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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Toys, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 317
1. Toys that poo will never lose their appeal


For those longing for the days of Barbie’s crapping toy dog Tanner, we have very good news: there is a new generation of toy animals that take little toy dumps on command. Although this being 2014, the girls who own the pets are fashionable “Moxie Girls” and the lovable pets with “the silly poo” are a bunny a koala and a unicorn. It turns out unicorn poo looks a lot like a small plastic ball, which is a huge relief for all. Turns out the main varieties of toy turds are glitter, rainbows and jewels.

These toys have been around for a while, but it reminds me that I should have investigated this phenomenon at Toy Fair more thoroughly. Dolls that wee and poo never really go out of style for children of any age who like to laugh.

1 Comments on Toys that poo will never lose their appeal, last added: 3/20/2014
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2. This is How You Review A Doll From Disney’s “Frozen”

I’m not sure that this review convinced me that I need to buy an Elsa doll from Disney’s Frozen, but I give credit to reviewer Chad Alan for proving that doll critiques can be entertainig.

(via @HeyBruceWright)

0 Comments on This is How You Review A Doll From Disney’s “Frozen” as of 9/18/2013 1:56:00 AM
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3. The Cardboard Factory

Cardboard Crafts

I’m not exactly sure where it started (maybe with the rocket? maybe with this book?), but over the course of the summer, our dining room became piled high with cardboard creations.

I thought I’d share a few, in case they might inspire you or your kids. The center photo is the first guitar my son made. The others, clockwise from the top: a rocket, guitar  #2 and drum, shadow puppets, tube puppets, shadow puppet theater, and sword.

Summer’s over, and the factory had to be cleaned up, but we make sure to have a small cardboard stash at all times for building material. For more kid’s crafts, click here.

2 Comments on The Cardboard Factory, last added: 9/13/2013
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4. Kickwatcher: The Scary Godmother Doll by Jill Thompson

Okay this is one project that really truly deserves all your support! IT’s The Scary Godmother Doll designed by creator Jill Thompson. As you can see from the pictures the detail and appearance is amazing. And for $5 you get A BRAND NEW JUST FOR THIS KICKSTARTER SCARY GODMOTHER COMIC.

A brand new, 10 page, painted Scary Godmother story created specifically for this Kickstarter. Follow the Scary Godmother and her Monster pals as they make their way to the Spectral Six Convention! The first new story in quite a long while! Plus cool pinups by some of comicdoms most excellent artists! Like Jaime Hernandez, for example!! Available to you as a digital PDF! (Wanna be IN this comic? Check out the I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP incentive below!)

The project has raised some money but has a bit to go, so if you want to see one of indie comics most distinctive characters get a fantastic doll, go check out all the incentives.



1 Comments on Kickwatcher: The Scary Godmother Doll by Jill Thompson, last added: 9/6/2013
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5. Chris Sanders Answers Your Mermaid Prayers

Having trouble finding that very special mermaid statuette?

Well, Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, The Croods) can commiserate. “I’ve always kept an eye out for a mermaid sculpture that I really like. There’s a lot of them out there, but I could never find ‘the one.’ They were either too serious, too stiff, or just not very cute.”

But unlike you, Sanders has decided to do something about it. “I’m pleased to announce the arrival of Nimue, the mermaid sculpture I’ve always wanted.”

The first collaboration between Sanders and sculptor Anders Ehrenborg, Nimue (pronounced “Nim-way”) is “the right combination of fluid, cute and sexy” and presented in Sanders’ distinctive signature style. She is resin casted, stands 7.25 inches high and is being offered in two styles; blonde hair with a blue tail or green and green – a topless version of each color scheme is also available in limited quantities.

“How many sailors would have given their last weevily biscuit to capture such a creature in their sea-chests?” Sanders muses.

Fortunately, you won’t have to make such a sacrifice; online preorders have begun and all four prototypes will be on view at San Diego Comic-Con this week at booth #5532, between the convention hall entrances from Lobby B2 and Lobby C.

0 Comments on Chris Sanders Answers Your Mermaid Prayers as of 7/16/2013 2:02:00 PM
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6. DreamWorks Buys Trolls from Dam Things

Ogres are so yesterday. DreamWorks Animation just announced that they have acquired the IP for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things of Denmark. DreamWorks now becomes the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights for the humorously-deformed Don King-hairstyled Troll Dolls, with the sole exception of Scandanavia where Dam Things will remain the licensor. The studio had previously announced that they were developing a Trolls feature.

DreamWorks also announced that they have tapped American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis to lead the Trolls brand development. “Trolls is a brand with over fifty years of deep heritage and we are thrilled to bring this iconic, multi-generational property to DreamWorks Animation,” said Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly. “We have big plans for this franchise and Shawn Dennis is uniquely suited to lead this charge. She helped grow the American Girl brand into a household name and by bringing this expertise to Trolls she will introduce these characters to legions of new fans around the world.”

Dennis joins DreamWorks from American Girl, where she was Senior Vice-President of Marketing (Product Development and Publishing). Prior to that, she was group head of global branding at Dell, and Chief Marketing Officer and Vice-President of the NFL.

