Newest Crafts Reviews

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Star Wars: Imperial Assault Activity Book and Model (Star Wars Construction Books) by Emil Fortune and Neal Manning

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Bobby, my U-Wing model, was feeling lonely. Sure, he had a few select critters from Harry Potter on his shelf, but nothing else from his world. Luckily, now he has a companion. Unluckily, however, it's a baddy – one of the AT-ST Scout Walkers those nasty Empire people like to use to stride around and attack the good rebels. But that aside, it is a very handsome companion. Full review...

Doodle Dogs: Best in Show by Tim Hopgood

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Doodle Dogs introduces a wide variety of artistic styles through the idea of a dog show! Tim Hopgood shows us different kinds of dogs, all of which can be created very easily, and you soon find that doodling a dog can be a lot more detailed, and interesting, than you perhaps previously appreciated! Full review...

Origami, Poems and Pictures by The British Museum

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Sometimes you find a delight of a book. On an afternoon when it was unseasonably cold and decidedly wet I discovered Origami, Poems and Pictures and I was transported to Japan. As the title suggests we're looking at three celebrated arts and crafts: the ancient art of paper folding, haiku poetry and painting. I'll confess that it was the origami which caught my attention, but I was surprised by the extent to which the rest of the book caught my imagination. We begin with something very simple: a boat and in case you're worried, all the entries have a degree of difficulty (from 'simple' through to 'tricky') and this one is at the lowest level. Full review...

Harry Potter Colouring Book Celebratory Edition: The Best of Harry Potter colouring by Warner Brothers

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Imagine pages and pages of images from the Harry Potter books and films for you to colour as you wish. You might have seen some of the images before - I know I have - as they've appeared in the Harry Potter Colouring Book, Harry Potter Magical Creatures Colouring Book, and Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Book, but there are several exclusive never-before-seen images which will please the collector of Harry Potter memorabilia. If you're in need of inspiration as to colours then you'll enjoy the sixteen pages of film stills, unit photography and concept art at the back of the book. Full review...

Lift-the-Flap and Colour: Ocean by Alice Bowsher

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When you think about it, it's quite startling that oceans cover most of our planet and they're home to nearly half of all species, apart from humans. We don't know a lot about the oceans either - less than 5% of the area has been explored, but it is an area of outstanding beauty. With Alice Bowsher's Lift-the-Flap and Colour: Ocean children as young as two have the opportunity to do a little exploration and to colour their own pictures. The flaps are a stroke of genius: when we look at the sea we see little more than the movement of the water, but how different it would be if you could see a little of what is going on underneath. Full review...

Build a ... Butterfly by Kiki Ljung

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I love butterflies: they're one of the delights of my garden and it's always a pleasure when there are children there and they see a butterfly close up, possibly for the first time, as it rests on a flower. Kiki Ljung has given us the opportunity to learn about butterflies and also to build a 3D model of our own. The book is primarily aimed at the five to eight year old age group, but I have to confess that I had a great deal of fun building my own painted lady. I learned quite a bit too! Full review...

Botanicum Activity Book by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis

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Children and adults who enjoyed Botanicum (Welcome To The Museum) by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis are going to love the Botanicum Activity Book. Don't be misled by the suggestion that the book is aimed at the seven-plus age group: there's plenty in here for anyone who is still capable of holding a pen or pencil. Full review...

Forest Life and Woodland Creatures by DK

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This book knows that if you're going to learn about forest life and the animals, plants and trees in it, then you're only going to be itching to go and explore the woods for yourself. It's for a very young audience, so always expects an adult hand to guide you – but provides a warm companion itself through several quick and easy tasks, and a few lessons. The balance between carrot and stick, or duty and reward, is great – but what exactly is the edutainment going to provide, and what will it demand of us? Full review...

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures by DK

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Never before have I found much cause to point out the sort of lower-case, almost-a-subtitle wording on the front of a book. I say that because very little of this is about sharks – so if you have a youngster intending to come here and learn all their bloodthirsty imagination can hold, then they may well be disappointed. If you take it on board that the 'other sea creatures' make up the bulk of the book, then all well and good. And even better, if you expect yourself to make the bulk of said creatures… Full review...

