What makes us happy

posted in: Lucy Cousins | 5

I try very hard not to buy books on impulse when we go into a bookstore; instead I endeavour to use our bookshop more like a library with lots of recent stock – I can browse through all the new publications and then go back to our real library and put in reservation requests. Then once we’ve lived with a library copy for a while and it’s clear the book is a hit rather than a one-time-wonder then I’ll put my money where my mouth is and return to the bookshop.

Now theory is all very well. Of course, in practice it doesn’t always work like that! And Friday was a case in point. Somehow we left the shop with a Maisy book – Ha-Ha, Maisy by Lucy Cousins. It’s a lift-the-flap style book and on each page we’re asked what makes Maisy or another of her friends laugh. You lift the flap and find out that all sorts of things kids love to do are also loved by Maisy and her pals; bouncing on the bed makes Maisy laugh, playing with water makes Ostrich laugh, pulling funny faces makes Tallulah (the duck) laugh.


Try as I might not to like Maisy books (What! a fiver or more for a bunch of pictures that look like something my daughters draw all the time?) I have to admit that Lucy Cousins books are a huge hit in our house. The colours are vibrant, zingy and make you feel cheerful and the style of the drawings – as if painted with a thick paintbrush using bold poster paints – clearly hits the mark with the kids, probably precisely because they recognise something like what they themselves create. The animal characters often get up to slightly zany antics (such as dancing on roller skates) and the pictures can have a surreal edge e.g. a teapot with legs or Maisy with a goldfish tail. Add flaps to this combination of delights and in our house you’re on to a winner.

So home the book came with us and it’s been on the table with every meal since then (yes, we do a lot of our reading together at meal times). Now, I’ve been meaning to try and make our own lift-the-flap style book with the girls for ages and this seemed like an opportunity not to miss.

1. I first folded some A3 card in half and with the fold on the right hand side. I then cut out a couple of flaps on the top half of the folded over card. Each sheet of A3 card made 1 page of a book, and I made 4 pages (8 flaps in total).

2. I scored a line down each open side of the card about 1.5 cm in from the edge, to help with page turning when our book was complete.


3. Using Ha-Ha, Maisy as a model I asked M what made her happy, and she draw pictures of these things, which I stuck inside the folded card, aligned so that when the flap was open you could see the picture.

4. Inspired by this post over at The Artful Parent, I helped M use some letter stamps to write what made her happy on the inside of each flap.



5. We made a page for each of us in the family (though sometimes M decided for herself what makes us happy – apparently “Pinkland” makes Dad happy…)

6. We used some glue to stick the folded card down, taking care not to put any glue where the flaps were (we used a paintbrush and some regular craft glue rather than a spray glue as this way it was easier to control where the glue went). Now the pictures were stuck under the flaps and each page was fairly stiff.

6. We printed off photos of us all looking happy and stuck them on the front of the flaps and then added the question “What makes Dad etc happy?” to each page.


7. We made a cover to bind the pages together by folding over another sheet of A3 card, but this time with the open sides on the right.

8. We bound the book using our sewing machine – M loves to press the pedal and go fast! The pages were put inside the cover and then all were sewn together. We made the stitches as long as possible, and set the tension to low, and then did four lines down to try and ensure that the pages can put up with some rough love!




To finish the book off M went sticker-crazy and finally ta-da! Our lift-the-flap book was complete 🙂


The girls (and us grown ups too!) love the book – especially the smiley photos of us all. I can see that it will be looking loved pretty soon!

Other instructions for making lift-the-flap books can be found…

  • here – these look great, but are made by adults for kids, rather than with kids
  • here – a much simpler design, and really made by kids with less adult involvement
  • and here is an expensive commercial product which can be used to create your own lift-the-flap book. I think you could easily use this idea to make something similar yourself with plastic folders and velcro.
  • ha-ha-maisiy-frontcoverHa, Ha Maisy: 2star
    Whilst we’ve been making our book we’ve been listening to The Laughing Policeman by Charles Penrose and now we’d like to try making a pop up book, or perhaps to begin with a pop-up card like this one or this one.

    5 Responses

    1. SpiderWomanKnits

      Hi 🙂 I arrived here through Soulemama when I read your comment last week about using Nasturtium for pesto! We made some tonight and it was sooo good. I just wanted to say thanks and let you know I just linked to you on my blog as well. Hope that’s ok? Best ~ Abi

    2. Chrissy

      haha I always thought Maisy was so strange. Have you seen Maisy Takes a Bath and then Tallulah comes over and gets in the bath with her? LOL! The kids I used to nanny for adored Maisy and she kinda grew on me. I like Maisy Makes Lemonade… we made a lemon tree from that book by cutting a big tree from construction paper and taping it to the wall. We cut and laminated little paper lemons and then velcroed them in different spots to the tree. We hung it up by their play kitchen and then they pretended to pick lemons from the lemon tree and make lemonade. We also went for a walk to pick some lemons and make real lemonade.

    3. Rachel

      A question – did you do this project all at once? I don’t think my 5yo (and certainly not my 2yo) would have the focus or energy to do all of this on the same day.

    4. Zoe

      Hi Rachel, I did this some time ago now and can’t quite remember. I suspect it was done over a couple of days – I always rather do projects whilst the enthusiasm is there rather than force a completion in one go. That said I’m sure the stickers were all done in one go – the girls LOVE using stickers!

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