Calle Ostergaard, CEO of Dam Things, said, “DreamWorks Animation is renowned for telling wonderful stories about imaginative worlds while bringing characters with universal appeal into the hearts and homes of families everywhere – I can think of no better future for Trolls. We are confident that the time-honored legend of the Trolls, which holds such special significance to the Dam family and the people of Scandanavia, will now live on in new and exciting ways with DreamWorks Animation.”

0 Comments on DreamWorks Buys Trolls from Dam Things as of 4/11/2013 6:28:00 PM
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7. Bear With Me

PSbearPeepsqueak LOVES BEARS!  …. and so do I!! I LOVE toys!  I love weird toys, stuff animals, special teddy bears, and more. Having three grandsons gives me a great excuse to buy MORE toys!  I took a trip to the thrift store just this week to look for action figures!  I ran them through the dishwasher and stowed in my big toy trunk.  Three more trucks are sitting near the book-case in the “YaYa” room.  Its great fun!  On Tuesday I played “Superhero”!  My youngest grandson loves the stuffies!  Including my own little Peeksqueak plush by Merry Makers.  If you want to order one, you can go to the website, or call them.

retail orders online at http://www.merrymakersinc.com and retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com

They are a great toy company.  I want ALL THEIR TOYS!  ha ha!

You can also find Peepsqueak on his Facebook page.  I am going to have another book Give-A-Way as soon as the new toy gets here!  Peepsqueak and I are so excited!  I may also put it on this Word Press site so stay posted!


Filed under: Just for fun, Kicking Around Thoughts, Peepsqueak!, Surprises

1 Comments on Bear With Me, last added: 3/30/2013
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8. He’s Here!

Peepsqueak For Everyone!

Place your order online or by calling retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com.

Filed under: Just for fun, My Characters, Peepsqueak!

1 Comments on He’s Here!, last added: 3/13/2013
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9. Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

One of the ways many people stumbled onto their first comic was through the promotional comics that used to come bundled in with action figures. You know the ones – you buy a He-Man figure, and in the box comes a comic which shows him in action, fighting against all the other characters who coincidentally also have action figures available too.

Well, if you do remember those comics, then here’s a kickstarter for youMichael Moreci, Steve Seeley, and Tim Seeley’s MINI COMICS INCLUDED.

Mini Comics Included will be a set of six mini-comics, which replicate the sort of comics which used to come packaged in with action figures and board games. Each drawn by a different artist, with Moreci and the Seeleys writing all six issues. And if you pledge towards the project, you can get your hands not just on the comics – but also on action figures which have been custom made to go along with the comics.

I spoke to Michael Moreci about the project, and how it came into existence.

mci2 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve:  Mini Comics Included are based on the comics that used to be enclosed in the box whenever you bought toys like He-Man action figures, or Transformers. What are your memories from those mini-comics?

Michael: I have such amazing memories of Christmas morning, unwrapping presents with my older brother and revealing glorious He-Man action figures. We were into other stuff as well—I was especially a fan of the Super Powers figures—but He-Man was the alpha and omega of my childhood. Rick, my brother, and I would play with these figures all day long, making up stories, designing our own cartoon ideas, and acting them out. We’d cut up comics and paste new panels together that made little sense, but the stories were ours.

As a matter of fact, I really think that’s the beginnings of my love of storytelling in general, the ability—and encouragement from my parents—to make stuff up on my own. To wonder, to imagine. I read so many comics—mainly the minis that accompanied He-Man figures—and watched so many cartoons that the structure of stories got ingrained in me at a young age.

Specifically, with the comics, I was always hooked by the curiosity “what’s next?!” factor. Because, let’s face it, a lot of those comics were simply rad catalogues. Their whole purpose was to show off the next villain or weapon or whatever. Like, He-Man would suddenly bust out this underwater gear and, as an adult I’m like “where the hell did that come from? Dude’s  wearing a loincloth and nothing else…” But as a kid, my mind was immediately set to “must have!” mode. Luckily, my mom worked at a toy store, so I had a hook up.

The comics were cool because, yeah, they were sometimes promo pieces, but they were also simple stories. They were just cool stories that enhanced the experience of being a He-Man fan, or a comic fan.

Steve: Why recreate that style of comic, in particular?

Michael: A lot of the discussions the three of us have regarding comics—and a lot of people have about comics—is the lack of fun, just pure, raw, fun. Guys like Kirby, Mantlo, Toth, you name it, were all exceedingly enthusiastic and had these wild imaginations. And that doesn’t exist all that much anymore. We’re too serious of an industry, like we won’t be regarded enough if we allowed our work to do all those wonderful things comics are capable of doing.

