Thursday, 14 March 2013

A seasonal book

A big, warm welcome to Carolyn

When Bernice asked me to do a quarterly guest post on children’s books I was thrilled: not only with the opportunity to be involved in this project, but to be able to contribute something included two major passions, creativity and books.  I’ve loved books as far back as I can remember and although I started reading books aimed more at adults when I was probably only just in double digits, I never went through a phase where I stopped reading ‘Children’s’ books. I now have quite a collection! I collect anything that appeals, including picture books, early readers, classics, books I loved or my children loved, but mainly I collect ‘20th Century Girl’s Literature’, commonly called Girl’s Own and more often than not set in boarding schools. There are so many reasons I collect all types of children’s books, apart from being a bit of a hoarder, but I love so many of the illustrations, the ‘other worldliness’, the happy endings, the ethos, the way so much skill is needed in the writing to put across the ideas and characters whilst keeping the language accessible…well I could go on! Suffice it to say, I love books, and children’s books are special.

For Spring I have chosen a series of picture books by a Dutch artist. The first of these iconic picture books was published in 1955 and since then there have been over 30 books, a film, TV series, clothes, accessories, stationery, badges, posters and ephemera galore.  The books are very simple with a strict style and feature a little white rabbit as the main protagonist.

Have you guessed?

Yes, Miffy by Dick Bruna.

These picture books are aimed at children around 4-6, have 16 pages of story with a full page illustration for each page of story. Each story page has 4 lines of text, with an abcb rhyme scheme. The illustrations use a limited colour palette and a minimalist style and yet are instantly engaging and recognisable.  When I read them to my own children the rhythm and rhyme made them easy to read, and the simple pictures made it easy for the children to not only follow along, but to focus in on the story and interact, adding in their comments.  Those are all good reasons for these to be classic books – but my main reason for choosing them has to be the wonderful simplicity of Miffy herself. I look at her and I smile.  In spring we want hope, smiles, and the promise of growth and these are the emotions I associate with these books.

I intend to show you a book related project each season, and for Miffy I have followed the idea of simplicity through.  The simplest book project is a bookmark, and here is mine:

A Miffy Bookmark
I wanted to keep to the simple look of the Miffy Books, and to make a bookmark that was reminiscent of childhood. I started by cutting a piece of watercolour paper (cold press, textured) to size and printing out a Miffy colouring page from the website. I then roughly cut out three little Miffy characters from that. 

I coloured the background with a distress stain, broken china, which fits in with this season’s colours. I then looked at placement of the Miffys and the alphabet stencil I wanted to use. Having decided what was going where I used Kaz Hall's liquid pearls and stencil technique (which you can find here) to make the letters. After doing the A I realised that rather than use a credit card to spread the pearls, due to the thickness of the stencil it would be better to squeeze the liquid pearls directly through the stencil and use a figure to spread. 

I coloured Miffy’s dresses in with pencil crayons, using a paper stump to polish up and remove any obvious pencil lines. I trimmed the characters down and glued on using matte multi-medium. I went round the edges of both Miffys and letters with a black pen, to highlight the black lines as this is one of the characteristics of the Dick Bruna illustrations. Finally to finish I rounded the corners and inked the edges with a black ink pad.

Since I had a spare Miffy I made this double sided. I put a different colour distress stain on the back and wrote a message with black pen before inking the edges again.

It is my intention to laminate this in order to a) protect my books from any liquid pearls or ink that may transfer and b) to prevent the Miffys getting rubbed off with use.  However since I don’t want to waste most of a laminator pocket, I will wait until I have something else to laminate as well.

I do hope you will join me with these seasonal book challenges, and create either something along the same lines, or something else inspired by the books I mention – or even share other books you relate to each season.

If you want to read more about Miffy, or find some images, you might like to look at these links:

Thank you Carolyn.

Please add your bookmark using the linky below.