This is an engaging and life enhancing handbook for families planning outdoor activities in different environments including woodlands, lakes, rivers and beaches as well as parks and gardens. The contents page lists 44 topics and includes lyrical invitations to enjoy , for example, ‘Evening Serenade & Dawn Chorus’, ‘Cloud Watching’ and ‘Rain, Wind & Kites’. The authors share all the ways in which they have organised activities with their own four children and so we can trust the advice. Each double spread shows a red-rimmed ‘Stay Safe’ circle: on the pages to do with making shelters we read ‘Don’t use bracken for your shelter as the fine spores of bracken can be harmful if you breathe them in’.
Few rival these author-illustrators when it comes to designing exciting and informative pages. Here each double spread offers a feast of ideas by combining print text (where the size and intensity differs according to the status of the information) and Brita’s distinctive hand–lettering annotating pictures of flora and fauna. There are copious pictures, too, of children making shelters, canoeing, fishing and animal tracking. Somehow the pages are full without seeming cluttered –perhaps because everything links and mutually enriches. For example Mick’s page of small drawings of birds, rodents and mammals and their tracks sits opposite a full page picture of children looking for tracks. The reader is then directed to a page where there are instructions for making plaster casts of the tracks. There is so much to enjoy and savour here. The ‘Picking Berries’ spread includes recipes for Elderberry Cordial and Blackberry and Apple Crumble. I particularly like the final section ‘Nature Tables and Collections’ which encourages young explorers to identify their finds using books and nature websites. This, it is explained, can lead on to making an annotated display of feathers, shells, berries, plaster casts and beachcombing treasures. These can be labelled with name, date and location where found.
With its excellent balance between encouraging a spirit of adventure and making sure children and supervising adults follow some basic safety rules this book would help families enjoy some great ‘wild adventures’.