Star Wars Art of Colouring The Force Awakens by Lucasfilm

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Without giving any spoilers away, the end of The Force Awakens sees a character and their peace interrupted. While said person probably has The Force to give them some restful ease, you never know what else they used. They may, for one, have dabbled in colouring-in books, and their much-lauded effect on the mind – that of calming it, and providing a meditative, simple yet creative task for it. Whether that is the case or not, there are books set in the Star Wars universe for people to join in in that way – and this is the best I've seen. Full review...

Star Wars Make and Do by Katrina Pallant and Kate Rhodes

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For the right young mind, their favourite franchises just don't end with watching them once or twice and that's it. Given great characters they will want to write them into their own stories, or re-enact their dramas in the playground. If things get a bit more sedate, some of them can be convinced to sit diligently working on craft projects, which is where this book comes in. It latches on to the biggest names in the Star Wars universe, and allows you to either draw or create them, or both. But while the 'why don't you?' spirit is strong with this one, I remain unconvinced the results will please everyone. Full review...

Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman by Peter Korn

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'My intuition from the day I first picked up a hammer was that making things with a commitment to quality would lead to a good life,' Peter Korn writes. As an aimless, free-spirited University of Pennsylvania student, he moved to Nantucket Island to earn the rest of his college credits through independent study and happened to be offered a carpentry job. That arbitrary job choice at the age of twenty would come to define the rest of his career. Manual labour was all new to him, but 'from the start there was a mind/body wholeness to carpentry that put it way ahead of what I imagined office work to be.' Full review...

Harry Potter: Magical Artefacts Colouring Book by Warner Brothers

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With a big production film you can be almost overwhelmed by all that's there to see, but what most of us forget is that in the film-maker's archive there's an awful lot which we never get to see. Harry Potter: Magical Artefacts Colouring Book is packed with stunning pieces of artwork from the Warner Brothers archive, giving you the chance to colour the magic of J K Rowling's wizarding world. There are the props from the Harry Potter films: an enchanted map, a piece of jewellery that can turn back time, vials full of liquid memories and newspapers with moving photos. What an inventive brain that woman has! Full review...

Star Wars Rogue One: Art of Colouring by Lucasfilm

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Colour me happy that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is around. While I've not had the chance of seeing it yet, I'm dead chuffed it takes place at a central point of the main arc of films' storylines, and not some nebulous place elsewhere in that galaxy far, far away. Yes, it does do what the 'new trilogy' did, and have much more gloss and many more technologies than the films set after it, but what is not to like? Well, the expected expenditure on tie-in books and articles, I guess – several hundred pounds on one collector's card is a little steep. But seeing as I handily mentioned colouring above, in the vernacular, why not take it literally and use this large format paperback, promising 100 Images to Inspire Creativity? Full review...

British Airways Colouring Book by Paul Jarvis

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Over the past couple of years we've seen a lot of colouring books: flowers, patterns, fantasy creatures, characters and settings from television shows, films and books and lots more, but I can't recollect that we've ever before had one which featured a company. Mind you, British Airways, is rather special; iconic and rather more long lasting than most passing celebrities. It has heritage and tradition. The British Airways Colouring Book is based on exclusive posters, photographs and artwork from the company's archives and the 46 images allow the reader to recreate these as they wish. There's a bonus too: on the facing page of each image there's a potted history. I passed the book to someone with an interest in BA and he found the book interesting and informative without even thinking of doing any colouring. Full review...

The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: A Year of Celebrations by Rebecca Jones

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I enjoy colouring: I find it relaxing and satisfying, but most colouring books have one big snag for me. When you've finished, what use is what you've done? If I'm investing quite a bit of time in producing something, I like it to be useful. I'm a bit of a puritan about such matters! It was therefore something of a relief when I found The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: A Year of Celebrations - and before anyone starts to be pedantic about the title, you do get to colour the envelope too; in fact you colour the inside and the outside and all four faces of the cards. There are even some stickers for you to seal the envelope. Full review...