Getting back on point – Steve, Tim , and I have all had this itch to do something that harkens back to this particular comic/cartoon/toy era that we love so much and influenced us so heavily. And we wanted to do it right—nothing watered down, nothing compromised. We want to take readers back to a time when comics were something to enjoy, pure and simple. You read them because you were like “oh my God, who is this new character?! Is he good? Bad? What does this mean?!” But, again, so much of comics, right now, is set in its ways. Stories have to be told in a certain way, for a certain audience, in a certain format. We’re breaking all those rules because, one, we want to do something fun and original and totally unique; and two, we absolutely know people want this. These are the comics we love, but they’re also the comics people want.

Steve: You’ve worked with Steve Seeley frequently, with the current Hoax Hunters series at Image being one of the most high profile works. How did you all come together on this project in particular, and realise it was something you wanted to try and make a reality?

Michael: Steve and I, and Tim, share a similar affinity for this era of nerd culture, that late 70s early 80s cartoon, comic, toy, etc.  I mean, we’re three 30s-ish geeks, how could we not?

It’s not just that, though. We’re also creators who like to think outside the box, creatively and professionally. And doing a Kickstarter has been on our minds for awhile, but we wanted to do it right. Meaning, we wanted their to be a reason we were doing a Kickstarter, not just some cash grab to make good on our names. That’s lame.

So, one night we were drinking—as we are wont to do—and kicking around ideas. We had something there, like we were scratching the surface. We knew we wanted it to be inspired by those comics and toys we loved, but that wasn’t quite enough. It still didn’t have that “okay, but why?” factor. And Tim hit it: Mini comics. Everything took off from there, making them a certain size, getting the toy designers on board, even the weird incentives. Because, truly, this isn’t something we could do anywhere else. Not like this. That’s is what makes it a perfect project for Kickstarter—we’re not just giving away art or head sketches or whatever. We’re all in on this the mini comics theme, and the drive is a ton of fun because of that.

Steve: How has the process of working with the Seeleys been? Both on Hoax Hunters, and now with Mini Comics Included.

Michael: Tim and Steve are like brothers to me. We work really well together because we share both common interests and common values. We’re workers, we’re that prototypical Midwestern no-frills get-the-job-done type professionals. We love what we do, but the cornerstone of how we operate is grounded in dedication to the work.

Yet, as similar as we are, we’re also very different. We each bring something different to the table and, out of that, we refine the best possible product. That’s how Hoax Hunters is—Steve and I often have different sensibilities and have to find a middle ground; the process of doing so makes us really understand where we’re coming from on a story level, and the book is better for it.

mci3 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve: So, to the comics in particular – how did you decide which characters to use for these stories? Did you have some of the characters in mind already, or did you create them just for this project?

Michael: For the most part, yes. These were kind of pet projects that we knew, to some degree, would not thrive in the Direct Market system. This was an opportunity for us to cast off those shackles and say, “okay, we’re doing these stories right here, right now.” Steve and I have been chipping away at Prime-8s, and we had done an Omega Family short for Double Feature Comics awhile back. Tim had done a Colt Noble one-shot with Image awhile ago as well. His other two ideas are just exercises in weird and crazy stuff that Tim digs. So, beware.

The main requirement, though, was to align the stories with the spirit of the project. This isn’t one big excuse for a vanity press—some stories didn’t make the cut. We were looking for a specific type of playfulness. For instance, Literary Commandos is a G.I. Joe riff; Prime-8s is kind of He-Man meets Ninja Turtles; Colt Noble has He-Man written all over it. The feel of the book matters. Without that, it doesn’t matter what size it is or what toy you may have purchased; the story, and art, has to function. Speaking of, the artists on these titles are incredible. Paul Tucker, Brent Schoonover, Sean Dove, Clint Hiliniski are all absolutely killing on these books, and we selected them because they’re such perfect, perfect fits.

Steve: How long are each of the issues?

Michael: Sixteen total pages for each comic.

Steve: Are there any characters you’re particularly fond of? I couldn’t help but notice there is a frog cyborg, and I immediately need to know everything about this character, please.

Michael: Ha, well, that’s actually a frog totoro, though easily mistaken as a cyborg. He’s the leader of the hyper-evolutionaries who make havoc for the Omegas. That’s all Paul Tucker—his design sensibility and playfulness are out of this world. Watch that name, he’s going places.

Hmmm… favorites. Well, Dracula Man (from Superbeasts) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. I love the Prime-8s villains, Dogtastrophe (you know, a play CATastrphe, get it?) and the K-G-Bee. And what’s not to love about a four-armed gorilla named Fourilla? There’s Marksman Twain, that’s a good one. Kikintha Balls…oh, and Daxxis from Omega Family. Love that Woolly Mammoth…thing.

Steve: BUT! Has it been difficult to create characters who can match up to the might of The Street Sharks?

Michael: Where would democracy be without them? And Battletoads?

In terms of raw power, I’d need to wrap up Travis Bickle with Driver with a mutated dinosaur to enter the arena. Those were some badass sharks.

mci1 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve: How tongue in cheek will the comics be? Looking back now, we’re aware that the comics were a way to try and sell more toys to kids – are you going to play with that, at all, or are you playing things straight? Is it tempting to try a more satirical approach with the stories, and wink at the readers?

