Books I’m Enjoying: October

One year for my birthday, my dad picked out The Reptile Room for my birthday. He was unfortunately led astray by a book seller and got me the second book of A Series of Unfortunate Events instead of the first, but I read it anyway. And then I read the third and the fourth and eventually went back for the first.

I was too hooked to stop.

Mary Woodrose’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place captivated me the same way Lemony Snicket and the same way Charlotte Bronte still does.

1 2 3 4

Book One: The Mysterious Howling
Book Two: The Hidden Gallery
Book Three: The Unseen Guest
Book Four: The Interrupted Tale

This series has a lot going on. Satirical look at gothic literature. Vocabulary lessons. Adorable children raised by wolves. New mysteries at virtually every turn. I devoured them (metaphorically, not literally, like The Incorrigibles might) and I am eagerly anticipating the release of book five. For kids who love Lemony Snicket, Mary Woodrose is a natural next read. For ambitious kids alreading into the classics? They’ll enjoy these too- part of the fun for me is seeing all the comparisons with Jane Eyre. If you enjoy a good mystery and creative wordplay, add this to your must-read list!


Flannel Friday: Little Mouse

This is my buddy Little Mouse.


His hobbies include eating fine cheeses, scurrying behind furniture, and getting lost in various felt boards.

I imagine a lot of us have Little Mouses. He’s usually behind a series of different colored houses, which is swell, because it’s so easy to rhyme! What else can you hide him behind? A blue louse? A green grouse?

No, thanks.

The kids in my outreaches LOVE this game, so I like to mix it up for them. As you may have guess, this month I’m doing fall leaves!

DSCN2751I like to tell a little story: Little Mouse loves fall! When all the leaves fall from the trees, he likes to jump into leaf piles. He’s so small, that sometimes he gets stuck behind a big, heavy leaf. Can we help him get out? Then we ask: Little Mouse, Little Mouse, are you stuck behind the (color) leaf?

The story gives good opportunity to talk (What happens to leaves in the fall? What colors do they turn?) and, with small groups, it’s a good participatory game. They can take turns pulling down a leaf (or a house, or a cupcake, or whatever) or hiding him. This game can also be made easier (letting his head stick out) for the quite small or harder (hide him completely or all but the tip of his tail) for the not-so-small. It’s a winner!


Flannel Friday: Caps for Sale

I actually finished this flannel board a while ago, but I wanted to wait to post it until I remembered to bring in a camera to take pictures. My phone isn’t cutting it these days. So a whole month later… I’m finally ready to share Caps for Sale!

I like when people show the finished product at the beginning.

In August (yep… August), a co-worker asked if I would be interested in creating a felt board of the story “Caps for Sale.” He saw one on Etsy he liked, but thought if I could do it and would enjoy it, maybe I could give it a shot. I saw the one on Etsy and it was an… ambitious project… But I took it on.

(At this point, you should feel free to scroll to the bottom for the rest of the finished shoots.)

I scanned pictures from the book to use as guides. I did initially try to use the tree in the book but…

…I don’t hate myself. Can you imagine cutting this out of felt?

…I ended up finding a fall coloring page that I could add some roots too and actually cut out and use.

Things started out rough. I wasn’t sure of the scale, so everything was TOO SMALL at first.

pen for scale
On the right, what I tried to do. On the left, what I ended up with.

The next problem: Even after scaling up, the monkeys in the book were just too flimsy to cut out. Their poor little tails kept ripping off! Ingenious solution: I traced around them with a permanent marker. I could have made them bigger, but their tales still would have been too thin. I also retraced the legs of some of them to make them easier to cut.

treed monkeys
Monkey adjustments. I invented a whole new tail for the monkey in the top left.

Once the monkeys were in order (this was by far the hardest thing to figure out), everything else fell into place. I made the peddler by cutting his shape out of black felt and then “building” the pieces on top of that- so yes, there’s a double layer of black felt for his coat. I used different shades! Not that you can tell. But I did. His buttons and the other details are all puffy paint, except for his hair, which is permanent marker.

So I present all of the finished pieces of Caps for Sale!

I made just three poses: Sleeping, standing, and angry.
The tree! The monkeys are glued to the tree because I don’t like to have too many loose pieces to mess with.
And the hats. The hats are just ovals glued onto a wibbly bit of black felt.

And that’s it: a tree with monkeys, three peddlers, and four sets of hats. It was certainly a labor of love, but it’s my favorite felt board to date!