When I first read Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles, I knew it would make a great book club pick.
About a young girl dealing with the loss of her father, a busy mother, and her best-friend Grandma who’s away for the summer, it’s full of chickens, zucchini, and adventures with the new girl next door. It’s the most realistic modern story we’ve read in a while, but recreating some of Ruby Lavender’s adventures guaranteed to be fun.
Whenever Ruby Lavender started really missing her grandmother, she’d visit her house and slip into one of her bright pink Hawaiian muu-muus. I decided that we couldn’t really celebrate this story without attempting to make our own.
We started with plain white twin bedsheets cut in half. The girls each ironed theirs and then pinned it in half again to make a basic sheath. We folded raw edges under and sewed them and cut out necklines and stitched those.
While I helped the girls iron, pin, and stitch in turn, the other girls decorated notebooks to use with someone special. In the story, Ruby Lavender hid letters to her grandmother in a knot in a special tree just outside of town, and her grandmother would find the notes and reply. We decided to do the same thing in a special notebook, so the girls collaged, glued, and stickered away to make something unique.
A few of the girls had never used a sewing machine before, and for others it had been a long time. My Big Helper and one other young seamstress did a great job about answering questions and helping their friends get ready to sew while I was busy elsewhere.
After finishing their notebooks, the girls who were waiting for help with their muu-muus moved on to a cooking project. Ruby Lavender’s mother works as a home economist and was challenged with creating new zucchini recipes, so I gave the same project to the girls. One girl decided to chop hers and scramble it with some eggs.
These girls paired up to marinate and grill their zucchini. They made a great team!
My Big Helper decided to saute hers and make her own sauce. She really enjoyed experimenting with ingredients and flavor combinations.
After the muu-muus were completely stitched, the girls painted flower outlines on them with Elmer’s glue. We hung them on a makeshift clothesline in the sun to dry, and then dipped the whole thing into fuschia fabric dye.
The glue acted as a batik and repelled the dye, creating beautiful white flowers on the muu-muus sewn out of t-shirt fabric. The other, slipperier fabric didn’t hold the glue as well, and their muu-muus are more solid in color, but still a pretty pink.
There was a lot happening in this book club event, and it lasted all day! Still, the girls did a great job sewing their muu-muus and creating new recipes. They were careful and responsible, and I heard them discussing the story while they worked.
I love that – when a book makes such an impression that it pulls your attention away from the art project or craft at hand.
What are your kids reading this week?
This post has been shared at: