Monday, August 1, 2011

Glorified ingenuity

Steampunkery: polymer clay and mixed media projects by Christi Friesen proved to be an interesting book – and not just for the projects it outlines.  I don’t know why I was surprised to find out that many adults find this whole topic fascinating. But they do.  Check out the reviews on GoodReads or Amazon.

Steampunk is a science fiction sub-genre focusing on the Victorian (or Victorian-like) era, with a bent towards science, gears and gadgetry integral to the story lines. It’s described somewhere as ‘retro-futuristic,’ which I think works well as a label. If you’ve read any of the following books then you’ve had a brush with steampunk:
Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Mortal engines by Philip Reeve
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
          Time machine by Jules Verne

So, back to Steampunkery. I can’t remember where I read about it, but still being a newbie to the genre I thought kids would love it This is an arts and crafts project book that presents eight steampunk projects, interspersed with tips to create additional steampunk looks and featuring ‘galleries’ of guest artist photos as well as Christi Friesen’s own work.  It’s great fun to look at and if you are at all inclined to be creative, then you’ll enjoy this book. It really is inspiring and will make your creative spot itch.

However, I don’t think this is a kid’s book.  Not that it was promoted as such as far as I can remember.  The publisher does suggest that it accommodates all skill levels but I think young kids would find this an exercise in frustration. Nevertheless, the end products will appeal to and fascinate kids of all ages.  I’m thinking high school kids who are really into this genre would find this book appealing and be willing to work through the detailed explanations that Friesen provides.

There are opportunities to capitalize on this interest with school topics, too.  Science, of course, is the most obvious connection.  But also history and the industrial revolution especially with the creativity and inventiveness of some of the gadgets and how they are used.  Do-it-yourselfers beware!


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