Tag Archives: Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour: Bunny Crafts

It’s PUBLICATION DAY!!!! If you haven’t already, get running to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy of I Heart Bedtime! After you’ve done that, why not read on about my bunny crafting attempts 🙂

Clara Vulliamy is the sort of person who could inspire practically anyone to have a go at some kind of craft. From her website packed full of things to try; to events where there’s always something to make involving felt, button and ribbons; to tid-bits that arrive in the post occasionally from the Happy Bunny Club. We’ve had the pleasure of bunnies in matchboxes, bunny ears, felt bunnies with satin hearts inside, colouring and sticking…

Not only is Clara an extremely talented author illustrator and crafter, she can do mechanics too. Look at this amazing music player that she actually made: (You can watch the video of it playing at www.claras.me)

I Heart Bedtime: Clara's Music Box

I jumped at the chance to be part of the I Heart Bedtime blog tour, and knew something crafty would end up happening. I’ve already reviewed I Heart Bedtime in a separate post, and to celebrate publication day I offer you: my rubbish sewing skills! Don’t worry, there’s also a little treat from Clara herself to download too 🙂

I didn’t know what I wanted to do so just wandered into the local haberdashery (I know how lucky we are to have one: Masons in Abingdon, if you were wondering) and wandered. Near the entrance I saw the most utterly perfect material for the book: mini hearts in pink, blue, yellow and orange. Squee! And then my latent inner-crafter took over and I came out with a bag including white fleece, felt, mini sewing kit (I didn’t even own a needle and thread) and from their sister shop next door, embroidery thread in pink and black.

We had a paper colouring-in template from last year, which I traced around to make a simple bunny doll template. Actually there was about five iterations, because the picture was designed for colouring in, not for cutting out. I traced around the head, and then moved the body to make a neck; then I ditched the idea of fingers as they’re too small and fiddly; and I moved the legs closer together so they looked better as a doll; plus I widened the arms and legs (but not enough as it turned out!) Finally I drew a dotted line around my template for the seam and cut it out.

I Heart Bedtime: Martha Pattern

The only way I know to make soft toys is the very simple “cut two of the same shape and sew them together” method! I do know enough to leave room for a seam, and to sew inside out and then turn round to fill, so I realised that I would need to create the face first. I pencilled in the face and cut out two inner ears in felt to sew in place then used the black and pink embroidery thread to sew her sunny smile.

I Heart Bedtime: making the bunny toy smile

Next, I put the two fleece pieces back to back and sewed around, leaving the head unsewed for turning. I used backstitch – at least, I think that’s what it’s called! – to make the seams stronger. Oh, I wish I had a sewing machine! Hand-sewing seams takes forever! As I was sewing I thought the arms and legs were a bit thin, and I’m not going to admit to how long it took me to turn them the right way round, with copious help from the back end of a pencil. When the body part was turned, I used the same backwards method to sew the face and ears, leaving a small hole at the top for filling.

I Heart Bedtime: Sewing the bunny toy and dressing her

My plan was to use a funnel and fill the bunny doll with rice. Could I find a funnel anywhere? Hah! We have at least three plastic funnels in the house and the last time I saw one it was in the correct drawer but Destructo-Girl does have a habit of stealing things from the real kitchen for her pretend games and after searching through three boxes of their toys I lost patience! I then looked up toy fillings and it said rice was a bad idea because it went mouldy when wet too, so the next day I went back to Masons and bought proper hollow fibre toy stuffing instead.

I Heart Bedtime: Not Quite Martha Bunny

Of course, having made Martha for Mighty-Girl, I had to make Pip for Destructo-Girl. I made a couple of changes when cutting round the same template, widening the arms and legs, ditching the feet (they were so fiddly) and thinning the neck. I think the original one looks better, maybe third time lucky I’ll get a suitable template, or just leave that to the experts!

I used the perfect material for Martha’s dress (nightie) and decorated it with mini buttons and ric rac we already owned (I’m a bit of a button and ribbon addict!) It was a very simple “cut round the outline and sew it up” design! My plan was for the dolls to have several outfits to dress and undress but I got the sizing totally wrong and it’s a good thing Martha was filled with her outfit on or it would never have fit her! Pip is obviously wearing Monty’s old pyjamas because they’re Monty’s favourite colour and Monty loves stars too (well, he loves rockets, so he probably loves stars too), DG wanted Pip to have stars because he is wearing stars in I Heart Bedtime. I didn’t do any seams on the clothes so they are fraying and rubbish, but it’s the thought that counts?!

I Heart Bedtime: Two soft toy bunnies, entirely hand made!

All the above was something that was a little more complex than my little bunnies could cope with so I begged the lovely Clara for some paper dress-up bunnies and she e-mailed me a set of bunnies and their pyjamas. I printed out a few sets and they’ve been lying around this week for my girls and any guests to have a go. There’s been some great decorating and cutting going on, and a whole lot of mess!

