Thursday, February 28, 2019

String along with me...

A line. A loop. A length.

A swirl. A coil. A wave.

A squiggle. A curl. A knot.

In ONE PIECE OF STRING, Marthe Jocelyn takes us on a wordless journey of forms, shapes, contours along with appealing patterns and vibrant colours. All these elements combine to offer a spin of limitless yarns. 

Beginning with the cover showing a spiral of string. To a brown paper package tied up with string. To a clothesline from which children's clothing is drying. And on it continues. Seek and find. The whimsical paper and string collage illustrations guide the reader on an adventure of imaginative and limitless visual story building at every page turn.


Early learners - and their adults - can point, explore, question, investigate. One Piece of String is textured, layered, engaging in its images and attention to detail. And this, in turn, moves a child or new language learner toward developing vocabulary, creativity, literacy and higher thinking skills. This book is all about fun, discovery, play, encouraging use of all senses. One can almost feel the wind which blows the clothes on the line; taste the spaghetti in the bowl; touch the woolly lamb; watch the spider building its web; hear the rumble and crackle of an approaching storm. And all the while - searching for and following that length of string, the common thread. (I know, this book is overflowing with opportunities for puns and playing with words!)

Wordless books, in both picture and board formats, are for everyone to be used at any age and grade level. Just as with the very young, the benefits are boundless. No strings attached.

Marthe's book is a fantastic source of inspiration for string-based art and craft activities. Endless (though a piece of string isn't, is it?) ideas - bunting, mobiles, jewellery such as bracelets and necklaces, gift tags, lacing cards, wrapping twigs/cardboard shapes, simple stitching/embroidery. And of course, some SNEAKY ART

There's a subtle suggestion to connect with some science-based string experiments and activities, too - make a string telephone, create sound with a hanger and string, assemble a simple bird feeder garland. Older children could show younger children how to play cat's cradle. Remember that game?

Isn't a wordless board book just the best? So many possibilities.

Look for Marthe's other recent book: ONE RED BUTTON. And coming in March 2019, there's One Patch of Blue and One Yellow Ribbon to complete the series of four sweet board books - all published by Orca Books.

And since winter isn't over just yet, hot chocolate and homemade sugared marshmallows are the way to go here. A yummy way to warm up with a delightful read and to make the most of yet another snowy day. 

Vanilla Marshmallows
Inspiration:  Food52 + Bobette & Belle

Makes approximately 3 dozen large marshmallows

Light oil, such as safflower or coconut oil for greasing pan and utensils

1/2 cup (118 ml) water, divided
3 tbsps granulated gelatin
1 3/4 cups (350 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (236 ml) light corn syrup 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Special Note:  If you've never made marshmallows, give yourself plenty of time and be patient! And as with most candy recipes, very high temperatures are needed during the process. So stay safe in the kitchen. This is an adult cooking activity to be undertaken with care. Children could be hands-on with such contributions as measuring ingredients and dusting the marshmallows - sous-chef type responsibilities.

1.  Lightly oil a 9"x13" (23 x 33 cm) pan. Line with parchment paper and oil paper. Oil the utensils you will be using (spatula and offset knife). The mixture becomes very sticky and this step will make things so much easier.

2.  In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup (59 ml) water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until water has been absorbed by the gelatin. It will thicken and become solid. Set aside.

3.  In a small pot, combine remaining 1/4 cup (59 ml) water, sugar and corn syrup. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Swirl the mixture gently until it comes to a boil. Fasten a candy thermometer to the side of the pot and let boil until the temperature reaches 245°F (118°C).

4.  Let the syrup cool to 220°F (105°C) and add vanilla. Pour syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

5.  Melt the gelatin in a microwave or over a double boiler until liquefied.

6.  Begin whisking hot sugar mixture on low speed. Increase speed to medium and slowly add liquid gelatin.

7.  Whip until the marshmallow mixture has cooled and holds soft peaks, about 8 - 10 minutes.

8.  Spread the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan, working quickly, as the marshmallow will begin to set. Let the mixture cool. Lightly sift icing sugar over marshmallow. Cover and let sit overnight.

9.  Fill a large, shallow bowl with confectioner's sugar. 

10.  Carefully remove the marshmallow from the pan. Dust marshmallow with icing sugar. Get your kitchen shears oiled and ready. Begin snipping the marshmallow into strips of your desired width/size and then into cubes. Dust with sugar as needed.

11.  The marshmallows can be kept in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

12.  Enjoy these pillowy, magical treats. These marshmallows are just the thing to top your hot cocoa or toast over a winter campfire or bag up and tie with string to share with your friends.

One piece of string...

...and so long to February and hello to back to the blog.

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