You can take a book Anywhere
HOLIDAY REVIEW SPECIAL
Six weeks of school holidays will soon be upon us and, come rain or shine, staying at home or going away, in this country or abroad, indoors or out, the right book in the right place at the right time can make a lot of difference.
We’ve put together four pages of suggestions for books (mostly paperbacks) to make a good time better and the less good bearable
Going Places and Seeing Things
Whether you are visiting for a day, a week or live there all the time, two books to save you a lot of time and trouble and introduce you to things you might not know about:
Children’s Guide to London, CarolineBrakspear and Helen Mann (Collins, 0 00 102305 5, £1.25).
Crammed with information. Revised this year so up-to-date about opening times etc. No prices, but useful telephone numbers. Get it in advance for exciting planning.
Kid’s London, Elizabeth Holt and Molly Perham (Piccolo, 0 330 25570 3, 70p)
First published in 1972 so be careful; but not a lot has changed. Particularly good for things outside central London.
For a first-time young tourist you can’t beat Learnabout … London, John Moyes (Ladybird, 0 7214 0594 0, 40p) Colour photographs and all the major attractions.
and Haunting at Hampton Court (Macdonald Ghosts series, 0 356 06556 1, 60p) provides a colourful background to a visit to the Haunted Gallery in the Palace where Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, was arrested for being unfaithful.
The collection of life-size dinosaurs (made in 1853) which lurk in the trees around the Crystal Palace Park lake also feature in
Fanny and the Monsters (Heinemann Long Ago Children series, 0 434 94935 3, £2.75) Penelope Lively’s light-hearted story of Fanny – eldest of a large Victorian family – who finds a dinosaur skeleton.
For those emerging from Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors
Crime and Justice (Beaver Famous Lives series, 0 600 33710 3, 70p) might appeal. It gives details of famous villains (fact and fiction) from the bible to the present day.
With so much imaginative provision for children in museums the days of being `dragged round’ are long gone. But younger children may need help with the idea of a museum.
For talking about it with the youngest beforehand
The Child’s Play Museum, P. Adams (Child’s Play (International) Ltd, 0 85953 094 9, £1.45)
is useful and imaginative. Pictures have cut-outs so that suits of armour can appear in museum and tournament, pots in show-case and on a stone-age fire.
Up the age range a bit,
Visiting a Museum, Althea (Dinosaur, 0 85122 200 5, 60p)
(available later this month) was produced with help from Birmingham Museum, the Ashmolean (Oxford), the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) and Edinburgh Museum. A help in learning how to look.
It’s more difficult for children to get involved with paintings – no knobs to press or twiddle. In
Just Look … (Kestrel, 0 7226 5676 9, £4.95)
Robert Cummings involves the reader, by direct questions, in looking really closely at over 70 paintings in different styles and from different periods. His approach is easy, conversational, unpretentious. A real eye-opener for the uninitiated, adult or child.
Eye opening in a different way is
Ways of Seeing, John Berger (Pelican, 0 14 02.1631 6 £1.25)
A stimulating companion for older readers at any art exhibition. It questions how we `see’ or make sense of what we look at.
For younger children
The Book of Art: A Way of Seeing (Benn, 0 510 00035 5, £5.95)
is itself visually exciting. With games and things to do, photographs of buildings, paintings, sculpture and the natural world, it’s an invitation to look, enjoy and create. Expensive but well worth it.
Ladybird have three books of Great Artists,40p each
Book 1. Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer (0 7214 0254 2)
Book 2. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael (0 7214 0263 1)
Book 3. Van Gogh, Gaugin and Cezanne (0 7214 0280 1)
Castles, Country Houses, Cathedrals and Cities
Warnes’s Observer Books are faithful old friends and still excellent value at £1.50. A useful guide is The Observer’s Book of Castles, Brian Davison, (0 7232 1593 6) containing what, where, when, why and by whom information and a gazetteer.
