Pat Thomson continues her seven-part series
Putting a project together ideally begins with an unhurried survey of all the resources, and then a drawing together of the elements which most suit the age and ability of your particular group of children. If time seems short and information about resources seems less accessible than you would hope, this Books for Keeps Lifeline series may help.
For the 5-12 age range, each section covers one major topic and suggests non-fiction books, stories and poems related to the one theme. The addresses of organisations which offer help and material to schools are also included. The result should he a broadly based range of options which remind you of good material, inform you about new books and maybe even suggest new approaches within the chosen theme. If they won’t give you a research assistant, use BfK instead!
Other themes to be covered in the series include Food. Previous themes covered: house and Home (BfK 51. July 85) and Water (BfK 52, September 88).
PART 3: CLOTHING
Materials and Processes
Clothes, from the original fibre or chemical to the grand creations from the past, are covered in this list of suggested books for the 5-12s.
The Story of Wool, Geoffrey Patterson, Deutsch 1987, 0 233 97923 9, £5.95. Boldly executed, coloured drawings add considerable appeal to a picture book which starts with a line-up of different breeds of sheep. Essentially for dipping into, the facets chosen are all good talking points.
Wool, Annabelle Dixon, A & C Black 1988, 0 7136 3049 3, £4.50. There is more emphasis on activity in this Threads series title which goes from sheep to sweater, encouraging even the youngest to observe and experiment.
For older children, Focus on Wool, Andrew Langley, Wayland 1985, 0 85078 617 7. £5.95. goes into more detail. It starts by explaining what wool actually is, and then follows the process from sheep to garment. Illustrations are mainly well-chosen photographs. See also Focus on Cotton, Lewis Miles, Wayland 1986, 0 85078 668 I , £5.95.
The Silkworm Story, Jennifer Coldrey, Deutsch 1983, 0 233 97553 5, £4.95. The main information text comes in an introductory section and then Oxford Scientific Films takes over with a series of astonishing photographs with captions.
Fuzzy and Furry, Vicki Cobb, A & C Black 1987, 0 7136 2990 8, £4.95, looks in detail at thread and fibre. Part of the cheerful Science Safari series which introduces investigative science to infants.
Clothes, Heather Govier, Macdonald 1987, 0 356 13224 2, £4.99. ‘Why wear clothes at all?’ is the first question. Double spreads look at natural fibres, man-made fibres and the separate processes. There are activity and information boxes scattered throughout and a ‘technology to try’ section. The sometimes confusing layout is balanced by a lively and innovative style.
Textiles, Kathryn Whyman, Watts 1988. 0 86313 767 9, £5.95. This middle age-range book in the Resources Today series demonstrates vividly in one of its ‘Fact Files’ that fibres today can be animal, vegetable or mineral. Although there is only one page of text per topic in most cases, the overview is thoroughly comprehensive.
Made to Wear
Sweater, Kathy Henderson, Macdonald 1986, 0 356 11553 4, £2.95. A conversational picture book, one double spread per simplified process, from the farm to Tom and Michael’s sweaters.
The Very Special Sari, Feroza Mathieson, A & C Black 1988, 0 7136 3064 7, £4.50. A wedding in India, like anywhere else, demands special clothes. The narrative style and good photographs make it possible for the youngest to follow the making of the garment.
Making Shoes, Ruth Thomson, Watts 1986, 0 86313 430 0, £5.25. Large print and clear photographs but younger children may need help with the technical terms. A pair of trainers is followed from a sheet of foam-backed nylon to the familiar Clarks’ box.
The Textile Industry in the Past
Weavers and Outworkers in Victorian Times, Peter Searby, Longman 1980, 0 582 23017 9. £1.75 pbk. Intended for older children, but well worth interpreting for younger, this book uses a lot of contemporary accounts. The ‘outwork industries are covered – ribbon weavers. straw plaiters (for hats) and button makers. An interesting sidelight, especially as children were heavily involved in outwork.