Michael: We sort of play with the stories. As mentioned above, we’re totally aware that these comics were often promo pieces, and that’s that. But one thing we absolutely did not want to do was get ironic with this. Nobody enjoys nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. So we had to walk a fine of embracing the  idea too much and making it a sell aware wink at the tradition. I think the balance we have is a good one. We embrace it and honor what we’re working with, but make it our own as well, in a very loving way. Again, we want to recapture that feel of the time, and the best way to do so, we think, is to make it somewhat contemporary but retain the best sensibilities

Steve: How do you see the project moving on, if this Kickstarter is successful? Could we see a second wave in the future?

Michael: Oh boy…that’s like asking a woman who’s crowning if she’s thinking of having another kid. Okay, maybe not QUITE like that, but I’ve already had nightmares about the launch, and I’m writing this before actually doing so. I’m so thrilled about the project, but it’s also going to be a massive undertaking, from start to finish. I would love to do six more titles and make this a thing, and I think Steve and Tim would also. Right now, I’d say I’m hopeful. After all, we still haven’t told the story of the Blasteroids!

Many thanks to Michael for his time. So, one last mention – you can find Mini Comics Included on Kickstarter here. You can also find Michael on Twitter here!

0 Comments on Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED as of 3/5/2013 7:34:00 PM
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10. I LOVE TOYS!!!


For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED toys!  To have a toy made from one of my cartoons is my dream come true!  It will help the world see my character the way I see him.  REAL!!  ha ha!  This series of plush Peepsqueaks in the pictures above, were the first proto-types that came to my home. Merry Makers is the toy company we worked with.  It was so fun to see my little Peepsqueak transform from page to puff!  He is such a cute little plush!!  Merry Makers did such a good job!  You can buy Peepsqueak now if you go to their website. They welcome retail orders online at http://www.merrymakersinc.com and retail and/or wholesale orders at 888-989-0454 or via email at merrymakers@merrymakersinc.com.

Below is the final Peepsqueak. I just love him!  Isn’t he cute!!! I brought him to a preschool yesterday and the children loved him and all wanted to pet him…. so they did!!!!

So order your Peepsqueak now!  He is waiting to live in your home!!!  Don’t forget, the books, “Peepsqueak”,  and “Peepsqueak Wants A Friend” are at your bookstore waiting for you too.  They would all make great gifts for the kiddies on Easter.


Filed under: My Characters, Peepsqueak!

2 Comments on I LOVE TOYS!!!, last added: 2/23/2013
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11. Wooden Toys

Wooden toy animals + their rides

4 Comments on Wooden Toys, last added: 2/28/2013
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12. Resurgent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES among Toy of the Year winners

While we sort through our 600+ photos from Toy Fair, here's the Toy of the Year winners, which includes both Lego's girl-centric Friends line and Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, which we saw previewed yesterday. It's huge and no doubt the Turtles are back— although now owned by Nickelodeon and not creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Still, it's a property that has stood the test of time to become a true perennial for kids — if Michael Bay's live-action version doesn't somehow kill it again, that is.

1 Comments on Resurgent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES among Toy of the Year winners, last added: 2/11/2013
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13. First Look Toy Fair 2013: My LIttle Pony, Star Wars Black, One Direction, Iron Man, etc

We'll have captions in a bit but here's a look at the Hasbro showroom some new stuff and classics and the biggest Transformer ever!

0 Comments on First Look Toy Fair 2013: My LIttle Pony, Star Wars Black, One Direction, Iron Man, etc as of 2/9/2013 7:54:00 PM
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14. One way to launch a library! (or 4 ways to celebrate World Book Day)

If you were invited to design a school library launch, how would you go about it? What events would you want to facilitate? Who would you want to involve?

These questions have been very much on my mind since the start of the year, for designing and delivering a school library launch is exactly what I have been asked to do by a local infant school. Can you imagine how excited I feel?

It’s an honour to be asked and trusted by the school to design a whole day of activities and I’ve loved every minute of it so far. Library Launch day is February 12th and now we’re counting down the days…

With apologies to NASA, whose original image I've modified.

With apologies to NASA, whose original image I’ve modified.

Having got to the stage where I’ve everything prepped and in place, I wanted to share my plans and resources with you as many of them are easily replicable in families, in classrooms, in clubs, anywhere would you might like to help young children and their families get excited about books. And with World Book Day coming up next month, you could take any of these ideas and use them to celebrate perhaps my favourite day of the year :-)

Today I’ll share the activities the 3-5 year olds will be getting up to, and next week I’ll share the session plans for Year 1 (5-6 year olds) and Year 2 (6-7 year olds), although I believe many of the activities could be adapted to work with children of any age.

ottoWe were keen to get as many children into the new library during the day as possible so each class of 3-5 year olds will spend one session going on a treasure hunt for book characters in the library. The basis of this session with be Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear, in which a bear in a book steps off the pages and into real life. Having read the book, kids (in pairs) will be given a treasure card to identify which books and book characters they need to find in the library.

Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library

Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library

No doubt 30 kids hunting 30 soft toys is going to be quite chaotic! Once all the characters are found, the session will finish with a reading of one of the books found by the kids during the session.