For older children, or parents who want a quick source of information to put flesh on architectural bones while `doing’ houses
Home Sweet Home, M. G. Graham-Cameron (Dinosaur, 0 85122 174 2, 70p) is useful. It’s published for the National Trust so it may be available on site.
Someone who can really bring buildings and the past to life is David Macaulay. It’s hard to beat his superb series for Collins, each £3.95.
Cathedral: The Story of its Construction (0 00 192150 9)
Step by step through the building of an imaginary Gothic cathedral. City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction (0 00 192151 7) Castle (0 00 195128 9)
The story of the building of a thirteenth-century Welsh castle. His text and black and white line drawings are so clear that the reader feels involved in every process.
Doing the same thing in a different style are Usborne’s Time Traveller books. Lively drawings, full of fun and colour, pack in a deal of accurate information about how it was. 99p each, paperback.
Knights and Castles (0 86020 068 0) brings life even to the most unpromising heap of stone
and Rome and Romans (0 86020 070 1) would be useful in Bath and on the Roman Wall. Great especially for juniors.
Understanding Zoo Animals, RosamundKidman Cox (Usborne, 0 86020 251 8, £1.50)
An intelligent and thought-provoking guide behind the scenes. Would make any zoo visit more interesting.
There’s a lot packed into
1643 The English Civil War, The Siege of Gloucester and First Battle of Newbury, Roger Gates (Hippo, 0 590 70008 1, 90p) and we don’t just mean the title.
You can re-fight both events, decorate the text with coloured stamps (provided) and play the `Race for Newbury’ game.
If that fires interest follow up with
The Ghostly Army (Macdonald Ghosts, 0 356 06558 8, 60p)
a story of the battle of Edgehill. (Lower Juniors)
For King or Commons, H. T. Sutton, (National Trust series, Heritage/Batsford, 0 7134 1727 7, 95p)
a short story of a divided family, factual information and details of how to `See where it happened’. (Juniors)
Puritan and Cavalier, James Barbary (Puffin, 0 14 03.1037 1, 95p)
The whole story told in lively journalistic style. (Secondary)
For visiting HMS Victory in Portsmouth (or the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich), Ladybird’s Nelson (0 7214 0557 6, 40p) contains good accounts of the battles including diagrams to show Nelson’s tactics.
There is also a Macdonald’s Ghosts for Scotland – Ghosts of Culloden (0 356 06559 6, 60p)
The Beaver Book of the Seaside, Jean Richardson (0 600 38307 5, 55p)
A jolly, general book about all the sorts of things you might find or do there.
Another general book but with the emphasis more on wildlife is Malcolm Saville’s Seaside Book (Carousel, 0 552 54054 4, 35p)
A similar approach but with far more pictures, mostly coloured, is Seawatching, Tony Soper and Noel Cusa (Dinosaur, 0 85122 130 0, 60p)
Travelling Around – with an eye on History
How Place-Names Began, C. M. Matthews (Beaver, 0 600 36598 0, 65p)
Fascinating facts about the origins of place-names in the British Isles and abroad. A good thing to keep in the car – or panniers.
History Hunter, Victor E. Neuberg (Beaver, 0 600 34557 2, 65p)
Things to look out for in town and country which could well be starting places for further activities like walking along the Ridge Way or visiting the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Coalbrookdale, as well as fascinating in passing.
There’s a similar taste of everything in Usborne’s Junior Guide to Britain (0 86020 295 X, 85p)
Britain: Four Countries One Kingdom, Jean Ellenby and Suzy Siddons (Dinosaur with the British Tourist Authority, 0 85122 188 2, £1.40)
A brief history of how Britain came to be and an attempt at a pen picture of the way we live. Really intended for visitors from abroad (take note if you’ve got one coming to stay) but useful for natives who are not quite sure how it all happened and think they should know!
Last year lots of travellers in France (adults and children) found Usborne’s Junior Guide to France and Junior Guide to French – simple phrases and how to say them – useful and fun.
This summer there are also Junior Guides to Spain (85p each).
