January is Family Literacy month and libraries across the country have been celebrating the joy of reading with library users of all ages. Fancy Pants Kids has been bringing our costume and story workshops to branches of the Toronto Public Library throughout the month. We have been reading from some of our favourite books about imagination and imaginative kids. Today we share another from our reading list – Judy Schnachner’s Skippyjon Jones books.
Skippyjon Jones is a fantastic character that kids and parents can both adore – a siamese kitten who thinks that he is a chihuahua! Skippyjon has a rich imagination and can be counted on to get into some epic-sized pickles while pursuing his fantastic adventures (which often happen in his closet). His sidekicks are a posse of rainbow-hued chihuahuas and he often wears a supercape and bandit mask. The cadence of the text is incredibly fun to read and you will find yourself falling into an accent – whether you are good at them or not! Every adult reader will find their own way to read the little verses that come up in every book along with a great ‘clap-clap’ that the kids can help with.
Skippyjon Jones came onto my radar several years ago when my sister-in-law informed me that the Supercape I had made for my nephew had become part of his Skippyjon Jones halloween costume. I had to check it out and I was hooked!
Check the author’s website for links to a Skippyjon Jones iPad app.
Check the Toronto Public Library website for Family Literacy Day events.
This week brought another fun little project for the Royal Ontario Museum. Those who have been there with kids will be familiar with the two heavy authentic-looking metal knights’ helms that can be tried on in the dress-up area of the Discovery Galleries.
My commission was to create two arming caps – based on the traditional padded cap that was worn underneath the heavy helmets in battle. Presumably these arming caps provided cushioning, insulation, absorbed sweat and allowed a better fit. Due to the high volume of wear at the museum and the need for easy sanitation, traditional materials were not practical for this project. To meet the rigors of museum use and to outwit those teeny-tiny little creatures that make parents and teachers crazy (lice) I needed to find a way to create the traditional design using PVC-Free polyurethane.
Traditional arming caps look suspiciously like baby bonnets, so I took ample inspiration from the beautiful children’s bonnets made by Patouche. I created a pattern that would fit all children and small adult heads as well. As usual this involved bringing a prototype to the school yard at pick-up time to try on a half-dozen or so eager volunteers.
Once to the ROM to try the prototype on some kids with the helm and I was ready to cut and sew the final product. A slice of thin carpet under-padding took residence inside the bonnet before the final seam was closed and ‘voila’!
Have fun with the new and improved knights helms next time you’re at the museum! We’d love to see your photos.
All photos are unedited and from the ‘cutting room floor’ of Shannon Echlin Photography (www.shannonnechlin.com)