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Details on the Set of Blocks:
This set of blocks is made from salvaged wood and comes in a small open-topped wood box, crafted by Gustavo. The set also comes with a full-color booklet that includes the entire text of both stories, along with bio and contact information for each contributor.
The set includes 36 blocks (1½" cube). The top of each block is a stenciled capital letter or a number (A-Z, 0-9), and the bottom is the matching lower case letter (a-z) or a punctuation mark (! $ & ? / : - % . +).
The remaining four sides contain the lines for two unique poems ("A Musical Menagerie" and "A Box of Blocks") and original illustrations for each line of each poem. There are two pictures and one verse of each poem on each block.
The illustrations include a myriad of animals, musical instruments, a character called Oog -- a little green alien that loves his blocks -- and several of Oogâs alien friends. The blocks are very colorful and encourage letter and color recognition, counting, reading, eye-hand coordination, and plain old fun.
Here are a few excerpts from the stories... these are just samples, you have to buy the set or contact the authors to read the whole stories :)
From "A Musical Menagerie" (copyright 2006 by Jennifer Johnson):
An assembly of animals, one afternoon,
Begged a bunch of bizarre birds to play them a tune.
Creatures crowded to hear,
Dogs and dolphins came near,
Even emus, excited, decided to look.
On and on went the argument, over and over,
Pitting pandas and pigs against penguins and plover.
âQuiet!â The quail said, with querulous voice.
âRhinos, rabbits, and animals! Here is your choice:
Suffer in silence, or sing your own song.â
Then the troubled beasts thought, and they knew they were wrong.
One (1) wombat sang a solo, waltzing all the while.
Two (2) tigers did a duet, full of stripes and style.
Three (3) turtles drummed.
Four (4) frogs hummed.
Five (5) ferrets played flutes.
From "A Box of Blocks" (copyright 2006 by Victoria Button):
Have you got a box of blocks?
A box of blocks is what iâve got â
Iâve got lots and lots of blocks!
Blocks of wood in a wooden box
A wooden box of wooden blocks â
Iâve got lots and lots of blocks!
If my stack of blocks goes flop,
I build it back, block by block â
Block on block, i never stop!
Are there pictures on your blocks?
Yes, of birds and bands and more â
Iâve got blocks and blocks galore!
Creatures in my box of blocks
Talk and sing and dance foxtrots â
Iâve got lots and lots of blocks!
Details on the Collaboration:
This team came together because of Etsy, and this contest in specific. After hearing about the contest, Tammy put out a feeler to see if there were any authors that might be interested in working with her on something.
The collaboration began with Tammy, Victoria, and Jennifer brainstorming story ideas for a set of alphabet and number blocks. Jen wrote "A Musical Menagerie," an alliterative, alphabetical, and counting poem. In order to read the poem, the blocks must be lined up in the correct alphabetical and numerical order. Victoria wrote "A Box of Blocks," a fun, tongue-twisting poem about the box of blocks itself. The two poems read independently but also provide a fun counterpoint to each other, and interplay where Victoria's poem comments on the creatures in Jen's poem.
The next step was to create illustrations for the blocks. Laura and Jelene worked together to illustrate Jen's poem, and Yael developed the illustrations for Victoria's poem. There are 72 original and unique illustrations in total! Each block has two pictures (one for each poem) and two sides of text (one from each poem). The remaining two sides of each cube have an upper case letter (or number) and the corresponding lower case letter (or symbol).
Gustavo contributed a beautiful set of eco-friendly cedar wood blocks, made from salvaged wood that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill, exclusively for this set. Gus also contributed the matching box.
Tammy then set to work transferring the text and illustrations onto the blocks. Tammy also put together the booklet that will be included with the set.
The 26 letters blocks have both upper and lower-case letters. The remaining 10 blocks have numbers and symbols. Since "A Musical Menagerie" is an alliterative and counting poem, each block contains words matching that block's letter or number, and matching characters are underlined wherever they appear.
The blocks include a wide range of colors, and the placement of the poems on the blocks helps to encourage your child to learn alphabetical order. The booklet can be used as a guide to help younger children figure out the order the blocks need to go in.
Jenâs poem, and the illustrations that go with it, will help your child identify a wide range of animals and some musical instruments. Oog, the character illustrating Victoriaâs poem, is a very creative alien, and has demonstrated several ways in which the blocks can be used, including stacking them (and re-stacking them if they fall), counting with them, putting them in alphabetical order, and pointing out the colors used.
Team Member Biographies:
*Tammy Bowles*, StoryBlox.etsy.com, lives in small-town Ohio. Tammy is the creator of the StoryBlox(tm) line of educational products. Tammy used the contributions from the other members to assemble the set of blocks. She also added the transfer to the box, and setup the booklet that is included with the set.
"I started this project with a few ideas in mind but had no idea if it would work out or not. It has been an amazing experience seeing the writers and illustrators work together, to create an amazing set of blocks that I am very proud to have displayed in my shop. The blocks craftsman provided are simply beautiful. I have enjoyed working with everyone on this project, and look forward to the possibility of doing projects like this in the future."
*Victoria Button*, OriginalJewels.etsy.com, strings both words and beads together in her dual careers as writer and jewelry maker. Much of her jewelry incorporates words clipped from vintage publications, as well as found objects, repurposed items and treasures located during her travels. She was born in Africa, grew up in Australia, lived in Asia and recently moved to America - and likes the letter "A". Victoria currently lives in Los Angeles.
For this project, Victoria wrote "A Box of Blocks." She has this to say about the experience: "Jen's poem was an incredibly hard act to follow --- but I'm pleased with my tongue-twisting ode to Dr Seuss. And seeing it so beautifully illustrated is a real thrill!"