Textiles, Don Hale and Martyn Vickers, Edward Arnold 1982, 0 7131 0587 9, o/p. Concentrates on the trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The factory system is traced through the people, raw materials and the new machinery. The final chapters look at the decline of the industry and the rise of man-made fibres. Includes a ‘things to do’ section.
Mill, David Macaulay, Collins 1983, 0 00 195545 4, £6.95. Macaulay’s skill in making technicalities clear is again in evidence. The first chapter explains the technical principles, and then we see the development of a series of cotton mills, powered by water, each more advanced, until the Harwood Mill can boast the first steam engine. Useful drawings, exploded diagrams and imaginative text.
Costume, Past and Present
A useful starting point for the teacher and older pupil is Costume History 1500-1900, Valerie Cumming, Batsford 1981, 0 7134 1829 X, £10.95. It begins with a section on project work, discussing sources and methods, then each section starts with fashion in its historical context for that time, before going on to actual items of clothing. Wonderfully detailed (prices, shops, technical developments) and well organised.
The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Nellie Roberts, 0 521 30298 6, £3.95 (0 521 31622 7, £1.95 pbk) and The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Helen Herbert, 0 521 30809 7, £3.95 (0 521 31326 0, £1.95 pbk) are part of the The Clothes they Wore series, Cambridge 1986. Inexpensive, with coloured pictures, they offer simple sketches with notes on different aspects, such as ‘sculptured hair’ or ‘military styles’.
Clothes, Marjorie Wilkerson, Batsford 1970, 0 7134 1766 8, £8.95. A comprehensive overview in the Past into Present format. Includes a section on children’s clothes.
Clothes in History, Charlotte Sewell, Wayland 1983, 0 85078 308 9, £5.50. One of the interesting Picture History series, where a picture can be used as an original source of historical information, as well as a relatively easy text.
Looking Back at Clothes and Fashion, Anne Mountfield, Macmillan 1988, 0 333 43941 4, £6.50 pbk. Arranged not by period, but by aspect, this book picks out a multiplicity of facets. Some are major, like manufacturing, some are minor but fascinating, like ‘decency and decoration’. The quiz is actually quite good!
Batsford have produced a number of books with adult texts which can be usefully employed. Professionals in this field use picture research and children can use these books in the same way:
A Visual History of Costume: the seventeenth century, Valerie Cumming, 1984, 0 7134 4093 7, £12.95. One example from an authoritative series which covers the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Contemporary illustrations show dress and accessories, each picture having notes divided into ‘head’, ‘body’ and ‘accessories’ which illuminate or enlarge on the picture information.
History of Women’s Costume, Marion Sichel, 1984, 0 7134 1515 0, £8.95. Line drawings and substantial notes, from Ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Especially good on detail-a powder puffer for wigs, the superstructure of the bustle. Useful glossary of fashion terms at the back. See also Children’s Costume, 0 7134 1517 7, £8.95.
Shoes, June Swann, 1982, 0 7134 0942 8, £10.95. The format is period portraits plus notes and, as the author is the country’s foremost expert on the subject, the notes are full and fascinating. There is a preamble to each section on particular details, like heels and fastenings. Worth making this kind of expertise available to children, even if you do have to help out with the occasional word.
Clothes for particular purposes are covered by a series published by Wayland, called Costumes and Clothes. Written by Miriam Moss in 1988, Clothes in Hot Weather, 1 85210 102 4, and Clothes in Cold Weather, 1 85210 103 2, £5.95 each, look at function and location under these conditions; Working Clothes (1987). 0 85078 990 7, £5.95, looks at protective clothing, public service clothing and the rather more exotic costumes of the entertainment world; Uniforms (1988), 0 85078 991 5, £5.95, is divided into fighting and civilian uniforms, so there is not only the expected soldiers but also school uniform, religious clothing and punks. A way into the topic for some might well be Sports Clothes by Philip Dicks (1987), 1 85210 098 2, £5.95, in the same series.
