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KLUTZ Books – Activities for Kids (and the young at heart!)

Reported by Dana Vitek

We’re well into summer vacation, and the chorus of “I’m BORED!” has become deafening. So, what to do on days when it’s too stinkin’ hot to get outside?! KLUTZ Press to the rescue!

KLUTZ books are super-cool activity books geared toward kids, and contain both the instructions AND the materials needed for a number of projects. From paper airplanes, to polymer clay, to pot holders, (and many, many more) there is an offering to intrigue even the most determined-to-be-miserable-and-make-you-miserable-in-the-process kid.

I love Klutz books. They are without a doubt my go-to idea for every kid’s birthday gift I buy. I, myself, learned to juggle by reading the very first KLUTZ book ever published: Juggling for the Complete Klutz way back when I was 10 years old (and yes, I can still juggle… several decades later).

I enlisted a bevy of kid testers for three of the current KLUTZ Press titles: the aforementioned Juggling for the Complete Klutz, Nail Art, and Melty Beads (a product of Chicken Socks, a Klutz Press division for the 4 and up crowd).

First up: Ben learns to juggle:


Ben is a nearly 10 year-old boy who recently got straight A’s on his report card, and is the son of a dear friend. Like most 10 year-olds (my proto-self included), Ben decided that “the book said to start with one block, but I’m going to start with two.” After just a few minutes he was starting to get the hang of it. I’m certain that with more time and practice, Ben will be juggling like a pro. From my point of view, Juggling for the Complete Klutz is more than just an instruction manual… it’s witty and well-written, and the illustrations are hilarious. It comes with three bean-bag juggling cubes and a storage pouch. First published in 1977, this is the 30th anniversary edition…I’d say it’s holding up well.

Next up: Camryn paints her nails:
Camryn is nearly 8, and is the super-sweet daughter of the same dear friend. A fan of all things girly, she got right down to business, first removing her old nail polish, then picking out the bumblebee design to grace her digits. She said she liked that the nail polish went on smoothly, and her mom liked that it was water-based and non-toxic. She had a bit of a hard time getting the stripes thin enough to suit her, and I think maybe a finer detail brush would help here. But, all in all, here’s Miss Camryn sporting clearly recognizable bumblebees on her left hand.

My favorite part? The nail polish is peel-off, so there’s no need for nasty nail polish remover! The book includes a LOT of design ideas and helpful tips, as well as six colors of nail polish.

I birthed the last participant my very own self… this is my kid, Max. He’s 5, and loves red. And blue. Just ask him. Max also loves fire engines and police cars. I love getting him to work on his fine motor skills, counting, colors, and shapes without him realizing he’s being schooled. The Melty Beads book comes with a clear peg board, approximately one billion 600 colorful beads, a sheet of parchment paper, and a book full of idea templates. With very little help from me, Max was able to pick a template, put the pegboard in the right place, and place the beads in the appropriate spots. I put the parchment paper on top, set my medium-hot iron on it for 20 seconds, and VOILA, another permanent piece of plastic to keep forever and ever. Seriously though, Max is quite proud of his work, and currently displaying the fire engine and police car in his room.

Klutz has plenty of books & activities to keep the kids busy outside too… Big Bubbles, The Foxtail Book, and one of my childhood favorite activities: Chinese Jump Rope (cultural incorrectness/insensitivity notwithstanding) are just a few. There are also a ton of books geared toward stationary activities, which are great for car rides and plane trips.

So do I recommend KLUTZ Press products? Whole-heartedly! I’ve given away probably two dozen of the titles as gifts (and own and have used probably a dozen more), and I’ve only ever heard (and can say) great things about them.

Pros:

  • Price. For less than $20 (USD)(in most cases), you get a well-written & illustrated book AND the stuff you need to do the project. Many of the books are in the $12 range, and certainly fall within the in the “oh.my.word, you have ANOTHER birthday party to go to?!” budget.
  • The writers make sure not to talk down to kids. There’s nothing I hate more than patronizing children’s books, and I’ve not found one yet in the Klutz series.
  • Interesting topics, for your tree-climbing outdoorsy kids, those with fidgety fingers, fact-loving bookworms, budding Houdinis, and everyone in between.

