Crafty Chloe, written by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Heather Ross

There are a lot of things I like about Crafty Chloe, the new picture book from Kelly DiPucchio and Heather Ross (crafter and author of Weekend Sewing) and just one thing I don't, so I might as well get if off my chest right now. I don't like the presence of London, the mean rich girl with the tiny dog. I see how a character like London, who exclaims things like, "Your going to make her something?" when Chloe reveals she might make a birthday gift for their friend Emma, creates tension, but I think this story deserves more than this simple plot. In her wonderful and similar books from 2008 and 2009, Fanny and Fanny & Annabelle, Holly Hobbie presents a character who makes her own doll when her mother won't buy her a "Connie" [read Barbie] doll like all her friends have, saying "I don't like the way Connie dolls look. They're just too . . . much." Instead she gives Fanny a sewing machine for her birthday and the doll Annabelle is created. Fanny's friends don't think too much of Annabelle or Fanny's creativity, but soon they are playing together again, handmade dolls and Connies.
That said, I am so thrilled to see a book that embraces making things by hand and all the creativity and imagination that goes with it! As far as I know, Crafty Chloe is the first picture book since Fanny came out in 2008 to take up this activity that I know is a part of many children's (and parent's) lives. Besides giving voice to a heretofore unheard from audience, this book is really inspirational! (Don't miss links to other kid-craft-friendly blogs and books at the bottom of this review.) As I said in my review of Fanny, I made my own dolls and their accoutrements when I was a kid. And, like Chloe, I wasn't very good at sports, dance lessons or video games.
Like Chloe, I was good at making stuff. Chloe knows that "a whole new outfit can be made out of Dad's old shirts, and that coffee filters make very good flower hats for show-and-tell, and that anything becomes less boring with googly eyes on it." Chloe also makes clothes for her dog Bert, and Ross's illustrations of her creative process are fantastic. After poring over the artwork then reading the back flap, I was not surprised at all to find that Ross herself is a professional crafter. In fact, there is even a website with craft ideas inspired by Crafty Chloe!
When Chloe is invited to Emma's birthday party she has the idea to get her the newest "Flower Girl" doll, Violet, but London beats her to it then tries to make Chloe feel bad when she says she's going to make a gift for Emma. Chloe almost fakes an illness to get out of going to Emma's party when she can't think of the perfect gift to make her, but then she is struck by a bolt of inspiration. Sewing machine and glue gun work at top speed as Chloe crafts, the end results hidden from readers until the final pages of the book. When London's little dog trips her up and Violet falls in a mud puddle, crafty (and kind) Chloe shares her present with London and saves the day. Turns out London is quite impressed with Chloe's creations and Emma loves her gifts. Despite my complaints about the plot of Crafty Chloe, I think it's a great book that would make a superb gift - along with a low-heat glue gun, glue sticks, popsicle sticks, tulle, pompoms, ribbon and googly eyes, things that are always on hand in my house. In fact, my middle son has been making things (boats, castles, replicas of historical ships) from popsicle sticks since he was very young.

Check out this other awesome book from Kelly DiPucchio!! 
As a dedicated fan of robots, Clink is going on my wish list asap!

(Please share your favorite crafting blogs and books with me as a comment!)

Playing by the Book is my favorite crafty-book-blog to follow. Started by a mother of two little girls and based in the UK (this means sometimes she reviews books we don't have in the States...) this blog is a fantastic resource for  book related crafts. Details, instructions and photos of her adorable girls making the projects are always included. In fact, Playing by the Book just participated in the Edible Book Festival and some of the entrants can be seen here. Recognize David McKee's Elmer the Elephant and Emily Gravett's Odd Egg?

I was drawn to Amanda Blake Soule's The Creative Family the minute it hit the shelves in 2008. Soule's prjoects are simple but elegant and useful and just a little bit like the things you see in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. Soule, her husband their five children live the idyllic creative country life that I might have once imagined for myself and my family. While I had a few good years of making cool stuff for and with my kids, I had to accept that my life just wasn't headed in that direction. However, it's still nice to peek into the life of the Soules (Amanda is a fantastic photographer) and see what lovely things they are making, doing or playing.
The Creative Family: Simple Projects and Activities for You and Your Children That Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family ConnectionHandmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures

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