I enjoy sewing. I like fanciful, whimsical creatures. Awhile back I wrote about creating stuffed creatures based on drawings my kids made.
So, it probably makes sense that when I read about Beasties: How to Make 22 Mischievous Monsters That Go Bump in the Night by Diana Schoenbrun, I was fascinated. So fascinated, in fact, that I emailed Diana about reviewing the book. She was very sweet and obliged, sending me a book as well as kit to make a fairy.
I loved “Beasties!” It’s a book with beautiful photos of various stuffed creatures, pictured in scenic settings. There are also patterns for each one, and the story behind him or her. These aren’t just random creatures, but each has a story. I had a hard time deciding which to create first.
Here’s a fairy … invisible to most, but you can sometimes hear them singing or feel them flicker through the air.
Or how about Tomte? In Sweden, this creature watches over the farmhouse at night and tidies up any leftover messes. To keep your Tomte happy, make sure there is a toasty fire and a bowl of warm porridge and butter waiting for him. An unhappy Tomte will become red in the face, make a mess of the farm, and tie your horses’ tails together.
Can’t you just see him in a Jan Brett book? I can.
Nessie hopes one day to find a buddy to keep him company in the murky waters.
It was fun to sew with the snakeskin vinyl!
I found “Beasties” to be beautifully illustrated, the instructions easy to follow, and the little stories about each creature were charming.
The author, Diana Schoenbrun, is a puppet-maker from New York who enjoys mythology and monster tales.
“I think people like the element of mystery, and the storytelling” in monster tales, she says. “It’s exciting to believe in something, to think, ‘Is it possible there’s something here that’s tangible?'”
Guess what? I emailed Diana a few questions, and she took the time to respond. So cool for an author to do that!
I asked her if there was an interesting “back story” to the origin of any of the Beasties. She shared:
All the Beasties in the book come from folktales, mythology, and
cryptozoology except the Fish-Head Alien. However, one day I may come
upon this Beastie when I least expect it! My boyfriend did a drawing
for extra credit on a Portuguese exam while in grad school. The extra
credit was to draw an alien. He drew what would later become influence
for my Fish-head Alien. He is a six legged, two headed, part fish,
part Alien creature. In the original drawing he was wearing a Che
Guevara t-shirt. For the Beasties book the Fish-Head Alien is wearing
a t-shirt with a planet on it. The collaboration and evolution of the
character was interesting.
There are 19 other Beasties in this book. I think you (and your kids) would enjoy creating a few :).
Would you like to create a Beastie or two? You can buy Beasties: How to Make 22 Mischievous Monsters That Go Bump in the Night at Amazon. If you do, let me know, and Diana was kind enough to say she would send you some postcards, fabric, and a magnet. How fun!