A couple of trips to charity shops resulted in a good number of soft toys that either were actual book characters (for example I found Paddington Bear, Pooh, and Poppy Cat without even really looking), then I raided my kids’ soft toys and chose ones which matched (near enough) great books. So, for example, I am borrowing a soft toy squirrel and teaming it up with A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld.

I supplemented these with a few extra official character soft toys (who wouldn’t love the excuse to get a Mog cat or Tiger who came tea toy?). Castlemere Books, based in the US, is the most comprehensive site I found for official book character soft toys, though I didn’t end up using them because of shipping costs to the UK.

Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!

Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!

On returning to their classrooms the kids will paint/colour their own bookshelves and Otto the bear. You can download the shelves here and the bear here.


lululovesstoriesThe second session will be based around Lulu loves Stories by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw (follow the link to read it for free online). This is a gentle story about a child who is taken to the library every Saturday by her father. Each book they read together inspires different sorts of play, from being on a farm (having read about Old Macdonald) to making a pretend aeroplane (having read a story about going on an adventure).

Each table in the classroom will be set up with a different activity taken from Lulu Loves Stories: there will be one with princess dressing up, one with farm animals and one with construction toys. A fourth table will be set up for each child to create their own library to take home, by selecting and gluing lots of images of children’s book covers onto these shelves.


I’ve spent a fair few evenings cutting up old publishers’ catalogues to create enough “library stock”, but other than time in preparation, this activity has been very cheap to prepare with many publishers willing to send catalogues upon request. (If you were working with older kids you could simply give them the catalogues and ask them to do some fantasy shopping – seeing what books they themselves would chose for their library would no doubt be very informative.)

On a fifth table children will be able to cut out Lulu bookplates. These are available as part of an activity guide on the US publisher’s website. Don’t be confused by the name change – Lulu (in the UK) becomes known as Lola (in the US), but this doesn’t affect the bookplates.

This session will be rounded off by reading Lulu reads to Zeki also by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw, which is a simply delightful (and funny) window into a later stage in Lulu’s life;she now has a younger brother, and is passing on the love of books her father instilled in her to little Zeki, reading to him whenever possible.

mylittlestorybookThe third session for the 3-5 year olds will open with a reading of I Love My Little Story Book by Anita Jeram, which is all about the delights you can find inside different books, and the various places they can transport you to.

Each child will have the opportunity to make their own bunny which comes with a hidden story book of its own. It’s a simple collage activity to make the bunny out of an envelope, a pompom, some dried spaghetti, googly eyes and cardboard ears, all stuck on to an envelope, inside which each child will find a blank mini book (blue to match the one in the story). Kids will be encouraged to make the story book their own with whatever mark-making they like.


bunnysbookThe mini books are each made from a sheet of A4 paper, using this technique, my favourite way of making small paper books as it requires no sticking or stapling.

As well as there being tables set up with fairy tale activities (castles and knights to play with, dressing up, plastic animals in a forest play scene) kids will also be able to colour in and cut out several book plates designed by Anita Jeram.

These are all available to freely download (as long as you’re not using them for commercial purposes) from this brilliant website, http://www.myhomelibrary.org/, created by former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine.

If time allows a reading of I like books by Anthony Browne will finish off this session. This is a very simple introduction to different types of books with just one sentence on each page. It’s a great reminder that there are all different sorts of books you can enjoy reading, not just story books.

charlie-cook-s-favourite-bookThe fourth session of the day will be based around an all time classic, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Once the story has been shared, each child will be given their own cardboard treasure chest to embellish with sticky jewels. I sourced some great treasure chests (from http://www.littlecraftybugs.co.uk/) so large that kids will be able to store favourite books inside them.


Elsewhere in the classroom during this session kids will have the opportunity to dig for buried treasure in a sandpit, make aliens out of green playdough, and play with plastic dragons, as well as the chance to colour in this Charlie Cook sheet which you can download from the official Gruffalo website, or to draw their favourite book on this Charlie Cook activity sheet from the US Scholastic website.

This session will be wrapped up with a reading of We are in a book by Mo Willems – a perfect book for this age range where the oldest kids may well be able to join in with reading this funny story about what characters in a book think about their readers.

And as well as all of this, all classes will have a session with the award winning author who is coming to join the school for the day… but more about this in a later post!


3 Comments on One way to launch a library! (or 4 ways to celebrate World Book Day), last added: 2/1/2013
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15. Itty Bitty Stick People and Furniture


I scooped up these beauties at the last Waldorf craft basar we attended in Germany. I got them as much for myself as for the kids.

Carved Doll Stove

Don’t the stove and tiny pot, just like, kill you? I realize it’s hard to tell the scale here, but the pot has about the same circumference as an acorn top. I’m powerless before this kind of stuff. Makes me want to take up whittling, because, you know, I totally need another creative hobby.

Hand Carved Toys

Acorn dishes!

DSC_1030A teensy Fair Isle cape!