Camping for Young People, Anthony Greenbank (Piccolo, 0 330 25745 5, 80p)
An introduction to lightweight camping – not the sort where you take along the teapot. Informative, practical, sensible – full of good advice.
Usborne has three Outdoor Guides. Parts of these would be useful to eight-year-olds practising in the back garden. Together they make a useful set for older beginners venturing a little farther.
Living Outdoors (0 86020 214 3, 75p)
Exploring and Finding the Way (0 86020 216 X, 75p)
First Aid and Emergencies (0 86020 218 6, 75p)
Available bound together at £ 1.99 – but then it’s a bit big for a pocket.
On Two Wheels
The Piccolo Bicycle Book, Richard Ballantine (0 330 25017 5, 60p)
Good advice on touring (useful addresses) as well as maintenance.
Bicycles and All About Them (Practical Puffin, 0 14 049.136 8, 50p)
has more colour, pictures and picture instructions for those put off by wodges of text.
The Walker’s Handbook, H. D. Westacott (Penguin, 0 14 046.267 8, 95p)
must be the most comprehensive guide around. Indispensable for the novice and a useful reference for the seasoned walker.
Anyone venturing into the great outdoors needs to know about survival. Piccolo’s Survival for Young People, Anthony Greenbank (0 330 24444 2, 60p) is serious and sensible.
Anyone reading Stay Alive with Eddie McGee (Carousel, 0 552 54160 5, 65p)
should feel able to cope with jungle swamps or desert vastness. Alongside and inside Rowan Barnes Murphy’s jolly cartoons there’s a lot of useful advice. Good for those about to be intrepid – and for armchair Robinson Crusoes or Desert Island Disc choosers.
Whether watching the Olympics or attending a local athletics meeting, fans will welcome The Puffin Book of Athletics, Neil Allen (0 14 03.1275 7, 90p)
It’s got a bit of history, all the record-breakers and a fascinating section which analyses each event and tells how an athlete trains for it.
For more of that and to learn how to be `tomorrow’s champion’ Athletics, Tom McNab (Knight, 0 340 25494 7, 95p)
Tom McNab, one of the best-known coaches around, aims to provide the sort of national training scheme that was not available when he was in secondary school. In the form of question and answer, it’s clear and very readable, and there are well-captioned diagrams. Useful for teachers as well as aspiring athletes.
Families or friends who are always arguing about things like how long you can hold a netball before you throw it or who would really like to know how to play American football, need
The Beaver Book of Sporting Rules, Lea Clarke (0 600 38369 5, 85p) a guide to over 40 games and sports.
On the other hand for some the summer may be just a brief interlude between one football season and the next. With The Beaver Book of Football, Tom Tully (0 600 33699 9, 60p) August can be spent developing skills and tactics ready for September.
One way to start is with Usborne’s Spotter’s Guides or Dinosaur’s National Trust Nature Notebooks.
There are 17 Spotter’s Guides (not all about wildlife). Prices: 65p, 75p and 85p.
Illustrations are clear and notes for identification helpful. Material from eight of the guides (Birds, Wild Flowers, Trees, Fishes, The Seashore, Butterflies, Insects, and Animal Tracks and Signs) is available in a composite Guide to Wildlife (0 86020 319 0, £4.95 hardback).
A shorter version containing material from British Flowers, Trees, and Birds is the Spotter’s Handbook (0 86020 159 7, £2.50 paperback).
There are eight Nature Notebooks. The text for identification is slightly more technical in its language and there is space for recording observations. At 45p/50p each these are good value.
If 4 and 5-year-olds want to join in, there are lots of Younger Spotter’s Guides – a stroke of genius (Usborne, 35p/40p). For the very youngest start with Shells (40p) or Seashore (35p). Easy to hold and, best of all, what is in it is easily found. Limpets, for instance, are very good at staying still to be observed and ticked.
Also for the under-sevens
Colours of Flowers, Elsie Wrigley (Dinosaur, 0 85122 206 4, 60p)
contains beautiful illustrations of most of the common wild flowers
and Animals at Your Feet, Althea (Dinosaur, 0 85122 223 4, 60p)
encourages a closer look at common insects.
