I find connections among books, art, music, libraries, travel, crafts and food.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pamphlet Stitch Binding

In bookbinding, the Pamphlet Stitch is the simplest to learn, and has great potential for creating many types of beautiful and interesting books.

 Fold your cover paper and text block, making sure the direction of the grain is along the spine. I have a handy hole poker. It's best to poke the holes from the inside out, and use a ruler to make your holes evenly spaced.

You will be stitching through most of the holes twice, making crazy 8s through the paper. You can vary the way your binding looks by where you start your stitch - inside or out, middle, top, or bottom. I like to use a variety of found threads. One of my favorite is colored crochet thread, as you see in the photo below.

You can see that I started the sewing on the inside of this book; the outside has a clean finished look, thread coordinating with cover paper.

Below is the inside and outside of a 3-hole pamphlet stitch, with the beginning and ending stitches on the outside. This was a book of poetry my daughter made in 8th grade.

This was a fun, simple project I did with my Girl Scout troop. We made a simple pamphlet book, adding beads as decoration on the outside.

This is an example of a wedding invitation set that I made. I used pretty endsheet paper that had ripped bits of sheet music. I used a pamphlet stitch with gauzy ribbon as the thread.

I don't know why I like tiny things so much, but I have made tons of these mini pamphlet books, using them as gift cards or giving them to little nieces and nephews. The one on the right is a matchbook fold. You can make them in a 4 x 6 size, with a really long string that you can wear around your neck.

My cousin made this pretty pamphlet, which has a picture of his mother on the front, and some stories he wrote about her.

And finally, here is an example of a Two-Section Pamphlet Stitch Binding. You make a pleat in the cover, so if you set the cover out by itself, it would form a "W" shape. You sew a section onto each folded spine piece.   I also folded the paper so that it made a pocket on the inside front and back of the book.

 Here is the finished travel book. It is a very simple pamphlet stitch, where I cross over stitches from each section.
Find these stitch samples and more in the instructional book Non-Adhesive Binding: Books without Paste or Glue, by Keith A. Smith.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Brian Selznik, author and illustrator

You will know Brian Selznik from his amazing book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
I was first drawn to this book when I saw it going through the reserves at our library. I was attracted to the art and the size of book - it is substantial, 533 pages, but holdable (about 5 x 8 inches). I flipped through it and fell into the design of it, how there are many pages with just drawings, almost like a flip book bringing you closer and closer to an image. I found the drawings to have a Maurice Sendak quality.

The book is set in Paris in 1931 and is about a 12 year old orphaned boy who is the secret clock winder at a busy train station. His early life unfolds and we are drawn in by the events in the book which lead to uncovering old secrets about his father, a toy shop keeper and an early film maker, Georges Méliès.

Martin Scorsese must have really enjoyed the book, as well, which inspired him to make a major motion picture starring Ben Kingsley.

I first saw Brian Selznik's art in a series of books my daughter brought home from the library, called The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin. My daughter highly recommends this book and its sequels, The Meanest Doll in the World and the Runaway Dolls, and I highly recommend the art.

I was very excited when I started seeing another book by Brian Selznik going the reserves at the library. This one is called Wonderstruck. You can watch a book trailer by Brian.

The first thing I loved about this book is that it starts out in my home state of Minnesota, near Gunflint Lake in NE MN. It is the story of Ben, who ends up making his way to The American Museum of Natural History in NYC. The story is paralleled 50 years earlier with a girl named Rose, and we find how Ben's and Rose's stories interweave.

The pictures, as always, are incredible. And the story is an adventure and a mystery.

But the book also brought me back to one of my favorite childhood books, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg, another story that has kids sleeping overnight in a museum. How fun would that be? I'd still like to do it. Or NY Public Library. (My family always calls me the Violator...) Or MOMA, hey Tilda Swinton did it.

Look at this fun cover:

In any case, It's another fun story and great illustrations by author/illustrator Brian Selznik. Find all his books and more at your local public library

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Secret Accordion Fold Book

I love to make these little Accordion Fold books with scraps of pretty paper. They are especially fun to make with kids, because they are a do-able project in a reasonable amount of time before the kids get bored. Kids also like the "secret" aspect to them. When you remove the spine, there is a "whole 'nuther" book in which to write secrets.

