The Amazing Book of Paper Boats
by Melcher Media
Published by Chronicle Books
128 pages, 2001
The Sleepover Book
by Margot Griffin
Published by Kids Can Press
144 pages, 2001
Crafty Girl: Beauty
by Jennifer Traig & Julianne Balmain
Published by Chronicle Books
112 pages, 2001
Rainy Day Remedies: Curing the Boredom Blues
Reviewed by Monica Stark
No one who has ever spent much time around children hasn't heard the familiar words: "I'm bored! There's nothing to do!" In a world where entertainment is often provided rather than created, the threat of an empty half hour sometimes seems to almost seize their little minds. What's a parent (or aunt or godfather or grandparent) to do?
The fact is, most of the time you really don't have to provide very much in order for children to be both occupied and fulfilled. Paper, crayons, scissors and a plan is often enough to not only fill a few hours, but fill it in a way that can enrich a child's experience and help enhance their creativity.
The plan can come in many forms. Some of us have favorite rainy day crafts remembered from our own childhoods that we can share with our offspring. For instance, I remember a period when my friends spent -- literally -- countless hours playing something we called "textures." With a soft pencil and some plain paper, we'd scurry about whatever environment we happened to be in making rubbings of anything that didn't move: carpets, tiles, pennies, even unsuspecting sleeping cats could be sampled in this way. Sounds a little dry now, but it was quite fascinating at the time.
Kids today have a richer variety of possibilities from which to choose. Materials suitable for crafting can be found in most homes and, to add to these riches, many authors have taken the time to collect their best ideas so that they can be easily given to children in book form.
These days crafting books aimed at children are myriad and some of them are quite specific. For instance, The Amazing Book of Paper Boats is a gorgeous collection: a veritable fleet in a book. Intended for children aged 10 and over (although I know more than a few who are way over who would enjoy this one), The Amazing Book of Paper Boats includes well-compiled and concise information on the history of boats, how boats float and even offers a bit of a glossary of nautical terms. The real grabber here, though, are the 18 model boats printed on waterproof paper waiting to be carefully cut out and assembled. Assembly instructions, but not model cement, are included with each book. A delightful collection for the model builder or boat enthusiast in your household.
The Jumbo Book of Easy Crafts is your basic, plain vanilla crafting book. The 208 pages are filled nearly to bursting with over 175 crafts that range from bird feeders made from milk cartons, rubber stamps made from old erasers, melted crayon designs (I loved that one when I was a kid!), puzzles, beeswax candles, popsicle stick baskets and more. And more. And more. Simple black and white illustrations help children through the steps -- no fancy photography or craft styling here. This is a book clearly intended to be given to -- and used by -- children. Their imagination will supply the color.
Both the illustrations and the activities chosen for inclusion in The Sleepover Book are quite clear: this is a book for girls, even if it doesn't say so on the cover. As the title says, the book is intended to be a tool towards fun at a sleepover. One section, called "Buddy Braiding" instructs you on how to braid each other's hair. "Face Boosters" includes recipes for facial masks and how to apply them. A section on games includes how to make a music video (No. Really.) as well as pajama games, out in the dark games, how to organize a team treasure hunt and others. A section on crafting includes -- appropriately enough -- some pajama crafts (making a pajama bag out of an old pajama top, bolster pillows from pajama legs and so on) as well as instructions for making a dreamcatcher, critter slippers, candles and other sleepy and sleepover-themed items.
If the idea of crafting books aimed directly and unashamedly at girls doesn't bother or alarm you, the "Crafty Girl" series of books may be of interest. Crafty Girl Beauty Things to Make and Do and Crafty Girl Cool Stuff to Make and Do are both stylishly designed handbooks aimed smack dab at the future Martha Stewarts in our midst. Cool Stuff includes about 40 projects that mostly take an ordinary something that already exists in order to turn it into an extraordinary something: at least in the eyes of a preadolescent female. For instance, the Movie Star Phone is created by sticking a whole lot of rhinestones, pearls or beads and gold paint onto your garden variety telephone. Frames made of Fimo and fur are included in a section called "Picture This," while "Desk and Dresser Doodads," "Sleep Tight" and other themed sections lurk not far behind.
Crafty Girl Beauty Things to Make and Do is exactly the same only different. This time the mysterious world of bath bombs, face creams and other pleasantly stinky stuff is explored. "Sure, a crafty girl knows beauty is only skin deep, but she also knows a healthy glow is nothing to scoff at." Obviously, this is not going to be a book for everyone and, to be honest, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about books aimed at very young women -- girls -- that deal entirely with "beauty." On the other hand, this particular volume deals with its topic very well and even mom-sized girls might be intrigued by the crafts offered here. Recipes for making glitter glow, a body wrap and even bath bombs (only here they're called bath "biscuits") are included, as well as a milk bath, glitter lipgloss, aromatherapy massage oil and other projects.
Whatever your pleasure -- from paper boats to Hungarian facials -- the banishment for rainy days might be just a bookstore away. | February 2001
Monica Stark is a freelance writer and editor.