I think one of the things I like best about these is the bark. For some reason it never occurs to me to make things out of actual sticks from trees.

Hope you had a good weekend. I’m pressing forward on my novel revisions, though I had a reminder this morning of just how slow I am when I looked at where I was last year this same week. Yipes!

Are you in a reflective mood about what you’ve done over the past year? Celebrating goals met? Making new ones?

2 Comments on Itty Bitty Stick People and Furniture, last added: 1/15/2013
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16. Must See: The 1992 X-Men Cartoon Intro in stop motion

Wow, come crazy nutters spent four months and 4000 photos to make this action figure stop motion recreation of the 1992 X-men cartoon’s opening. That bit where Logan morphs in Wolverine– TOTALLY BOSS. It’s the work of Kyle Roberts and Nathan Poppe, who have made several other stop motion intro sequences which you can see by following their YouTube link.

Random thought: If there had been no X-Men cartoon would there even be superhero comics now?
X MenStopMotion 11 Must See: The 1992 X Men Cartoon Intro in stop motion

2 Comments on Must See: The 1992 X-Men Cartoon Intro in stop motion, last added: 12/19/2012
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17. Last minute shopping advice: Hazarai!

Here’s a new social media.commerce site that has an interface geared at people who collect: Hazarai!. Let’s call it Etsy meets eBay for nerds—you can list stuff you want to sell with no fees. They also have a blog with such useful content as a holiday gift guide, a good interview with David Lloyd about Aces Weekly and a post where folks from Jeffrey Brown to Paul Pope talk about their most treasured collectibles.

Here’s an excerpt from the Lloyd interview:

DL:  I just asked.  One of the reasons why I’ve managed to get these guys and girls on board is that I said to them “You can do 21 pages of whatever you like.”  I say that because I know that’s one of the things that attracts people.  Creators rarely get asked that, they get asked by publishers “Oh, can you do Green Lantern, can you do this, we’d like you to do a new version of this” but they rarely get asked to do anything they like.  So that attracted people in a major way.  But I can’t honestly give you any other clues as to why people came on board with this other than they liked the idea, they liked the concept. We all express ourselves best when we have no limits to what we want to express.  It’s just beautiful, beautiful stuff.

If you’re looking to buy something geeky, poking around the main Hazerai! site should find something for the nerd on your list. Like who wouldn’t want earrings in the shape of Link’s fireshield from LEGEND OF ZELDA? No brainer!

201212190343 Last minute shopping advice: Hazarai!

2 Comments on Last minute shopping advice: Hazarai!, last added: 12/20/2012
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18. Wizarding World's New Merchandise

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has a new selection of robes and stuffed animals in Hogsmeade stores. Voldemort, Snape, and Dumbledore robes are now available, as well as Hermione's Yule Ball gown. New stuffed animals include Baby Norbert and a selection of owls.

Dumbledore's robes

Snape's robes

Voldemort's robes

Hermione's Yule Ball gown



Thank you to Daily Quibbler for the heads up!

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19. Toys in space [said like the Muppets' "Pigs... in... spaaaaace"]

Toys in Space by Mini Grey is our kind of book, all about stories providing comfort, where what is a ‘story’ and what is ‘real life’ become beautifully blurred.

It starts with an observation about family life which is tiny but which resonates loudly with us; it being summer holidays here and lots of time spent out in the garden, on more than one occasion it has happened that some of the kids’ toys have been left outside over night.

So a great start – we open Mini‘s latest book and the girls already think it is about our home (or so easily could be). Then a tiny bit an anxiety is introduced; the toys are a little scared by the night and what it might bring. Anxiety is ratcheted up to another level of worry when the toys are beamed aboard an alien space ship…

This worry is transformed into sympathetic concern when the toys discover the alien is only looking for his very own very toy which he has lost. Will the toys be able to help the alien? Will he be reunited with his own Cuddles? And will the toys make it back to their own garden?

Without giving away the details, the emotional arc we went through, which started with “delightful recognition >> anxiety >> worry” then continued “hope >> happiness >> relief >> great satisfaction (with a giggle)”. A perfect journey for a picture book!

As well as the thrilling emotional ride this book takes you on (with just the right amount of nerves for young children), this book scores highly for its adorable cast of characters. Having fallen in love with Traction Man and Scrubbing Brush, I did wonder if any new characters from Mini Grey could find a similar place in our hearts, but the crowd here are great and surely offer wonderful opportunities for more stories in the future featuring the same cast (What do you say, Mini?).

The visual narrative in the book is perhaps more complex than many picture books you’ll find on the bestsellers’ list, with a Jack Bauer / 24 style split screen take on events running concurrently. I like the richness this brings, and although my kids had absolutely no problems understanding how events are unfolding I wonder if some parents who are not confident readers might be put off by this.

I hope not, because Toys in Space is an exciting and heart warming story about losing (and finding) your favourite toy and is bound to delight children far and wide.

