play with (and fight over) is adorable and easy to make. So, let’s make a mouse toy!
White styrofoam ball
Sturdy white paper
Yarn in red, blue, white, and yellow
Red felt or foam (or paper)
Three black pom poms, one bigger than the others, for Bruce’s nose and eyes
First, cut some sturdy white paper and make a cone shape with it. Then, tape it to the styrofoam ball (I used double-sided tape for all steps in the process). Next, use more double-sided tape to cover Bruce’s back third with tape so the yarn will stick with ease.
Cut strips of the colored yarn and wrap it around the mouse’s body in stripes. Tape on a tail at the end.
Cut teardrop ear shapes from your red foam or felt and tape those onto the first or second stripe. Finally, tape on Bruce’s eye pom poms and nose pom pom, and voila!
You might also be interested in my Bob the Artist beak craft!
This picture book is dreamy, with the coziest illustrations and story to match. It’s about animals sending wishes to the moon, the rabbit who turns them into stars, and finally, Rabbit setting out to the place those wishes come from to follow their own.
In an author’s note at the beginning, Jean Kim tells readers that in Korea, “when we look at the full moon we see the outline of a rabbit standing next to a mortar…pounding rice into rice cakes.” Seeing the rabbit in a full moon is an invitation to make a wish. The story was inspired by that tradition, and it made her wonder if the rabbit might have a wish of their very own as well.
I love the way paper airplanes are the way wishes travel to the moon in this book; the fuzzy, glowing quality of the illustrations; the idea of stars not as vehicles for wishes but as the embodiment of them instead, hopes we’ve let fly shining down on us.
There is a quest quality of the story and Rabbit’s journey takes a few different turns. And the last one, after Rabbit has had their friendship adventure, is especially sweet for a twilight read.
Rabbit Moon is a story of longing—for adventure and friendship and connection—a story of wishes come true.
Check out Jean Kim’s dummy with sketches of the book as well as more illustrations on her website.
Big thanks to Scholastic for images!
I just had to make a wish-inspired craft to go with Rabbit Moon, a story so fitting for the beginning of a year! So, here is a simple wishes and stars mobile. The best part? You can write your wishes on paper airplanes and then watch them spin among the stars!
What you need:
Sturdy gold paper (painted cardboard or gold card stock would work)
Paper airplane paper (I used foil origami paper, but plain white paper would work too)
Sturdy blue thread
A hoop (I used a gold hoop from a craft store, an embroidery hoop would also work, or a hollowed paper plate!)
Gold threading beads (optional)
A pen or pencil with which to write your wishes
A small hole punch (though I used a seam ripper and skewer to punch holes DIY style)
First, cut out stars. I traced one large one on white paper from the book, then cut that out and used it as a stencil to trace and cut out stars on the sturdy gold paper. (Repeated that process for a smaller version as well.)
Next, make some paper airplanes! Easy instructions here. (If using origami paper, you need to start with a rectangle versus the square shape.)
Write a wish inside each plane!
For the hoop, tie three equal lengths of string around it so the hoop is balanced, then join them together above in a knot. Use the leftover length to make a knotted loop for easy hanging.
Make holes in the stars and airplanes. Then, thread them through the string. If you want to add beads or several stars on one line of thread, make a knot to catch each one; add as many as you like. Finally, attach the star and airplane strings to the hoop with knots. Trim the long bits as a final touch.
Hang on a hook or doorknob or hanger! Voila!
You might also like these paper airplane Valentines inspired by Hearts by Thereza Rowe.
This picture book meets graphic novel is fantastic in every way! Infused with Korean folklore, gorgeous, action-packed illustrations, and a pair of siblings on a quest to find their grandmother, this is an absolutely delightful adventure.
Halmoni means grandmother in Korean, and this story is two children’s quest for theirs who is missing from her home when they arrive there. They smell her red bean soup, but that, too, is nowhere to be found. One of the most delightful things about this book is the little visual clues sprinkled in the illustrations of Halmoni’s house that foreshadow characters the two kids will meet on their journey: a fox, a tiger, and dokkebi (trickster goblins).
The scenes with each character they meet are funny, playful, and mysterious all at the same time and the sibling dynamic is loads of fun too.
The main characters must interpret all that comes along on their path and figure out how to solve each problem they face. My favorite part is when the kids play rock-paper-scissors with the tiger from the cover in order to get back Halmoni’s red bean soup pot. It’s an action sequence that plays out beautifully, complete with twists and turns and tricks.
And there is a key at the back to explain what characters were saying when they were speaking Korean in the text, as well as a glossary of Korean folktale figures who appear in the book. Julie also shares in the back matter that when she was a child and something disappeared, her parents would say, “This must be the dokkebi playing tricks!” That mysterious, mischievous spirit infuses this terrific tale.
Big thanks to Little Bigfoot for images!
The author-illustrator herself, Julie Kim, is here to share a recipe for red bean soup with sweet rice balls! That’s the soup Halmoni makes and finally serves the children at the end of the book when their adventure is over.
Over to Julie!
There is a popular Korean folktale where a tiger comes to eat up an old woman living alone in the mountains. It is summer, and the old woman tells the tiger to come back in the winter when it is more hungry. By then, her red beans would be ready for harvesting and the tiger can have red bean soup as well. The tiger thinks this is a great idea and tells the old woman it will be back in winter. Meanwhile, summer and autumn pass and the old woman weeps as she makes red bean soup. She knows she doesn’t have long to live. Luckily, little creatures like the turtle, a mat, a wooden carrier, and even a pile of poo come to her aid in exchange for the red bean soup. They all team up to foil the tiger and throw it over a cliff.
We eat it at home too, but this story of the grandmother was mainly the inspiration [for including red bean soup]. Like a lot of things that I do, this recipe is a bit of a mishmash. Traditionally, there are two types of red bean soup (called Pot-Jook in Korean): the savory kind with rice, and the silky sweet kind with sweet rice balls, which you can add to either type. I like the texture of the savory type and my children like the taste of the sweet version, so I combined the recipe and topped it off with sweet rice balls. By doing this, I end up with a hybrid, a sweet red bean soup/porridge that has the texture of rice pudding. And you can go either way, savory or more sweet, depending on whether you add or omit the sugar.
Here’s Julie’s red bean soup and sweet rice balls recipe along with step by step photos to download as a PDF!
Julie Kim is an author and illustrator living in Seattle, WA. She has published with Cricket Magazine, Scholastic, and Mondo. Where’s Halmoni? is her authorial debut.