Cons (if you insist):

  • Seriously, I’ve got nothing here.
  • The boss lady says I need three cons.
  • This is the third bullet… maybe she won’t actually read this part.

You can find Klutz Press books in craft stores, book stores, and toy stores. You can also buy them directly from the publisher. I rate them an 11 out of 10. Have you used any of the KLUTZ Press products? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Dana Vitek

Dana Vitek is a craft-‐‑supply hoarder with an obscenely understanding husband. She works full-‐‑time as a geologist, and spends her free time sort of paying attention to her two kids, reading a lot, and crafting. She's a crocheter, but not a knitter because knitting seems way too complicated. She's a card maker, but usually only 10 minutes before a birthday party. She cusses at her sewing machine. She has at least 12 different types of glue, but can never find the scissors she wants when she wants them. Dana started writing and editing for Craft Critique in 2008. She is perhaps best known for her Mother of All Black Ink Tests, and her annual April Fool's posts. She blogs extremely irregularly at Stamping Science. http://stampingscience.blogspot.com

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12 Responses to KLUTZ Books – Activities for Kids (and the young at heart!)

  1. Mary July 11, 2008 at 6:03 am #

    Great writing style and review. I don’t have any mini-me’s but would definitely look at getting these for other little friends.

  2. Joan B July 11, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    You are so funny. My 17 year old NEVER did crafts and isn’t about to start but I LOVE your reviews….

  3. IamSusie July 11, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    My only con is that sometimes it is hard to repack the unused craft items back into the storage areas provided with the kit-books. The storage sometimes falls open. The tools and materials they provide are always high quality and the projects are so very satisfying for my kids!

    I never did learn to juggle with that first Klutz book. I had it for years and tried and tried!

  4. kimbrle July 11, 2008 at 9:35 am #

    this is the dear friend of the 2 kids ben & camryn….dv you rock the writing style and fully captured not only the book review, but made my 2 kids 15 min of fame most amazing!

  5. cathier July 11, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    I have loved the Klutz books for years! Own tons and have given them as gifts. Alas, I never could get the hang of juggling even with the Klutz book but got lots of exercise picking the juggling balls off the floor!

  6. ScrapMomOf2 July 11, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    Love them! I have two girls, and we have MANY Klutz books! We’ve gotten them new, at library book sales, at garage sales, etc. They’re always fun, and I think a bargain! PLUS, they do make great gifts! We actually collect the books!

    CAPSTERS is one of our favorites!! We’ve made so many, and we turn them into magnets! Love it!

  7. Anonymous July 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Dana, what a great review and I agree wholeheartedly that Klutz books are super. I’m a quiller and the Klutz book Twirled Paper is one I recommend highly for kids (no, make that people) of all ages!

    Ann in Delaware

  8. Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor July 11, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    I love Klutz books too! The kids have a few of them but their favorite (even now that they are older) is the Body Art Book. The little body paint pencils are almost gone!

  9. vickiparker July 11, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    All of my 3 love the Klutz books – for my 12 yr old son the pirate ship, castle and spaceship are his favourites. He even bought a second set of one of them to make even more.

    My now nearly 18 yr old daughter loves the fashion one and still gets it out every now and then.

  10. Sarah Moore July 12, 2008 at 2:56 am #

    Dana… I love your cons!

    :)

  11. James Vitek July 16, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    A very clever and informative critique. You can definitely tell that you are well-versed in these products. I have a con for you…You’re young one gets excited and hurls the foxtail into the neighbor’s yard, and she is an older lady who takes pride in her collection of wiffle balls, tennis balls, foxtails and the like. But I guess that wouldn’t be Klutz’s fault. Good job.

  12. verna July 16, 2008 at 7:34 am #

    Delightful review (and comments)!