You'll need scraps of pretty paper, and strips of paper to fold into an accordion for the pages of the book. I like to determine the book size by the size of the paper strip. In the bottom left of this you can see that my book will be card catalog size.

A Word About Paper Grain
When folding paper for book binding, it is important to make sure you are folding along the grain of the paper. If you don't, the paper won't fold well, and the fold will cause stress along the spine, making the book bend or buckle, or the spine less strong. 

There are a number of ways to tell which direction the grain runs on a piece of paper. For smallish pieces, You can first just try folding it in each direction. The neater fold shows you the direction of the grain. 
Here are two sheets of the same type of paper, folded in opposite directions.
   The top sheet is folded against the grain - you can tell because it does not make a neat crease; it is wobby.
The bottom sheet is folded with the grain - you can tell because it folds completely and neatly.

Here is a second way to tell the grain - you can try this with a piece of newspaper. Rip it one direction, then rip it the other. When you rip it with the grain, it rips in a neat line. When you rip against the grain, your rip will be wobbly and uneven.
Here is a video showing how to check the grain, and a third method with water.

Back to the Accordion Fold book:
Fold your strip of paper into even sections, front and back ending in the same direction. The inside pages of a book are called the text block.                                                                        Make sure, when pages are folded, that all four edges are even. 
Then you will fold your cover pieces. You need 2 pieces exactly the same height as the text block, but at least 2 inches wider. You need 2 contrasting pieces exactly the same width as the text block but at least 2 inches taller. Fold the 4 pieces so that they each are exactly the same size as the text block. Now you are going to create your covers.
Tuck the folded sides of two contrasting cover pieces into each other.

When you have each of the covers made, you can insert the end page of your text block into each cover:
 One more piece, now, the Spine.
And here's the secret back side where you can hide things like your favorite kitty picture.
And here are some lovely Non-Adhesive Accordion Fold Books:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wesley Dennis, illustrator

Wesley Dennis, 1903-1966, was an illustrator known mostly for his life-like images of horses and animals. You probably have seen his illustrations on Marguerite Henry books,

or John Steinbeck's The Red Pony,

or Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Here are a couple of stories he wrote and illustrated that are still terrific. The stories are genuine but with a sense of humor, and of course, illustrated beautifully:
 We have the Album of Horses book, which I didn't realize was written by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis. No wonder I liked it so well.

There are even Breyer horses created for Marguerite Henry/Wesley Dennis books. Here is King of the Wind.
And look: how sweet are Misty and Stormy?       

One last cool thing about Wesley Dennis. He really enjoyed drawing for kids and loved to personally answer his fan mail. It was difficult to keep up, but he knew that kids loved getting mail, so he came up with an idea  to have kids subscribe to a series of postcards that he would illustrate and write, duplicate and send each week. Take a look at these hidden treasures!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lemony Snicket Readalike

Ardagh, Philip. A House Called Awful End. (The Eddie Dickens Trilogy) 
When eleven-year-old Eddie Dickens’ parents become ill, he is taken in by his great-uncle and great-aunt and embarks on adventures that involve strolling actors, St. Horrid’s Home for Grateful Orphans, and a carnival float shaped like a giant cow.

Bellairs, John. The House with a Clock in its Walls
A boy goes to live with his magician uncle in a mansion with a clock hidden in the walls which is ticking off the minutes to doomsday.

Byng, Georgia. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism
Unlucky and unloved, Molly Moon, living in a dreary orphanage in a small English town, discovers a hidden talent for hypnotism and hypnotizes her way to stardom in New York city.

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl.
When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.

Coman, Carolyn. The Big House. 
When Ivy and Ray's parents are sent to jail, and the siblings are left in the custody of their parent's accusers, they decide to look for evidence that will "spring" their parents.                                                             
Dahl, Roald. Matilda.
Matilda is a genius. Unfortunately, her family treats her like a dolt. Her father is a crooked car-salesman and her mother is loud and obsessed with bingo-obsessed. Matilda, with inspiration from the one person who understands her (teacher Miss Honey) starts fighting for herself.

Dahl, Roald. The Witches.
A young boy and his Norwegian grandmother, who is an expert on witches, together foil a witches’ plot to destroy the world’s children by turning them into mice.

Funke, Cornelia Caroline. The Thief Lord
Two brothers, having run away from an aunt who plans to adopt the younger one, are sought out by a detective, but find shelter with Venice’s “Thief Lord.”

