First Graders Talk About Dolphins. Sort of.
Polliwog Serenade, at PBS Booklights

Save That Wrapping Paper!

9780805082906  Hanukkah starts tomorrow night, and Christmas is just two weeks away. What to do with the leftover gift wrap? Save it to make next year's holiday cards. In What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, Anna Alter gives clear, concise instructions for that activity and a number of other reduce-reuse-recycle projects. Written for parents and young children working together, the picture book, which is populated by friendly-looking (and busy) animal characters, should inspire some new ways of looking at everyday objects. Aha! That empty tomato-sauce can is going to be a beautiful lantern by tonight.


Alter, Anna. What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8290-6, ISBN10: 0-8050-8290-5. Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? is a nominee for a Cybil award in the Nonfiction/Informational Picture Book Category.


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I like to wrap things in brown paper from grocery bags or big rolls of the kind of brown paper you can get for packages and glue cutouts from wrapping paper I've saved on the gifts instead of using gift tags. Sometimes if I'm using wrapping paper, I use the odds and ends of the brown paper to make the gift tags. It's not a polished look, but it makes gift-wrapping way more fun. Sometimes when I'm feeling fancy, I outline a thing or two with one of those swell sparkle glue pens.

Adrienne, Anna A. does something similar in her book, too, & includes instructions for adapting a paper bag and using wrapping-paper cutouts on it. Fun! I'm going to try that. I do love a good sparkle glue pen, too.

I used to work for the High Museum of Art (now known as the Woodruff Memorial Arts Center). In the summers, I helped run a free/walk in museum summer camp in the park. It was ALL about "found objects" and making anything from nothing. I remember a few years before that, in the deep south, seeing a man give his young son the most glorious bow and arrow he had made from a tree branch. Seeing the boy stand there at the edge of the woods, with the most magical bow anyone could ask for inspired me and still does to this day. That handmade bow had much love in it and it was truly magical. After teaching all about being creative with things normally thrown away, I am a terrible hoarder. I cannot easily toss out those oatmeal boxes or paper of any kind. I am so glad to finally (hopefully) see our culture go from one of materialistic purchasing of endless precious bits and pieces for crafts, to using what we already have around us to inspire us! Thanks so much Susan for sharing this book!

Elaine, that is very cool about the bow and arrow. I imagine the magic of that gift has had an influence on your work. I bet those kids still remember their walks in the park, too.

Last night wrapping gifts for the PTA at the local Big Bookstore there was a presentation by Patricia Lee, the author of The Wrapping Scarf Revolution, which was all about the Korean tradition of using fabric to wrap gifts, to carry lunches and books, to "bag" groceries. Patricia Lee said her grandmothers used to do that. It's a book for adults, but I enjoyed hearing about this neat tradition and how it fits into today's world. The author gave a number for the tons of garbage that is gift wrap during the holidays and it's astounding. Reusable scarves, an old idea, can help reduce some of that paper waste.

Love this book. It's really good stuff. I always look forward to what Anna does.


Jules, didn't you love it that the book says to get your dad to help you sew a couple of things? I thought that was great.

Reading books to my kids is always something they enjoy. I must say I do too. Thanks for the good info on books. We're always looking for more.

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