kids books

I have put my crochet project on the slow train while the fabric cutting and sewing gets to go on the fast track. I have a deadline and need to get sewing.

One day into sewing for a few hours straight and already my back is playing havoc — early intervention is required. I have moved my sewing machine onto my kitchen bench height cutting table so I can stand and sew. And wow much easier, faster and better on the back. Great when cutting, sewing, trimming, pressing requires getting up and down all the time from the sewing seat. Now I just move a little to the side, sew, step over, trim, turn around press and repeat. Great. Also I had Rob install the design wall, which in between major projects has to be taken down as I don’t have space for a permanent design wall, not in my sewing space at a convenient location at any rate.

Before getting started on a big project I like to do a little procrasti-cleaning — actually it’s an essential way to get in the head space required and to create the surroundings that I need to work. I first sort all the fabric I am going to be using (this takes a while), then I put everything else away neatly (again a day or two here — yikes!). So I clear and organise and arrange everything so I can find the essentials (and the non-essentials are out of my way). I also spring clean my sewing machines, take them apart, dust and oil them and change the needles [Weeks Ringle has a really great post on how to Spring Clean your sewing machine].

As part of all this spring cleaning in my sewing room I happened upon a pile of mending. Ugh! Jeans with tears and missing buttons and such — so I quickly dealt with them using a fast patching method (double sided fusible webbing is very handy – especially if you have some already fused fabric scraps available). Then I found a pile of fabric that the kids designed and ordered from Spoonflower. I knew I would not be in the headspace to do anything with it once fully involved in The Project, so I spent half a day cutting out pajama pants using old pj’s as a guide. [Use this tutorial to draft your pattern and make the pants].

Then, and I never thought I would say this, I made underwear with the leftover fabric. Wow so easy and cute and comfy and they actually wanted handmade underwear too. Who knew! I didn’t actually use a pattern, again I used underwear as a guide [and this pattern as a guide too] and had to fiddle a bit to get the fit right, as the stretch on the store-bought underwear fabric is different from the lovely organic jersey I was using. Success!

Don’t forget: If you haven’t already got yours — Grab an Action Pack Magazine for kids — it’s the Mad Scientist Issue: In our 9th issue of Action Pack Magazine for kids, we continue to encourage kids to think and do for themselves, to be independent and creative learners, they are able to explore science through art, cooking and experimentation. We also encourage parents to become observers and co-learners rather than having to take control in a teacher role. In this issue kids are able to go through a journey of self discovery and learn that science is indeed fun and real! You can purchase a copy here.

At whipup this week: Crochet Afghan Free pattern roundup :: Guest post from Jennie of A Little Vintage  about her Creative process :: Guest post from Weeks Ringle discussing her latest book and magazine and some colour tips too :: Guest post from Caroline and Maryanne discussing their sewing series — beyond the basics :: And if you missed last weeks news click here.


Reading this week:
Having an Australian book week with the kids this week:
  • Stephanie Owen Reeder is a Canberra-based writer and illustrator, her book Amazing Grace: An adventure at sea is a true story about a girl in 1876 who used her horse to save lots of people from a shipwreck. Beautifully written and illustrated and presented and is a fascinating historically accurate account. This National Library of Australia publication features archival paintings, survivors’ accounts, newspaper articles and original photographs.
  • Playground, compiled by Australian Children’s book author Nadia Wheatley (published by Allen and Unwin), is a compilation of Indigenous Australian stories, photographs and beautiful artwork, which allow a wonderful insight into Aboriginal childhood.
  • Shy the Platypus by Leslie Rees, has been republished by the National Library of Australia after being out of print for over 20 years. Originally published in the 1940s, this beautifully presented Australian Children’s book has been updated with additional artwork from the NLA collection.

[Thanks to publishers and distributors for sending me books to review, I don’t get paid to post reviews but I am an amazon affiliate] (Australian’s can purchase craft books online through can do books or booktopia or else browse booko for the best prices.)

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In our house books are an incredibly important part of our lives. We all read books and we have books shelves full of books, but we also love to have family novel time, where we read aloud to each other in the evenings instead of watching television.

When we went camping recently we read aloud  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (first published in 1883), the language used is old fashioned and we had to stop numerous times to discuss/guess at the meaning of certain words and phrases, nevertheless we were all fascinated and loved this book – its a rollicking pirate adventure. In the past we have read the Harry Potter series, The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (one of our favourite books of last year) and The borrowers series (this was my favourite book as a child so am very pleased my kids love it now too!).

