Monday, May 9, 2011

A Post About a Different Kind of Yarn. (The Story Kind.)

I've been meaning to write this post for ages.  I get kind of intimidated blogging about books, for some reason.  So let's see if I can combine "blogging about books" with "blogging about crafts" and un-intimidate myself a little.

Back in 2007 (I know because the date is printed out on the bottom of the page...), spurred on by a Swap-Bot swap, I printed out some directions from this tutorial and made some tiny little handbound books.  It immediately felt like magic to me.  As someone who's loved books for as long as they can remember, actually making one---a real (-ish) one! with actual sewn binding!---was an amazing feeling.

I've always been a reader, and even as an adult I'm still crazy about books for non-adults.  I'd been reading mostly young adult books for a long time, but last summer I delved back into the younger-readers world by randomly picking up Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan, and I was shocked by how honest it was, how amazing and relatable and difficult to read in places as it dealt with the rollercoaster emotions of childhood. 

I'd forgotten, I think, about that level of honesty in children's literature, and how well it works when the author is talented, the way a kids' book can remind me of how universal some emotions are---the pleasant ones and the less pleasant ones---and how they are and aren't different as a child or an adult. 

Here's something I said about the book just after I read it:
it captured the emotions of childhood and all their harshness and volatility so well that it was painful, just remembering that---how big everything seemed, how much it hurt, how easy it was to feel alone and misunderstood and become slavishly devoted to my own misery just to spite everything. and I think we like to forget that kids (not just teenagers, but kids) feel that way, so although my feelings about the book were mixed, I really appreciated that Ms. Hannigan went there and wrote honestly.
And I find myself want to keep talking about this stuff, to suss it out for myself and also share the love and wonder of these books, so this is me trying to learn to do that and be okay with putting it out in the world, I guess.

Since I've been rediscovering my love (oh, Ramona Quimby books, you will be good forever) and discovering new favourites in the kidlit world, I joined a children's books-themed group on Swap-Bot, and a swap that entailed creating a "found poem" from a kids' book and making your partner a gift based on the same book.

I compiled my poem from the amazing Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron (which is a sequel to the also-amazing The Higher Power of Lucky, and a third book is being released in August, yay!), another book with a lot of moments that were wince-inducing for me in how spot-on and unflattering they were about the nature of meanness and jealousy---but those moments are balanced out with sweetness; sharp, smart, amazing humor; and a great, quirky setting and cast of characters. 

The actual found poem I assembled is viewable over here, if you like that kind of thing, and the image above is a scan I did of the collage book cover before it got bound into the blank journal I sent my swap partner.  I need to do more papercrafting, but my workspace (read as: roughly a square foot of my dining room table) is unworkably crowded with other stuff right now.

This is a good thing about both reading and crocheting, as hobbies go---you don't need table space to do either!  I mostly read and crochet nestled into my bed, which is not the ideal place for collaging or, say, needle-felting.


  1. making a book seems like magic to me as well and i still haven't taken on the task. have you made many more since? xo

  2. That's awesome, Kathleen! Hee hee, needle-felting in bed.

    Nothing moves me as much as children's and YA literature. It's the most emotionally true stuff out there...when it's good, anyway!

  3. I have a true love of words. Reading never gets old. It takes you anywhere in the world you could possibly dream of.