Saturday, February 10, 2018

Crazy Little Thing Called "Love, Mama"

 It took me a long time to warm up to Valentine's Day. When I was single it made me feel lonely and once I met my husband I felt obligated to go out NO MATTER WHAT.  We crammed into crowded restaurants.  We "celebrated" while battling wisdom tooth pain. We trudged to through snow to get to a local "romantic hot-spot." Nothing says "romance" like painful chattering teeth, soaking wet feet and a head cold.

Then I had my kids.  They would come home with hand-crafted wonky valentines.  Xeroxed poems pasted to their photos. Drawings of our family surrounded by shaky hearts. My own heart overflowed with love.  I saved everything they ever gave me.


That feeling of overflowing love is perfectly conveyed in Love, Mama (Roaring Book Press, 2018) written and beautifully illustrated by Jeanette Bradley. When Mama penguin goes away on a trip, young Kipling misses her tremendously.  He tries substitutes but none will do.  "...pillow Mama wouldn't read.  Picture Mama wouldn't laugh..." As the days go on he waits and wishes for her.  A package in the mail from Mama reminds him of her love and reassures him that she will return.  The reunion is quiet and meaningful.

This endearing book perfectly portrays the bond between parent and child.  The story doesn't overwhelm. It's tender and and yet powerful.   The illustrations are lovely and the details bring the characters and the story to life: passing whales with their young, attentive seals who help carry packages, and tender hugs between bespectacled Mama and her little Kipling make it a book that will resonate with young children and parents.

I will confess I truly thought I came up with the idea of making coffee creamer containers into penguins UNTIL I posted on Facebook that I needed container donations.  A teacher friend responded to say she had just made her containers into a "feed the penguin" game.  Sigh.  I decided it would be cute and that we'd go ahead with the project anyway.
IN A MOMENT OF "GENIUS"  I also bought magnet tape*** thinking we could magnetize a Mama and Baby penguin and then have them stick together.  Nope. Didn't work.  Feel free to try.  Again: sigh.

*** Supplies Note: Magnet tape is a questionable
addition to the list!  (see above description!)
  • Creamer containers of varying sizes
  • Black paint to pre-paint the containers (Acrylic or spray paint)
  • Tape, Scissors, Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
  • White stick-back felt
  • Black,  white and yellow card stock
  • Black and red markers, White Paint Marker
  • Red foam sheet OR red piece of card stock (optional) 
  1.  DAY BEFORE: Pre-paint the containers black. (I used acrylic.  If you are doing a large number you can spray paint them.)
  2. CRAFT DAY:  Artist cuts shapes out of white felt and adhere them to the creamer bottles.  Large oval for penguins' stomach, smaller circle for the face. Adhere them to containers.
  3. Artist draws in faces with markers.
  4. Artists cuts feet out of yellow card stock, wings out of black card stock.  
  5. Artists cuts out red foam or cardboard heart to give tuck under penguin's wing.
  6. Artist quite proud of his penguins!
  7. ADULT uses hot glue to adhere cut shapes to penguins. 
  8. Drawing on faces
ACCESSORIZE! Add scarf, cardboard boot,  TRY adding magnet tape so penguins can cling to each-other.  (Hey, I failed at that but YOU may have the magic touch!)


My young artist (7) declared the book "very sweet".  Appropriately, his mom read it to him. I felt privileged to be there for that. (If I tried reading to my 14 year old I'd never hear the end of it!)

Create Macaroni penguins by adding yellow pipe-cleaner or yellow feather clippings to the head.  And YES, they really are called Macaroni penguins.  Although you COULD try to make them out of macaroni.  Let me know how that goes for you.
I'm a Macaroni penguin!
Make your penguin into a message board.  Glue a cardboard or foam heart to his/her tummy.   Cut a heart shape out of Dry Erase Sticker Paper and attach it to the heart.
Leave messages of love for your family!

Kipling lines up "wishing rocks" to wish for Mama's return.  Have your artists create their own collection of wishing rocks.  You can get a selection for them but if you are at home or creating crafts in a park or library, have the artists find their own. They can pick rocks, wash them well, and paint them.  I recommend acrylic but if you are worried about mess or staining they can use tempera paint or water based paint markers.  They can make each rock represent a friend, family member, or a special wish.

As far as wishes go, I wish you all an abundance of love and a Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Take a Vacation with 7 Ate 9

There are so many books that I love and want to share.
It's been hard picking just one for each post and hardest to pick the very first.
I've carefully selected a book by a wonderful writer, generous speaker, and brilliant blogger.  

Tara Lazar's clever and hilarious 7 Ate 9, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, is a mystery that begins when Number 6 approaches a "Private I" to help him find out why Number 7 is always following him.  And why wouldn't he be scared, when rumor has it that 7 Ate 9? 

The book is packed with numerical and visual puns, word play, and mathematical jokes. Lines like "I knew about this 7 fella. He was odd" and "I fear my days are numbered" add to the fun but don't detract from the mystery for either readers who might not get all the jokes yet or those who are lucky enough to catch them all! 
And after a second reading I was still finding new ones:

Note the P- shaped pie at Cafe Uno
The Private I's door reads "Al F. Bet".  (Alef and Bet are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.)

The illustrations have a clever retro feel and Ross MacDonald's characters remind me of charming vintage advertisements. He sneaks in as many jokes as he can right down to the Pi shaped pie at the diner.  

This is a wonderful book for inspiring art projects.  
My eye immediately went to the part in the story in which 7 shows off his book of vacation photos of his trip sailing the 7 Seas.  (I'm trying really hard not to give away any spoilers here so you better go read this book now in case I seriously trip up!)
I thought it would be fun to have the young artists create their own book.  They had the option of using their age repeatedly, their favorite numbers, or the letters in their name.
I downloaded vintage postcards and printed them out

  • Paper (large paper cut into long postcard-height strips)
  • Tape, Scissors, and Glue Sticks
  • Drawing supplies of choice
  • Print-out of Vintage Postcard (optional)
  • Pre-Cut letters (optional)
The craft coordinator has the option of finding out the artists' names and ages in advance and pre-cutting the block letters out of card stock.   It helps when working with time constraints. Personally I find hand drawn letters to be charming so with my small group of Artists I did precut the letters and numbers but I explained that they had the option to draw the letters and left it to their preference.

The artists, age 5-9 all really enjoyed the book (thank you to friend Susan for doing such a fabulous reading!) and there were a lot of laughs.

I explained that they were making postcard books, just as "7" did in the story.

They all chose to use the pre-cut numbers and letters and they all understood that the letters and numbers represented characters.

There were a variety of vacations drawn, some on the slopes,

                        and some tropical.

Some with monkeys,

                     some with wheels.

All of them wonderful.   Thank you to the creative and talented volunteer artists who brought this
7 Ate 9 project to life!

Soon to come: I have several upcoming posts.  One book is all about expressing love and one is to honor Black History month.

If you have a book you would like me to review and have a talented young Artist be inspired by, please contact me in the "CONTACT PAULA" section or by leaving a comment.