Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Make Your Own Zoo - My Book!

What a journey it's been! From those first few toilet paper tube lions, to now; an actual, real kids' craft book, packed full of cardboard creatures. Make Your Own Zoo is out on the 13th August.


Who'd have thought it.

Certainly not me 3 years ago, when I started plundering the recycling pile to make animals with the youngest. My husband had gone to Afghanistan for a year, I'd started blogging to give me a focus away from the endless routine; and making a menagerie of creatures to share online just sort of happened.



My daughter began putting in requests - for giraffes, elephants, hippos - then monkeys and flamingos, and it was a challenge, but I loved it. Slowly our zoo grew, and so did an idea.....

What about a book?

I've plenty of kids' craft books, there are hoards of brilliant ones out there, but not many, as far as I'm aware have a theme like a zoo. In my experience children like going with a theme and adding to a scene they can eventually play with. I've found it helps catch their imagination and their attention, which, quite frankly is key to crafting with kids because they get bored pretty quickly.

Well mine do, I've heard the sighs and seen the rolling of eyes when the cardboard and glue come out, but making the animals together was fun, it felt as if we were going somewhere. And because she was interested, my daughter came up with her own ideas, like making a turtle with a retractable head and putting the flamingo in an ice-cream lid pond.



The zoo also shows the enormous potential of everyday cardboard packaging - tubes, egg boxes, cereal boxes - stuff we all have that usually ends up in the recycling bin.

The fact you can make a whole zoo from these ordinary things has got to be appealing?

And, thankfully, it was. The lovely team at CICO Books took me on, and I embarked on one of the steepest learning curves of my life. Apart from having kids.

Truthfully none of this would have happened without the blog. It helped give me the push I needed to try new things and, importantly, see them through. It also gave me the confidence to take the next step, because I could see people were picking up my animals on sites like Pinterest and Facebook.

I had about 14 projects on the blog before I got the deal with CICO - and there are over 35 in the book, plus short, silly poems for each animal. I've been busy! All the original step-by-steps have been updated, and I've added birds, sea life, enclosures, trees and scenery. Even an aviary and an aquarium. I'm so pleased with how they've turned out.


All the elements are there to make a scene, large or small, whether it's a big game zoo, or penguins and seals in a water park, or your own monkey world.
Wherever your imagination takes you.


The book is packed full of pictures and easy to follow step-by-steps. There's plenty of scissor practice, sometimes a little challenging, so it's best for school age kids with adult help. Parents are always going to be the best judge of how much or low little cutting to let their kids do, but I've found the more you let them loose, the better they get. Some of the bits I thought my daughter would find hard, like making holes and cutting slots, were actually her favourite, once she'd got the hang of them.

I think one important thing I'd like to get across is, whatever you make will be your own unique creation. Working with recycling cardboard is not an exact science - packaging varies; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Trust me, I know! So, this kind of crafting is about making the most of what you've got, adjusting and tinkering if you have to. Lots of room for artistic licence! Don't worry if they don't look exactly like the pictures; different is good - they are your animals with their own personalities.

And I'd love to see them! I've started a Facebook page called Make Your Own Zoo where I'll share ideas, and hope eventually people will post pictures of creatures they've made from the book or the blog.

That would be fantastic.




 

14 comments:

  1. What an amazing achievement! Well done on being published, you should be incredibly proud of yourself x

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  2. Huge and well deserved congratulations Tracey, I'm so pleased for you. I'm sure your book will do well, such brilliant ideas.
    xx

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  3. Thank you both very much. Fingers crossed! xx

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  4. Congratulations Tracey. A real life PUBLISHED author! Well done on all this hard work and persistence. Its like Blue Peter, only much much better. My favourite?- the parrot, although the flamingo comes a close second. I'm sure this will be a success. I'll link the post to my FB page too.

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    1. Thanks Catherine, that's really kind of you. I'm trying to work out how to put a Facebook 'like' button on the sidebar...might take a while...

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  5. Congrats, Tracey! Noah's Ark next? Farm animals?Hum, I don't even like animals, but yours are precious and easy to manage. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

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    1. Thank you Linda! Do have a few other ideas up my sleeve! :)

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  6. Oh my gosh, so exciting! Congratulations, the book looks great! My kids and I did have fun making some of these. I love the creative extra touches you add to everything, like the ripples and lapping water in the ice cream lid pond! You have a real flair for this stuff and I am sure the book will be a big success. Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much Jackie! Got to say those first blog step-by-steps have all been updated and improved (+ simplified in places) for the book. Looking back, think some of the early ones were a bit vague... not anymore though! Book instructions are clear and straightforward, and there are templates too :)

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  7. Huge congratulations, that's fantastic news! Will be buying your book when it's out as well! I will have completed my year as a TA in an infant class, but I know the teacher I have worked with will find it really useful! (: x

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  8. Well done! I’m so glad it’s finally come to fruition - sure to be a best-seller!

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  9. that's really lovely of you Marilyn, thank you!

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  10. Congratulations, Tracey - a wonderful achievement, you should be very proud. :)

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