Incredibuilds: Buckbeak: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The general perception is that to become a leading British actor, you need the fillip of Eton or somesuch education. But you don't have to be an actor to make a great film. Gravity for instance has extended scenes where the only thing natural is the performers' faces – everything else, even their bodies, was made in Britain by people using computers. The eight Harry Potter films, also made in the UK, needed a lot of computing power as well, but also a lot of craftsmen with their hands on tools and a keen eye. What better way to start training the young reader into that side of things, than with tasking them with making a, er, hippogriff? Full review...

Incredibuilds: Aragog: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Aragog the giant spider, don't you know, took six man years just to build, and weighed a ton. After countless trial models and pieces of visual design work, he could finally be constructed, and he stretched across eighteen feet of the studio floor. Or, conversely, he is about seven inches long and seven wide, and you put him together in a day or two, for the cost of this book-and-gift set and some craft paints. Full review...

Incredibuilds: House-Elves: Deluxe Book and Model Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

How do you create a house-elf like Dobby? Well, you have a tennis ball on a string, and point actors so they look at it, and say their lines to a pretty-much empty space. You then film Toby Jones doing the elf's lines, and use that sound file and his facial expressions as basis for your CGI creation – the first major character to come from the digital realm in the Harry Potter films. You can throw in a few puppets, and now and again a gifted small person, particularly at the end of film #7… Or, of course, you can get this gift set, and press the wooden parts out, muckle them together – and lo and behold, a six inch tall Dobby for your windowsill. Full review...

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: A Colouring Classic by Vladimir Aleksic and Kate Ware

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A Christmas Carol has always been my favourite book by Charles Dickens. Perhaps it's the fact that it's a novella rather than the usual brick of a book, but the plotting has always seemed tighter and the story more fast moving. I also like to idea of Ebenezer Scrooge not so much getting his comeuppance as his seeing the error of his ways. I've read the book and seen numerous film adaptations - now I've had the opportunity to do some relaxing colouring of scenes from the classic story. Was it fun? Full review...

Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton

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For far too long it has been accepted that men will have free choice as to what they do and that women will somehow accommodate and adjust around them. It's been a hard fight to get to where we are now - and there's still a way to go, particularly when you read the views of people such as Member of Parliament Philip Davis, but the cause can't always be moved forward by being deadly serious, no matter how serious the cause: sometimes what you need is a little whimsy. We might take the cause seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. And besides, what's better than to unleash your creativity? Full review...

The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes - Christmas by Rebecca Jones

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Have you ever opened a Christmas card and had a sense of deja vu? It might be that you've already had a couple just like this one (it's one of the more popular ones being sold by M&S this year...) or you recognise it the design which a major charity sold last Christmas - and which they started selling off at half price in the Boxing Day Sale. Either way, you don't feel particularly special. An embroidered card is lovely, but not everyone has the skills and if you buy them they're a frightening price. But I've just discovered a relaxing, satisfying way of producing individual cards at a reasonable price: The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Christmas. Full review...

The Mindless Colouring Book: Art Therapy Exclusively Available to Anyone with £8.99 by Molly Manners and Alex Worrall

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Can I let you into a secret? Promise not to tell anyone, but I do wonder if a lot of adult colouring books are not just a little bit too worthy. They're all very intricate and rewarding when you've finished, but I was chatting to someone recently who mentioned that it might take generations to complete her colouring book. I mean, where's the fun in that? When I relax I want to have a good time, enjoy myself and feel better at the end of it. A good laugh wouldn't go amiss. Anyone disagree with that? I thought not. Full review...