Reading aloud to kids is a great way to introduce them to books that they might not be up to reading by themselves yet (and are also really interesting for the adults to read and listen to too), and also to give them the confidence to read it themselves afterwards. My kids are always keen to go off and read our family novels more than once!

Our favourite books this year for the 7 and over age group:

 How to train your dragon is a wonderful series of books – suitable for early readers and boys and everyone who loves a funny book about dragons and tricksters. My kids (age 9 + 11 respectively) took this series away with us when we went camping for a month recently and they read the whole series in tandem with each other – they both loved it!

 The Septimus Heap series (there are 6 books so far – I think the next one is the last one – due to be published next year), is a another series of books that both my kids have loved and read this past year. We read the first two in the series aloud then they took over and grabbed them and read them late into the night by themselves. Books full of magic, dragons, heroes etc … you get the idea. Lots of fun.

 The Artemis Fowl series (by Eoin Colfer) is a much loved read and re-read book by my 9 year old son. He has finally persuaded us to include it in our read aloud sessions and we are all enjoying it now too – a boy hero (who is a bit dastardly mixed with magic and adventure – you can’t go wrong!)

Recent-ish books discovered this year include: The tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Gladiator by Simon Scarrow (the first of a new series for young readers) and When you reach me by Rebecca Stead a book that my 11 year old daughter really enjoyed.

Classics which we have revisted this year and which the kids have discovered by themselves include: The Witches by Roald Dahl and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White both suitable for all ages and Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien (suitable for older kids who are into sci-fi).

So I urge you to read aloud to your kids – no matter what their age – don’t stop reading to them just because they know how to read. Keep reading – it is not only a relaxing and fun bonding family time together, but a great way to expand vocabulary, understanding and broaden everyone’s literature horizons.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

French illustrator Hervé Tullet’s (fun website) childrens book Press Here is truly wonderful – it is both clever and simple – a very difficult combination to get just right. Not only that it is fun and charming too. It uses dots in basic colours to both amuse and draw children in by encouraging interaction – the dots grow and shrink and move on the page as the reader follows the instructions. Both my (8+10year old) children were amused by this book, and I know that younger kids will love it too. It is available via Chronicle in the US and Allen & Unwin in Australia.

10 Bush Babies by Susan Hall and Naomi Zouwer is a National Library of Australia Publication. This early learning counting book has some lovely interactive elements, and facts about the 10 Australian bush animals that are featured. But along with the clever activity side of the book, the illustrations are just beautiful. Available October 2011 here.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

These two books recently came into my house at about the same time, and not that long after my Kids’ Crafternoon series came out, it seems too serendipitous not to write about them – they both advance the creative kids cause – so if you have some crafty and creative kids in your life, or you want to get more creative with your kids – read on.

Little things by busy hands is written by Katie Evans and published by Penguin/Puffin Australia. This book is just perfect for primary school aged kids who like to make little things with fabric but don’t yet have the skills or confidence to use a sewing machine. Sweet projects like a hand sewn stuffed toy, and a glue and fabric wall art piece, some simple bunting flags and a plaited rag table mat are just a few of the projects in this book – along with non fabric projects like a paper lantern and a clay brooch. The instructions are simple and appropriate and the accompanying illustrations are cute too! In Katie Evans words: The idea of the book is to get kids to be resourceful – to try new things on their own with minimal supervision and come up with something they are proud of and want to display.

Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl (published by Roost books), is a mighty book full of both practical projects and tested theories on playschool learning. With so much schooling based on tests and sitting at desks, this book is a lovely fresh look at a more hands on playful approach to the early childhood school years. This book is very much after my own heart and feels very real and necessary so we can get back our wonder of childhood and help our children develop a lifelong love of learning.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Crafternoon is having a blog hop party / blog book tour. Yay – so follow along for sneak peaks and chances to win a copy.

Some sneak peaks here from both books – and do you see those wonderful illustrations? Yep my hubby Rob Shugg did those in his spare time – ain’t he super amazing?

  1. 22 July Poppytalk
  2. 23 July Picklebums
  3. 24 July Little Eco Footprints
  4. 25 July Beaspoke quilts
  5. 26 July Maya Made
  6. 27 July Checkout girl
  7. 28 July The red thread
  8. 29 July We Wilsons
  9. 30 July Maggie Makes
  10. 31 July Mmm Crafts
  11. 1 August Domesticali
  12. 2 August Floating Ink
  13. 3 August Elizabeth Abernathy
  14. 4 August Mommy Coddle
  15. 5 August The Long Thread
  16. 6 August Hannah Fletcher
  17. 7 August Between the lines
  18. 8 August Go Make Me


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website