Picture Book Inspired DIY Projects: An Ode to My Roommate

My roommates are better than yours. I don’t say that boastfully, but out of much love and truth. Take for example, my she-roommate, Rebecca. In between running three camps and mentoring hundreds of young women every day, she makes the best birthday gifts.

It is a well known fact among those I love and those who read this blog that I love picture books. I love them so much I often wish I could live inside one. Rebecca is doing her very best to make this dream come true.

Exhibit A: HOW TO PAINT A PORTRAIT OF A BIRD by Jacques Prévert, ill. by Mordecai Gerstein

This illustrated version of a French poem in translation is one of my favourite picture books. This simple poem about creativity and patience has special relevance for me as a writer, and these delicate but colourful illustrations are perfection. Having listened to me gush at great length about this book and my undying love for it, Rebecca went ahead and embroidered a canvas for me for my birthday. Here it is, living happily atop my sassy teal typewriter, Miss Smitty*:

Rebecca is no amateur crafter. Check out the detail on the bird:

And the quotation:

Pure loveliness! As if that wasn’t amazing enough, we move onto this year’s gifts.

Exhibit B: CAT’S NIGHT OUT by Caroline Stutson, ill. by Jon Klassen

I’m not personally acquainted with wunderkind Jon Klassen, but if I was, this is the book he would have created for me, should he create picture books for his friends in his spare time. In short, it features cats in poodle skirts and saddle shoes dancing in an urban setting at night. Savvy Rebecca, knowing me well, took cues from Klassen and created me this amazing mug BY HAND! It features cats dancing…

…and a fun quotation from the book about cats dancing!

I’ll spare you all of the cat-related puns that come to mind, but this mug may be too pretty to use!

Exhibit C: WHEN YOU WERE SMALL by Sara O’leary, ill. by Julie Morstad

The subtle but dynamic pairing of O’leary and Morstad helped define the look and pedigree of Canada’s art-house picture book publisher Simply Read Books. When You Were Small, the first of three books featuring charming and inventive conversations between a parent and child that somehow manages to not be even the slightest bit twee, holds a special place in my heart.

How can you not love how Julie Morstad depicts sweet and inquistive Henry, re-created here by Rebecca on my own, custom-made porridge bowl:

Or love Sara O’leary’s imaginative responses to every-day kid questions?

I am truly lucky to have such a talented, thoughtful friend in my life who knows me so well she can come up with gifts I would never even think to ask for. These gifts are not only lovely to look at (and functional!) but are personal, one of a kind, and precious to me. And yes, for those savvy readers out there, this Rebecca is the same Rebecca mentioned in the dedication of Love is a Four-Letter Word. For these gifts (and many other reasons), she deserves it, no?

*The wine bottle lamp was also made by a friend, the inimitable Michael David Reansbury, Library Tech Extraordinaire, who knows that I will enjoy wine with a cat on the label more than any other wine, simply on principle.

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