Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

sweet dreams are made of thisTravel through a cloud-covered dream tunnel which doubles as a magical oven for a pie full of sweet dreams. Dreams and pie…is there a book than can connect the two? Oh my yes.

We read Sweet Dream Pie, written by Audrey Wood, and illustrated by Mark Teague (Scholastic, 1998). Pa Brindle can’t sleep, so he begs Ma Brindle to dust off her magical, oversized pie-making equipment and bake a sweet dream pie. Despite repeatedly warning Pa that things could get out of control, Ma finally agrees to do it. The enormous pie is stuffed with sweets of all kinds, and the giant oven (which is set to “Special”), causes a heat wave on Willobee Street. Neighbors gather, ignore Ma’s warnings, and eat way too much pie. The result? Some of the wildest, out-of-control dreams imaginable (as only Mark Teague can illustrate!). Sighing, Ma Brindle takes her broom and sweeps the tempestuous dreams away. Ah well. She did warn them.

You’ll need:

  • 1 sturdy paper plate (approximately 8.5″ in diameter)
  • 1 rectangle of tin foil (approximately 12″ x 13″)
  • 1 circle of tagboard or poster board (approximately 6.25″ in diameter)
  • 1 circle of brown packing paper (approximately 11.25″ in diameter)
  • 1 paper bowl
  • Dream pie decorating supplies (more on that below)
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • 1 dream oven (more on that below)
  • Hot glue

First, the pie! Place a paper plate on top of a rectangle of tin foil, then wrap the tin foil up and around the sides of the paper plate. The tin foil should just cover the edges of the plate, not the entire thing.

pie pan step 1Hot glue a tagboard or poster board circle to the center of the plate.

pie pan step 2Decorate the tagboard circle with your dream scene! First, we gave kids a quarter of a sheet of paper and asked them to draw a dream character or scene.

Once that was glued (or taped) in place, we offered supplies to fancy things up: iridescent cello, colored cotton balls, tissue paper circles, iridescent fabric shapes, self-adhesive foam, fabric flowers, foam beads, large gemstones, self-adhesive butterflies, pom-poms, small feathers, bits of embossed foil paper, mesh tubing, and metallic dot stickers.

Here’s Marissa’s dream scene, which involves stars, dusk, flying, and and ice cream clouds. Be-a-u-ti-ful.

marissa's dream sceneAnd here are the dream pies the kids made! We asked the kids to describe the dreams for us, but I must admit, those who did offer their interpretations were still somewhat vague. Below, see if you can spot a ballerina, Valentine’s Day, flying, unicorn wonderland, ghost, mountains, butterflies, Spider-man, a birthday party, “purple,” “Antiga,” “shy,” and hippo.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When the inside of the pie is done, set it aside for a moment. Use scissors or a box cutter to cut slits in the center of a 11.25″ circle of brown packing paper (or brown wrapping paper). These are the “ventilation slits” for your pie.

pie crust step 1Next, roll the edges of the circle upwards and inwards (about 0.25″ should do it). These are the edges of your “pie crust.”

pie crust step 2Now to add the “dome” to the top of your crust. Flip a paper bowl upside down and press and smooth the crust over the top of the bowl. You’ll need some height here to cover that crazy dream scene you created.

pie crust step 3Place the crust on top of the paper pie plate. It’s very cool to see the dream scene through the little ventilation holes of the pie crust!

finished dream pieYou can stop the project there, or you can take it a step further and go through a dream oven! This doesn’t have to be fancy. You can drape a sheet over a table, or head into a darkened closet with some blue lights or glow sticks. But if you’d like to replicate our dream oven, here’s how we did it. Basically, it was a big box with door flaps cut out on both ends. On the outside, the box looked like an oven set to “Special.”

dream ovenBut inside, it was a fantastic dreamscape! Marissa lined the box with blue paper, hot glued white felt clouds to the walls, rigged up dangling polyester fill clouds, and dotted the whole thing with mirror board stars. She used packing tape to attach a strand of blue LED rope lights to the ceiling. It was…so…awesome.

inside the dream ovenGrasping their dream pies, the kids entered the oven and scooted through the tunnel, “cooking” their pies amidst clouds and stars. Some kids charged through the tunnel and lined right back up for another turn. Others meandered slowly through the tunnel, pausing to take in the dreamy atmosphere (I took a turn too!). Sweet dreams!

meandering dreamer

 

350 for 50

350 for 50 typewriter popWe are delighted to announce the winners of our annual 350 for 50 writing contest! This year, we challenged young writers from 3 different age categories to pen a 350-word story that included the sentence “It unfurled slowly, then settled.” The prize? Publication, of course, and a $50 shopping spree at Labyrinth Books, Princeton’s local bookstore! Warmest congratulations to this year’s winners.


Creepy Night_artwork by Aliisa LeeCreepy Night

Rachel Glantzberg, age 9

The old man peered at his clock. It read 11:54 PM. The wind howled through a small crack in the window. He saw a swarm of bats glide across the bright full moon. A loud groan escaped his mouth. Oh the pain he had! His back was badly injured after the horrible fall he took yesterday in the garden.

This old man had such extensive pain, he pushed himself up with his thin, aching bones while reaching for his cane to take an extra dose of medicine. Finally out of bed, he waddled to the living room.

Suddenly, he heard a strange noise. No, it wasn’t the wind. It was, it was… he didn’t exactly know what it was. With mysterious thoughts in his mind, the man continued on his journey to take an extra pill. As he reached for the window pane to gain some desperately needed balance, he caught sight of his newly planted rose bush.