One title which has an historical approach and yet contains a lot of current information is Exploring Clothes, Brenda Ralph Lewis, Wayland 1988, 1 85210 006 0, £6.50. The suggested activities offer a different, often analytical, approach. The two final projects are a local history investigation, based on old newspapers, and a ‘futuristic’ design idea. A list of costume collections is appended.
FICTION AND POETRY
Bear Gets Dressed, Harriet Ziefert and Arnold Lobel, Viking Kestrel, 0 670 81091 6, £3.95. Folded pages make this a guessing game – choose the right garment.
Alfie’s Feet, Shirley Hughes, Bodley Head, 0 370 30416 0, £5.25; Picture Lions, 0 00 662161 9, £1.95 pbk. Alfie gets some splendid new wellies, but there’s something odd about them. Brings in right and left.
Nini at Carnival, Errol Lloyd, Bodley Head, 0 370 30023 8, £5.50: Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.578 4, £l .75 pbk. Includes lots of pictures of unusual costumes.
Mister Magnolia, Quentin Blake, Cape, 0 224 01612 1, £5.95; Picture Lions, 0 00 661879 0, £1.95 pbk. A footwear problem resolved in irresistible rhyme.
Bare Bear, Jez Alborough, Knight, 0 340 37446 2, £1.95 pbk. Bear boldly removes his polar gear to reveal a bare bear.
The Long Blue Blazer, Jeanne Willis and Susan Varley, Andersen, 0 86264 179 9, £5.95. Enchanting, unexpected story in which a mystery boy arrives in his long, blue blazer. Spare and direct, but the mystery lingers.
Catch That Hat!, Emma Chichester Clark, Bodley Head, 0 370 31179 5, £5.95. When that hat blows away, a whole string of animal friends unsuccessfully pursue it. Strong, subtle colours enhance the pictures.
New Clothes for Alex, Mary Dickinson and Charlotte Firmin, Deutsch, 0 233 97685 X, £3.95; Hippo, 0 590 70446 X, £1.75 pbk. A shopping expedition on which Alex finds just the sort of new clothes he likes.
No Roses for Harry!, Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham, Bodley Head, 0 370 007182, £5.95; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.016 2, £l .95 pbk. A very old favourite! The original dirty dog rejects his new, flowery sweater.
A New Coat for Anna, Harriet Ziefert and Anita Lobel, Julia MacRae, 0 86203 286 5, £6.25. Touching story of the way in which a wartime shortage is overcome and, along the way, we see all the stages involved in getting Anna her much-needed new coat.
The Quilt Story, Tony Johnston and Tomie de Paola, Macdonald, 0 356 16054 8, £4.99; 0 356 16055 6, £2.50 pbk. A quilt, stitched long ago, survives the years to comfort another little girl, just as it comforted its original owner.
Ramona and Her Mother, Beverly Cleary, Puffin, 0 14 03.1328 1, £1.95 pbk. See ‘Slacks for Ella Funt’ and ‘Remora’s New Pyjamas’.
The Faithless Lollybird, Joan Aiken, Cape, 0 224 01332 7, o/p. In the title story, a magical weaving bird is tried too far and flies away, pursued by the repenting weaver. Intriguing mixture of traditional and modern elements.
The Fib and Other Stories, George Layton, Lions, 0 00 671808 6, £1.95 pbk. In ‘Balaclava Story’ mum won’t buy the essential balaclava, which leads to a nasty situation which is retrieved by a very clever twist in the plot! Well crafted story for 8+.
Many traditional stories refer to clothing and textile processes. See, for example, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Swan Brothers from Andersen, The Elves and the Shoemaker and Rumpelstiltskin from Grimm.
