The summer holidays, whatever the weather, are the time for getting out and about, going on expeditions, pursuing outdoor hobbies, camping and exploring, and, perhaps, going to the seaside. Here is a round-up of paperback books, mostly published this spring and summer but one or two older ones which have still not been bettered, which give lots of ideas, advice and information on a variety of outdoor activities.
Fishing is an immensely popular sport as anyone who has taken a stroll along the banks of a river or canal and fallen over a rod or a green umbrella every fifty metres knows. Here are two new books which approach the subject rather differently and should provide the beginner or enthusiast with everything he needs to know about the subject.
The Piccolo Fishing Book
Bernard Venables, Piccolo, 0 330 26385 4, 95p
A guide to fishing in fresh water. The information is presented in a series of picture strip stories which show a boy learning from an experienced angler. Tackle, baits, methods and habitat are covered for the particular fish in each story, the text below the cartoon strip amplifying points when necessary. At the end of the book, a picture glossary shows tackle not covered by the situation strips. The book covers the most important freshwater fish and methods, and the picture strip format is attractive and easy to follow. The story approach makes it more difficult to get an overall impression of the sport, but for the beginner, especially one actually in action on the river bank or towpath, this is a very useful guide.
The Beaver Book of Fishing
Alan Wrangles, Beaver, 0 600 20207 0, 95p
A comprehensive introduction to fishing, which has sections written by specialist contributors and is broadly divided into coarse, trout and sea angling, with separate chapters on tackle, bait and methods for each speciality. General chapters include fish distribution, useful knots, a glossary of terms, and rules and regulations including addresses of regional water authorities – an important feature as fishing is subject to all sorts of local laws and you need a licence for most kinds. The main introduction covers basic fish biology, how to kill a fish humanely and how to unhook it and keep it without damaging it if it is to be returned to the water, and the cost of the hobby. The diagrams and pictures are clear and the book is meaty enough for teenagers and adult beginners as well as younger enthusiasts.
Other fishing books worth looking at are:
Roy Marsden, Macdonald Whizzkids, 0 356 06323 2, 95p
A full-colour book which packs lots of ideas for projects as well as information on fishing itself into its 64 pages and makes a lively and readable introduction.
The Puffin Book of Freshwater Fishing
Roger Pierce, Puffin, 0 14 03.0873 3, 60p
First published in 1976 but a useful guide and the chapter on casting is specially helpful.
EXPLORING, CAMPING, ETC.
Walking, back-packing and cycling expeditions, whether by the day or taking camping gear, are an essential feature of many people’s summer holidays. There are several very useful and entertaining books about which will help expedition planners to organise their trip safely and enjoyably.
Eve Harlow and Peter Foxwell, Granada, 0 583 30330 7, 85p
This is a handbook which tells you how to organise an expedition, whether just for a day outing or one which involves camping out overnight. From the planning stage right through to activities to do in camp, it is a complete guide to looking after yourself – and others – in the countryside. It’s recommended by the Outward Bound Trust, and includes walking, cycling, map-reading and route-planning, weather, first aid, camping, activities, nature watching, and a useful bibliography and addresses section. Safety and care for other people’s property are emphasised and this would be a useful book for older children who want to try more ambitious expeditions on their own with friends, as well as for family outings.
The Explorer’s Handbook
Peter Eldin, Armada, 0 00 691709 7, 75p
Sub-titled ‘or how to come back alive’ this is primarily a fun book, but sandwiched between all sorts of entertaining but useless information about the habits of cannibals, jokes, puzzles and funny anecdotes are various practical and interesting tips on camping and expeditions. These include hints on planning, food and cooking, safety, survival, first aid, map-reading, signalling, knots and ideas for making equipment such as camp furniture, a stick compass or emergency shelter. Like The Whizzkid’s Handbook by the same author it has funny cartoons, and it’s a book which will provide lots of fun for holidays and weekends.
Reviewed last year but also very useful are:
Camping for Young People
Anthony Greenbank, Piccolo, 0 330 25745 5, 80p
A handbook for young campers who want to do it by themselves with the minimum of equipment.
The Usborne Outdoor Book
David Watkins and others, Usborne, 0 86020 210 4, £1.99
A fat colourful book on all kinds of outdoor activities including cycling, orienteering and camping.
