Book Van Blog

Five Original Book Week Costumes created from Supermarket items August 04 2015

Each year around this time the school notice announcing the upcoming Book Week parade hits school/kindergarten bags. Stress immediately follows for the parents as figuring out what "bookish" costume creation can be produced so that son/daughter has something at the least wearable for the Book Week parade.

To ease the stress, we've complied this cheat sheet of five decent Book Week costumes you can pull together with items found at your local supermarket and around the house. If you're after award winning, costume creations - you're in the wrong blog. These are fast, fun and practical ideas for mums and dads who don't even know where the nearest Spotlight or Lincraft store is located. If time is not your friend, but you still want to embrace the goodness that is Book Week, then this cheat sheet is for you.

To create these five costumes you need only a large paper bag or collection of small paper bags, a balloon, a paper plate, cotton balls, a cereal box, an egg carton, some elastic, glue and sticky tape and a black texta.

1. Paper Bag Princess

Quite self explanatory, hit the paper-bag aisle and buy the big pack. Cut a hole for arms and head and then cut a crown from an old cereal box. Given that its Winter and super chilly, we suggest your budding princess bulk up with a few layers of thermals under their hand made, bespoke paper couture.

2. Noah Dreary

What kid isn't going to love carrying around his very own head for the day? Dress in usual clothes making sure the neck of your child's shirt can sit above their head. Blow up a balloon and drawn on some eyes a nose and a mouth. Feeling extra crafty? grab some wool or cotton balls and stick to the top to resemble hair. Before you can say Book Week - you'll have your costume sorted!

3. Pete the Sheep

Grab a few bags of cotton balls, a flattened cereal box, some string and an old hat and you're ready to craft up a Pete the Sheep costume masterpiece! Simply flatten a cereal box and then cut so that it will fit neatly enough onto your child's back. Next stick as many cotton balls on the card as you can bear. Use pieces of elastic to create holders that connect the cardboard to your child's shoulders so the 'sheep's back' doesn't fall off. To complete, ideally add a Fedora hat if you have one, but any other hat will likely suffice.

4. King Pig

Use a single cup from an egg carton to craft a nose and tie with a piece of elastic to secure. A cape or old blanket will suffice for a royal cape. A paper plate with a the centre removed works as royal neck rough and also can be used to craft a crown. Finally a broom stick or cricket wicket make an excellent staff for them to carry to finish the costume off!

5. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

This one is so easy its practically cheating! A cap, a backpack, some gumboots and a shovel and you've got yourself one Sam or Dave. The ultimate Book Week Costume for the kid that refuses to dress up!


Ok if you've read this far I going to make it worth your while, so here's a bonus costume idea.

My Cat Likes to Hide In Boxes

Cut one of the stocking legs off and fill with scrunched up paper. Tie at the end to keep in. Use the paper plate to cut out two cats ears and attach them to a headband to make the cats ears. A touch of eyeliner will create some cats whiskers. Finally cut a hole in the base of the box creating enough room for your child to stand in and pull up to their waist. Use some elastic or string to create some braces between the box and their shoulders so they don't have to hold up the box all day long!

Nostalgia attack! Reminishing about books from my Childhood May 29 2015

If I let my mind wander, I often find it floating back to my childhood living room with its big mission brown bookcase which housed our families varied assostment of books. I can recall my Mothers romance novels, Virginia Andrews collection and a few hard-cover Jeffery Archer books. On the shelf beside, was Dad's impressive collection of sport related biographies, atlases and strangely enough, a decade old archive of White Pages.

However on the lower shelves, under the space dedicated to the now vintage wedding photos and rather tacky eclectica, is where the kids books lived. I can recall quite vividly the covers that lived in those shelves and all of them bring back fond memories.

But my experience of childhood bookish nostalgia is hardly unique. Many visitors to the Itty Bitty Book Van eagerly share similar, delightful stories and I'm always happy to indulge with them in this trip down memory lane.

Today, for no particular reason, I am feeling especially nostalgic. So I thought I'd share with you just a few of the childhood books that I can recall pulling from those shelves in the mission brown bookcase, which is actually still there, filled with bookish delights, in my parents living room.

In the images below, you'll notice that I'm not to ashamed to admit I had a roll on the Babysitters Club for quite sometime. However, despite my vivacious reading of this series, disappointingly no-one ever asked me to babysit. I can recall sneaky up to the fridge just to check if just maybe Chilly Billy was real and did actually live in our fridge. My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes is strangely comforting to me and given its still in print, it was one of the first titles to hit the Book Van shelves. The idea of cats from around the world doing strange things seemed rather wonderful, perhaps my own love of travel started with this book?

Do you remember any of these? What books do you recall from your childhood?

Books about Brothers & Sisters May 01 2015

This month we celebrate National Simulatanous Storytime (NSS). NSS is an initiative of the Australian Library and Information Association. Each year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country.

This year the book The Brothers Quibble has been selected for this year and is a story about siblings. To that theme we've pulled together a collection of great sibling themed picture books:

Herbert & Harry. Pamela Allen.
The Children Who Loved Books, Peter Carnavas
Rules of Summer. Shaun Tan
One Busy Day, Lola M Schaefer
Go to Sleep Jessie, Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
The Swap, Jan Ormerod, Andrew Joyner

In 2014 over 460,000 children at over 3,100 locations across Australia took part in National Simultaneous Storytime, reading the book Too Many Elephants in this House, written by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Andrew Joyner, enjoying a range of supporting educational activities, songs, games, dress ups and lots of fun. Have a look at some of the highlights from 2014.