*Jennifer Johnson*, bfbeads.etsy.com, is a published poet and a self-taught compulsive crafter. Jen can quilt, sew, make hats, weave baskets, knit, and make beaded jewelry. Since the birth of her son, her crafting energies have gone into making and selling her Baby Friendly Beads, which are unique nursing necklaces and bracelets designed to help with breastfeeding. They are for sale here in her Etsy shop. She lives in San Jose, California.
Jen wrote "The Musical Menagerie" especially for the Coproduction contest. This collaboration is her first opportunity to work with illustrators, and she says, "I'm absolutely delighted with the result! I love how my words play off Victoria's fun poem and the wonderful pictures by Laura and Jelene and Yael. It was a challenge to write something that suited Tammy's StoryBlox format, but it worked out beautifully. I'm excited that Gustavo was able to contribute a special set of ecologically friendly blocks for the contest. It gives a nice touch to the project!"
*Laura McConnell*, dogboneart.etsy.com, says, "I am Laura, aka, Laura McConnell of Dog Bone Art. I am a painter, art educator and illustrator from New Jersey. I live in an old house with Jason and my two Jack Russell Terriers, J.B. and the ever-challenging character, PeeWee. I grew up in northern New Jersey and part of the time in Florida too. I originally went to school for graphic design but after a variety of different career paths, I began teaching art at the elementary school level. I have been teaching for 12 years. I have done different types of artwork over the years including torn floral watercolors, where I tore the painted paper and pieced it together to form the images. I even had them in a gallery and sold a bunch on Ebay. More recently I have gone back to my graphic art roots and have been painting my funky dog and cat images on wood. I like a lot of bright colors and wild patterns. I have now begun doing children's book illustrations and kidinspired graphics. My sister and I have also written a children's book called Fruff's Garden (let me know if you'd like to check it out!). The character of "Fruff" is inspired by my wacky but loveable Jack Russell Terrier, PeeWee.
Laura illustrated blocks A through R of "A Musical Menagerie." Laura says, "This is an amazing, colorful and fun way to read a story..art and reading combined!"
*Yael Miller*, yaelmiller.etsy.com, illustrated all of the blocks for "A Box of Blocks." Yael says, "Creating the character and illustrations for this special edition of StoryBlox was a challenging and fun experience. Having to come up with no less than 36 unique drawings was daunting!
Although my profession is in graphic design and branding, I have been drawing for as long as I can remember - long before computers were the designer's 'tool of choice'. Drawing and art are in the family, too. My parents are both very artistic, as well as three of my siblings, one of whom is also starting to get into illustration for children.
This is actually my first commissioned illustration project. I studied illustration and writing for children for a short time, but ended up professionally in graphic design. It's very exciting for me to get 'back into' hands-on drawing. It's incredibly liberating and enjoyable. I thank Victoria, who wrote "A Box of Blocks" and Tammy, the creator of StoryBlox, for the opportunity to work on this unique project."
*Jelene Morris*, jelene.etsy.com, says, "I have been a professional artist for over 8 years. I am from Columbia, South Carolina and majored in art at USC (The Univ. of South Carolina). I first started creating art back in preschool years and it's been my favorite thing ever since. In college I knew that I wanted to become a professional artist and back then I was making mostly pottery. I started painting on canvas back in 1996. I feel like painting with acrylic on canvas, gives me the ease and the spontaneity to create as much and as fast as I want. My work is usually not planned out. I see a blank canvas and think about what would look the best on it. I start drawing my lines in paint, and fill in the areas with color, blending some in. I also work on paper, sometimes as large as 6 feet in length. It's really fun to work fast, blending colors before the paint dries on the paper. I also enjoy making childlike graphics and illustrations. I am inspired by children's cartoons, pop art and abstract art. My favorite artists are Keith Haring, Rodney Allan Greenblat, Andy Warhol, Tim Burton, and Dali. I started my first website back in 1998 called jelene.com and started selling my paintings on ebay worldwide. My minipop series also started in 1998, as well as creating my character "Tickles Goldfish". My work is usually referred as Pop Art, which is childlike, fun and funky."
Jelene illustrated blocks R through 0 of "A Musical Menagerie." Jelene says, "These blocks were so much fun to illustrate! The story is really cute and wonderful, and I think these blocks are great for children and kid's at heart!"
*Gustavo Reyes*, craftsman.etsy.com, says, "As a small boy I saw my father doing things that he loved one of which was making jewelery. He would take me and my little brother with him. In one room we learned to paint and draw from the artist that were in the studio, in the other he would melt gold or silver for his next creation. To this day I remember this time has some of the happiest days of my childhood. I went on to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There my life was forever changed. I learned of the many freedoms which Art holds and the gifts it gives. Since those days I have tried to break the domestication of the planet's dream and have found peace in my woodworking." Gustavo lives in Chicago.
Gustavo contributed a special set of eco-friendly cedar blocks for the coproduction contest, along with a matching box. Gus says, âThank you for allowing me to participate. I took a look at the photos and they look great. You have done a great job.â
The letters, numbers and symbols are painted on using stencils and a very durable indoor/outdoor, child safe, non-toxic paint. The story text is applied toner ink (so no more dangerous than a photo copy). These blocks are VERY durable and will survive most any abuse that doesn't destroy the wood itself.
This set of blocks is eco-friendly, and the cedar wood is incredibly light while remaining very durable.
Within the US, your item will be shipped via USPS Priority Mail (with insurance) and your item should be mailed out 1-2 business days after your payment clears.
We might be able to ship international, but these blocks are heavy, will require special handling, and some countries do not allow wood products to be shipped in. If you are outside of the US and would like to purchase this set, please contact StoryBlox for a shipping quote.