Hoctopize – the alien in search of his lost Cuddles

My girls were very keen to act out Toys in Space as soon as we’d read it for the first time. We gathered their favourite toys together, but didn’t have a suitable alie

4 Comments on Toys in space [said like the Muppets' "Pigs... in... spaaaaace"], last added: 8/20/2012
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20. Encyclopaedia Britannica Lion Plush Set

The art on this one was my favorite. I also did the interior art for the chimp and elephant sets.

I am not sure where you can order this. The others are still available on the Encyclopaedia Britannica web site, but the lion is not. The toy site is here: http://www.teknektoys.com/OurToys/EncyclopediaBritannica/Lion.aspx

I got mine from the Amazon Marketplace but the shop I got it from no longer has it.

2 Comments on Encyclopaedia Britannica Lion Plush Set, last added: 9/19/2012
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Galt School Puzzle

I love old wooden puzzles especially the Galt ones. I was trying to stop buying them as I don't really have space to display them but my other half picked this one up at a charity shop yesterday-so that's ok! I love that it is such a  sensible subject and also the way the wood is used within the image. The houses in the background look very much like our home.

1 Comments on , last added: 10/14/2012
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22. BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman Book Review - Make Your own LEGO Bot Character

I've traipsed through many a wood and have collected my share of pinecones, but never, never on any of my adventures have I come across a friendly, mechanized, working robot.  I must be walking through the wrong kind of woods, because in Ame Dyckman's picture book world this scenario is entirely possible.

Simply and perfectly told with bold, eye-pleasing illustrations by robot-lover Dan Yaccarino, BOY + BOT is quite possibly the best robot picture book we've ever read (and believe me, we've read several).  The story-line goes like this: Boy walks through the woods.  Boy meets a big, red robot.  Boy and robot problem-solve. Robot and boy become BFF.  Now obviously there's more to it than that, like for instance both boy and bot have similar "misunderstood malfunctions" and need fixing, but to say any more would spoil the fun.  Read the robot parts aloud in your best robot voice. Remark on all the fun things the robot and boy do together like swimming, apple-picking and rock-skipping.  And remember, little boys do not need oiling, and never, ever feed your robot applesauce.

This book deservedly received starred review from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. Take our word for it (and theirs), if you have a young, robot-loving child, BOY + BOT is for them and worth purchasing.

Fun fact: If you look closely at the illustrations in BOY + BOT you'll discover one of Yaccarino's creative additions to the story -- a light-bulb shaped, one-eyed robot that Ame Dyckman calls "Watt."  Not surprisingly, illustrator Dan Yaccarino has a self-described "slight penchant for robots."  He is also the author/illustrator of another robot picture book, If I Had a Robot, a story about a boy who dreams about all the things he could or wouldn't have to do if he had a robot.  His robot illustrations have a retro, vintage look reminiscent of those tin wind-up robot toys from the past. 

Related links: 
Ame Dyckman - Author Website 
Dan Yaccarino - Illustrator Website
BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.  Alfred A. Knopf / Random House (April 2012); ISBN 9780375867569; 32 pages
Book Source: copy from our personal library

Sadly we have not discovered our own robot friend in the woods, so my son and I did the next best thing ... made our own robot out of LEGOs. Our LEGO collection is large and diverse enough to provide ample parts for robot building.   We have eyes, connecting parts to make arms that swing and plenty of multi-sized, red blocks.

My son insisted that our BOT robot have a power switch in the back. Pair the LEGO bot with a boy mini-figure and let the book play-acting begin!  

'"What's wrong?" the boy asked.  The robot did not answer. 
"Are you sick?" the boy asked.  The robot still did not answer.  
"I must help him," the boy said."'

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

4 Comments on BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman Book Review - Make Your own LEGO Bot Character, last added: 10/25/2012
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23. Love and a lost toy

Can you believe it’s the very last day of Picture Book Month 2012?

Holidays is the theme of the day, and in taking that to mean festive celebrations, I’ve chosen to wrap up a wonderful month with a gentle, charming, heart-melting story set at Christmas: Ernest & Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent, translated by Sam Alexander.

Celestine, a mouse, and Ernest, a bear, are perhaps an unlikely pair of friends. But good friends, thoughtful and kind friends is what they are. So when one wintry day out on a walk Celestine loses her favourite toy, Ernest is determined to make things better.

Ernest’s first attempt to make everything all right doesn’t work, but a second attempt puts a smile back on Celestine’s face. Then to spread the goodwill and to ensure that Ernest’s earlier attempts don’t go to waste, friends and neighbours are invited around to celebrate Christmas together.

It’s a terribly simple story, with the drama familiar from other tales (I first thought of that terrible moment in On the Banks of Plum Creek when Laura discovers her beloved Charlotte abandoned by Anna Nelson in a frozen puddle, and more recently there’s Mini Grey’s Lost in Space) but several aspects of this book make it stand out, head and shoulders above other similar books on offer this season.

Vincent’s illustrations
are graceful, full of poise and seemingly effortless. They are soothing and calm. They are what I imagine a lullaby might look like – and certainly this book would make perfect bed time reading. Ernest and Celestine are two characters it is very easy to fall in love with. Their expressions and body language are all about love and care, about that sort of connection you feel when all you want to do is scoop up your child and hug them tight.

