by Anne Akers Johnson
ISBN-10: 1570549974, ISBN-13: 978-1570549977
Ages: 9-12 (and up)
My rating: 5 out of 5
Activity books with projects are a great way to get kids away from the TV, using their minds and hands, and developing skills all while having fun. The best activity books have clear instructions, projects that appeal to kids, are bright and colorful, and build on skill levels. Klutz’ Origami does all that. Origami is bright, colorful, and fun.
Origami builds up the child’s confidence and skills by starting off with a familiar and easy form of origami–the paper airplane–and then gradually moves on to more complicated origami pieces or projects with more folds. The introduction encourages readers to start off with the easy projects first, and to not worry if their first effort doesn’t look perfect, reminding the reader that no one’s does. Johnson’s introduction and text is encouraging and engaging–all qualities that are important and especially valuable in a children’s activity book. Colorful origami paper is provided, some specialty paper just for specific origami projects. One project uses regular 8.5 x 11 paper (the secret letter), so a child could find paper to do that project almost anywhere, while other projects can also be created using any origami paper once the child has run out of their supply–or additional paper can be ordered directly from Klutz.
Johnson thoughtfully includes some tips at the beginning of the book to help readers–such as to take it slowly, to fold carefully, and to look at the pictures.
Each origami project has a series of numbered illustrations showing the reader where to fold, and arrows showing the direction of the fold, as well as conversational text instructions which encourage the reader as they go along (“It doesn’t look like much yet, but you’ve just made your penguin’s beak.”) and that make it more clear for the reader what they are to do. Occasionally there are places where the reader might falter in understanding, but the reader has only to look at the next illustration to see what their fold should look like. Johnson’s conversational instructions, clear diagrams, and colorful pages are a great aid to the projects, and help make the book a truly enjoyable experience.
Each project tells you which origami paper to choose for that design, if you want it to look the same as in the book (such as black on one side and white on the other for the penguin). The instructions take the reader through the process step by step and are easy to follow–especially if you do as the book says, and take it slowly. You can actually lay the paper down on the book and compare each fold to theirs, which helps a lot–especially since Johnson shows the colored sides the way your own paper should look. Projects include a star box; a penguin; a secret letter; a parrot; a frog that hops; a seal; a frame; a magic star; and a few more.
Each spread is visually appealing, with color photos of smiling tweens and teens dressed in outfits that fit the project (such as an old-fashioned pilot for the airplane project, as well as a camel and an explorer; a postal delivery person for the secret letter; a kid in bunny ears holding a carrot and a magician for a bunny project; and more. I was happy to see that the professions that have typically been geared towards males had female models, such as the postal carrier and the aviator. There are often multiple photos of the finished project, so you can see what it looks like.
Pages are colorful and bright, with bright backgrounds that fit the theme of the project; colorful borders when they’re used; and a project visually connecting over multiple pages so that each project is distinct and clear. The book has great visual appeal.
This book is a lot of fun, provides all the supplies the reader will need to do the projects, and is sure to involve the reader for hours and days at a time, as they learn and perfect each new origami project. Highly recommended!