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Accessorize Yourself! 66 Projects to Personalize Your Look

Kara Laughlin, Jennifer Philips et al. Capstone Young Readers, $14.95 paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-62370-645-6

This addition to the Craft It Yourself line encourages readers to think creatively about materials they already have on hand as the authors delineate ways to turn old decks of cards, neckties, plastic drinking cups, and unused jeans into jewelry, belts, and more. Not every project involving recycling but many do, such as using fabric and purchased handles to turn a hardcover book into a handbag, or stitching together fabric headbands to create a “slouchy hat that’s beyond amazing.” An enthusiastic tone, wide array of ideas, and straightforward instructions should inspire readers looking to bring some DIY flair to their wardrobes. Ages 9–13. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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I Can Make My Own Accessories

Louise Scott-Smith and Georgia Vaux. Thames & Hudson, $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-500-65082-0

Fashion-minded readers who aren’t afraid of picking up a needle and thread will learn some useful techniques as the authors outline ways to make eight accessories, including a wool brooch shaped like a pair of lips, a cat-ear headband, a belt made from braided nylon stockings, and an adorable “kawaii bear bag” felt tote. Closing sections detail the techniques involved and suggest improvisations for each project. Stylishly designed, the book incorporates digitally rendered illustrations of the steps for each accessory and the materials needed, while fashion-mag-worthy photographs show off the completed products. It’s a hip little guide to handmade fashion. Ages 7–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Three-Dimensional Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Artist-Inspired Projects in Sculpture, Ceramics, Textiles, and More

Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw. Chicago Review (IPG, dist.), $19.99 paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-61373-659-3

The team behind Modern Art Adventures returns with another excellent collection of art projects, this time drawn from 18 works of sculptural or otherwise 3-D artwork. Six chapters address sculpture, installations, ceramics, collage, and textiles; projects include Louise Bourgeois–inspired spiders made from clay and pipe cleaners, a pair of projects that riff on Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, and a woven wall hanging that takes its cue from Bauhaus textile artist Gunta Stölz. Context about the artists and their movements is incorporated throughout. Like its predecessor, it’s a book that succeeds for its ambition and breadth as it helps brings art out of the museum and makes it immediate and relevant in the lives of readers. Ages 6–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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51 Things to Make with Egg Cartons

Fiona Hayes. QEB, $14.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-68297-004-1

Stop buying those plastic and Styrofoam egg cartons, Mom—kids will want the cardboard kind to create the projects compiled in this book. Most involve constructing animal figures, including a frog, rabbit, row of chickens, and large red dragon (the underside of one carton becomes the scales on its back, while another is used for its snapping jaws). Mask, jewelry, and vehicle ideas are also offered, all explained in concise numbered steps and clear illustrations, alongside photos of the playful finished products. The projects generally require little more than glue, scissors, and paint, though a healthy appetite for scrambled eggs will help, too. Simultaneously available: 51 Things to Make with Cardboard Tubes. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Farmers Market Create-and-Play Activity Book

Deanna F. Cook, illus. by Alyssa Nassner. Storey, $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-61212-650-0

Children with farmer on their lists of future careers will find plenty of ways to get a pretend-play head start in this spiralbound activity book, which includes punch-out pieces, stencils, stickers, and games. In four sections, Cook walks readers through how to dress like a farmer, make a play garden complete with felt produce and paper-and-pipe-cleaner flowers, and construct a farm stand to sell their make-believe wares. Photographs of children appear throughout, along with images of the in-progress and finished projects. Suggestions for field trips to real-life farms and markets are included, as are labels, shopping lists, and even business cards that let kids play to the fullest. Ages 4–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Mind-Boggling Numbers

Michael J. Rosen, illus. by Julia Patton. Millbrook, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-3489-9

Ms. Mary Math, “the go-to wiz for mind-boggling math questions,” answers questions related to volume, distance, weight, and other topics, framed as letters from curious kids. A Florida letter-writer, “Grounded in Groveland,” asks how long it would take to send a birthday card to everyone on the planet; the answer, after some quick multiplication, is 222 years. The off-kilter scenarios proposed, which are entertainingly captured in Patton’s quirky cartoon graphics, and the off-the-cuff tone Rosen adopts for the answers keep these unconventional story problems from ever feeling like homework. “That’s a sweet thought,” says Ms. Mary of the birthday card question. “One problem: your task’s impossible.” Ages 7–11. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Me First! Prefixes Lead the Way

Robin Pulver, illus. by Lynne Rowe Reed. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3644-6

A group of self-important anthropomorphic prefixes star in this addition to Pulver and Reed’s Language Arts Library series. Teacher Mr. Wright shows up at school dressed as Abraham Lincoln for a discussion of leadership with his students. Meanwhile, a handful of prefixes, pictured as tiny clay figures, are busy tooting their own horns: “No disrespect, but we’re great leaders, too!” While the use of Lincoln to teach the prefixes a lesson in humility comes across as somewhat forced, readers will enjoy the silly words the zealous prefixes form (“antilunch,” “subschool,” “repencil,” etc.) while getting a solid sense of how these word elements work. Ages 6–10. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Circles

David. A. Adler, illus. by Edward Miller. Holiday House, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3642-2

Frequent collaborators Adler and Miller follow their books on fractions, time zones, triangles, and other topics with a thorough look at all things circular. After a brief run-down of two- and three-dimensional shapes with round aspects (cylinders, cones, spirals, etc.), Adler dives into what makes a circle a circle, unloading a significant amount of vocabulary along the way, including words like symmetrical, diameter, sector, and chord, all clearly explained in direct writing, assisted by hands-on project ideas and Miller’s playful circle-based animal portraits. By the time children get to the closing line—“We live in a world of circles”—they’ll be convinced. Ages 6–10. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Marta! Big & Small

Jen Arena, illus. by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62672-243-9

Arena and Dominguez nimbly combine an exploration of relativity with an introduction to Spanish vocabulary as una niña named Marta encounters various animals while exploring a junglelike setting. Though the text is minimal, Arena uses repetition and context clues to make each concept readily clear: “To a horse, Marta is lenta. Slow, very slow. To a turtle, Marta is rápida. Fast, very fast.” Dominguez’s loose, energetic illustrations underscore the meanings of each term and, during a run-in with a hungry snake, help demonstrate that Marta is—among other things—“ingeniosa. Clever, very clever.” Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Jill Corcoran, Jill Corcoran Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Shapes, Reshape!

Silvia Borando. Candlewick, $14 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9039-7

Stacks of brightly colored rectangles reorganize themselves into animals in a playful primer that counts down from 10 to one. “These shapes reshape into jumpy things! What could they be?” asks Borando opposite a heap of green rectangles, which are accompanied by a few skinny red ones. A page turn reveals “9 frogs, slimy and slurping,” the red blocks transformed into the amphibians’ long, pointy tongues. Other animals include four boxy lions, roaring as they leap, and a giant dragon that gets scared off by a tiny spider in a goofy coda. It’s an entertaining guessing game that could easily lead into art projects in classrooms, libraries, and homes. Available simultaneously: Shapes at Play. Ages 2–5. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/22/2016 | Details & Permalink

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