The summer is the time when pony enthusiasts can really take advantage of their hobby either for expeditions or for preparing for and entering shows and gymkhanas. There are plenty of paperback books on riding, pony care and every other aspect of horsemanship; here are two good ones which between them cover most of the pony activities.
The Young Rider
Robert Owen and John Bullock, Beaver, 0 600 20303 4, 95p
A complete guide to ponies and riding from buying a horse or pony to training for competitions, this makes a good bedside and practical book for keen riders. The type size is rather small but there are lots of illustrations and the book covers breeds of pony, stable management, feeding and health care, tack and equipment, and basic riding and jumping.
Riding for Fun
Christine Pullein-Thompson, Armada, 0 00 691080 7, 65p
This isn’t a new book but is very good value for suggesting ideas for different activities with ponies. Among other things it tells you how to run your own gymkhana or show, make your own jumps, help disabled riders, teach your pony tricks, and prepare for competitions. It talks about the Pony Club, games to play and pony trekking, and in fact tells you how to do all the activities done by the children in this author’s immensely popular pony stories. The style is chatty and informal and the book should appeal to keen readers of pony fiction. Also by this author are Good Riding, 0 00 690922 1, and Improve Your Riding, 0 00 691570 1, both 65p
GOING TO THE SEASIDE
Carousel have a new seashore book by Malcolm Saville to help identify many of the fascinating things to be seen and found on the shore.
The Seashore Quiz
Malcolm Saville, Carousel, 0 552 54176 1, 75p
Illustrated with 200 drawings by wildlife artist Robert Micklewright, this book, although set out as a quiz, will help children recognise all the common seaside plants, flowers, animals, shells, fish and birds. The answers appear at the end of each section so they can be readily referred to if you don’t know what the picture is, and the pictures are good enough to use for identifying finds on the spot. It makes a painless and entertaining way of teaching children more about the myriad of strange and collectable things to be found at the seaside and is a very good seaside holiday handbook which will give lots of fun to families.
Expeditions to the countryside or the zoo are a part of many families’ summer plans. This new book, just out, could add a new dimension to zoo visits.
Secrets of Nature
Alan C Jenkins, Knight, 0 340 26526 4, 85p
Hundreds of fascinating facts about all kinds of animals, some of them common or garden British creatures – did you know that owls rely a great deal on their hearing to catch their prey even though the sensitivity of their retinas is a hundred times greater than that of humans? – and others the more exotic creatures you may see in the zoo – if you’ve wondered how the toucan can possibly support the weight of its massive bill you will be fascinated to find out that the beak is really made up of a fine latticework of bony fibres inside, which makes it very light and strong. This could make an interesting follow-up or advance-reading book for zoo visits.
Last, two books which are equally interesting to people on holiday and at home, whether in the town or the country, and which will suggest lots of ideas for holiday projects.
Ian Elliott Shircore, Macdonald Whizzkids, 0 356 06334 8, 95p
Like the other books in this lively series Treasure Hunting is a full-colour guide which combines practical advice with projects, descriptions of equipment, rules and useful addresses. Treasure hunting is a fascinating hobby: you can turn up all kinds of objects on river shores, in rubbish dumps and so on and make splendid collections of things like old bottles, coins, clay pipes, buckles and old tools. Then there is the chance of helping out on archaeological sites, and the ever present though unlikely hope of finding a real treasure – Roman hoard, sword hilt or bit of Spanish galleon. With or without a metal detector, treasure hunting is an ideal holiday activity as you can do it (practically) anywhere. A stimulating book to interest children in an unusual hobby.
Castles, Churches and Houses
Alan Jamieson, Puffin, 0 14 03.1315 X, 80p
Another book which teaches and informs by means of a quiz approach, this book will encourage children to look more closely at the things they see around them every day and enable them to identify different architectural styles in buildings, find out what some of the odder pieces of street and village furniture were for, and see the interesting aspects of, say, industrial architecture which are so often simply dismissed as eyesores. It covers the history behind names such as Blackfriars, Glebe Street. Cowgate, helps you to find your way round the different bits of a castle, church or monastery, and shows inn signs and traditional shop signs: it starts with prehistoric sites and goes right up to the industrial era. Again, a book to stimulate interest in a subject which is often dismissed as ‘just history’ and open readers’ eyes to all sorts of fascinating things to be seen anywhere.
Sally Floyer is editor for Hamlyn’s Beaver books.