When I was a kid I spent a fair bit of time staying at my Nana’s house. It was a place with a huge garden, workshops filled with those satisfying grandad style machines made of cast iron, the smell of oil, a bike to ride, swings, snooker tables and a kitchen ever ready to bake in, mix up potions and consume huge bowls of porridge. One of my favourite things was the old manuals, annuals and stories left over from my mum and aunt’s childhood. I can still remember the story of Inca the pony almost word for word and the Chalet School and Cherry Ames books form part of my own library of loved old books now. But the bits I loved the most were the articles on crafts, on living wild, on making fires and cooking over them, fixing yourself a pair of snow blindness glasses from grass should your plane crash unexpectedly…
I was most disappointed when I joined big school (not much Chalet School adventure there) and Guides (nothing like the manuals of the 50′s at all); somehow the past seemed better. It was perhaps partly that that made me want to keep my girls out of school so they could spend more time just being and scrabbling in the dirt, making their own entertainment and games. By and large it worked, though I think I might have had to ban all gadgets for it to be perfect – and I’m too much of a techno geek myself to do so. But it is one of the things I most wish for them – and am most sorry about – somehow our home town doesn’t have the scope for such things. I long for them to have the run of Dartmoor like Max did, just playing and being and exploring and improvising.
This game said it all to me yesterday; I would have played Famous Five or Swallows and Amazons and they played The Hunger Games but the effect was the same. Two hours of intense fun and hot pursuit in an imaginary world and the joy of the game ending with a well earned breather.
In the last little while there has been a flourish of books that appeal to the daring do of kids and we own plenty of them. They’ve been adored books at Christmases, encouraged them to try new books from snippets inside them, inspired new activities. I don’t think any of them have been quite as admired as UNBORED though, which we got sent to review recently. It appeals to me for so many reasons, at least one of which is the fantastic, evocative illustrations in three or four tones of line drawing and colouring that mix with the photos throughout.
The premise of the book is fabulously 21st century too while keeping all those traditions of the get on and do book that I so approve of. It mixes clapping games (oh, we have such a responsibility to keep those playground games going) with geocaching, making a mouse house with lolly sticks or learning to blog, interesting facts about the history of travel tucked in with a excerpt from 80 Days Around the World. It balances the old and the new so beautifully, so engagingly and so inspirationally that it is hard not to just want to leap up and “do!” instantly.
I love it. It is a beautifully made, beautifully bound, instantly heirloom book that every home should have. And you can buy it for less than £20, which is frankly a total bargain. This book makes me want to be a child again; the sections on you, home, society and adventure are all fabulous, all mind expanding and all beautiful and the sentence at the beginning “kids spend too much time staring st TV and computer screens, videogames, MP3 players and mobile phones…” has just made me kick all of mine off Animal Crossing. And made me kick myself back off this laptop to go walking
This is what Maddy has to say about it:
“There is certainly a lot to interest you in it because it tells you things you thought you might need adult supervision to do and also good ideas for old things decoupage (in the book it suggests using this to decorate a skateboard). There are crafts which are inspiring and masses of tips for activities such as geocaching and building dens, making guitars and so on. It makes these things seem accessible to try. It has survival ideas, camping ideas, igloo making and quick shelters. There is a real mix of modern and old – from rock music, to interesting facts and making Lego robots and how to use apps for exploration to making bombs from cola and mints.”
Maddy gave the book 9/10 – she didn’t have a reason for it not getting 10/10 except that she hasn’t read it all yet!
I give it 10/10
“Use the World, or the World will use you”. Good advice.
Disclosure: We were sent this book free to review by Bloomsbury. All views are unbiased and our own. The link to Amazon is an affiliate link which would give me a (very very very) small commission.