I Heart Bedtime: DG and MG's paper doll bunnies (I might have coloured in one of them!)

You can download your own paper bunnies too! I made two sizes – one where all three bunnies fit on one page and their pyjamas on a second sheet; and another where each bunny and two pairs of their pyjamas are on each page.

I Heart Bedtime Paper Doll Templates

Bunny Paper Dolls small (takes you to OpenDrive to download)
Bunny Paper Dolls medium (takes you to OpenDrive to download)

I Heart Bedtime is a dream of a book, and has spent its life so far in the Chaos household being dragged up and down stairs like a yo-yo so that it can be read just one more time… 🙂

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour so far:
23 March: Clara Vulliamy guest post at Netmums
24 March: Bedtime routines with Jax and family from Making it Up
24 March: Illustrated interview with Martha herself from The Book Sniffer
25 March: Princess C interviews Clara Vulliamy at Read It, Daddy!
26 March: Bedtime routines with the Library Mice
27 March: Bedtime with Smiling like Sunshine

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime

Martha and the Bunny Brothers I Heart Bedtime: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)

Martha and the Bunny Brothers I Heart Bedtime: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

Occasionally, when I review books, I look at them almost entirely from an adult perspective. This is usually when the book is so loved by my daughters and me that I feel it really needs some extra attention in the review. This is one of those books.

I Heart Bedtime is the sequel to I Heart School and is just as utterly delicious as the first book. There is a wonderful adult-centric review as to why I Heart School is such a great picture book on the blog Did You Ever Stop to Think…?, which I thoroughly recommend.

For a child-centric reason why both Martha books are wonderful, I offer up the examples of my daughters. Destructo-Girl (almost-four) has slept with a variety of Clara Vulliamy books under her pillow for chunks of the mere fifteen months since we first discovered them. Martha Bunny was a favourite from the moment it arrived a year ago, and DG could find it spine-out on a bookcase at age two. Mighty-Girl (six) is a good reader but currently stuck in the mindset that she can only read banded books, but she has read the entire Martha books to her little sister – and they are fairy verbose books even though they don’t feel it when you’re reading them. Both DG and MG can quote huge sections of the text from either book, and they both relate to almost all of the scenarios. These are picture books for children that children enjoy, but are packed with so much that they are a joy to read over and over again as an adult.

From the very first page, the bright colours and happy smiling bunny entice you to read more, but more than that the links between both I Heart School and I Heart Bedtime are cemented in this first page too. Small children love and need the familiar, the world can be a scary enough place and often children latch on to a familiar toy or comforter. The Martha books understand this need in small children and keep the familiar not only in the situations that children will experience, but in the structure of the book too starting on this first page:

marthafirstpage

Other similarities are more subtle, but bring the child into the second book with ease once they are familiar with the first book (in whatever order they are read):

marthasimilarities

I often comment on fonts used in picture books and how I like easy-to-read fonts for early readers. But for some books, the array of fonts used is part of the story. In the Martha books, there is a script font that can be challenging to read but it is used sparsely and for similar words (see examples in images above) so familiarity/guesswork can be used!

On the subject of fonts, and being such a part of the story, I have to share these examples of words (doodling is from I Heart School, and sharks is from I Heart Bedtime). What an absolutely wonderful use of typography in the text:

marthatypography

My final example of book love for the two Martha books is Martha’s clothes. In I Heart School we are shown a selection of Martha’s favourite clothes, and in I Heart Bedtime we are shown her favourite pyjamas. What is absolutely wonderful is that Martha is shown in pyjamas in I Heart School which then appear in I Heart Bedtime, and shown in a dress in I Heart Bedtime that appeared in I Heart School. Just wonderful!

marthaclothes

And I haven’t even mentioned that lovely expression Martha has in both the inset pictures above, all because of her bunny brothers! Or that their toothbrushes in I Heart Bedtime are the favourite colours listed in I Heart School. Or that no adult characters appear, all the images are about Martha, Monty, Pip and Paws. Or that my Destructo-Girl copies Pip’s antics regularly including the necessity for strawberry toothpaste…

And really finally, I don’t know about other parents, but I am certainly guilty of this little white lie in order to get children to bed on time:

5oclockbedtime

In this case, Martha is so excited to spend some time with her best babysitter that she starts trying to get her bunny brothers to bed as early as possible. Later in the text, mum says “Now it really IS bedtime, little bunnies,” as they have taken so long coming up with excuses not to go to bed that the time has flown past. There is a delightful scene where Martha, Monty and Pip are shown going up and down the stairs with one excuse or another. Something else that is very familiar in the Chaos household!

There are too many little (and big) familiar moments in I Heart Bedtime that makes it a delight to read. Not only that but the highlight for MG and DG is the Bedtime Bunnies Song. My singing is rubbish but I do try! To listen to the song pop along to www.claras.me.

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime is published on Thursday, 28 March 2013, and I’ll be sharing some bunny-inspired crafting with you then as part of the official blog tour. I can’t wait! 🙂

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.