Monday, April 25, 2011

Old-Fashioned Fun

This week I suggest several books to dip into and enjoy, and to inspire you to experience old-fashioned fun. Sometimes it’s nice to browse such books between the page-turners we love to read.

Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom, Jane Struthers (Ebury, 2009). Red Sky at Night is a compendium of folklore and miscellanea. The cover explains that it is “the indispensable guide to everything we knew and loved before we went inside and turned on the TV.” This charming book is designed to look as if you plucked it off your grandparent’s bookshelf. The pages are yellowed, yet squarely published in our own Green times with the publisher’s declaration that the book is printed on Greenpeace-approved Forest-Stewardship-Council-certified paper. It even smells good! The book’s scope is folksy and covers topics close to home: it teaches how to dispel evil spirits from the garden, how to read tea leaves, and how to brew beer. “Whatever the Weather” helps you keep up with
meteorologists by looking at the sky and spiders’ webs (“When spiders
weave webs by noon / fine weather is going to follow soon.”). Comfort-food recipes are shared: to make “the creamiest rice pudding, don’t skimp on ingredients because a properly made pudding is something to treasure, whereas a cheaply and hastily made one can be quite nasty.”

A somewhat similar book is The Dangerous Book for Boys by the Igguldens (Morrow, 2007): it’s a guidebook of essential boyhood skills that “recaptures Sunday afternoons of timelessness,” a
reminder of lore and technique not yet lost to the digital age. It’s a “how to” for flying the best paper airplanes, building tree houses, and learning to fish and tie knots and skim stones.
Likewise The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam
Peskowitz (Morrow, 2007) is “every girl’s invitation to adventure.” Quite fun for a rainy

~Mirdza, Adult Services

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