It can be a bit of a mission to keep the grandkids entertained when they come over. Don’t underestimate the value of a good book to keep them happy and busy. Here are three that in a playful way will teach them how to garden, encourage them to be tidy, and take a walk through New Zealand history.
Play in the Garden
Sarah O’Neil, a keen gardener with two boys of her own knows how to entice kids into the garden with lots of fun projects. In the first chapter of Play in the Garden she covers the basics on how to establish a garden and grow plants. The rest of the book is filled with loads of activities that they will love doing with you in every season.
At this time of year ( Spring) kids can get into some delightfully messy play by making dirt shakes and soil sausages , come on a worm hunt or build a scarecrow to frighten the birds. It’s also time to sow carrot seeds and plant seed potatoes.
The illustrations are colourful and the instructions are clear. And there are little bubbles with quirky snippets of information such as ‘Did you know that there can be 1 million earthworms in an acre of land?’ or ‘Did you know that the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space? Potato seeds were grown on the space shuttle Columbia in 1995.’
Actually this book looks like so much fun, and with edible results at the end, that even if you don’t have any grandkids to entertain you might well like to buy a copy for yourself and head out into the garden.
Play in the Garden by Sarah O’Neil is published by New Holland (RRP $34.99)
The Toy Fairy
Joe can’t be bothered to pick up his toys from the bedroom floor before going to sleep. His Dad warns him that if he doesn’t a toy fairy will take them away. That’s unbelievable thinks Joe and decides not to heed his advice. But by morning they have indeed vanished.
He of course suspects it was Dad. But the following night, when he leaves toys on the floor again, he hears the bedroom door creak. He wakes up to see a little fairy man. With a stroke of his magic wand he makes the toys shrink, loads them into a sack and carries them off.
Intrigued, Joe lies down on the floor the following night so he too can be tapped with the magic wand and shrink. He is taken on a magical journey to the storage place where the toys are stashed and discovers that it’s all for a good cause. There’s a nice twist at the end which makes Joe realise just how fortunate he is to own so many toys and that it’s good to share.
Our lovely granddaughters frequently scatter their toys all over their bedroom floor and never think of picking them up unless asked. For them (and the many other junior litterbugs) this book would be a great conversation starter.
The Toy Fairy by Stephanie Thatcher is published by Duck Creek Press (RRP ) Hardback RRP: $29.99 Paperback $19.99
This is a tender, heart-warming but at times scary story about a teddy bear belonging to ‘Boy’. ‘Boy’ ‘in real life is Gavin Bishop (the award winning New Zealand author and illustrator) and this is his autobiography as seen through the eyes of his favourite soft toy.
Teddy loves going on adventures with ‘Boy” but it’s a rough and tumble kind of life so he soon becomes shabby.
Boy’s grandmother feels upset when he doesn’t look after his teddy properly. She is a bit of a character. When Boy admits that he swallowed one of Teddy’s eyes she jokes that he’ll probably die! But she is also the one who frequently tends to Teddy’s ripped body and lovingly mends it.
As ‘Boy’ grows up he starts to lose interest in Teddy and eventually the bear is put in in a trunk where he languishes for 17 years. But he is rediscovered by Boy’s three daughters who dress him in a teddy girl outfit and let him join in girly things like tea parties.
Through Teddy’s life story we learn about Gavin Bishop‘s life- from a childhood in Southland to his adult life an artist, writer and father. But it is also a walk through significant moments in New Zealand’s recent history including Hilary’s and Tenzings ascent of Everest, the Queen’s first tour of our country, the tragedy of the Tangiwai railway disaster and the Christchurch earthquakes.
Beautifully written and illustrated it is a chapter book that primary school children can read for themselves .I’m also hopeful that my thirteen year old granddaughter will be persuaded to put aside the dystopian novels full of wars and environmental ruin which are her current passion for this gently uplifting story.
Teddy One-Eye is written by Gavin Bishop and published by Random House NZ. RRP $34.99 hardback.