CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 17 . . . . April 26, 2002
Right from the get-go, The Kids Winter Cottage Book is up-beat and positive, brimming with indoor and outdoor activities for wintertime. Co-written by sisters Jane Drake and Ann Love, both avid naturalists and co-authors of the successful The Kids Cottage Book (1993), this new book contains more than 120 wintry things-to-do. Readers of all ages and interests-even weather-weary adults--are certain to find numerous ways to have fun, beat the cold, and re-discover winter's many joys.
The Kids Winter Cottage Book is organized into four headings: Welcome Winter, Outdoor Winter Fun, Indoor Winter Fun, and Celebrate Winter. Under these diverse headings, readers will be delighted to find a large range of activities from which to choose. There are crafts with a winter theme, such as making indoor icicles and snow domes. For irresistible outdoor activities, there are instructions on how to build snow forts or, better yet, a fortress city made entirely of snow. Winter Olympic events, complete with Closing Ceremonies, can be planned for friends and neighbours. Or, for a quieter stay at the cottage, kids can enjoy the book's many nature activities, such as examining snowflakes or studying the stars using the enclosed winter star map. Useful information on such items as how to cross-country ski, snowshoe, identify animal tracks, and safely start an outdoor or indoor fire is also included. Not to be forgotten are the book's tasty recipes. Kids will learn how to make warm-me-up soup, trail bars, crispy apple bake, indoor s'mores, homemade hot chocolate, popcorn brittle, maple syrup, and a gingerbread house from scratch (this recipe actually works and tastes great, too!). There are even instructions on how to play a good old fashioned game of crokinole on your own homemade crokinole board.
True to the nature of most material edited and published by the folks at Kids Can Press, this book is extremely user-friendly. Activities are well-organized, and instructions are clear and concise. Materials required are identified at the start of each activity, and adult assistance is advised where appropriate. Important safety tips are also highlighted in side bars. To help readers navigate through this handbook of more than one hundred pages, there is a table of contents as well as a handy index.
Not to be overlooked are the many wonderful illustrations by Heather Collins. Collins' black and white sketches, as well as her fun-filled colourful illustrations on the book's jacket, add a whimsical tone to the book. Her illustrations are also helpful, providing readers with information that clarifies and expands the text. In addition, Collins has managed to capture the delight and magic of wintertime on the faces of her characters. One only has to look at the book's final page to see a beaming child in the midst of making a snow angel to be reminded of the joys of winter as seen through the eyes of a child. Finally, the style of this book--green and black ink on thick, natural-coloured paper--is casual and lends itself well to a book for use at the cottage or in any outdoor situation.
There is only one limiting feature of The Kids Winter Cottage Book--its title. Will children and adults who don't have a cottage be enticed to pick-up this book? If not, what a shame! This book contains a compendium of excellent winter-based activities that can be tried at home, at school, at the cottage/cabin/camp, at a local park, or anywhere, for that matter, where you find snow and/or cold weather. It is interesting that the US version of this book is titled The Kids Winter Handbook--a title which just might appeal to a broader audience.
With its treasure trove of activities and wonderful ways to enjoy winter, The Kids Winter Cottage Book truly could be called the "official book of wintertime." This is a book that will be hauled-out and well-thumbed every winter, hopefully in cottages, homes, and schools all across this wintry country of ours.
Cheryl Archer is the author of "Snow Watch", a science/nature/activity book all about snow. She currently lives next to the Rockies in Cochrane, AB, where snow has been known to make an appearance every month of the year.
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