CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 19 . . . . May 24, 2002
Dog Crafts and Cat Crafts by Linda Hendry each include over 15 imaginative ideas for gifts for a dog/cat owner/lover. The variety of projects include an album or frame for pet photos, a key holder and a pillow! The two books are very similar in content and have many overlaps, although as seen in the above excerpt, some crafts are applicable specifically to dogs. Cat Crafts includes such feline specific projects as a scratching pad, a toy and a catnip fish.
Each craft idea includes a helpful list of the required materials and tools. The step-by-step instructions are clear and well-illustrated. Children making these crafts need basic skills such as cutting, painting, measuring and some simple sewing. Many of the supplies, such as cardboard, bristol board, yarn/string, jars, beads and magazines, will be readily available at home or in the classroom. It would be helpful to have more templates in the book for those of us who aren't particularly artistic. Only a couple are included in each book, and they pertain to one specific project.
While the title of the series is "Kids Can Do It," in the case of these two books I'm not sure that if that assurance is absolutely valid, certainly not for the younger members of the age group recommended on the cover. Younger children would undoubtedly need adult supervision and help for some of the more sophisticated tasks, such as sewing on buttons, adding nails and screws to the finished project, using a utility knife, baking, and using pliers and hooks to complete earrings. These are advanced skills, and their requirement poses a difficulty which would make the books less useful in a classroom setting where one teacher could not hope to supervise a class of students in such difficult hands-on activities. The amount of time required per project would also limit the classroom effectiveness of the books. As well, some projects require special materials such as self-adhesive vinyl, fabric, embroidery floss, polymer clay, modeling clay, sandpaper and sand. Once again, these make the books less practical from a classroom teacher's point of view.
At $5.95 the price is right, and I would recommended the books despite the above reservations. Certainly many of the crafts fall into the "easy and affordable" category. However, the books would be best as extras for teachers or as home purchases for children who are particularly adept at and interested in crafts since the books are not just simple craft "handbooks" for the uninitiated.
Recommended with reservations.
Ann Abel, a former teacher of high school English and French, is currently the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.
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