The Colouring Book of Beautiful Gift Boxes: Christmas by Sarah Walsh

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When you give a small gift, it's often difficult to wrap it appropriately. If you wrap a small object, it looks insignificant and if you've gone to the trouble of finding the appropriate gift for someone that's the last thing you want. If you pad it out a little, it ends up looking like a game of pass the parcel. You can, of course, buy a gift box but they're expensive for what they are and they're hardly individual. The answer lies in The Colouring Book of Beautiful Gift Boxes: Christmas. The cover price is £9.99, so that works out at less than 42p for each of the 24 boxes which - as you're colouring it - will be unique. Full review...

Press Out and Colour: Birds by Zoe Ingram

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Ten beautiful birds which start life as detailed line illustrations by Zoe Ingram are then coloured in by anyone of any age who is capable of having reasonable control of a felt-tip pen or a crayon. You've got to remember to do both the back and the front and whilst it would be nice if they matched it's in no way essential. If you're skillful, so much the better, but the designs are decorated with foil which catches the light and gives that sheen which you see on the edges of birds' feathers. When you've finished colouring you gently press the pieces out from the page. I experimented with pressing them out first and then colouring, but the pieces were easier to colour actually in the page. Full review...

100 Simple Paper Flowers by Kelsey Elam

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100 Simple Paper Flowers is an easy-to-follow guide to creating impressive floral artworks that could almost be mistaken for the real thing. Whether it is a craft project, something to brighten up a room, or a full-on display for a big event, the book has plenty of styles and designs to fit the occasion. And unlike real flowers, your paper creations will never die. Full review...

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights: A Colouring Classic by Elisabetta Stoinich

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Wuthering Heights is one of the classics which has stood the test of time. At the time of its publication in December 1847 reviews were mixed, not least because of the start depictions of mental and physical cruelty and it certainly wasn't in line with how Victorians felt that life should be lived. But the book hung in there and before long it was considered superior to Emily Bronte's sister Charlotte's Jane Eyre. There have been films, adaptations and now - a colouring book. But does the book capture the nature of the landscape and the people who inhabited it a hundred and seventy years ago? Full review...

Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Colouring Classic by Chellie Carroll

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There's no choice in the matter - you're going back to Transylvania in the late nineteenth century, to follow Dracula's attempts to move to England in search of new blood and to spread the undead curse. Only this time you're not reading Bram Stoker's classic, but using pens and crayons in this colouring classic full of bloodthirsty vampires, gothic patterns, dramatic landscapes and nightmarish figures. It's eerie, it's dramatic and it's great good fun. Full review...

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Colouring Book by Paul Kidby

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It was Sir Terry Pratchett whose chose Paul Kidby as artist for The Last World and the covers of the Discworld novels from 2002 onwards and it was a marriage made in heaven, with the one complementing the other. Kidby himself says that designing the characters with pencil and paint challenged and amused him beyond measure. The writing conjured clear imagery and it was his job to capture the humour and richly-textured stories on paper. Kidby and Pratchett shared interests in nature, folklore, science and history as well as a love of Monty Python and the bizarre and to my eyes at least the result was more, far more, than the sum of the parts. Full review...

Star Wars: Colouring By Numbers by LucasFilm

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I've never had any talent as an artist: I once earned the comment from an art teacher that I would struggle to draw a straight line with a ruler, but it's something I've always wanted to be able to do. For a while in my teens I was seduced by oil-painting-by-numbers kits, which promised to allow me to produce paintings of horses grazing in the fields or boats at anchor in the harbour. In fact all I really produced was a mess - literally and artistically. I've had slightly more success with adult colouring books, providing that they didn't require too much skill, although I did succeed in establishing that Benedict Cumberbatch would not look good with a spray tan. If I was going to produce anything worth looking at then I needed a great deal of help with shading. Full review...

David Bowie: Starman: A Colouring Book by Coco Balderrama and Laura Coulman

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David Bowie's death in January 2016 came as a shock to me: we were much of an age and he'd always seemed so vital. But his final album, Blackstar, seemed to foretell his death and was a commercial success, coming in at number one in the UK Top 100 Albums Chart, and the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is the most successful exhibition ever staged by the V&A. But what of a more relaxing memory of the man who was part genius and part chameleon? Full review...