10 easy Book Week costume ideas for non-crafty book lovers August 14 2014 3 Comments

So, the Book Week costume parade flyer has arrived in your child's bag. Oh help! I hear you cry.

Nothing says book lover like a wonderful book week costume, but what about us non crafty book lovers? To take the stress out of book week, we've decided to list ten easy, no sewing required, Book Week costumes that will get any non crafty book lover out of trouble  in a flash.

The Duck and the Darklings August 11 2014 2 Comments

Some children’s picture books are so beautifully simple that they envelope the reader into delight and warmth. Like a feel good movie, the story leaves a happy glow. But what about a children’s picture book set in world dissimilar to their own, a book that introduces language unfamiliar. A book with meanings woven so finely into its poetic text that it noticeably alludes to interesting concepts and discussion.

For Just One Day - Laura Leuck, Marc Boutavant July 04 2014

As parents, nurturing your child’s self confidence comes in the job description. However unlike good manners or appropriate behaviour, encouraging self confidence is a complex parental responsibility. Helping my children grasp their own wonderful uniqueness, so they can explore the world confidently with an assured sense of themselves, is high on the list of my parenting goals.

Perhaps that’s why we are so fond of this book For Just One Day written by Laura Leuck  The books bright yellow cover just sings happiness and in rhyming verse readers explore the idea of being something other than yourself, for just one day. A crocodile, a Monarch Butterfly, a Porcupine? The delightful illustrations are the work of Marc Boutavant who lays claim as the creator of Around the World with Mouk series of books (also now a worldwide TV series).


The flowers would belong to me if I could be a bumblebee.

For parents: Parents will love the easy rhyme verse and retro styled, colourful illustrations. This is a great read out loud story time book the whole family will love. You can never give kids enough reassurance that they are wonderful just the way they are!

For gift givers: Gift confidently, this one’s a keeper!

For teachers: Lead into activity of creating animal self portraits, discussions about which animal best represents each child and why.


Purchase this book:

For Just One Day
Laura Leuck, Marc Boutavant (Ill).
Hardback | AU $19.99


Lifetime, Lola M Schaefer July 04 2014

Kids are renowned for asking the zaniest of questions and whilst this book won’t answer all of them, it will provide a delightful read for curious minds as they discover wondrous facts about some familiar animals. If only all fact based children’s books were as delightful as Lifetime.

All the intriguing animal facts featured are focused around a common timeline of a lifetime. How many holes will a woodpecker drill in a lifetime? How many babies will a seahorse birth? How many spots will a giraffe wear?

Don’t be mistaken, this is no ordinary fact based book, the playful text and illustrations make it a pleasure to browse. Each page spread opens to one simple animal fact and begins the text with the simple line, “In one lifetime…”. We’re particularly fond on the seahorse page which captivatingly illustrates 1000 seahorses (count them all if you dare!).

In one lifetime a caribou will shed 10 sets of antlers "

The book includes animals from all over the world including Caribou, woodpecker, rattlesnake as well as a Kangaroo. The final pages of the book give more detail to the facts and even provide a mathematical breakdown of the factual calculations in the most non mathematical way. You’re avid fact finder will be immersed in the math with enthusiasm! Enthralled.

Be careful reading this book – before you know it, you’ll learn something interesting and are likely to have a new appreciation for math.

For parents
This narrative non fiction title can be enjoyed as a family story time and will serve equally well as a read alone given the descriptive research notes at the end. A great addition to a home bookshelf.

For gift givers
The lovely illustrations and hard cover make this an excellent gifting book for ages 4+.

For teachers
A great title for classroom libraries as it caters to different reader levels and interests.


Buy the book

Lola Schaefer, Christopher Silas Neal (Ill).
IN STOCK | Hardback | AU $29.99


The Red Wheelbarrow - Briony Stewart July 04 2014

They say a picture says a thousand words, well here’s a children’s book that does just that. The Author comments that this illustrative book is a visual interpretation of the poem The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams. The Red Wheelbarrow is a lovely, wordless tale about two children who come across a disused red wheelbarrow. The images show the pair playing, laughing, arguing and eventually compromising, sharing and caring for each other.  Something often missed in this deceptively simple, picture only book is the tale of a family of chicks which subtly unfolds on the left hand pages of the book.

      Sometimes, particularly with beginner readers there is such a focus on reading the actual printed words that comprehension of the story is lost. This book is a delightful tale and by encouraging your eager readers to ‘read’ their version of this story you are sparking their imagination and reminding them that stories are not just about words on a page.

      For parents: Read your own version to your child first and then invite them to tell you their version.

      For Teachers: Use as an opener to a discussion about images and how they help to tell a tale. Link to activity where the facilitator displays an image and each child is invited to write their own story about that image. For older children try selecting a favourite poem and attempt to illustrate it.

      Buy this book

      The Red Wheelbarrow
      Briony Stewart
      IN STOCK | Hardback | AU $19.99