Review of ‘How to Make Small Things with Violet Mackerel’

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Review of ‘How to Make Small Things with Violet Mackerel’

Written by Anna Branford

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

Photographed by Cath Muscat

Publisher: Walker Books

Age Range: Lower Primary – Upper Primary

Themes:  craft, collections, creating, reading, characters, gifts, recycle, upcycle

This book is a companion book to the wonderful ‘Violet Mackerel’ series which you can read about here and here. You can read my interview with illustrator Sarah Davis here and my interview with author Anna Branford here.


To add this book to your home or school library click here.

 ‘How to Make Small Things with Violet Mackerel’ is a welcome addition to our ‘making things’ book collection as Pud calls it. It sits alongside ‘Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon’ and our sewing/threading books – as well as a few of my craft books from my childhood.

Crown of Small Things

Crown of Small Things

Violet is an inspired character and her love of collecting small and interesting things is evident in all six of the ‘Violet Mackerel’ novels. If Violet Mackerel were a real little person, I think her and PudStar would be great friends indeed, as Pud also collects small things at an astonishing rate. As a third generation librarian in the making, Pud’s collections are often beautifully classified although she needs much librarian tuition in the area of collection culling.

‘How to Make Small Things with Violet Mackerel’ outlines some gorgeous craft projects, most of which can be done with children from five years of age and older children will spend hours carefully reading instructions and creating lovely small things. The projects are often connected with characters from the Violet Mackerel series, though it is not at all necessary to have read the books first (though they are a must read series). I particularly loved reading the introductions to each activity such as this one which is about ‘Making a Shining Sun Ring’;

When someone I know is doing something brave, like taking a piano exam or entering their project in a special science fair, I quite like to make them a SHINING SUN RING as a small present. It is a good choice because the sun is bright and cheerful and a ring is something a person can easily keep with them and look at whenever they need extra braveness.

Each activity has step by step easy to read instructions and photographs. The ‘Thinking outside the square’ sections give extra ideas for each project such as alternate materials, or turning rings into brooches or crowns into door handle decorations. Violet Mackerel is excellent at thinking outside the square, and she often has very important ideas…great traits to encourage in our small people.

While I cooked dinner, PudStar spent an hour making four crowns of small things and was so engrossed in tying knots and selecting small things from her collections that she didn’t notice that ChickPea AKA The Wild Thing had found a Sharpie pen. There was much screaming when Pud discovered that her ‘iPhone16’ (paper) and the table were covered in Sharpie.

crown of small things iphone16 Tomorrow we’re going to make a leaf necklace so we can have leaves with us always, a notebook for recording important ideas and some wrist warmers out of the mountain of odd socks we have.

We do already have a history of making small things in this house…our walnut babies and gumnut babies are still loved, as is the fairy garden to which small things are regularly added. I think Violet Mackerel would approve.

Below is a sneak inside Pud’s dresser drawers – the collections are growing at an alarming rate!

P1140497 P1140496

You can see one of the projects from this book in full here..’Cosy Wrist Warmers’.

WristWarmersDIY ChickPea Wrist Warmers

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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  1. Katey on Oct 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

    This beautifully illustrated review of this book almost makes me yearn for a girl… Nah – too old. Fantastic review Miss Daley.

    • Anonymous on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      ah no….you’re a perfect mother of boys. Girls would do your head in…

  2. […] As well as twelve small projects, created especially for young makers-of-things, there are lots of lovely illustrations by Sarah Davis and the most beautiful photography by Cath Muscat. You can find a gorgeously illustrated review of the book on Children’s Books Daily. […]

  3. Katey on Nov 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Hi lovely. I have just passed on your review to some parents of little people who will devour this book. They have been inspired. k xx

    • Anonymous on Nov 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      You are a GEM my love!

  4. Jenna on Feb 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Where can we buy these books from? Tell me exactly from which shop and where.

    • Anonymous on Feb 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Jenna! You just click on the titles to purchase them.

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