Older children taking up serious observation will want John Gooders’s How to Watch Birds (Pan, 0 330 25029 9, 95p)
which covers just about everything you need to know – and includes a bibliography of the author’s personal recommendations.
From observing what is happening it’s a short step to setting up your own experiments.
Exploring Nature, Derek Hall (Beaver, 0 600 36589 1, 50p)
is full of ideas for studying soil, plants, bacteria etc. Most can be done with materials found at home. (Useful ideas for school too.)
Try Something New – Or Find Out Some More
The Dragon Book of Fishing, Andrew Backhouse (Granada, 0 583 30371 4, 95p)
is an invitation to join the brotherhood of coarse anglers. The style is chatty; it’s easy to read and divided into clear sections.
The Puffin Book of Freshwater Fishing, Roger Pierce (0 14 03.0873 3, 60p)
contains chapters on Bottom Fishing, Spinning and Fly Fishing, and suggestions for home-made tackle – to see if you like it.
Learnabout… Taking Photographs, Colin Garratt (Ladybird 0 7214 0538 X, 40p)
is crammed with useful hints and illustrated with colour photographs to demonstrate the points. Tremendous value.
Taking Photos, Roger Vlitos (Macdonald Whizz Kids, 0 356 06333 X, 85p)
has a section on trick photography.
Looking around for something to do at the seaside? Ignore the sea and concentrate on the beach and cliffs.
Collecting Pebbles, Rocks and Fossils, George Kay (Beaver, 0 600 32181 9, 75p)
tells where and how to look, what you are likely to find and suggests ways of recording, cataloguing and displaying your finds. Lists of museums to visit.
A handbook for an increasingly popular hobby
Treasure Hunting, Ian Elliott Shircore (Macdonald Whizz Kids, 0 356 06334 8, 85p)
Lots of advice on how to go about it (with or without metal detector) and the lively, readable presentation that goes with this series.
Usborne’s Beginner’s Guides have clear instructions and pictures for every step. Woodwork, Tony Lawler (0 86020 309 3, 85p)
is very `professional’ – proper tools, proper joints, proper wood. For absolute beginners but probably best for those who have done a bit at school and are looking for fun things to make – a go-kart, a sledge. Hints on designing too.
Those confined to a hammer, a saw, some nails, second-hand wood and off-cuts Will find
Carpentry (Practical Puffin, 0 14 049.135 X, 50p)
more useful. Instructions for making a primitive ladder, bird table, small animal cage, raft, musical instrument etc.
Groups of children (or adults helping with a play scheme) should welcome
Constructions (Practical Puffin, 0 14 049.162 7, 60p)
It’s about making BIG things – a glide bar, portable stage, a woven rag rug, mud bricks.
Two books – two approaches to sewing
The Puffin Book of Sewing, Jackie Andrews (0 14 03.1116 5, 95p)
is traditional and professional. Advice on sewing machines, choosing and using a paper pattern, helpful hints and short cuts. Clear and practical.
Fashion for Free, Janet Allen (Penguin, 0 14 00.5369 7, £1.50)
is full of ideas for recycling old clothes and jumble sale finds. No complicated sewing – only plain seams. Not for the slave to fashion – more for creating the `individual’ look.
The best bet for `cookers’ this summer looks like
The Blue Peter Book of Gorgeous Grub, (Piccolo, 0 330 26195 9, 75p)
Forty recipes for the sort of food children like to eat and make.
