Last week, Myla’s school celebrated reading week. Myla never misses an opportunity to wear any kind of costume to school, and when the day came to “dress as your favorite book character,” she immediately said, “THIMBLETACK!”
If you’re not familiar, Thimbletack is a house brownie in the Spiderwick Chronicles books by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (containing Mr. DiTerlizzi’s beautiful illustrations), and we have consumed the entire book series like cake in our bedtime reading time.
I always love a good creative challenge. But how the heck was I going to pull off a Thimbletack? With our busy life, I had waited til the last minute on this one, and found myself scrambling for an idea the night before. Thankfully, this was one of those times when the planets aligned and the stars shone down on my craft room, and I was able to magically whip something together within a half hour.
House Brownies, according to the book, make their clothes up from things they find around the house, and their little hats are made from thimbles or scraps of fabric, with buttons and things tucked in. I didn’t know HOW the heck I was going to make a hat with that sort of look….until I remembered a hat called a pakol that my husband had brought back from his last deployment to Afghanistan. I unrolled it, and it had nearly the same silhouette. Magical sparkling birds sang songs of happiness as they flew around my shoulders.
Unsure whether or not my husband would mind me destroying this deployment souvenir, I maintained the integrity of the hat by wrapping it with a burlap ribbon and pinning it to the hat. On the burlap ribbon, I hot-glued a pair of quickly-sewn ears. I dug through one of my many craft drawers and found (to my surprise) several giant buttons that I do not ever remember intentionally purchasing. I hot-glued those to the burlap ribbon, along with some cheap paintbrushes (because when you send something with your kid to school, you have to prepare for the fact that you might never see it again), and BOOM: I think we got what we were going for…
So cute! And not too shabby for the night before. She has a pair of ratty jeans that reeeeally need to be retired, but they came in perfectly for a dress-up day like this. I copied the book jacket, filled it with printer paper, and stapled the sides, to make Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide (which Thimbletack protects). She had a great time with that on its own, just drawing fairies and other imaginary creatures at breakfast.
I draw on her lunch napkin every day (been doing it since she started school), so that day, a little Thimbletack greeted her…
So it turned out pretty well, and essentially just involved her wearing a decked-out hat!
As a fun little side, Myla’s affection for Thimbletack was already there, but she found him even more lovely when we did an art trade with Mr. DiTerlizzi a few months back. We had shared comments often on Instagram, and traded a few things, but the best was a portrait Myla and I did of his daughter, who was a big fan of the Labyrinth…
We drew her as Jareth / Sarah, and Myla drew the main characters behind her–it was so much fun!
In return, he sent us a WONDERFUL package full of magical things, but most especially this:
It’s his Spiderwick character, Thimbletack, collaborating with a mockingbird. Get it?!? Because of our collaborations? Because I’m the mockingbird?!?! I was so very touched, and it’s one of my very favorite pieces of artwork–it sits next to my bed, above the tiny original painting of Big Bird by Carroll Spinney.
And that’s our little story of Thimbletack and the 30-minute costume for reading week. Have you ever had to last-minute throw something together that turned out pretty cool? Well, if you ever do, I hope magic craft-fairies shine down from the sky and light your way. 🙂
This was a wonderful read today. I love your improvisation for the costume (my cobbled together costumes are not nearly as good) and I love that you and Myla have been chatting back and forth with an author-illustrator whose work you love and that it resulted in exchanging gifts of art. What an uplifting blog post.
The Spiderwick books are some of my favorites! And I also picked up that field guide while volunteering at my son’s school during the Scholastic book week. I ended up just volunteering in the library permanently after that.
Myla’s hat turned out fabulous! I’m sure Thimbletack would approve. I also find things in my craft room that I don’t remember putting there. Must be the house brownies.
And that painting, it brought tears to my eyes just like the Carol Spinney painting, and the photo of the original Kermit at the Smithsonian. What wonderful gifts to have in your collection. I think it’s magical how you have these connections with some of the most creative and talented artists. And what a gift for them to have an original Mockingbird artwork in their collection as well.
Great story…Love Spiderwicks stories.
Love your story, and now looking out for Spiderwick stories.
Wow! Pretty cool stuff. Love the hat. I can’t sew to save my life but I am a demon with felt and hot glue! Many of my kids Halloween costumes started with just a pile of stuff and an idea. With all the books we read in this house, we have somehow missed this series. I am intrigued and will have to check them out.
I love the drawing he sent you. What a wonderful present!
I wish you were my neighbor!!
i like your article, very inspiring and thank you for your post