CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006
Stuff to Hold Your Stuff.
Ellen Warwick. Illustrated by Bernice Lum.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
80 pp., spiral bound, $14.95.
Tote bags-Juvenile literature.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Jennifer Caldwell & Zahra Haq.
IT'S ALL IN THE BAG!
Got a LOT OF STUFF and no way to carry it? Does your bag look like it should be RUN OVER instead of worn down a runway? Do you wanna have loads of FUN CREATING bags and purses in your own COOL style? Well, this book is full of IDEAS and advice for making all kinds of toting devices. PRETTY little purses for parties. School bags that look SMART. Travel totes for TRIPS and sleepovers. And bags you'll want to carry JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT.
These BAGS and PURSES may BREAK your friends' HEARTS (from jealousy!) but they won't break the bank. Everything you need is CHEAP and EASY TO FIND. You'll probably find some of the materials lying around the house!
So, KEEP READING for all you need to know. Stuff you'll need. EASY-TO-FOLLOW instructions. Plus IDEAS to make your projects even more "YOU." You'll NEVER need to carry a BORING bag, sad sack, or tired tote again!
With the endless billions of girls' craft books already published, do we really need another? Yes! Bring out the chequebooks because Stuff to Hold Your Stuff is worth the price and the space on already crammed library shelves. Instead of teaching tweens to mold yet another papier mache project that will collect dust on a shelf, Stuff to Hold Your Stuff teaches girls to create personalized totes that they can use daily.
Stuff to Hold Your Stuff will attract readers with its content and design. The page layout is clear, not overwhelming, with tasteful use of white space. The hip, multi-ethnic, and cute coloured cartoon illustrations are blended with mixed fonts. The text is witty and casual, and emphasized words are in all capitals or italics. (And don't worry, there are more capitalized words in the introduction than there are throughout the rest of the book put together!) The text is modern and fun, yet thankfully avoids the latest txtspk trend towards missing vowels and "creative" syntax. Cartoons, brief introductory text, and a photo of the final product introduce each project. Materials, equipment, terms, safety notes, and general instructions are explained at the beginning of the book. Structurally, the spiral binding allows pages to lie flat, and the hard spine protecting the spiral ensures that the book will stand straight on the shelf and avoid quick damage.
Carefully reading the projects' instructions still left me confused a couple times, and so I recruited 10-year-old Zahra Haq to help test them out. Zahra made the Spunky Spots Messenger Bag and reported that the instructions were easy to follow. She also said the photos and diagrams were helpful, although she had to ask her mother for help once or twice. Zahra also said that she liked the book because "you can show your personality on most projects." Her least favourite thing about this book was that some of the projects required sewing machines, and not everyone has those.
The projects require materials from home or craft, material, or hardware stores, and equipment that requires a minimum of supervision, like glue guns, sewing machines, pinking shears, and eyelets. The first section, "Handy Bags," gives instructions for a paper and clear vinyl purse, a tote bag made of old neckties, a vinyl messenger bag, and a purse made of cloth placemats. The second section, "Girl on the Go," features an overnight bag and matching toiletry case made out of tarps, a beach bag that converts to a towel, and a yoga bag made out of nylon or ripstop fabric. The third section, "Wee Ones," includes a satin and nylon party purse, wallets made of duct tape or pretty paper and a laminating sheet, and foam sunglasses case. The fourth and last section, "School Cool," teaches girls to make knapsacks out of nylon or ripstop, foam lunch bags with photos on the front, cardboard tube pencil cases (covered in fluffy marabou if desired!) and large corrugated plastic portfolios to carry art projects or other unwieldy school assignments.
Stuff to Hold Your Stuff is a practical, inspiring addition to school and public libraries' craft sections.
Jennifer Caldwell is a youth librarian at Richmond Public Library in BC, and Zahra Haq is in grade 5 at Mitchell Elementary School, also in Richmond, BC.
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