Novels from 10 and up
Midnight is a Place, Joan Aiken, Cape, 0 224 00968 0, £6.95; Puffin, 0 l4 03.0836 9, £2.95 pbk. The sort of story where wrongs are triumphantly righted after much hardship, the darker scenes being set in a carpet-weaving factory.
The Wool-Pack, Cynthia Harnett, Puffin, 0 14 03.0153 4, £2.50 pbk. The fifteenth-century wool trade vividly recreated. Great detail in both the story and the meticulous illustration.
Spellcoats, Diana Wynne Jones, Macmillan, o/p. As Tanaqui weaves the coats, she is woven into the history of Dalemark and becomes the intermediary between the dangerous present and the living past.
Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones, Methuen, 0 416 61590 2, £7.95; Teens, 0 416 07442 1, £l 95 pbk. Sophie is resigned to the hat trade, but in a country where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility exist, a dull life is not really likely. A funny, romantic, inventive story.
A single location for each poem is given so consult your own collections. The first poems are, for the youngest, rising through the age range.
‘These are the clothes that my big brother wore’ by Clive Riche and ‘Paws’ by Stanley Cook in A Very First Poetry Book by John Foster, Oxford, 019 916051 1, £4.95; 0 19 916050 3, £2.95 pbk.
‘I can tie my shoe laces’, anon., in Rhymes Around the Day by Jan Ormerod and Pat Thomson, Viking Kestrel, 0 670 80793 1, £5.95; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.424 9, £1.75 pbk.
The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear and Helen Oxenbury, Heinemann, 0 434 95596 5, £6.95; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.062 6, £1.75 pbk.
The Old Man and the Edible Suit by Edward Lear and Jon Atlas Higham, Macmillan, 0 333 41384 9, £5.50; Picturemac, 0 333 45283 6, £2.50 pbk.
‘Happiness’ in When We Were Very Young by A A Milne, Methuen, 0 416 39280 6, £5.50; 0 416 22580 2, £ 1.50 pbk.
‘Action Man’ by Stanley Cook, ‘Chester’s Undoing’ by Julie Holder, ‘My Sock’ by Ivor Cutler and ‘Clothes’ by Elizabeth Jennings, all in A Second Poetry Book by John Foster, Oxford, 0 19 918137 3, £4.95; 0 19 918136 5, £2.95 pbk.
‘If you don’t put your shoes on’ and ‘I’ve had this shirt’ in Mind Your Own Business by Michael Rosen, Deutsch, 0 233 96468 1, £4.95; Young Lions, 0 00 670959 1, £1.95 pbk.
‘Wedding Day’ in Song of the City by Gareth Owen, Collins, 0 00 184846 1, £4.95; Lions, 0 00 672410 8, £ 1.95 pbk.
‘Frank Carew MacGraw’ by Terry Jones, ‘Five Little Brothers’, anon., and ‘Grandma’ by Ted Hughes, all in The Kingfisher Book of Comic Verse by Roger McGough, 0 86272 217 9, £6.95.
‘Greensleeves’, anon. in Talking to the Sun by Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell, Viking Kestrel, 0 670 81450 4, £10.95.
The following organisations offer information or materials. The items mentioned are those which are free or available for a nominal sum. Enquiries to the following addresses – an s.a.e. is usually appreciated:
British Man-Made Fibres Federation
24 Buckingham Gate
SW I E 6LB
British Wool Marketing Board
Dylon International Ltd
Worsley Bridge Road
International Wool Secretariat
The Knitting Council
Proctor & Gamble Education Service
P O Box 1 EE
Silk Education Service
Parkett Hayes House
If you have £6.45, Oxfam has a pack, based on the resist-dyed indigo cloth from West Nigeria, which involves a whole variety of activities:
Alero Activity Pack Oxfam Education Dept Oxfam House 274 Banbury Road Oxford OX2 7DZ
Pat Thomson is Professional Studies Librarian at Nene College of Higher Education, past chair of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, and author of the ‘Share-a-Story’ series from Gollancz.