Here is a truly exciting and comprehensive book about building all kinds of den. These authors think of a den as ‘a space where you and your friends can play and be creative’. The book is organised in five sections: Cardboard Box Dens; Table Dens; Indoor Dens; Outdoor Dens and (tantalisingly) Extreme Dens.
The written text lists the easily accessible resources and then gives practical guidance for the actual building of each den. The ‘top tips’ on each spread are helpful too. I like the way these authors address young readers directly. For example, after instructions to make a simple shop out of a large cardboard box, young readers are asked: ‘Does your shop have a name? How would you decorate it?’ So thinking and imagining are encouraged. The tone of the writing is conversational but also gives good reinforcement of procedural language in context: paragraph starters include ‘set up’, ‘once you have’ and ‘next’. The book is alive with colourful photographs, many giving inspiration by showing children building dens or enjoying them with friends when completed. There is a Dr Who Tardis den and young Harry is pictured in the Tank den he has made of cardboard boxes painted in camouflage colours. The White den, one of the ‘table’ dens, has lots of silver and white objects and white fairy lights – it’s ideal for chatting with friends or reading books together. Now – just in case you are still wondering what ‘extreme dens’ might be like – towards the end of the book are pictures of the hugely imaginative creations of the authors:dens with wonderful shapes and colours, made of interesting materials and often atmospherically lit so they look mysterious and sometimes almost ethereal.
Many of the dens would be a good focus for play dates. I particularly like the Sleepover den for a friends’ ‘sweetcorn and movie’ evening. The book would also be a good resource for teachers of young children who might particularly like the ideas for Outdoor dens and Miniature dens. Over 5s, with a little adult support, would be able to bring their own ideas to the creation of their den and to related drama and writing.