Australia’s Kids Book Week: “Reading Is My Secret Power”

I survived Book Week. And all the kids cosplay it entailed.

I am seriously thinking of making a pin with an image of a book, scissors, and a cup of coffee. The words “I Survived Book Week” will be displayed on a ribbon below the images. I will sell it to school parents and teachers alike. And I would make a fortune.

Book Week is a big thing in both Australia and the United States of America. I hear it is popular in other countries like NZ and England as well (if so, tag @GeekMomBlog in your photos so we can check it out). Now, this is a GOOD thing because it shows just how much value our kids hold in reading. Again, that is a GOOD thing.

However, each year my cosplay-loving kids come up with great ideas and my coffee-fueled enthusiasm is far greater than my chocolate-fueled ability to produce their costumes. Normally, I am the Creative Director and my husband is delegated the task of producing “the thing.” Smart man, this year. He laughed and said he was interested to see how I would do this.

“Reading Is My Secret Power”

Every year, the Australian Children’s Book Council hosts the National Book Week. They encourage every school and public library across the nation to participate, with book-themed parties, writers workshops, ‘meet the author’ events, and the coveted Book Parade.

Let’s face it: The Book Parade Is Everything.

This year, the theme for Book Week was announced: Reading Is My Secret Power. For me, this year’s theme was a huge game-changer. It opened the door to super-heroes, secret agents, and most importantly: COMICS!! If we’re talking about secret powers, then we are going to be discussing comics!!

For geeks like you and me, this is nothing new. Reading comics and graphic novels are the same as reading any other media format. It’s reading and reading is good. Some may even argue in favor of reading MORE comics because of the appreciation for artistic expression… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and scare off all the mainstream school parents.

Fortunate for me, the EG Spawnlings have scored some amazing teachers who are 100% in the corner for more comics. EG Zaltu (6yo) and EG Nefarious (10yo) both have teachers who actively encouraged their students to consider comics for their Book Week costumes. And thus, EG Nefarious wanted to dress as Link, from Legend of Zelda.

DIY kids cosplay cardboard hylian shield

Kids Cosplay Link: What You Will Need

Just so you know, I’m into casual kids cosplay and I am an all-round lazy-mom. I’ll make do with what we already have and my craft skills are moderate at best. So the following is what I did to make kids cosplay for Book Week within a week. And if I can do it, so can you. Probably even better.

The clothes are items we already had around the home: Green shirt, white polo shirt, white martial arts pants (don’t tell Sensei). The green cap I made myself with some scrap material. The sword was a toy foam sword with some cardboard added around the hilt.

Now, the shield. I’m rather proud of the shield, considering it is made from mostly cardboard. And it is really easy to make!! Here’s how:

  • 1 x Large piece of Cardboard
  • 1 x thin piece of wood
  • Material for arm straps
  • Colored A4 sheets of cardboard – Red, Yellow, Silver
  • Silver paint
  • Royal Blue paint
  • Silver duct tape (AKA electrical tape)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Instructions:

  1. Draw a kite shape on your cardboard, measuring in height from your kid’s nose to their waist. For a ratio, we measured the top triangle shape to be about a quarter of the length.
  2. You are going to have concave arches up top and convex arches below so make sure you have enough cardboard to cut out the arches. We measured half along each length for where the peak of the arches would be. Our top arches are about an inch at the peak, while the bottom arches are about 2 inches. If you are not confident doing a rough arch by free-hand, tie a pencil to some string and pin it to the centre point of the shield. Pulling the string taut, draw a curve along the side of the shield. Remember: concave goes into the shape; convex pops out.
  3. Cut out your shield shape with a Stanley Knife / Retractable blade for cutting. Don’t worry about sanding off the edges because we’ll be covering that up later.
  4. Start with decorating and reinforcing the back of the shield. Measure out a thin piece of wood (balsa wood or something similar) to cover the centre of the shield. Don’t look for anything too thick as it will make it too heavy for the kids to carry. In all honesty, I originally had intended to use another piece of cardboard but EG Dad happened to find this piece of wood in the shed and it works brilliantly.
  5. Paint the back of the shield and the support wood with silver paint. We used a spray can but any paint will do.
  6. Once the paint has dried, use a hot glue gun to secure straps between the wood and shield. EG Nefarious was adamant for the shield to be used on his right arm (because apparently Link is left-handed), so we made a smaller strap where the hand would hold the shield and a larger strap for his arm to go through. Hot glue guns will cool quickly so you need to move fast.
  7. Now to flip over and paint!! Using broad sweeping strokes with a foam brush or large paint brush, cover the entire face of the shield in the blue paint. Ours took two coats but dried quickly.
  8. If you can sketch the Hylian symbols freehand, go for it!! However, I cannot. So, I searched for some large images of the symbols on the shield and printed them on plain paper. Roughly cut around the shapes and glue them on to the matching color of cardboard sheets. Then cut out the images in tighter detail. The images need to be large to stand out on the shield but they do not need to be perfectly lined. The best whole image I found for us was very square and squat; once cut out, you will have the freedom to move the images around a bit.
  9. Glue your pieces directly on to the shield. This is where you can space them out a bit. I noticed with our images there is a line created to fit the shape of the shield–see how the curve of the silver top pieces lines up with the external line of the red wings? It means you can space out your pieces so long as you maintain that line.
  10. Now for the tricky part. We’re going to use the silver tape to bind the edge of the shield. I did this in shorter pieces rather than one large strip. Place the middle of the tape lengthwise over the side edge of your shield. On the face of the shield, cut slits into the tape, to create an open-fan effect. Fold each part of the tape down, gradually curving the tape along the side of the tape and overlapping with the previous section. You will want to allow an inch for the border, all along the face of the shield.
  11. For each piece of tape, flip over and do the same on the back. This is time-consuming but it creates a beautiful silver-edge look to the shield while reinforcing the edges.
  12. If you make any mistakes with the tape, cut a very thin piece of tape and fold it over the edge to cover it up.

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And there you have it! One Hylian Shield for Literary Link and the Legend of Book Week!! Kids cosplay doesn’t have to be overwhelming for parents. If you are more serious about the cosplay artistry, check out GeekDad Will and his Foam Hylian Shield. If you are still a beginner, the cardboard option is an easy way to produce a quick but accurate kids cosplay. With the popularity of Breath of the Wild, Link still remains one of the more recognizable characters to portray–and you can always carry the manga along if you feel the necessity to do so.

(Sidenote: EG Nefarious won his class costume competition!! Bonus points for geek-parenting!!)

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