Our favorite books from April 2021, with a clear emphasis on the craft we utilized most during this past year. There are such cute felting books! I won’t pretend we “used” the craft patterns as intended, but we draw inspiration from the books when we choose our work, both in method and design. From our multitude of picture books read (more than 50), these three were standout favorites for all of us.
1 Lovable Felted Animals by Yuko Sakuda, yucoco cafe // Buy in CO
As the cover says, the animals truly are “enchanting,” and often so realistic it’s impossible to imagine recreating them. But aside from loose animals here, there are also darling felted jewelry bowls and plant holders that feel new with animals built right into them. We got this book for the koala on the cover, and though mine did not turn out the same, it’s well worth a browse. This one is on my list to buy in fall – it’ll keep us felting all next winter.
2 Our Corner Grocery Store by Joanne Schwartz (illustrated by Laura Beingessner // Buy in CO
Celebrating small, local shops and building communities, Anna Maria takes readers into her grandparents’ grocery store, which she helps to stock and organize. Her easy familiarity with local customers and the fare the store sells is engaging and sweet. My kids always enjoy when a young character has an important role to play in the family that feels job-like – a child bringing tangible value – as Anna Maria does here.
3 Birdsong by Julie Flett // Buy in CO
Alongside glorious artwork, here is a surprising story of friendship without regard to age. Katherena and her mother move to a very small town, and she feels both lonely and alive in the outdoors her new garden presents. When she meets her elderly neighbor, Agnes, she finds friendship, kinship in the joy of plants. As I have missed conversations with people from older generations during this pandemic, this book reminded me how much intermingled generations, all-age friendships really offer. They are, as this book shows, an incredible gift.
4 Painting with Wool: 16 Artful Projects to Needle Felt by Dani Ives // Buy in CO
I picked this up alongside Lovable Felted Animals, and it took me to new places. At once inspiring and doable, Ives projects span the gamut from beginner to expert, showing her expertise in this new art form. With so many places to branch out, felting will be a long-lived craft form in our home.
5 The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett // Buy in CO
From the NYT review: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?”
You’ll want to find out, though the beauty of this book is not in how it ends, but in how much the writer loves her characters on every page. There’s such tenderness for each. Wonderful, well-turned leaps forward the story though multiple generations, offering a wide view. I loved the angled, nuanced look at each character through the author’s lens, and how Bennett captures the reasons we stay and go, love and leave.
6 Carpenter’s Helper by Sybil Rosen (Illustrated by Camille Garoche) // Buy in CO
This adorable story filled us with the hope and joy of spring. Renata and her Papi are renovating a bathroom together when, one morning, they discover the scraps of a nest, and the blue wren flying through their wall to build it. They pause construction efforts to help a sweetly-illustrated bird duo raise a family in their future bathroom.
The links provided show where to buy the work, no matter where you live. However, please consider supporting independent bookstores. If you live in Colorado, these stores are my favorites:
I also support buying used whenever possible. Online, try https://www.thriftbooks.com/