Things to do at Home
You don’t have to go miles into the country to get involved with wildlife;
A Zoo in Your Home, Arnold Darlington (Transworld Wonder Why, 0 552 57035 4, 75p)
takes in not only cats and dogs but spiders, cockroaches, silverfish, moths…
The Nature Trail Book of Garden Wildlife (Usborne, 0 86020 259 3, £1.50)
takes in soil (including making a wormery), birds, plants, insects, spider watching…
Unusual ideas for growing things occur in Things to Do with Plants (Macdonald, 0 356 070514, 60p)
Large clear pictures, easy text and simple manageable ideas.
and Jam Jar and Saucer Gardens: a Garden in your Bedroom, Arnold Darlington (Transworld Wonder Why, 0 552 57032 X, 75p)
Instructions and ideas for growing mould, bulbs, trees from pips or cuttings, ferns, shoots from beans (‘Maybe Mum has recipes for using the tasty vegetables you have produced) and making bottle gardens, model landscapes, etc. All very lively with Rowan Barnes Murphy’s cartoony illustrations.
Wet days, friends away, nothing to do
Make a model train set from
Huck Scarry’s Steam Train Press-outs (Collins, 0 00 138255 1, £1.95)
Huck Scarry’s Steam Train Journey was a great success with young children. These press-outs require no scissors or glue – just folding and slotting. A possible for combining older and younger children in a project – train-loving dads (or mums) will want to join in too.
Helen Oxenbury’s `Split’ books for Methuen Walker Books, £1.95 each
729 Puzzle People (0 416 89090 3)
729 Animal Allsorts (0 416 89080 6)
729 Curious Creatures (0 416 89100 4)
have been a great success with lower juniors who spent ages creating ever sillier combinations. (A bunch of secondary kids in the school bookshop couldn’t resist them either.) The next step is to make your own.
The imaginative and meticulous will really enjoy
Making a Miniature Village, Guy R. Williams (Puffin, 0 14 03.0908 X, 75p) Clear instructions, lots of ideas – the project could last all summer.
Ideas for everyone (and no expensive materials) in Recyclopedia, Robin Simons (Puffin, 0 14 03.1107 6, 80p)
Do-it-yourself board games, puppets, printing…
For passing the time in traffic jams, waiting rooms, wet tents…
The Guinness Book of Animal Marvels (Piccolo, 0 330 26030 8, 75p)
The Guinness Book of Most and Least (Piccolo, 0 330 260316, 75p)
Bound to be the success of the season. Packed with all that totally useless information that adults and children find so irresistible. (Get your badges now!)
Fascinating Facts, Gyles Brandreth (Hippo, 0 590 70004 9, 60p)
A dictionary of amazing information on everything under the sun. Good source for home-made quizzes.
There is a seemingly endless stream of quiz and puzzle books. From the latest bunch we’ve picked
The Once Upon a Time Quiz Book, Deborah Holder (Armada, 0 00 691732 1, 70p)
with a historical theme.
Motorbike Quiz, Peter Coatson (Beaver, 0 600 20155 4, 65p)
For addicts only.
The Armada Quiz and Puzzle Book, Doris Dicker and Mary Danby (0 00 6915116, 70p)
Lots of variety from a tried and tested series.
The Beaver Book of Word Puzzles (0 600 39479 4, 65p)
Playing around with words – anagrams, definitions, puzzles. Fairly easy to quite difficult.
Puzzle Party, Douglas and Christine Power (Knight, 0 340 25358 4, 70p)
Mostly picture puzzles – general knowledge, words.
The Jigsaw Book of Puzzles, Clive Doig (BBC, 0 563 17818 3, £1.25)
Based on BBC 1’s Jigsaw. Very popular, judging by the times it has been `borrowed’. Can be difficult to follow, 10+.
The Clue-Crackers Crossword Book, R. S. Philpott (Knight, 0 340 20488 5, 50p)
Crossword on different subjects – sport, music, medicine, literature.
THE LAST LAUGH!
Parents who respond to Knock Knock with Groan Groan had better watch out. Piccolo is turning July into a joke jamboree.
Imported from America
The Silly Joke Book, Stoo Hample (0 330 26054 5, 60p)
`One policeman to another. “Look out and see if our blinker light is working.” “Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No… “‘
The Chocolate Marshmelephant Sundae, Mike Thaler (0 330 26110 X, 60p)
Musical animals? A violion, a pianoceros, an oboe constrictor, a contra babboon, an alliguitar…