What only 24 hours ago was a lifeless, dormant collection of clenched buds appeared to be awakening. Or was it? Suddenly from the middle of the bush a single red rose began to rise. One inch. Two inches. Then three and four. Before long it was a full foot above the rest. Then it just stopped. It unfurled slowly, then settled.

The old man was so astounded he forgot all about his aches and pains. He dropped his cane as he scurried back to his bedroom. Quickly shutting the door behind him he jumped back into his bed. He didn’t sleep a wink that night. He just laid there counting the minutes ‘til daylight.


Word_artwork by Aliisa LeeWord
By Grant Weingaertner, age 11

“Stop playing video games. You’re going to go blind!” shouts Mom. “Do something productive. You have to enter the Picture Book Press 350 for 50 contest this year. It has to include the sentence, ‘it unfurled slowly, then settled’.”

“NOOOOOOO!” I shout.How am I supposed to think of something for that sentence and make it interesting? After a week I haven’t thought of anything. Maybe Mom forgot about it. Now it is spring break and I’m playing Pokémon on my 3DS.

“You can’t spend your spring break playing video games. Your thumbs will fall off.”
I pace around worried that I can’t think of anything. But being the forgetful person that I am, I start to play Pokémon again. I catch a Shuckle, a Noibat, a Skrelp, and a Metagross.

“You have to practice your piano and then write your story.”

This is horrid! Now, not only do I have to write but also I have to practice piano. I sulk to the piano and flail around on the keyboard.

Mom shouts, “Now write.”

Slinking over to the desk, I flop on the chair and lay down my head. Suddenly, an idea hits me. Why haven’t I thought of this before? I smile and type furiously. My story is about me trying to figure out what to write about. I’m typing so fast, my laptop might burst into flame.

Soon, I am bored.

I wander off and pace around for a while, and then I am drawn to my 3DS like a moth to a flame. I crushed the Elite Four with my Xerneas. I am declared the league champion. This is psychedelic!

Oops, Mom is walking past. I’m supposed to be writing. I hurry back to my laptop.
I finally reach the present in my story and I have run out of material. Maybe I should check the rules. It says “Stories must be no longer than 350 words.” Man! 350 words! That’s a lot for me. How many words do I have left? I check the word count.

I have 351! Guess I have to delete a…


Corrupted_artword by Aliisa LeeCORRUPTED
By Rennie DiLorenzo, age 13

Space. In the old days, everyone thought that there were lots of galaxies, full of wonder and hope. But being the patrol in the small quadrant of Aster-Delta 6, I found that looking at a galaxy for hours on end really doesn’t fill you with excitement. Or anything close to that. Instead, you begin to question your existence and the existence of others.

On my small, four-roomed ship (plus cockpit) called “Determination,” the most fun activity was releasing the air lock. Or playing Merio – a virtual-reality game. But seriously, after awhile, beating Browser again and again gets boring quickly. This is a lonely job.

One day, in the middle of one of my “questioning life and existence” sessions, my monitor
showed me that there was an incoming ship. The ship was small and Class 5, which was good because only Class 3 and up were allowed to dock here. My ship is a class 5.5c. I messaged him and said “What is your business in this zone?” The response I got sent chills down my spine: “CORRUPTED.”

This never happens. This would take an insane amount of damage/hacking to get this message typed. To put this in perspective, you would need a whole country of hackers on that ship to create half of the letter “c.” This message had only been managed once by a crew of 2 trillion and a space ship made from three small planets. The craft I was looking at couldn’t fit two people.

I stumbled and slapped myself to see if this was some cruel nightmare. It was not. I
messaged again: “WHAT?!” The response came from the snake like blaster hose at the top of the ship. It unfurled slowly then settled. Another message: “ CORRUPTED.”

I started shaking. I tried to contact Aster-6 headquarters. The message I got back terrified me to the bone: “CORRUPTED.” For the first time, I was truly alone. The blaster on the ship was charging up.

There was a blinding light and then sudden and utter darkness.


Artwork by Aliisa Lee

These Butterflies Can Book

these butterflies can bookRecently, while in Brooklyn, I wandered into a little toy store called Matt & Juliette. There, I discovered some neat-o wind-up butterflies by Seedling. The clerk at the toy store explained that some people like to put the butterflies inside birthday cards. When the recipient opens the card, the butterfly flutters out. If it works for cards, I thought, it’ll totally work for books! I immediately purchased a pair to test out. They retail for $3 each and come in 4 different colors and styles.

magic butterflies by seedlingAs you can see, the toy is pretty simple. You hold one half and twist the other half. This motion winds the 2 rubber bands, which ultimately propel the toy skyward.

butterfly toyThe directions warned that winding the rubber bands too tightly could cause them to snap. This is true. Over the course of 20 test flights, we broke 2 rubber bands. But there are two spare rubber bands in each package, so no problem! Alas, one of the plastic hooks on the smaller butterfly snapped within 5 minutes, rendering the toy useless, but the other one held out just fine. Ready to see a butterfly in action?


There’s no denying it. It’s fun to have a butterfly sail out of a book. But the toy is erratic. Sometimes it flutters around the table, sometimes it dives to the floor, and sometimes it tears out of the book and zooms away like a bird.


There is absolutely no way to predict, or manipulate, the butterfly’s path out of book. Especially when it decides it wants to attack you.


The erratic flying made me wonder if this toy would freak out kids. So I tested it out on my unsuspecting children (ages 5 and 7). They loved it! There was no flinching or shrieks of alarm when a butterfly suddenly flew out of the book. In fact, they took turns winding it up and releasing it from their hands. This made me realize that the toy is a simple machine, and might work at a STEM program too.

In short, for $3, this is an inexpensive piece of magic for your next story time or program. Just make sure to buy extra butterflies in case the plastic breaks. Happy flying!