The tender illustrations are given centre stage by the minimal text which accompanies them. This book is an example par excellence of where the relationship between image and word is full of breathing space, where scenes and phrases are left lingering in the air to savour. There’s no “He said,” or “She said,”, no “Then this happened,” or “that happened,” but rather the reader and listener need to take their time to sew the threads together, This slower pace adds to the calm, soothing feeling I’m sure will envelop all readers and listeners of this book.

A book full of reassurance, joy, and deep, profound love, sprinkled all over with a dusting of sparkling snow and a Christmas party to boot – I’m not sure there’s a better picture book to be found under your tree this year.

Ernest and Celestine was originally published in French in 1981 under the title Ernest et Célestine ont perdu Siméon. It was a great success, and more than 20 further Ernest and Celestine books were published. Some of these were translated into English in the 1980s by various publishers, but all are now out of print.

Catnip, the publishers of this Ernest and Celestine, will be bringing out The Picnic (Ernest et Célestine vont pique-niquer) in April next year, and plan to publish one to two Ernest and Celestine books a year if they take off in the way they deserve to.

Hopefully the new animated film based on the characters Ernest and Celestine, with a script written by Daniel Pennac, will boost the books’ popularity. You might like to watch a trailer for the film (although I don’t think the animation is as beautiful as the original illustrations):

A busy week means that we haven’t yet played out this book as per the kids’ request – the plan is to spend the weekend making a pram out of cardboard, plumbing pipes and a broom handle (sounds crazy, but the plan IS a good one!). Celestine has a lovely pram which she plays with and that’s what what we’re going to try to make together.

Instead, however, you could “play by the book” by:

  • Making a soft toy based on a drawing by a child – Celestine draws a picture of her lost toy for Ernest, which he then uses as the basis to sew a new one for Celestine. Child’s Own Studio are a business doing exactly this, but you could make a much simpler one like we did here.
  • Going for a stomp in the snow, perhaps taking The Snowy Day by Jack Ezra Keats along with you.
  • Making Duck toys – lots of duck toys peep out from behind boxes and furniture in the illustrations of this book, and this tutorial from About.com is pretty kid friendly.
  • Now one last thing before I wrap up for this month…

    If I could have chosen the theme for today, I would have simply chosen Celebration – because that’s what this month has been – one great big celebration of everything a picture book can be. Huge thanks go to Dianne de Las Casas for all her hard work and enthusiasm throughout the month, and for having the vision to create this month-long party. Well done Dianne! And here’s to Picture Book Month 2013!


    2 Comments on Love and a lost toy, last added: 11/30/2012
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    24. Good Call, Santa

    Ten years later
    , our Wedgits are still in near-daily use.

    (That reminds me: I have a roundup of lots of gift-idea posts I’ve written over the years.)

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    25. Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    Tezuka Productions Logo Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch
    Diamond has announced that they have signed an agreement to distribute merchandise from Tezuka Productions — which means you can now get your Astro Boy, Jungle Emperor Leo and other vinyl, resin and apparel items.

    AstroboyImage Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    “Tezuka Osamu often said that manga and animation were just like the international auxiliary language of Esperanto, which increases understanding of peoples around the world, “said Mr. Yoshihiro Shimizu, Tezuka Productions’ General Manager. “Now his words and stories can be more broadly known as TEZUKA and fans around the world can connect with and enjoy their beloved characters more easily. I take off my hat to the skilled Asian craftsmen who make such excellent Japanese pop-culture goods and encourage retailers and fans to obtain those products through the thousands of stores in Diamond

    “Fans have enjoyed the stories of the many character creations of Tezuka for decades,” said John Parker, Diamond’s VP of Business Development. “Now, Diamond has collected the many products for Astro Boy, Black Jack, Kimba the White Lion, and the many others into a broad program that will satisfy those fans and collectors for many years. We are excited to bring the many products for these famous characters to the vast number of fans in countries outside Japan that have previously had only limited access to these national treasures.”

    The Tezuka loot will be available in December’s Previews and here’s what you can hoard:
    Astro Boy Plush Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    Imported from Japan! From Osamu Tezuka’s most famous creation, Astro Boy, comes this line of small plushes! Fans of Astro Boy can collect plushes of Atom, Uran, or Dr. Ochanomizu that feature designs based on Tezuka’s original artwork!
    SRP: $29.99 each
    Astro Boy Bank Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    Imported from Japan! Store your change in this money bank in the shape of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy!
    SRP: $29.99
    Astro Boy Uran High End PVC Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    Imported from Japan! From Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy comes this high-end collectible PVC figure that depicts Uran and Pluto in battle!
    SRP: $399.99
    JungleEmpLeoCushion Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch

    Imported from Japan! Another of Osamu Tezuka’s creations, Jungle Emperor Leo, will keep you company at night with this Leo Face Cushion! 
    We’re in for that last one!

    0 Comments on Shopping list: Diamond to start carrying Tezuka merch as of 12/6/2012 3:21:00 PM
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