It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Our New Favourite Book

I have a neighbour, other side of the street, one door east, who is a teacher. Elementary school. Every so often she changes classrooms or changes grades (or, less often, changes schools), requiring a significant purge-and-declutter of stuff. Does any profession accumulate “stuff” like an elementary school teacher? Oh, probably, bit it’s one I’m more familiar with.

And in this case, benefit from, for whenever the lovely Marianne does a purge, a box and a bag and a bucket of stuff come my way. And Marianne’s cast-offs are worth having!!! I have gotten the most amazing stuff from her.

And then there’s this. I’m not sure how it slipped through her filters, but this book is a pedagogical fail.

It is also OUR VERY MOST FAVOURITE BOOK!!!! Why? Let me explain…

It starts out blandly enough. (Oh, and in M’s defense, I should add that it started out in good condition. Those roughed-up corners? Daisy. I’m telling you now (because if I didn’t, how would you ever guess?) puppies are MURDER on board books.) So, a book, a little kitschy in that it’s a licensed product, but Beatrix Potter is pretty benign as far as licensing goes. Way better than, say, Dora the Explorer or (gag me) Sponge Bob…

Great literature it’s not, but the point of the book is clear and simple. (The text of this picture less so. My new camera is cheap and focus-challenged. Sorry about that. Now all you twenty- and thirty-something young’uns can get a teaser of what you’ll be seeing when you’re a fifty-something without your reading glasses… Just squint a bit. It’ll come right into focus!!)

On ensuing pages, we learn that Benjamin Bunny’s jacket is brown, and Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit has a purple dress. And then we come to this:

Peter Rabbit eats red radishes. Red… radishes… Let’s have a closer look shall we?

Now, it may very well be true that Peter Rabbit does indeed eat red radishes. Lord only knows he’s a bunny, and they do love their veggies!

But unless Peter has in his thieving hands a bunch of mutant radishes, I’d say those are carrots.

Orange carrots.

The kids? Do they have a problem with this? Does it offend and bemuse them? Are their little minds a-twist with confusion? No. Not at all. Not for a second.

No, they think this is hysterical. This is not “Benjamin Bunny’s colours” to them, this is “The Silly Carrot Book.” We read it a LOT for the sheer joy of falling all over ourselves laughing at this very page. I pick up this book, and you can see the two-year-olds priming themselves for hysteria.

“AAAHHH! Mary’s going to read the book with the page with the WRONG COLOUR!!! And the WRONG VEGETABLE!!!”

Cue mad display of feverish laughter. IT IS SO FUN!!!! A grown-up has somehow made a mistake, and they know it’s wrong!!!! Does it get any better?


This, my friends, is Toddler Humour at its peak.

October 21, 2011 Posted by | books | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Autumn Colour Leaf Books

Lookit all the fall leaves!! Aren’t they pretty???

This is a craft I’ve meant to do every fall for the last five years at least. I’ve even gotten so far as to press the leaves once or twice, but never seemed to manage to follow through… This year was going to be different!!!

We gathered the leaves:

We spent a lot of time talking about the colours we would find, and tracking the colours we did find. We brought them home and counted and sorted. Fun, fun, fun! (This counts not only as science and art, but math, too!)

Then we prepared to press them.

First you lay them out on a few layers of newspaper…

and cover them with a few more.

(I lay my newspapers on a sturdy piece of board, because I knew I would need to move the stack of leaves before they were finished drying.) Because I was drying so very many leaves — enough for six of these books — I ended up with a layered tower: a board, a pad of newspapers/leaves, another board, more newspaper…

And when my tower was done, on went the pile of Weighty Tomes. (I am a dog-loving English major. Does it show?)

And that was that, for a couple of days. The stack of leaves/newspaper/boards was ferried about a bit as we needed the table for eating, or the kitchen counter for cooking, or the floor for playing. A bit cumbersome, but this is, as I have said many times in the past, a small house.

While the leaves are drying, you gather your other supplies, notably the cardboard for the pages. All my wonderful, helpful parents came through with a goodly stock of boxes of one sort or another.

Here are the supplies: cardboard, scissors, hole punch, loose leaf rings, cup of tea … wait, that’s not all of them.

Cardboard (now trimmed to tidy rectangles), scissors, hole punch, loose leaf rings, glue stick, duct tape, white scrap paper, cup of tea. And, damnit, I forgot the Con-tact paper. Yeesh. We also used clear Con-tact paper.

I used a quick and easy swiped ‘X’ on the white paper to stick it to the cardboard, both sides. No, the paper doesn’t match the cardboard exactly. It doesn’t matter. As long as the gap isn’t enormous, the edges will be covered with duct tape before you’re done, anyway.

Take a few leaves of each colour, and place them on the pages. The leaves do fade a bit as they dry, but the colours are more vibrant in the books than they’re appearing on my monitor right now. If you’re about ready to decide that Mary is clearly colour-blind, it’s probably just your monitor. (It could be that my poor middle-aged eyes are losing their grip… but I think it’s your monitor. Yup.)

Lightly secure the leaves in place with a dab of gluestick, then cover each page with Con-tact paper. Again, it doesn’t matter if the Con-tact paper matches your page exactly. The duct tape binding will hold it all together.

(Why the binding? I have made these sorts of books before, and Con-tact paper by itself does not grip well enough. (That’s not what it’s designed to do: as shelf paper, you want to be able to peel it up later. For a page laminate, however, peel-ability is not so much of a virtue.))

This page is pre-rub. After you’ve put on the shelf paper, you’ll need to rub it thoroughly to squoosh out the air bubbles.

Now for the cover. I sketched a very basic tree shape, then dotted a teeny bit of red and yellow finger paint across the top of it. The kids smeared it around to get the nebulous autumnal form, but I confess that they were hovered over guided a great deal more than normal, because I wanted the finished product to, you know, actually look like a tree. This level of concern with the product (rather than our normal focus on the process) meant that I also WHIPPED those suckers away when they were “done”.

Artus interruptus. I know, I know. I don’t often do that, but sometimes… sometimes a caregiver does what a caregiver’s got to do.

While the covers were drying, we finished the rest of the pages. I was going to give each book two binder rings, but I soon discovered that my new hole punch really, really, REALLY didn’t like going through cardboard.

Not even lightweight cereal-box cardboard. Yeesh.

I managed to manhandle the wimpy thing through the requisite pages once, at the end of which process the dents in my hands were almost as marked as the dents in the cardboard. I decided one hole would be quite sufficient.

See how wobbly and undisciplined the “yellow”s are? That’s the result of my my poor hands suffering from PHPTS. (Post hole punch trauma syndrome.) Mary of the shaky hands, that’s me.

And then, if you are an impatient person like me, you put the Con-tact on the front cover before the paint has completely dried, because you have spent quite enough time on this already, and you JUST WANT THIS THING DONE NOW, DAMMIT!

And then you stand back and feel very, very proud, because after five years, you finally got those things MADE! 🙂

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, crafts | , , , , , , | 9 Comments