Funke, Cornelia Caroline. Inkheart.
Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.   
Gaiman, Neil. Coraline.
Looking for excitement, Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a world that is similar, yet disturbingly different from her own, where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others.  
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book.
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.                                                                     
Gaiman, Neil. Wolves in the Walls.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods
A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.

Goldman, William. The Princess Bride 
Is there anyone who isn't in love with S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high
adventure, the "good parts" version, abridged? It's got everything - romance, adventure,
kidnapping, an evil villain, lots of humor, and true love prevailing in the end.

Horowitz, Anthony. Stormbreaker 
First book in a series about a 14-year-old boy named Alex Rider, who is an orphan. His uncle was killed on an assignment for MI6. The head of the agency puts Alex into a special one-week training program and then sends him off to take over his uncle's assignment. He risks life and limb to stop an evil genius who is planning to release a deadly virus with the introduction of his Stormbreaker computer.

Ibbotson, Eva. Dial-a-Ghost.
A family of nice ghosts protects a British orphan from the diabolical plans of his evil guardians.

Ibbotson, Eva. Island of the Aunts.
As they get older, several sisters decide that they must kidnap children and bring them to their secluded island home to help with the work of caring for an assortment of unusual sea creatures.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Secret of Platform 13
Odge Gribble, a young hag, accompanies an old wizard, a gentle fey, and a giant ogre on their mission through a magical tunnel from their island to London to rescue their King and Queen’s son who had been stolen as an infant.

Kurzweil, Allen. Leon and the Spitting Image.
Leon, a fourth grader at The Ethical School, tries to outwit the school bully and learn to sew for fanatical teacher Miss Cronheim, with unexpected help from his final project – a doll with magical powers.

Nimmo, Jenny. Midnight for Charlie Bone: Children of the Red King.
Charlie Bone’s life with his widowed mother and two grandmothers undergoes a dramatic change when he discovers that he can hear people in photographs talking.

Pullman, Philip. I Was a Rat.
A little boy turns life in London upside down when he appears at the house of a lonely old couple and insists he was a rat.

Wilson, N.D. 100 Cupboards
After his parents are kidnapped, timid twelve-year-old Henry York leaves his sheltered Boston life and moves to small-town Kansas, where he and his cousin Henrietta discover and explore hidden doors in his attic room that seem to open onto other worlds.                                                 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kind of a Big Deal (that's Minnesotan for "AWESOME")

Photo: Cheryl Simon
For Shelf Awareness blog April 3, 2013
Three of my favorite author-types: Lemony Snicket (Dan Handler), Neil Gaiman, and Jon Klassen promote Lemony Snicket's new picture book for younger readers, The Dark. 

Written by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen, and the
audio version read by Neil Gaiman.

First, Lemony Snicket. I've loved his books and writing since The Bad Beginning, when my husband and I would fight over who got to read to the kids each night. The words, language and wit were intoxicating, a word which here means, very enjoyable and addictive. The tales revolve around three clever siblings to whom very unfortunate things happen, mostly because of an evil foe, sometimes referred to as Count Olaf. To top it off, the books are beautifully bound, and illustrated by the magnificent Brett Helquist

Brett Helquist has illustrated a number of young adult books, including some by Blue Balliett called Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3. You must read them.

There is much to like in Chasing Vermeer: two friends, art, a scandal, a mystery. It takes the friends' intuition and clever skills to solve the puzzle. 

OK, back to the picture at top. 
I first read Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which I found to be amazingly creepy and intriguing and I couldn't put it down. The illustration were done by Dave McKean, and they helped draw me in to the story.
The next Neil Gaiman book I read was The Graveyard Book. 


Although the Graveyard book starts out with a triple murder, the rest of the book is kind of a sweet book about a newly orphaned boy who is brought up by the ghosts in a cemetery. I loved it.Then, while I was sorting a children's book cart at the library, I came across a picture book by Gaiman, also illustrated by Dave McKean. Great strong female hero Lucy saves her family from the wolves living in the walls of their house. 

And finally, Jon Klassen. I recently wrote about him and his illustrations. I think he's terrific, and I can't wait to see this next book The Dark. Find it and all of the books mentioned at your local library!

Oh, one more piece of awesomeness: listen to Dan Handler's interview on Fresh Air where he accompanies himself on the accordion,  singing Prince's When Doves Cry. Priceless!!