As regular readers of Playing by the Book will know, books with related crafts and activities from a cornerstone in our lives. So when I first heard about My Miniature Library: 30 Tiny Books to Make, Read and Treasure by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini I was intrigued, but I was also cautious; We’ve made a fair few mini libraries in our own time and I wasn’t sure whether making someone else’s vision would fire our imagination in the same way as working out how to make our own. I’m also hugely demanding of books which include cut-out-and-make sections; so often the attention paid to crucial detail, either in printing or instructions or in actual design to bring everything seamlessly together leaves me a little disappointed. Instagrammable pictures of the supposed end results – you know the sort, with wonderful white backgrounds, all clean and sleek and aspirational – look amazing but they don’t resemble real-life creations in real homes with real children.
When, however, I opened the parcel containing My Miniature Library I very quickly felt my worries slipping away; first impressions were excellent.
This beautiful book-shaped box contains a kit to make 30 tiny books (each 3.8cm tall) and a bookshelf to arrange them all on. Not just that, the box transforms into a scene you could use as a library in a dolls house.
By cutting, folding and gluing the templates provided you can make a wide-ranging selection of charming books. There are illustrated fairy tales and poems, a delightful range of non-fiction books, including an atlas and nature guides, and also a brilliant selection of books with prompts for you to complete and a number of blank books for you to fill as you wish. It’s a rich and satisfying collection, with something for everyone, and large enough for this kit to work really well as a basis for a class or club activity, as well as at home.
I’m delighted to report that everything about it is well thought-through and designed. The instructions are clear (though we’d suggest you might like to score the book covers before trying to fold them; they are made from card rather than paper and getting a clean fold, especially if young hands are trying to do it, is much easier if the edges have been scored) and the end results are hugely satisfying.
(You can see we had some friends visit who were eager for a new library!)
On a practical level this is a terrific kit. It’s also funny and handsome to look at. The endpapers and the elegant illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini are lovely (you might already unknowingly admire Daniela’s work; she did the covers for The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol – here’s our review – and this lovely Puffin series of children’s classics) and there’s a sneaky bit of humour in some of the imagined author names. I’d have loved the fill-in-you-own adventure book to have a gender neutral prompt (rather than reinforcing the association of adventures with boys), but this small gripe aside, this kit is gorgeous. It would make a terrific gift, although I can easily imagine buying one to give away but then, when push comes to shove, deciding to keep it for oneself. You have been warned! At £14.99 I think its excellent value for money too.
We loved making our little books, but couldn’t resist hacking them to make a couple of alternative projects. Using a couple of earring findings we were able to turn some of our books into jewellery to wear:
By sellotaping in a short length of thread/ribbon, we turned some of our books into (Christmas tree) decorations:
I hope you’ll be pleased to hear our Christmas tree isn’t up in September, so I’ve got these books hanging from my shelves:
If you like this miniature library you might like to try making some others I’ve made in the past (click on the photos to go to the instructions). All of these happen to be edible….