Friday, December 10, 2010

8. Do This! Two Craft Books.

Candy Construction: Edible Crafts, by Sharon Bowers, Storey Publishing, $14.95, all ages, 144 pages. One peek inside this book and your kiddos will be chanting:  "Give us candy and we will build." In this splendid ode to all things sugary, Bowers gives adults and kids step-by-step directions for turning leftover candy, and store-bought cookies and cakes into Willie Wonka-like wonders, ranging from a choo-choo train with a Swiss Roll cab and peppermint wheels to a bi-plane with wafer cookie wings and a body cut from a Charleston Chew. But before you dump out Halloween leftovers onto the table and cut open bags of gummy this or rock-hard that, consider adopting three ground rules that Bowers uses on her own pint-size construction workers. 1) No eating on the job  2) Pick one candy or construction to set aside and gobble up after cleanup and  3) Always brush teeth after excavating delights. Bowers, a producer for the Food Network's website, covers all facets of construction, from gathering candy (her top tip: shop at the dollar store) to preparing the mortar (icing) and building blocks (from Rice Krispies treats or edible play dough). Then, to our little workers' delight, she launches without further a-do into how-tos for making almost every concoction a child could want, from vehicles to aliens to princess castles and board games, all entirely out of sweets. Probably the best reward: kids see what is possible then can't wait to invent a candy creation for themselves.

Enchanted Christmas Tree In-a-Box, illustrated by Margaret Braun, paper art by Sam Ita, Sterling, $9.95, ages 8 and up. In this charming redo of the 2007 kit Christmas Tree-in-a-Box, Ita returns with a new illustrator, sugar artist and Cakewalk author Braun, perhaps best known as a judge in TLC's Ultimate Cake Off.  In less than a half-hour, your child can build this 15-inch beauty, then marvel at what he's done. As delightful as ever, the kit comes with rolled cardboard trunks, ornate bows to slip into place, ornaments that look like they've been cut from origami paper, a beautiful pink and yellow star, and a plain cardboard stand, tagged with the whimsical directive, "Keep Me!," so crafters don't mistake it for packaging. Though humble in appearance, the base gets covered by the box which the kit comes in. When you're ready to erect your tree, peel off a label around the kit's box, punch out a perforated circle at the bottom, and insert the tree for a lovely display (which is considerably more sturdy than the original Tree-in-a-Box base). This is a delightful gift for a child to build, then set on their nightstand, or for parents to mail to children at college. Easy to assemble and cheery to look at, it'll bring a little magic to a spot that rarely gets adorned and remind your child of holiday wonders. Each kit comes with a 32-page booklet with directions, three cookie recipes and frosting directions, and three Christmas classics to read aloud around your little tree.

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