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Raising my kids today, I feel like they need to be doing “real life” things to feel good about themselves — in real life. Online is online, but we actually live out here in “Real.” One of my daughters has taken to knitting, while the younger is still looking for something to excel at. I needed an easy way to help her learn about the basics of knitting, too, hopefully in a fun and appealing way.

The book offers a full-color design, with colorful borders alongside vivid photography. There are clear illustrations, helpful tip bubbles, and an engaging layout design. The introductory sections walk through the basics, including finishing, button holes, etc. There are over a dozen projects, each one small and quick to complete. My daughter is delighted and so pleased with what she’s learning and actually doing IRL. This excellent book makes learning to knit so easy — for all ages!

My grandmother made me a little sweater when I was a baby. I still have it. It’s a treasure. And it helps me remember how much she loved me and was so happy when I came into the world. It’s something that comforts me to this day. So I wanted to offer the same to my darling grandchildren. And, wow, this book is the perfect help I needed to get going and finish them (quickly). The book is nicely made with full-page photos of beautiful babies wearing each sweater which really helps in choosing which to make. There are all sorts of sweaters, for boys and girls, including ones that really aren’t available in stores. Yet they’re all so darling!

The book presents each design via knitting abbreviations which are easy to follow for accomplished knitters. There is a chapter on knitting abbreviations followed by each sweater: baby banner, fisherman’s rib booties, seed stitch booties, rainbow booties, rainbow hat, flower pick coat hat, frilly sun hat, teddy bear blanket, rosette blanket, easy Henley, sheep sweater, swing cardigan, nautical sweater, zig-zag bolero, daisy sweater, striped cardigan, moss stitch duffle coat, peplum coat, fringed cardigan, cabled vest, loop stitch cardigan, lace and seed stitch cardigan, cabled cardigan, cabled pullover, and a lace and seed stitch dress.

My son wants to be an engineer someday, he says, but he wants to design “fun stuff,” like toys. So I was so happy to find this book. It is a delight, with fun little clothespin animals, which would be perfect for party favors and cute little crafts for kids of all ages. (That said, they probably need to be made by an older child or adult, because there are power drills and bending the wire into shape takes a little precision.)

The book is actually a kit of sorts, as the first part is the instructions and the second part is the printed parts of the animals themselves. Each animal moves, similar to a pop-up book, as each rests on top of a wooden clothespin. Animals include: talking triceratops flying pig, flying goose, naughty dog, pecking bird, surprised penguin, flapping butterfly, brave turtle, stretching moose, growling bear, trumpeting elephant, and roaring T-Rex. The book is in full-color, with engaging instructions and helpful photography of each step along the way. Equally appealing to girls and boys, this is a fun and satisfying activity that my kids love making and playing with.

When I was little, my family had a set of glass decorations for our Christmas tree that were — to my young mind — unbelievably fancy and valuable beyond measure. They *made* Christmas each year. The happy glow of holiday spirit filled my heart each year as we all joined in, hanging our favorite ornaments on the tree. I wanted to start a similar tradition in our family — hopefully with ornaments that would last longer than those delicate glass ones. So I was relieved to find this delightful book! There are lots of projects here, laid out in a clever and engaging way, but I am most happy with those which can be used as Christmas tree ornaments.

The book itself is beautiful, with lovely full-color, full-page photos framing the straightforward knitting-abbreviation instructions for each little (and quick!) project. The book is divided into three sections. Under the section Sweets, there is a wreath covered in little knitted candies, “gingerbread” hearts, a plate of knitted “cookies,” candy jar, heart Advent calendar, donuts for another advent calendar, a set of “chocolates,” and Christmas cookies, intended to be used as a decorative garland. Under Gift Ideas, there is a polar fox, animal pencil toppers, cupcake pin cushions, little elf stockings, heavenly wrist warmers, decorative cozy for a thermos, and Hansel and Gretel finger puppets. For “Decorations,” there is a snowman, a Santa Claus, a little bird, a mouse concert, bright stars, a snowman candle cozy, fruit ornaments, sweet bells, sleepy mice, the stable in Bethlehem, pastel fairytale mushrooms, and a round good luck charm. They’re all so cute, too!

Each year, our community hosts a sort of kids’ carnival where children often make goodies or other things to sell for the holidays. With her big sister offering baked goods each year, my younger son wondered if there was something he could sell… Until we found this delightful book! This is a for-real guidebook to making every balloon hat, animal, flower and what-not I’ve ever seen, and more. So, with the help of our new balloon air pump, he’s busily learning how to make these extraordinary creations. This large book offers several introductory and explanatory chapters, along with engaging — yet serious and in-depth — instructions, along with simple diagrams, to help make each balloon sculpture.

There are seriously too many to list here, but suffice to say, every animal you can think of is probably covered here. There is also a chapter on the business of balloon sculptures, which has sub sections on working for tips, balloon vending, balloon party decorating, using balloons as an entertainer, and business basics. This is, quite simply, the Bible of Balloon sculpture. And whether my son sells his someday or not, he is working, doing, and learning and developing a sense of confidence and pride that I haven’t seen in him before. We’re all delighted with this fantastic book!